Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Purpose of Just Being

How has it been over two weeks since I've written here?  Two weeks!

And it's pretty much been the same ol', same ol'. Work.  Lecture.  Clinical. Friday night football. Reading. Nothing exciting.

Been doing a lot of thinking.  I'm reading A Million Little Ways, talking about finding art in your everyday life, and how all of us are artists in our own way...

Except I'm not an artist.  Never have been.  And I totally didn't think this book was for me...

Except we are art. We are His creation. We are His art, art breathing.

We all have a purpose.  As I'm rushing around, crazy` chaos, trying to just exist, I'm telling a story. 

And this week I've been thinking about what that story is, and how it reads, and how it affects others.  Some days I feel like I do really, really good... and then there are other days.

Days like I've had most of the past week.  And probably days like you've had sometimes, too. 

When you wonder just what it is that you are supposed to be doing.  What is the meaning to all of this? And it would be really nice if there was a burning bush or a voice in the middle of the night calling your name, except let's face it... we'd probably pee on ourselves if that happened. But a neon sign flashing, "You're on the right track..." or "Turn around now" would be nice.

But what I'm thinking tonight, and this is deep, y'all... What if this is it? I mean, not like eternally it, because I know this is temporary. But what if that whole big "purpose" is just what I'm doing... laughing with Caleb and smiling at the stranger in the grocery store and taking big deep breaths when I don't feel like I'm getting any air and worshipping as I'm driving down the road or walking on the treadmill...

What if the story I'm telling isn't so much about what I'm doing and what I'm accomplishing and how I'm feeling... but what if is about the other people I run across, that I don't even know their name?  So many of Jesus's story were about those who aren't even named.. because ultimately, His story, His time on earth, was about His Father.

And as I've been thinking that, as these words have been pouring out onto the screen, suddenly I can breathe a little easier... because if it's not about me, well, what I do doesn't matter so much... because if I can ever learn just to hand it all over, just to wring myself out and give it up, quit striving... well, He moves in, and He starts doing.. and I can just be.

Be art. Be a Mama. Be a wife.  Be a student.  Be a reader of His Word. Be loved and cherished and redeemed and forgiven and enough...

Because He is more than enough. And His grace is sufficient.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Isaiah 49:23 We will Not Be Disappointed

Sometimes it feels like I'm fresh out of  hope. 

It's a rainy day today here in the bluegrass, and as I drag myself out to the car what I'd really like to do is just go back to bed.

And it's been a good week... but sometimes we just get worn out. 

I'm thinking back to the middle of summer... where it is so hot and dry and the grass is starting to turn brown.

Sometimes that's how I feel, even as I check off my to do list and meet with students and hug Caleb and take popsicles to the ball girls.

Dry. Drab.  Thirsty...

This week in the P31 OBS of Renee Swope's A Confident Heart, we're reading chapters 1 and 2.  Our verse for the week comes from Isaiah 49:23b, which says (NIV): Then you will know that I am the Lord those who hope in me will not be disappointed.

Just looking at this verse gives me pause.  If I hope in Him, I will not be disappointed.  Hope is a confident expectation.  If you are expecting something, you can't doubt that it will occur- you know it, you look for it to happen. 

By putting our hope in Him, we will not be disappointed... will not be let down, will not have our dreams smashed.

The King James Version, which is my primary study Bible, says it a little different.  "and thou shalt know that I am the Lord: for they shall not be ashamed that wait for me."

The word wait there translates to hope... waiting with expectation.  Ashamed can be translated as "disappointed"... but it also had another translation.  The Hebrew Word can also be translated as "to be made dry."

When grass is dry, it is dead in the heat of summer.  When creeks are dry, there can be no life.  When the well is dry, all you get is dust. 

I don't want to be dry.  I want to be alive, full of hope, free from disappointment, even on my darkest days.

How do we do this?  Well, we hope in God, because He will not allow us to be dry.  Today's reading was from Chapter 2, which touched on the story of the Samaritan woman at the well from John 4.  "I'll give you living water.  You'll thirst no more." (my paraphrase). 

The Samaritan woman was thirsting for something.  I'm thirsting for something.  You're thirsting for something, because we were made to be in relationship with the One and Only God.  We try to fill our insatiable thirst for that one thing with people and jobs and possessions and tasks and books... but all that does is sap out our life, our water, and we become dry, brittle, and dead.  But He wants to fill us.  He wants to offer us living water. His living water gives us hope, and we will not be disappointed.
. P31 OBS Blog Hop

Monday, October 7, 2013

Happy Birthday Kami and Al!

Tonight on the way home I was reflecting about the stories of our lives.  There are some stories that I never get tired of telling.  Stories about when I drove the car down Picnic Hill, or when Caleb rode the ice cream truck at Myrtle Beach, or about when Wallace wrecked and how scared I was.

And then there's the story of the explosion in the Clemons Clan. 

And in case you haven't heard it, let me enlighten you.

Twenty years ago, my Aunt Nora was pregnant.  She had been telling us for a while.  Gentry was two or three and it was time for her to expand her family.  She was the baby, and we were all excited.

My Mom, the oldest sibling, had two daughters already, and Billy had already moved in with us.  I was a pouty teenager and Holly was her happy go lucky Indian loving self.

And then she called a family meeting, where she announced tearfully that she was pregnant.  She was a little nervous. After all, I was thirteen.  Holly was seven.  Mom was forty. 

 That  evening, Mom began calling everyone and telling them the good news.  She called Aunt Dana, who said she was heading to the doctor the next day... and Aunt Lisa refused to drink the water at Grandma Na's for a while.

So, fast forward seven months or so.  Mom had already scheduled her C-section for October 8th.  Nora wasn't due for two more weeks but she wasn't going to let Mom beat her.  She called to say she was headed to Lexington.  Alaxandra Gabrielle Hays was born into this world to that long name that we soon shortened to Al (which, by the way, is NOT a girls name... inside joke and a story for another time).  About two hours later Kami Elizabeth made her debut.  Nora had won the race and the two sisters were roommates. The Clemons Clan took over Central Baptist, or at least that room. 

The next morning, Jen and I were dropped off at Rupp Arena where we stood in line for Garth Brooks tickets.  We bought an extra one, and gave it to Nora for all of her hard labor (remember, we were 14 and 16 and needed a ride to the concert).  I don't know which I was more excited about... the tickets or my baby sister.

By Christmas time, Dana had Brayton and plans were made to knock down a couple of walls in Grandma and Grandpa's house. 

Yep, one of my favorite stories... and I'll probably tell it again next year.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Struggle

I'll be the first to admit that I like life easy. Way easy. I've often joked that if I had been born in an earlier generation, I never would have made it... only that's not really a joke. Give me my electricity, my DVR, my vehicles so I don't have to walk, and my drive-thru restaurants.

  Convenience. In our society, we've grown accustomed to a hurry up response. I'm incredibly impatient. Just watch me on Tuesday morning, my first day back in the office after the weekend and a day at clinical. Is it just me, or do the few minutes it takes my computer to boot up take forever? Which leads me to click and click and click and eventually lock up the system.

I've been blessed, and I know it. While I was never a stellar student, I was always able to do just enough to get by... until nursing school, when I learned the definition of hard work. Even then, though, I struggled through and persevered...

And writing papers has always been my niche... until this semester. And this finance class is a struggle. Two semesters ago I had a class called biostatistics that was hard. The name of the class just sounds hard. I knew it was going to be difficult going into it, and so I worked and complained and worked and complained, but by the grace of God and a teacher who assigned grades on a very steep curve, I managed to get an A. Now, with this finance class, I can see my 4.0 GPA sliding down the slippery slope... and today I got very frustrated.

And last night, I spilled milk on my computer and the top row of letters are now frozen, you know, those important ones like e, r, t... And I got on gradebook and saw I had gotten a 75% on my last assignment for finance, and I realized how life is a series of ups and downs. A 75%? Seriously? After all the time and effort I spent on that assignment? And now my computer won't work, and I have just kept... gaining... weight. Which really has nothing to do with anything, except I have pushed exercise to the back burner as I worked on papers and assignments and all this other stuff...

So today, as Pastor Kemper preached about an eternal hope, I read a familiar verse. Romans 5:3-5, " Not only so, but we[a] also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us."

The struggles we meet are temporary. Earthly. This class will pass. I'll get my computer fixed or settle for using Wallace's every now and then. If we can remember this, that struggle is temporary, it helps us fix our eyes on what is eternal... the hope of Jesus Christ, and this hope, produced from us modeling our character after Christ and allowing Him to manifest through us by His fruits, will help us struggle through our temporary burdens. If we don't fix our focus on Him, we become an enemy of the Cross. When I am concentrating on my struggles, my classes and my weight gain and the fact that I have been inconvenienced by a lack of my own computer, it takes away the joy that allows others to come to know Christ through us. This is described in Philippians 3:19, "Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things." The enemy of Christ... their god is their stomach. This verse stuck out to me today because of my struggles. Not just food, but the insatiable need to be filled... filled with wordly things. Focusing on earthly things, everything but where it should be.

So tonight I'm glorying in my sufferings. My computer not working meant that I watched Caleb jump on the trampoline and read some and took a nap with Wallace and watched football. I forced myself to do an hour on the treadmill. I'm looking up verses on wisdom and am renewing my focus... even if it means it is a struggle.

His grace is sufficient... even for financial management.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

What I'm Reading in October

If I could choose one day to spend exactly how I'd like to spend it, it would probably include some Cheesecake Factory.  Or perhaps Papa Johns Pizza.  A long nap. And, of course, a book.  While I can dream of relaxing the day away, I'm indulging in a few good reads when I can get a few minutes.  What I'm reading right now...

On my Kindle, I'm still reading Auschwitz: A New History. I started it in August, and am over halfway through it.  I'm learning a lot and realizing there is a lot I didn't know about the Holocaust.  The class systems, even in a concentration camp, and how things were planned for a final extermination is really quite scary.  It is a deep and thought-provoking book.  I'm also reading Angel, by Mary E. Kingsley.  This book is set in Tennessee during the Vietnam War era, and follows a 13 year old on her path to find answers to questions about her life and those she loves.  It's an easy read, no big words or complicated language, and I'm liking it so far.  I'm also reading The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth by John Maxwell.  I had planned to read a chapter or two of that a month to read it throughout the year, but that's not worked out the best, so I am resolved to finish it up this month.  , 

I'm reading The Drowning Tree by Carol Goodman; I started it last month and it is just getting good.  I kind of hated to get out of the bathtub last night and stop reading! I started Summer Rental by Mary Kay Andrews as well.  Set in Nags Head, it's really making me wish I was in the Outer Banks, or at least at a beach somewhere.  I love reading books set in places I'm a little familiar with... it helps me picture in my mind what's going on.  My drive-thru read is The Inn at Rose Harbor.  I love Debbie Macomber.  That's all.  Her writing style is easy to read and her characters are true to life.  I'd like to visit Cedar Cove, except it rains a lot there and I really don't care much for rain.

Two nights ago I downloaded Beth Moore's digital pass for her simulcast from Sept. 14th.  I knew she was speaking on grace, which is my word of the year.  30 minutes in, she started talking about Brennan Manning's The Ragamuffin Gospel, a book I've had in my bookshelf for several months.  I got it off the shelf and have been reading a chapter a night, highlighting and making notes.  And it's good.  I'll also be starting Jesus the One and Only Monday and A Confident Heart by Renee Swope October 13th.  I've already got it downloaded and will probably start reading early =)

And my to read list... which just keeps growing and growing.  I'm  planning on finishing the Nicole Baart trilogy, Beneath the Night Tree.  Notorious Nineteen by Janet Evanovich.  What Alice Forgot.  Jeremy Camp's autobiography.  Gabby Douglas's autobiography.  Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker... oh, I could go on and on.  And then there's the books I wanted to read last month that are already downloaded on my Kindle... Grace by Max Lucado and Unconditional by Eva Marie Everson. 

As always, comment below with any suggestions for me. I may not read them until this time next year but I'll definitely look into them. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

September in Review

Today I turned the calendar to October, and sat there gazing out my window at the trees starting to change colors.  This week is Caleb's fall break and next week is ours (even though I will probably work.), and then it is midterm, and the semester is downhill from there.  I'm amazed, absolutely amazed that it has gone by so quickly.  It seriously seems like yesterday that I was writing my goals for 2013.  I've done pretty much nothing that I sat out to do, but it's still been a good year so far, and with three months left, I have no doubt it will end on a high note.  So... here we go with my monthly review.  

While still not exercising consistently, I am managing three or four days a week on the treadmill.  No weight loss, and in fact I might have even gained a little... but I'm moving.  I'm just going to keep on keeping on. 

Bible reading and memorization... ok, let's be honest. I've slacked off on memorization. Haven't opened my Chronological Bible... I'm reading Ephesians and yesterday it was just what I needed to read.  Starting Jesus the One and Only next week, and then A Confident Heart by Renee Swope on October 13th.  I also bought Beth More's Simulcast recording and am looking forward to this weekend.. it's on Romans 5, talking about that one word... grace =)

Blogs and pictures... Have just.  about. quit.  This month I'm resolved to do better... starting tonight.  

I read 9 books in September for a total of 86 books... I've reached my goal on one thing, at least.  More on reading in another blog.  Been slow on my counting gifts... 28 things I'm thankful for in a day (10,000 in a year's time), so I'm taking her up on it this month.

Sleep... Doing better. Getting about 7 hours a night. Still struggling with getting up early, but it is what it is.

Grace.  2013... I've needed it.  I've gave it, some.  It is what it is... and I'm going to keep on pressing on, to the best of my ability.. living, and improving a little each day.  Isn't that what it's about, anyway?  =)