Sunday, November 30, 2008

God at work

I had been letting my hair grow out since I moved to LA because I wanted to be able to wear it in a pony tail again... and because some folks in this area prefer that ladies have longer hair... but Wednesday, I got it cut SHORT! And I love it! And I think it helps me look a little more "professional," which will be important this week...

A few weeks ago, I had updated my resume because I wanted to start looking for some new part time / consulting jobs. The very next morning, I got a phone call with an offer for some temporary contract work. I love how God puts things together!! The timing was great because the job starts Monday, and my pastor is out of the country this week on missions so the church office won't be so busy. There is also the possibility of more work with these folks in the future if this job goes well... and that would be a huge blessing. I'm a little nervous, but also pretty excited to see how things will work out.

On another note, the "lessons from an airline terminal" that I blogged about a few weeks ago have continued in other places. I've had folks approach me to ask questions in stores, in parking lots, and at the hospital where I take baby pictures a couple of days per week. So far, I've been able to answer every question I've been asked. It's happening so much now that I guess the airport wasn't just a fluke after all...

Exciting things are happening! Can't wait to see what's next...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Grace... one year later!

It's hard to believe... but it's been over a year now since a trip to Starbucks literally turned my faith upside-down.

(If you haven't been following my story that long, check out my Nov 2007 archive page.)

Grace is still amazing to me!

That doesn't mean that it's been smooth sailing the whole time. There have been times when I still had twinges of legalistic guilt. But the one thing that I have held onto is the relief of knowing that my salvation is secure, even when I mess up.

Last year, I began to understand that God really truly loved me. In more recent months, I've grown even more in my relationship with God... learning that it really is OK to get close, that He really can "speak" to me without it being a hyped up emotional thing.

I still make mistakes... and I still tend to go pretty hard on myself when I do... yet, I've learned that God loves to show me His grace when I mess up.

There have been a couple of times in the past year when I thought I had totally missed God... and I probably did, at least in some of the details. But instead of "rubbing my nose in it" the way I used to believe a legalistic God would do, God always provided a way for me to get back to where I needed to be and learn from the experience.

I've also been blessed with an amazing group of role models, mentors, and friends -- awesome relationships that have been a tremendous blessing to me. I've been able to share things with them that I never dreamed I'd share with anyone... and they've helped me learn that God gives grace and healing when we're open about our faults.

Last year on Thanksgiving, I couldn't imagine ever being more thankful than I was at that moment. Yet this year, I feel that I have even more to be grateful for.

Thank you God!!!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Lessons from an airline terminal

I'm writing this from a nice quiet corner of the B terminal at Dallas Fort Worth airport... in the middle of a nice long layover, waiting to go home to Louisiana.

I usually think of my air travel time as "down time" -- I don't expect anything productive to come of it. But on this trip, God taught me some things...

I'm hardly a frequent flyer... in fact, this is only my second or third plane trip in 2008. But even though I'm far from being a travel veteran, I was able to help a few folks find their way today. They just happened to ask me about things that I had seen or was familiar with from the first leg of my trip. It felt good to help!

I took two lessons from that... or actually, three:

1. Even if I don't know a lot and haven't gone very far myself, there's still someone else that I can assist along the way.

2. Wow... people were actually asking me questions? Approaching me? Either they were desperate or I'm not giving off that "stay away from me" vibe quite so much anymore!

3. God can talk to me even when I'm not trying very hard (if at all!) to hear His voice.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Extreme Makeover

A few nights ago I was watching a re-run of the show "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition." They always have a neat story line, and the change from before to after is always incredible. What makes the show even more amazing is that these radical changes all happen within the space of a week.

I've been through quite a week myself... it feels like I've been through "Extreme Makeover: Heart Edition." Something significant happened in the space of a few days, but the story actually began weeks ago with the "gem" I described in my last post -- when God challenged me to invite Him into the painful and messy parts of my life.

That led to some great conversations with my pastor & his wife. I'm extremely blessed to be in a place where I can admit that I've messed up or I'm not as mature as I'd like to be (or like others to think that I am)... and not feel condemned.

Well, a little more than a week ago... I blew it. Someone pushed my buttons and I reacted out of proportion. At the time, it was easy to justify it to myself because I felt that I had been wronged more severely, but I knew in my heart that I had blown it.

The next day, my pastor gently confronted me about it. It was not fun... but instead of just correcting me and sending me away with my tail between my legs, my pastor offered to "mediate" the situation and help make things right again. He also listened when I shared about things that had hurt me... and helped me see it in a different light. I realized that I was taking offense at things that were not meant in a hurtful way -- it was just a culture / personality clash. He also showed me how things I was doing could be taken in a hurtful way even though I never meant it that way. It was an eye-opening experience.

A couple of days later, the three of us met and I had a chance to apologize to the person I had offended. That was incredibly difficult for me -- on many levels -- but it was also a huge relief.

Someone once told me that "perception is reality." In this case, I'm very glad that my perceptions were challenged... and corrected. I kinda think my reality will be a lot better for it too :)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

My first big "gem"

I've been writing and re-writing this post for a long time now... It actually happened back in September when I was still struggling with the "Gems for Jesus" devotions. I referred to it in a previous post... it was what happened that third morning... the "gem" that jumped out at me and has stuck with me ever since. I want to share it now, because so much of what has been happening in my life since then is directly related to that "gem."

I was reading in Matthew 8 where Jesus finds the Gadarene demoniacs. He casts the demons out, they go into a herd of pigs, and the pigs run into the ocean and kill themselves. This doesn't go over real well with the folks in town... and it says that the whole town came out and implored Jesus to leave their region. So He left.

A couple of things jumped out at me from this passage that morning:

First, when Jesus does something, it can be messy and inconvenient and even seem to be destructive.

Second, if we ask Jesus to leave us alone, He will.

And this is how I applied it to my life: When God wants to do something in my life that will bring healing -- but could also be very messy / disruptive -- would I trust Him or ask Him to leave me alone? I knew that there were some areas where I had definitely asked Him to just leave it alone... but I felt like He was challenging me to trust Him, and instead of imploring Him to leave that area alone, invite Him right into the middle of it...

That was my first real "gem" moment. I knew that God was up to something, but I had only the vaguest idea of what it was or how far it would go...

There's so much more I'd like to share, and hopefully over the next few days I'll be able to get my thoughts together and share some of that here as well.