Friday, January 29, 2010

what do i want?

i just started reading "searching for God knows what" by donald miller. in the first chapter he discusses i guess you would say sometimes our obsession with books, even Christian books, self help books you could call them, that talk about "formulas" or ways that we can bring about the life that we desire to live in God... what we can do and how this is accomplished... he talks about life with God as something that is not a formula but instead relational. often i feel that i do such a poor job at communicating what i want to so i am just going to quote what he wrote... i felt like it was good and wanted to share it with you. do i desire the things that God can (or that i want him to) bring about in my life or do i desire God?

"To be honest, though, I don't know how much I like the idea of my spirituality being relational. I suppose I believe this is true, but the formulas seem much better than God because the formulas offer control; and God, well, He is like a person, and people, as we all know, are complicated. The trouble with people is they do not always do what you tell them to do. Try it with your kids or your spouse or strangers at the grocery store, and you will see what I mean. The formulas propose that is you do this and this and this, God will respond. When I was a kid I wanted a dolphin for the same reason.

"I remember watching that television show I dream of Jeannie when I was young, and I wondered at how great it would be to have a Jeannie of my own, who could blink a grilled-cheese sandwich out of thin air, all the while cleaning my room and doing my homework. I realize, of course, that is very silly and there is no such thing as a genie that lives in a lamp, but it makes me wonder if what we really want from the formulas are the wishes, not God. It makes me wonder if what we really want is control, not a relationship.

"Some would say formulas are how we interact with God, that going through motions and jumping through hoops are how a person acts out his spirituality. This method of interaction, however, seems odd to me, because if I want to hang out with my friend Tuck, I don't stomp my food three times, turn around, and say his name over and over like a mantra, lighting candles and getting myself in a certain mood. I just call him. In this way, formulas presuppose God is more a computer or a circus monkey than and intelligent Being. I realize that sounds harsh, but it is true."

the other part about this section of the book that i love is when he talks about whether or not what we really want is control or God. i know so often i want control. i want to know how to fix relationships, not feel left down when blank happens, and find joy and happiness in all that i do. books that provide answers for these always leave me wondering if there is more... and it might be encouraging for the moment and there are some great books out there that don't just offer formulas but instead truth of pursuing God... but i do want to desire Jesus. i don't want to desire a life free from difficulty and a life that i can fix if i just do this and this... and i know that doesn't even work... i feel like we've all tried it and so often we are left empty. i want to desire the person of Jesus, i want to desire God my Savior, more than what he can do for me and bring about in my life but instead him, as an individual that wants to know me too... and that in itself is a reason to work on this.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


i should pray specifically more often... well really i should pray specifically all the time! shawn and i have been praying a lot for my sister lately, for so many different things since she arrived in haiti and even before she left. we prayed that sometime soon she would get a tent. we prayed that someday she would get a shower (she told us about the humid heat and the helicopters that are constantly stirring up dust). we prayed that she would somehow get a cot to make sleeping a little easier. we prayed for these things to make life a little more comfortable and to make the days a little more tolerable... we prayed for even more things... for friends and good relationships with people there (there weren't very many people she knew going into haiti)... that there would be not only friendships but relationships with people who love the Lord as much as she does... for fellowship, study of God's Word, and moments to take time with the Lord...

last night we got a quick email that steph was able to send to us... i have to tell you that all of these things God has provided for her! so many of these things happened in just the last day or two... God is so good. He is good always in any circumstance, but at the same time He is so good because He answered all of these things specifically to how we prayed for them! someone down there even has a guitar that they are going to be able to use for some worship times... i really do know that God is concerned about our lives. i'm super excited for my sister and the ways that God is working to make life in haiti just a little bit more comfortable.

i've been thinking about prayer a lot after i got that email. i was kinda evaluating, wondering how often i pray for specific things... like very specific things and how often i look to see how God is working in these situations. prayer is so mind-boggling to me... i don't always get how it works or sometimes i know we all wonder if God is in such control why is it always needed... i know that it is and i know that God desires and tells us to pray. but it still is confusing sometimes, right? so i was thinking about how much prayer affects me and how it affects my life when i am committed to praying fervently for something or someone. when i pray specifically, my heart is hoping and looking to see how God will work in the situation. and when he does i see how God is actively involved in big and little events in my life and others lives. God shows himself to me through prayer and i don't want to keep on missing out. i want to pray in a way that i anticipate and look for the activity of God.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

on my mind...

Psalm 46

"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns. The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts. The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Come, behold the works of the LORD, how he has brought desolations on the earth. He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the chariots with fire. Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress."

James 1:27

"Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained from the world."

Revelation 21

"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.' He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away."

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

pray for steph!

i thought i would post a fun family picture as a reminder for us all to pray for my sister while she is in haiti. she is serving there with the 82nd airborne. stephanie trusts Jesus and i know that she knows that she is in His hands while she is there...

(as a side note, isn't our snowman fantastic!?! i think it's the best one i've ever helped make... my dad even added the christmas lights! so fun!)

my "Home"

when i started this blog and came up with a title for it, shawn was confused and wondered if i was talking about missing alaska and that was what the blog was going to be about and so forth... as much as i do miss my home state, i laughed with him and said no, of course not... we went on to talk about longing for our future "home" in heaven and how we have a desire to long for it even more as we continue on this journey in our present home...

i have to say, my husband wasn't too far off from thinking that i missed alaska enough to name a blog after my affections for it... :) i do miss it, a lot... there are things that i miss that everyone misses from where they started off life. i miss friends and family friends, church and the feeling like you are just at home... i miss the state too and the beauty there...

we went up to alaska this recently past christmas and spent two weeks with my parents, sister, and friends. it really was a great time... i have to admit though that as much as i love home... home starts to feel less like it was when it was "home home". not so much with family, but i noticed it in relationships or how i didn't always know where things were or how people were doing... there are new people (gasp! :) and new places and changes all over that you never notice if you just live there. life keeps on going and i think i just expect it to stand still till i come back.

sometimes when i am in chicago i wonder where in the world am i!?! i drive down roads all the time that i have never driven on before... the city is so big and there are so many things to experience that sometimes i feel like i'm on vacation checking out a new place! i love this but at the same time sometimes i get this feeling like i don't even know this city that i live in... now there are lots of areas i love and appreciate but there are just times where chicago doesn't feel like home either...

i went to alaska expecting to have this "home" feeling and it just wasn't there... i came back to chicago and couldn't quite find it here either... i got to thinking if there could be anywhere that really feels like home... a place where peace is found... a place that fits... i found myself longing for home, my real home, my future home, the home that i am on the road to... and at the same time in my desire to just feel that "homey home" feeling i found myself knowing that as much as life changes back home in alaska or at home in chicago, there is a Constant in all of it.

when i came to chicago i held onto verses in psalm 139 that tell me that i cannot go anywhere to get away from God. if i sailed across the seas He would hold me up just as much as if i stayed put. i find so much peace in this... i think in this and in Him i find "home"... and i desire for a perfect home in the future where that feeling of being home is completely fulfilled and completely satisfying...

do you ever just feel like you don't quite fit in? sometimes i do. sometimes i wonder where i am and what i am doing and who am i doing this with... and i know that though all these answers aren't always clear i do know that God goes before me and with me. He is constant. i love that. constant. always the same, never different, no matter where i am or where i go... though places and people and relationships change... though places and people and relationships are tainted by the stain of sin... though places and people and relationships never quite fulfill... the constancy of my Savior takes over and overwhelms.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

desperate longings

i don't get it. i don't understand why things like the earthquake in haiti happen... i hate it. i hate that our world is devastated and tortured. these kind of days make me long for home even more and more. i was talking to God and thinking about these things last night... praising God that events like these make me want Him to return even more and redeem this world... but at the same time so sad that things like this even have to happen... or even being disappointed in myself for "needing" things like this to make me want God more... wanting to know what "the plan" is and yet knowing as we all want to know what is going on God is the one who directs our steps and the things that happen in our lives every day.

yesterday my sister called and said that her army unit was going to be sent to haiti sometime in the next few days... that made all the news a little bit more personal... knowing that she will be where all this destruction has taken place. i think about the things that are happening there and though it's kinda crazy and sad to have steph go not knowing when she'll be back and all... i think it is just exactly what God calls us to do as His people. the opportunity is crazy and unreal and all of a sudden, but when have we ever been asked to just sit around and respond when we feel like it. i am so proud of her and the people that are already there working to help people that are unable to do anything to help themselves. my heart is hurting for the people there and i just wish so much that we didn't live in a place where earthquakes devastate people who had nothing to begin with in the first place.

i feel my heart longing for Jesus. longing for Him to come back and make things perfect. longing for Him to once and for all take care of the effects that sin has had on us and this world.

"...creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. for the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. we know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. FOR IN THIS HOPE WE ARE SAVED." Romans 8:19-24