Thank You God

The last year or so has been pretty tough for me.  A lot of ins and outs, ups and downs. A lot of feeling like my life didn’t have purpose and God had forgotten about me. Or else that I had forgotten about God and wasn’t really following his plan for my life.

Kind of the feeling of being outside the carnival. Lots of good booths are out there, the cotton candy, the face painter, but I can’t help but looking up at the swirling lights and wonder what it’d be like to be in there with them.

Then in late December and early January, swirling around the time of my last post, I really felt God telling me to go for my dream, the one that kept popping up every time I felt really floundery in the past year (and yes I’m allowed to make up words like floundery. English majors earn that right.)

And so Unfading was born. It went from a hazy view to http://www.unfading.org, a website for teen girls and young women discovering their identity in Christ in the sum total of five months.

Five months of praying like I’ve never prayed before, feeling certain I’d heard God wrong and nearly backing out, feeling bleary eyed over late nights at the computer and panicking because that doggone WordPress plug-in just WOULD NOT do what it was supposed to.

Now here I am, seeing the redemption not only of a long year, but of years before that, years the locusts had eaten, as scripture puts it, by eating my self-confidence, my knowledge of God’s opinion of me, and leaving behind scars I’ll spend a lifetime healing from.

But God is faithful and on this night my Bible reading consisted of a few of these verses (copied from where I copied them into my journal so excuse error please):

The Lord is King! Ps. 97:1

Sing a new song to the Lord for he has done wonderful deeds … He has remembered his promise to love and be faithful to Israel. The ends of the east have seen the victory of our God. Ps. 98:1, 3

Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning … You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy, that I might sing praises to you and not be silent. O Lord my God I will give thanks to you forever! Ps. 30: 5b, 11-12

My heart is confident in you, O God; no wonder I can sing your praises with all my heart! Ps. 108:1

Apt, don’t you think?

And it doesn’t feel like I thought it would, with everything all perfect and clear. But it feels like the start of a wonderful journey. I’m inside the carnival now and just waiting for God to point out which ride to do first! But before I do that, I have to stop and say thank you. Thank You God.

Put on … what?

www.kellyminter.com

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After a lot longer than I should have spent on Pinterest and several fashion and sewing blogs this evening, I was about to close my laptop and head for bed as it is no longer evening when The Fitting Room by Kelly Minter (www.kellyminter.com) caught my eye with no small guilt trip from the chair arm where I last put it down…Sunday? I don’t remember. It’s a fabulous book and is teaching me so much. It’s just so darn convicting. What if instead of putting on all these cute dresses from Shabby Apple, or resolving to make a cute skirt from the iCandy patterns, I was this committed to putting on the virtues that come with my salvation? There’s searching the scriptures and pinning them to my life, not just an electronic board. There’s being kind and patient and at peace when I don’t really feel like it at the end of a 12 hour day at work. There’s wrapping myself in the confidence of God’s love when I’d rather slouch in a corner because I feel gross and ugly, inside and out (and don’t tell me you haven’t had those days.)

So as I head to bed, I’m going to dream up what the perfect spiritual dress would consist of, color scheme and everything. What do you think it should include?

“Therefore as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves …” Colossians 3:12

What Christmas gifts taught me about my future

My birthday and the conclusion of this whirlwind of holidays has me thinking about gifts.

On Christmas Eve, my family finally revealed all the hard work of the previous few weeks in surprising one another with the most thoughtful possible gifts possible. From much needed electronics to an antique ink well to very stylish, and useful, clothing, to money to go toward something I can’t afford to buy for myself, to the latest Veggie Tales DVD, for my collection, I feel like everyone in my family went out of their way to pause and think about not just my wants and needs, but things I hadn’t even thought to want yet, but now adore.

It reminds  me of when Jesus said: “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!”— Matthew 7:11

And yet, I’ve spent the last year pretty angry with the Father who delights in giving good gifts to me. God asked me to do some things this year that I didn’t want to do. I’ve done them with an outward smile, but I’ve fought him tooth and nail the whole way. I could hear him asking me to surrender. To wait for better things to come. And I tried to do both of those things, but it always comes back around to me taking back the control of my life that seems to not be going very well (according to my standards) right now. I came to assume that God wants me miserable, wants me in the place of suffering in order to help the others I’m in a position to touch right now. Needless to say this assumption did nothing for my trust in God.

A number of things have happened in the last couple months to bring me back to Him, not the least of which was three weeks ago, when I stepped out on faith to get permission to do something I love but might conflict with my work. I said a cursory prayer when I sat down to write the email, but I think in my heart, I believed the answer would be no. God wanted me to suffer a bit more first.

I can tell because of the way my heart jumped in shock when the yes came back, instead.

And that got me to thinking. A very dear friend once told me about the way God had been showing Himself to her through gift giving. Bringing her into the path of multiple pieces of furniture that matched her style and loves within days of each other for a really low price just as she was needing to restock her furnishings.

She said she’d asked Him to show His goodness through good gifts, and because I trust her judgement a great deal, I thought it might not be wrong to ask for the same thing. In the last two weeks, I’ve seen an outpouring of gifts in the form of enormous encouragement. People I work with outside of my company have called or emailed in record numbers to say they like my work, someone else complimented my personality on the phone, a friend from church came alongside and said he understood some of my tough times lately and encouraged me to stick with it, and, my favorite gift, a friend honored me for doing what God has asked me to do this year, even though it’s hard.

Needless to say, my conversations with God have been blossoming over all of this. He does seem to give good gifts after all. I’m not sure what to make of this dramatic change to my thinking. Not able to hold onto it consistently. But every time I get discouraged and turn back to God to ask why, and what now, He seems to look at me and say… “follow me, trust me.”

That’s scary, because He’s asking for blind trust, and He really means it. There’s NO peeking around the blindfold on this one to know what’s coming next. But would this God who gives such really good, but admittedly trivial, gifts to me, His daughter, really plan the bigger picture to make her miserable?

At the present moment, that idea brings up more doubts than following with the blindfold on.

I’ll close with a repost a friend put up on Facebook for the New Year:

“And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:

‘Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.’

And he replied:

‘Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.’”

-Minnie Louise Haskins, 1908