Saturday, July 26, 2014
I'm sure there are people who have been waiting to know what happened to me after my last few posts.
Sorry about that. How about an update?
Ok, here we go.
In short, God came charging in on a while horse with sword swinging and swept me up with Him.
I was rescued.
Horray! Dancing and singing! Hands clapping! Fireworks! Smiles and hugs!
And crazy busy!
Wow. When you read about rescues in stories, it's exciting, then it's over, finished.
But being rescued is a process. You are suddenly swept up and are running at full speed. There's confusion and fatigue and relief.
It's a bit crazy.
So after I wrote my last blog, things started moving for me fairly quickly. In the space of one week I suddenly had 7 different job opportunities presented to me, and interviews and mailing and resume writing and updating. It was crazy. I went to two interviews, and I was offered a job at both places. I was also waiting on word for a High School job that would have had me making more money than I had ever dreamed before. (Yeah, I don't dream about making lots of money apparently... I think I would rather just have money than work for it. Oops, did I just write that?)
There was a lot of lost sleep, and a lot of thinking about my future and trying to figure out where God was directing me. In the end, I accepted a position as a pre-school teacher about an hour and a half from where I live.
I don't regret it at all. It's a good school, with the cutest kids. I have fun smiling and laughing with the kids everyday. It makes a huge difference in my overall attitude. My salary is considerably higher than before, so I'm eating better and I'm able to go out a bit more. The hours are much better, although I have far fewer vacations.
But I still stay busy, (which is the excuse I'm giving for not updating my blog.)
Things are finally settling down, and I'm starting to figure out what I can and cannot do on my new salary. I still have a while to go before I can consider myself in a financially stable situation, but I feel like things are moving in the right direction.
So that's my update for now. I will try to keep posting when I can, but I find I spend much less time on the computer now than I did before. This is probably a good thing though.
Anyway, I would like to thank all those that prayed for me and offered encouraging comments. I really appreciate it!
Monday, March 03, 2014
Thursday, February 27, 2014
But here I am. Dusting off my computer and updating a blog I haven't had words for in months.
Are you still there?
I am still here.
For a life line.
I find myself reminding myself of how God likes to work. He likes waiting til the deadline, and then sweeping in with brilliant inspiration. He likes waiting until the darkest moment before releasing his Glory, lighting up the night like fireworks. He likes making the Hero's entrance, and saving the damsel in distress at just the last moment.
It's understandable, and thrilling, and romantic... when you are reading about it in other people's lives.
It's hard when it's your own life.
I totally get Israel. How quick they were to complain. How easy it was to remember only the good of Egypt when they faced new hardship. How soon forgotten the miracles God had worked.
I am certainly a daughter of Israel.
I'm waiting right now.
I'm waiting for February to be over and done with. Every year each February seems worse than the last, and I find myself wondering how much more until I just break and go insane, or just fall apart weeping in my blankets, refusing to come out.
Seems like a curse to me. One I take up and repeatedly pronounce over my own life, allowing it to harm my body and soul.
Lessons learned are soon forgotten.
I'm waiting to learn what my future will look like. Three weeks left before the church English school closes. And only a month and a half before my visa expires. But less than a month of money. Costs of moving and other expenses have bled me dry. Figuring out the best way to stretch 20 bucks a week has become my new creative pastime.
I'm tired. Oh, so tired.
And when the stress and the tiredness pile up, I feel empty inside.
I want to give up. I want to cry out, "why?"
I want to know where God is in all of this.
But I'm afraid to know as well.
I see all my dark and ugly sides laughing at me, taking pleasure in my negativity, hoping to drive a wedge between me and God.
But even though my heart is empty, and my soul is tired, and my body is worn...
I haven't completely forgotten.
If I only try a little, the examples flood back to me.
Abraham. Moses. God rescues Israel from Egypt. He parts the Red Sea. He provides food and water. He removes walls. He wins battles. He gives children to barren women. Jesus looks with compassion on those who are desperate for Him.
I Know. Even if I forget, I Know.
Even if my blessings are different than what I wanted.
Even if prayers and desires of years have still yet to be answered. Even if they never are.
But even in my own life, this is not the first time I have faced being potentially jobless. This is not the first time my visa status has been uncertain. This is not the first time I have been waiting for my needs to be met.
And always He meets them.
If I wait long enough, He will rescue me.
So while everyone around me is pushing me with urgings of "hurry, hurry. do something. search harder." my heart whispers "be still, and Know. I AM God."
So I take up the mantel of Rahab, for I know I have prostituted myself before other Gods, trying to keep myself alive by my own power. Overwhelmed by my debts, I have tried to scrape my way through. But the army has come, and is camped outside the walls. There is once last chance. I can throw myself at the mercy of this great God, who has come to take back His land, or I can perish with the rest of the city. There is no question for me. The only hope lies in this God who has defeated Egypt, parted seas and rained bread from the heavens. This is the only path to life. So now I wait with the red thread hanging out my window. As the army marches around the city. Once. Twice. Seven times. Each day longer than the last.
Waiting. For the walls to come down.
I can't see the future. How was Rahab to know she would be raised from prostitute to wife? How would she know she would be allowed in the lineage of the Savior, the Christ?
But she waited.
And was saved.
Her Lifeline didn't fail her.
And neither shall mine.
I can't see what will happen in three weeks. Will I get a job? Will I like my job? Will I stay in Japan? Will I return to America? Will I be blessed financially? Will I be blessed with time? Will I be healed of sickness? Will I be granted companionship?
I can't see. I can't possibly Know.
But He can. He does.
And as long as I know, I believe, that the Hero will come I can wait. Even in dire circumstances, I do not have to become the Damsel in Distress, fearing the Hero will be too late. No. I can be the Lady in Waiting, so in love with the Hero, that her faith never waivers.
And those are the things I needed to remember. The words I needed to hear.
The treasures I can take to my heart, and rest now with a restored spirit.
Wait.... Just a little bit longer.
It will all be alright.
The Hero always comes at the last minute.
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
I still feel like it is not enough.
Responsibility, respect and honor make good... rocks. Rocks to build on, rocks to develop...
But they do not make the best of soils.
I may have mentioned this once or twice, but just in case you've missed it... I hail from the proud lands of West Texas. Where the cattle roam, the tumble weeds grow, the wind frolics with the dust, and the skies are not cloudy all day. (I have a sudden urge to teach Home on the Range to my adult classes now.)
Anywho. So as I was saying. Yeah. West Texas. So here's a little fact. My hometown is classified as a semi-arid dessert. We get triple digit summers, thunder storms are our only source of rain, the wind sometimes blows dust so thick it's hard to drive and as a child I believed that grass grew brown. We have more shades of brown than you knew existed. And for as long as I can remember we have either been in a drought, or on the verge of one.
So here's a lesson on the ground in West Texas. It's not terribly great for growing things. Before the droughts were too bad, we did have a large number of cotton farms, but lately all you see are empty fields, half blown away by the wind. We have stunted mesquite trees, and most forms of plant life have thorns or needles or some other desirable trait. (Just a warning, we do not walk around barefoot in West Texas. One it's too hot. Two you'll get poked and pricked too much to get anywhere. Cowboy boots are more than a fashion statement.)
Now, when it rains, the ground get's really excited. It's been waiting for rain for so long. But the problem is, that it suddenly can't cope with all the water. So we will actually get flash floods because the ground becomes saturated too fast and can't take anymore water. The floods don't last for long, because of course we need the water as much as possible. So after a big rain, we get cracked ground. From the stress of becoming overly saturated and then just as quickly absorbing all the water. So the top layer becomes hard and flaky, at least until it's ground back into dust by traffic.
Ok, so I'm sure you are wondering at this point what this has to do with anything. I live in Japan, so I'm sure you are expecting me to talk about Japan. Too bad. This might be the only mention this time around.
The image of the cracked ground has been following me around all day today.
Because it's exactly what my heart looks like.
Cracked and dried, even though there has recently been rain.
The water is already gone. Nothing left but hard, dry ground.
Oh yes. This is exactly what my heart looks like.
Even though I have an abundance of blessings rained upon me, they dry up quickly, leaving me emotionally cracked and dry.
This is the part where I start beating myself up. The self-loathing, self-shaming and self-hatred. Yes, I really am that mean to myself.
So what's missing? Why can't I keep the water?
I have a good steady foundation of respect and responsibility and honor. But I'm not bearing fruit. Why?
“A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, ... Some fell on rocky places,... Other seed fell among thorns...Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown"
Hmm. What's this? The quality of my soil is bad?
I have no nutrients in my soil to give life to plants. I don't have the correct balance of soil composition to hold the water and use it well. I don't have someone tilling and breaking apart the stones and putting in fertalizer.
In other words...
I lack love, and joy, and peace: the things that bring forth life.
Respect and responsibility and honor are important, very much so, but they alone cannot bring forth life.
I'm hoping this new season of my life will be a season of tilling, and fertilizing, and mixing in nutrients into the soil of my heart, so that one day I may be fit to bring forth life.
Not just life...
Abundant life. Seeped in joy, watered in love, and coated in peace.
Bring on the tilling.
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
This is gonna be rambly. So buckle in for a confusing ride, or wait until you have the time and energy to get pulled into the emotional vortex that is my attempt at self-counseling.
Where do I begin?
Well, why not start off on Father's Day and make our way from there.
I remember when I was in university and my younger brother was right around the age of High School graduation, not quite a man yet, but fully convinced he was already. I remember him going through a phase where he was angry at my father. Not that my father did anything bad or anything. He didn't beat us, didn't yell at us, no abuse or anything. No, the thing my brother was upset about was that he wasn't around. He didn't abandon us or anything, he was just working. He worked for the sake of his family, because that's what he believed was the right thing to do. He provided for us.
Unlike my brother, who resented a lack of catch ball or "quality time", I understand where my father was coming from, the values he inherited from his generation, and how the work he put in was a translation of his love for us. I appreciate all he has done for us.
And I think I've inherited a few of my core values from my father's example. From my father I learned about responsibility and doing things even if you didn't like it, because that's what it means to have a job and to honor your contract. I learned that you follow the rules, even if your employer doesn't or if it gets you in trouble. I learned that you pay for your mistakes, and keep going.
I really, really respect my father. He's not perfect. He's a typical Texas "cowboy" type that doesn't say much, and doesn't know how to connect emotionally. But I know how hard he worked, and even now, I watch how he does his best to change his ways to support and honor my mother. I am so thankful to have such a strong and stable upbringing to fall back on.
Because I need it.
I am naturally impulsive. I often approach things with a "I'll deal with the consequences when they come" attitude, hoping that I'll somehow avoid anything too unpleasant.
Honestly, I've been pretty lucky in this approach. Which is poor re-enforcement for teaching me this isn't always the best way to live.
But the one thing that redeems this impulsiveness, is my strong views on responsibility. I've learned to accept the consequences no matter what. It is after all the price you pay for your choices.
And looking back, there are very few choices I would say, "I really, really wish I had never done that."
When I get tired of paying school loans, I picture the faces of the people dear to me, and believe that it's worth it.
When I wonder about my choice to live in Japan, missing births and weddings and the joys and sorrows of those I care about... and I remember the people I have met here, and how much I really do love it here... and I accept the consequences.
I get to put my beliefs in action now. It's not a serious matter, but not fun. Before I moved, I was convinced to switch my internet company and get a smart phone through a campaign. I thought it was a great idea. I got a discount on my cell phone bill, better internet service and upgraded to a smart phone. We even got "points" that could be used in certain stores as cash. They even assured me that I should be able to continue the service after I moved since the company catered to 98% of the city.
Well, as I'm sure you can see where this is going, after I decided on the apartment, we discovered that the company did not service that building. Good bye internet, good bye discount. I needed to find a new internet provider. (which was also a difficult, frustrating process.)
Well, I thought everything was taken care of when I suddenly started getting bills for a service that I wasn't actually fully aware that I had signed up for. Now that the internet contract was canceled, the special discount or whatever I was getting on that was also gone. But that contract had not been canceled. Only the bills were forwarded to me about two months late. Now I have three months worth of back bills and a cancellation fee to pay. Because my paycheck wasn't stretched enough with paying back moving costs and learning to live with just one person again.
At first I was determined this wasn't fair, and I wouldn't pay it no matter what. I wanted to blame the companies, or the salesperson, or whatever. It wasn't my fault. I didn't understand everything that was being said. I was a victim.
It's an easy role to play.
But it's wrong.
I was aware it was a risk at the time. That maybe something wouldn't work out. But I signed all the papers anyway. I wanted the extra 50 bucks I could get with the campaign, even though I was completely confused as to what was happening or why. I did it anyway, hoping everything would turn out ok. Well, you do that a lot when you live in a foreign country. I feel like I'm holding my breath and jumping off a cliff and hoping there's a splash at the end and not a splat every time I sign a contract. It's scary. But you just gotta do it sometimes and hope for the best. Well, that's what you think at the time anyway.
But this one didn't work out, not by anyone's fault. Just happened that way. But I still have to pay now. Because I signed my name.
The only thing that calmed me down when I thought I was going to cry all the way home after trying to find a solution was the fact that I'm sure Jesus would tell me the same. Give unto Caesar what is Caesar's. Honor your contracts, even if it's not fair. Trust God, and He will provide for all my needs.
Then the voice whispers : Isn't this just God punishing you? You aren't faithful enough. You haven't been giving your tithes. This is the price you pay. God is keeping score and you are loosing.
It sounds so true, because there is truth in it. I am not faithful enough. I haven't been honoring God as I should. But that doesn't mean that God doesn't honor me. And it's true that God gives punishments when they are needed. But isn't that His right? He is Just, therefore any punishment He gives is Just. But that doesn't meant He is punishing me now. He wasn't punishing Job when all those terrible things happened. When I feel like life is getting the best of me, I always have to remember Job. He had it worse. As did Joseph. But they both refused to blame God or to dishonor His name.
Yes, I am stress and don't have as much money as I'd like. But part of that is my fault as well, for not having the motivation or strength to get out of debt quickly. I choose other priorities. So I must pay the consequences.
Yes, I have migraines that make me feel sick for two days out of every three days I'm off of work. Job had festering sores all over his body.
Yes, I am lonely and often bitter. But yet I choose to stay inside that and not move on.
My choices are my responsibility, and I must pay the consequences. Sometimes God bails me out. Sometimes He lets me learn the hard way.
And I respect Him for that.
I believe God freely forgives my mistakes. But I'm so thankful that He also teaches me through them.
I am grateful for the chance to honor God through my reaction to my mistakes and my misfortunes.
I still fail often, but I want to become a woman whom others can respect, a woman who honors responsibility, and Honors God in her response to mistakes. I will never become a woman who doesn't make mistakes. But I can be one who is responsible through her mistakes.
I might have a lot of important values I'm missing, but for me, these three values are core to who I am.
These are the words I teach my students. These are the words I want carved into my life. These are the words that keep me going when I want to quit. And these are the words I inherited from my father, and from my West Texas culture.
I thank my father, and my Father who have modeled these things for me, and I hope that I can grow stronger and more faithful each time I exercise them.
So this month, I'll be trusting a little more in God's provision, because I choose to walk the path of responsibility and pay my fines. It might be a while before I'll have enough money to be "comfortable" but that's not the point of life is it? I trust in God's goodness and love for me, and I will live in the life I have now, made from the choices I've made, and the circumstances He has allowed. And I know He will never abandon me. So I must continue to Honor Him in all I do.
This is the rock of faith that will give me strength.
Now all I need to do is figure out how to make Joy a core part of me.......
Thursday, April 18, 2013
In perfect timing, I found this quote in my mail box today, and it sums up the "click" I'm waiting/missing/longing for...
When God creates Eve, he calls her an ezer kenegdo. "It is not good for the man to be alone, I shall make him a [ezer kenegdo]" (Gen. 2:18 Alter). This phrase is notoriously difficult to translate. The various attempts we have in English tend to be "helper" or "companion" or the notorious "help meet." Why are these translations so incredibly wimpy, boring, flat …disappointing? What is a help meet, anyway? What little girl dances through the house singing "One day I shall be a help meet?" Companion? A dog can be a companion. Helper? Sounds like Hamburger Helper. Hebrew scholar Robert Alter is getting close when he translates it "sustainer beside him."
The word ezer is used only 20 other places in the entire Old Testament. And in every other instance the person being described is God himself, when you need him to come through for you desperately.
God is your only hope. Your ezer. If he is not there beside you…you are dead. A better translation therefore of ezer would be "life-saver." Kenegdo means alongside, or opposite to, a counterpart.
You see, the life God calls us to is not a safe life. Ask Joseph, Abraham, Moses, Deborah, Esther - any of the friends of God from the Old Testament. Ask Mary and Lazarus, ask Peter, James and John, ask Priscilla and Aquila - any of the friends of God in the New Testament. God calls us to a life involving frequent risks and many dangers. Why else would we need him to be our ezer? You don't need a life-saver if your mission is couch potato. You need an ezer when your life is in constant danger.
That longing in the heart of a woman to share life together as a great adventure - that comes straight from the heart of God, who also longs for this. He does not want to be an option in our lives. He does not want to be an appendage, a tag-along. Neither does any woman. God is essential. Eve is essential. She has an irreplaceable role to play.
An excerpt from
|Captivating by John Eldridge|
After a month of living alone again things have finally settled down enough for discontent to sneak up behind me and start whispering heartaches into the hollowness that is my heart.
It's only my second week back to work.
And I feel listless, numb, and just a little lost and a whole lot of lonely.
But there's no real concrete reason.
There never is. Just an ache that never really goes away.
So tonight I ponder a bit and feel like I'm a puzzle piece looking for it's puzzle. When I say I'm lonely, I sometimes hear well meaning suggestions.
Why don't you stay here? What about this place? Look there are a lot of pieces around you so why are you lonely?
And I just sigh in frustration a bit.
Because it doesn't click.
I'm looking for my place, where I connect with the people/surroundings around me. I'm not saying I'm looking for a place to be completely happy or fairy-tale like. I just want to click. I want to be in the place I was made for in community with the people I was made to be in community with.
There are many options and many look good or seem to be logical, but they don't seem to click...
Well, at least I feel like Japan is the right puzzle, but I can't seem to find my place in it easily.
Well life is not simple enough to be explained by something like a puzzle, and God is watching over me and I'm sure my discontent is me chasing after idols...
Tomorrow I will sing and dance and smile with toddlers and wonderful students. Tomorrow there will be sunshine and opportunity. Tomorrow is full of grace waiting to be poured out on me anointing me as a Chosen child, a bride of the Son.
But tonight I feel the blisters of old lies irritating my heart.
This is also proof of my struggle.
Thankfully grace automatically clicks.
And now I should go to bed before I fall asleep writing.
I hope this makes enough sense to click with you too.
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
So I have successfully moved. I hate moving. It's like the most expensive roller coaster in the world, that you don't actually get to ride, instead you have to climb up it, and then trip and fall down and start all over.
Searching for an apartment that was in my budget and was big enough for all my stuff (not to mention my sanity) but still convenient enough for someone relying on public transportation... Oh yeah, I'm not sure the word stressful is good enough. And once I thought I had found something good (on paper), I'd go see it and the reality would be enough to make me want to cry.
But fortunately I had a good real estate company that worked very hard to find me a good place. In the end, they found a place that would lower the rent to meet my budget and that was big enough. The location is not that great, but not that bad either. I have to say, it's nice to find good companies to help you. (they even had DC Talk playing on their CD player. I heard the song "Jesus is Alright" at least 5 times! Of course they had no idea what it was about.)
I had thought that my Japanese hasn't improved so much in these last two years since I spend so much of my time in English compared to when I worked in public schools, but I discovered that moving this time was SO much easier because I had a much larger ability to understand and communicate than before. Still, you get frustrated when there are still things you don't really get or only half understand.
Moving companies and everything were also stressful, but I did manage to procrastinate less than usual and somehow we managed to move two people to two different places on the same day.
Just so you know, moving is impossible to survive without ice cream. seriously.
I was also moving while still working, so there was a lot going on in a short time, but now it's over.
This morning I threw away the last of the moving boxes.
A little bit more cleaning and arranging and I'll be settled in.
I had a nice spring break to take things a little more slowly and take care of things, and I'm gradually getting used to the new arrangement.
The strangest thing so far is grocery shopping. Before I shopped for two people, and I took into consideration what my roommate liked, and what I thought she would like to eat the whole time shopping. You never realize how much you think of others when shopping until suddenly you are no longer shopping for them. And I had to re-train myself not just in terms of volume of food, but in what kind of foods I buy and such. I think that's when I'm my loneliest. So far anyway.
There are good and bad points with my new place, but so far it's satisfactory.
I'll have my first houseguest this week, a strapping young man will come stay the night.
Of course he's bringing his mother. ;-)
Or rather his mother is bringing him, since he's like what, 3 months?
I'm happy because this will be the first close friend in 8 years that I'll actually get to meet and hold her child.
I think the hardest thing about living in Japan is that. The missed weddings, the children I've never met, not knowing what kind of mothers my friends are, not being a part of my niece and nephew's lives...
So yeah, it's that kind of season. Ups and downs. New and old. Fun things and stress.
All rolled into this one big mess we call life.
No deep spiritual insights right now, just letting you know what's up with my life.
I wanted to show you pictures, but I'm writing this from the computer after work because I don't have internet yet. (frustrating story, but not really important.)
Hopefully soon I'll get the loose ends fixed and see what life is going to look like in my new place.
I just hope I don't have to move again anytime soon.