30 November 2006

What stands in the way

Growing more uneasy with every question asked
It seems You're jealous of my interests
and the graven things I've cast
Waking resolutions of twenty years or more
that I would disallow golden cows
my favorite anymore

Your wishes set in stone
I broke the first of ten
I cleared this temple out
Come take your place again

There is only You
There is only You

Tiptoe from an awkward scene, not fooling anyone
Am I dumb enough to kneel with my accusers or brave enough to run?
Petty daggers bounce weakly off my back
I'm leaving breathless gods and secrets in my track

Your wishes set in stone
I broke the first of ten
I cleared this temple out
Come take Your place again

There is only You
There is only You
Believe me
There is only You
There is only You

To a thousand generations of faithful men

[["There is Only You," Smalltown Poets]]

What stands in the way of my ability to get to the point where this is true in my life - that there is only Christ and Christ alone that sits upon the throne of my heart?

I get so distracted by every little thing, be it class or homework or work or crocheting a blanket or not feeling well at all, that I so easily take my eyes off of the One who should be in charge and in control of everything. How do we get to the point where the things we do lose their joy because we neglect to praise the One who gives them to us to do?

A few weeks ago at the Rock, Brandon Pullen spoke of keeping things in circles that are "just for me." Unfortunately, as a control freak, I have so many of these areas. Some, of course, are more obvious, but others are subtle, ranging from something as simple as getting ready in the morning to something as complex as finding time to get all of my work done.

How do we include Christ in those things? On the surface level, He's always aware of what we're doing, so that remains the easy part... But how do we include Him? How do we let Him in on everything we do, from the everyday and mundane to the most exciting parts of life? It's like we keep Him on the sidelines - and ignoring someone is never a good thing.

But I must admit that I readily welcome Christ into some areas of my life while ignoring His presence in others.

What honestly stands in the way? And what results from that?

Is that why I am incapable of getting things done when I should? Is that why I am incapable of finding motivation and joy in the everyday, mundane things? Is that why I am incapable to just let music be a part of my life? Is that why I find it so difficult to understand the living out of the Great Commission? Is that why I am incapable of just letting things go?

Is that why I constantly feel as though I have failed in almost every aspect of life?

Certainly, things are constantly changing, so there is always something new to surrender to Christ's lordship (and especially lately, when everything seems to be changing), but shouldn't there be a way to adapt that surrender in any situation?

Perhaps I'll fill you in on the details of why this is all so important today (of all days) later but, for now, I think I need simply to go and sit at my Savior's feet. He's waiting for me.

Mood: Defeated Listening to: Jennifer Knapp, Kansas
Reading: Ecclesiastes, Isaiah and Acts

23 November 2006

100 things to be thankful for

I am thankful for/that...
(in no particular order, with the exception of the first, and maybe more than 100)

1. My redemption through Christ's blood
2. I get to breathe regularly
3. God made the sky blue, even though it really isn't
4. My mom, who loves Scripture
5. My dad, who loves music
6. My brother, because he's awesome
7. The heritage of faith passed down from my grandparents
8. Having the chance to grow up and put down roots in one place for 14 years
9. Christopher
10. The staff of The Student Voice
11. A.W. Tozer, C.S. Lewis, John Piper and Mark Driscoll
12. Children, because they make me smile
13. SaraJane, Sangster and Danae
14. Emily putting up with me for 14 years
15. My little sister, Sammie Dearest
16. Mountaintop Retreat, its staff and campers
17. MountainView and Summitview Community churches
18. Nurse Peggy
19. Keith and Debbie
20. Having the opportunity to work
21. Having the opportunity to an education
22. Good books
23. Hymns and worship music
24. Musical instruments
25. Vocal chords that work to sing
26. Puppy dogs
27. My best friend, Laura
28. Abra Sue (my other little sister) and Brittany
29. Cristin and Missy
30. My beautiful roommates: Tina, Candace, Chelsea Anne and Liz
31. Thrift stores, for better use of my money
32. Foolish Things and their wives
33. CREW
34. Songwriters
35. Spiritual gifts
36. Things we cannot take credit for
37. D-Team Smith
38. The boys at 1300 LaPorte
39. The mountains
40. Skiing
41. Elise, because my brother loves her
42. My brother's friends, who encourage him
43. School's almost done
44. June 23 is approaching
45. The change to spend time with family
46. Cousins!
47. The Rentels
48. Reconnecting with old friends
49. Easy classes that still make me think
50. Mexican food
51. The legacy of 1SW Newsom Hall
52. Late-night shifts at the Newsom desk
53. Purpose
54. God's love for me
55. God's ability to still change me
56. The blessing of parents
57. Painting, crafts and their simplicity (crocheting, quilting, etc.)
58. Card games
59. Olathe sweet corn
60. Ramen, which often sustains me
61. Ice cream!
62. Girl dates and small group reunions
63. People who love me despite my nerdiness
64. Marla and the kitchen ladies
65. Pastor Don, Julie and the Catletts
66. New Life E-Free Church
67. Eyes
68. GCA churches
69. My Jersey cotton bedsheets
70. Faithful and reliable translations of the Bible
71. The Internet, which lets me talk to Jacqueline in China
72. People who give Chris and I gift cards
73. Crosswords, word searches and Sudoku puzzles
74. Comfortable jeans that are the right length
75. Journals - both blank and finished
76. The Pacific Ocean and Gulf of Mexico (so blue!)
77. Prehensile toes
78. Science that points to a Creator
79. I don't have to follow society - I just have to follow Christ
80. How the body of Christ works together according to its design
81. Stuffed animals
82. Pictures of friends
83. The healing only Christ's grace can bring
84. Tea - iced and warm
85. Pie!
86. Everything is temporary in perspective of the Kingdom of Heaven
87. Beautiful flowers
88. Long drives with good friends
89. Our faith is not unreasonable
90. Rest
91. Laughter
92. Joy when I'm the furthest from it
93. Foxtrot and Pearls Before Swine
94. Hopeless romanticism
95. Everything worth having is worth waiting for
96. Christopher loves me beyond my comprehension
97. Warm showers and just-from-the-dryer laundry
98. Good cheese and good beer
99. Water!
100. Aspen trees
101. Freedom to gather and worship
102. Sunrises and sunsets
103. People with integrity
104. Clouds, stars and the moon
105. Perfect nights in November
106. The hope of what's to come
107. The great cloud of witnesses that surrounds us
108. The nation of Israel and God's faithfulness to them
109. The picture set up by the sacrificial system of what was necessary to redeem us
110. Quiet, fulfilled lives
111. Co-workers
112. Snow and how it covers the land
113. Cancelled classes and days off
114. Clean teeth
115. Long walks in the park
116. Family dinners
117. Puzzles
118. Good company
119. Old quilts
120. The grace to make it through another day

14 November 2006

Proverbs 16

The preparations of the heart belong to man,
But the answer of the tongue is from the LORD.

All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes,
But the LORD weighs the spirits.

Commit your works to the LORD,
And your thoughts will be established.

The LORD has made all for Himself,
Yes, even the wicked for the day of doom.

Everyone proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD;
Though they join forces, none will go unpunished.

In mercy and truth
Atonement is provided for iniquity;
And by the fear of the LORD one departs from evil.

When a man's ways please the LORD,
He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.

Better is a little righteousness,
Than vast revenues without justice.

A man's heart plans his way,
But the LORD directs his steps.

Divination is on the lips of the king;
His mouth must not transgress in judgment.
Honest weights and scales are the LORD's;
All the weights in the bag are His work.

It is an abomination for kings to commit wickedness,
For a throne is established by righteousness.
Righteous lips are the delight of kings,
And they love him who speaks what is right.

As messengers of death is the king's wrath,
But a wise man will appease it.
In the light of the king's face is life,
And his favor is like a cloud of the latter rain.

How much better to get wisdom than gold!
And to get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver.

The highway of the upright is to depart from evil;
He who keeps his way preserves his soul.

Pride goes before destruction,
And a haughty spirit before a fall.

Better to be of a humble spirit with the lowly,
Than to divide the spoil with the proud.

He who heeds the word wisely will find good,
And whoever trusts in the LORD, happy is he.

The wise in heart will be called prudent,
And sweetness of the lips increases learning.

Understanding is a wellspring of life to him who has it.
But the correction of fools is folly.

The heart of the wise teaches his mouth,
And adds learning to his lips.

Pleasant words are like a honeycomb,
Sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.

There is a way that seems right to a man,
But its end is the way of death.

The person who labors, labors for himself,
For his hungry mouth drives him on.

An ungodly man digs up evil,
And it is on his lips like a burning fire.
A perverse man sows strife,
And a whisperer separates the best of friends.
A violent man entices his neighbor,
And leads him in a way that is not good.
He winks his eye to devise perverse things;
He purses his lips and brings about evil.

The silver-haired head is a crown of glory,
If it is found in the way of righteousness.

He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty,
And he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.

The lot is cast into the lap,
But its every decision is from the LORD.

07 November 2006

Blessed beyond what I could ever need...

The past few days have been somewhat fuzzy... I remember Friday night and then a lot of squealing from various women in my life, a lot of hugs, and a lot of "Congratulations!"

When I last wrote, I spoke of holding to things too tightly. For me over the last few months, one of those things has been the timing for Chris and I to get married. And, the past few months and especially last weekend at the Rock Retreat, it was finally something that I was able to let go.

In July, I prayed about my fears regarding life post-graduation. I voiced those fears in questions and speculation about things to come. I was so disheartened by waking up in the middle of the night and finding no one next to me that I could barely think about anything else. I wasted much of my time this summer in holding too tightly to what I thought should happen.

But I voiced my discontentment and prayed for grace. And, in the last few weeks especially, God has granted it, re-focusing my mind and my heart onto Scripture and people and ministry and just letting me rest in the knowledge that He has the whole thing under control.

My prayer last week was one based out of Andrew Murray's "Absolute Surrender" from his book of the same name:
How beautiful is our salvation! How much I owe to Thee that can never be repaid!
O, how I long to utterly surrender, Jesus! How I long to have that heart which says, "All I have is Thine"! But I do not, so I ask it of You that You would give me that heart.
Whom have I to fear? Death and separation have no power over me! I have been placed with Christ in the heavenlies! To die is gain!
Let me be like the cup into which the tea is poured, empty and given up to the tea, and ready to not only stand but to fight for the Gospel in boldness and upon Truth.

And, as God has continued to teach me of these things and to increase this prayer, He has also granted me one of the deepest desires of my heart.

Friday night, Christopher asked me to marry him and I said, 'Yes." (Not that many, if any, people will be surprised by that). And, to be honest, I can't even begin to describe the overwhelming emotions that come over me every time I think of the fact that this man is going to be my husband.

How good is the Lord, to allow foolish people a chance to do things right? To plan our futures and watch our every steps, working out the timing in perfect fashion? To love us who deserve nothing and yet give us the desires of our hearts?

It is still so surreal. Even now, the fact that there is now a ring on my left ring finger does nothing to dispel the inability of this to sink in. I'm going to marry Christopher Reynolds and be his wife, and that is an incredible thing!

Regardless, I still have five and a half weeks of school left, the end of which I am eagerly anticipating and dreading simultaneously. I've begun looking at jobs and will begin applying this week.

As for now, I'm working my third shift at the desk in the last 24 hours and I was up until 5:30 a.m. writing a paper for my history class last night, so I'm somewhat exhausted and ready to go to bed, especially since it is now 2:20 a.m. and I still have over an hour and a half left on my shift.

I figure I'll maybe watch some television and write a letter to the love of my life. Sounds like a plan.

And now you know what's new with me. Keep us in prayer. We'll need it.

Mood: Euphoric Listening to: The Format, Dog Problems
Reading: Andrew Murray, Absolute Surrender