Friday, October 29, 2010

friday night ramblings...

I spent last week back in the prairie town where I went to Bible college. I was visiting my sister and brother-in-law. It was a good chance to reconnect with a couple of friends from my time living there who still live in the area. And it made me reflect on what made me love being in that place.

As I walked around the town and through some of the buildings, there were many memories that came flooding back. The dorm I lived in . . . laughter, fun, tears, conversations with friends, all-nighters to finish that paper that was due in the morning, cramming for exams. The house where my dorm mom lived . . . laughter, chocolate nights, turkey dinners, a "home away from home." The chapel . . . great worship, challenging messages, drama productions, Youth Quake mayhem. The academic building . . . challenging classes, lots of studying. The cafeteria . . . decent food for a cafeteria, a table where there's always room for one more no matter how full it already is, theology debates. So many places that hold these memories that go with even though it has been a few years since I graduated.

Being back this time felt a little different. It was still good to be there. But it also reminded me that there are seasons in life. Times when a certain place has a pull. And where lifelong memories aer created. That school is a place I will always love. But, the memories from when I attended there go with me beyond there. They have shaped who I am today. The dorm-mates, the professors, the admin staff I worked with, the people who spoke in chapel, the classmates I worked on projects with and sat in class with, the friends I made who are still friends of mine today . . . they all shaped who I am today. And that is something that is not tied to that place.

Sometimes I wonder if we have a great experience in a place and we become attached to that place - thinking that we need to go there to feel that all again. But, really what happens is that we carry that experience with us from that point on. We can still love to go to that place. We can still have memories that seem that much more poignant when we are there. But, that event, those people, that message goes with us for the rest of our lives. It becomes a part of who we are. It shapes us.

I have been thinking lately about who has played a role in who I am today. And what experiences in my life have played a role in who I am today. The list that keeps growing is surprising to me. Some of the people or experiences coming to mind I had not thought about in years, but looking back I can see how they did play a role in making me who I am today. Not all of the people or memories are positive, but looking back even many of the negative ones have played a role in making me who I am.

What about your life? Who has played a role in making you who you are? What experiences have played a role in making you who you are?

As I have had some of these names come up, I have realized that many of these people probably have no clue about the impact they had in my life. Then I realized that through the technology of today I have a way to contact many of them. And I have been endeavoring to tell them - to let them know that I appreciate their impact in my life.

How about you? Is there someone on your life who you need to let know the impact they made in your life? To thank them for how they helped to shape you to be who you are today?

Friday, October 22, 2010

gratitude, thankfulness . . . and taking things for granted

It always amazes me how easy it is to take something you have for granted. Often without realizing you have done so. It just seems so simple, so normal, that it becomes something you never think about and just assume will always be there, until one times it is not. And in those moments, you realize that you take it for granted.

Last night was one of those times. I am visiting my sister and brother-in-law in Saskatchewan last night. Late afternoon I went to use the sink and turned the tap to find that no water would come out. A little bit of asking around revealed that a water line had been hit by a crew working and the entire town was without water. Annoying, as I had just eaten a cinnamon bun and my hands were rather sticky, but they were already working on fixing it, so no big deal. Or so we thought . . . they got water back on for most of the town pretty quick, but of course not where we were staying. Now we get to about seven hours without water in the taps. That is annoying . . . there is a lot of stuff you need running water for.

Running water . . . in our Western World that is normal. We expect it. We know that when we turn the tap water will come out. And that assurance of it being there means we take it for granted. And we do not know what to do when we turn on the tap and nothing comes out.

This got me thinking about how many other things in my life I take for granted that they will always be there.
Running water . . .
Electricity . . .
Heat . . .
Air conditioning or fans . . .
Gas for my car . . .
A roof over my head . . .
A safe place to sleep each night . . .
More than enough clothes for every season . . .
Food to eat . . .
For me, in my world, those are things that are always there. Yet, for others, they are not. Going for a few hours without running water reminded me of the need to be thankful that I can rely on these things to be there.

Having just had Thanksgiving I realized that these are things that are not even things I would think of. If someone had asked me on Thanksgiving what I was thankful for, I would have said family and friends. Good things to be thankful for. I have been truly blessed in that area of my life. But, sometimes I think we need the reminder that some of these other things we assume will be there and that we so easily take for granted are things we should also be thankful for.

So, what about you? What are you thankful for? What do you take for granted in your life, that you maybe need to stop and take a few moments to express your thankfulness to God for?

Monday, October 18, 2010

obeying what God tells you to do

Sometimes the things God asks us to do seem difficult. Sometimes they seem dangerous. Sometimes they seem crazy. Sometimes they just do not make sense in the moment. Yet, God calls us to trust Him and obey - not the easiest thing to do.

Typically when you read Acts 9 the focus is on Saul's conversion. I do not know how many times I have read that chapter and not paid too much attention to the conversation that God had with Ananias in verses 11-17. Stop for a moment and put yourself in Ananias' shoes. God has just asked him to go the visit a man who is known for persecuting Christians. Just a few chapters earlier, the book of Acts records how Saul had been present and approved of the stoning of Stephen. The word from God to go and visit Saul cannot have been something that Ananias took lightly.

When God first told Ananias to go, he responded by reminding God of the reputation that his man had. Ananias had reason to be very afraid of this man. But, God still commanded Ananias to go and visit Saul, trusting God that Saul's conversion was the real deal. And so Ananias did obey and go.

I do not know about you, but that would be hard for me. As much as I know God can be trusted, I think I would have hesitated if I was in Ananias' shoes. Go and visit a known persecutor of Christians and pray for him! I do not think so. But, God says to trust Him and so you go anyways. That would be difficult. It would be scary. It would seem crazy.

Over and over again, Scripture is filled with accounts of God asking people to step out and follow Him in obedience - exercising their faith in Him. Many times these were in situations where it was hard to do so, yet, when people did step out in trust, God rewarded their obedience. Obeying what God tells us to do is not always easy. It can be hard. It can force us to face a fear we have. It can make us take a risk. But over and over again, we can see evidence of God's faithfulness when we do step out.

Scripture does not refer to the man spoken of in these verses again, but he is one of the examples of early believers acting on their faith. And faith is so much more than just head knowledge and agreeing with something. Faith does actually require us to take action. And God does keep His word to those believe Him and act in obedience to what He says.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

when dreams don't come true when you expect

Sometimes as I look at all my friends and family who have had the most significant dreams in their lives come true, I wonder why some of mine have not. It does not seem fair that their dreams would come true and I would be sitting here waiting and trying to trust God that He will make it happen when it is supposed to. I do not want to wait. I want my dreams to come true.

So with those thoughts in my head recently, I was challenged by an article I read a week or so ago on Boundless (the college/young adult webzine and blog from Focus on the Family). The article was called Things I Won't Be. It is written by someone who has an understanding of what it is like to wait for marriage and children.

Marriage and children - a dream that, if I am honest, I have had since I was a little girl playing house or Barbies with my sisters. I may have spent a number of years running from anything that remotely resembled that (as I grew a little bit older, I spent far more time playing sports with the guys in the neighbourhood or playing with Lego or cars, than with "girly things"). I may have even denied that I ever wanted to get married and have children of my own for a few years. But, the truth is, down deep inside it is what I desired and what I dream(ed) about.

And so, now I find myself wondering why it is not yet my turn as I attend another one of my friends' weddings and help my sister plan hers (after having my other sister get married not that long ago). I am truly happy for my friends and my sisters. But, sometimes it does get hard to go to another wedding and wonder when your turn will finally come - when your dream will finally come true.

As hard as it is sometimes, in the midst of those wondering and feelings of how unfair it is, that is a time when we can grow in our relationship with God. It is in those times that we have choices to make. We can choose to become bitter about it or we can choose to trust God. And in choosing to trust God, we take our dreams, our desires, our wondering about when our turn will come to Him. We pour out our hearts to Him.

And after we have done all of that, we get up and we keep on going with life. We keep on serving God. We keep on obeying God. We keep on loving the people in our lives. We keep on trusting God. We keep on waiting for God's leading. We keep on waiting for God's timing. We keep pouring our heart out to God. We keep on going. And we keep on hoping that one day it will be our turn.

I will be honest, many times it has seemed like it would be much easier to just give up on the dream - to try to squash it and any of the feelings that come along with it. On the surface it seems like that would cause us the least disappointment with our lives. It seems like that would make it easier to continue to pursue that education or to continue to "climb the ladder" at work. But, ultimately, that will not satisfy. In fact, trying to squash it will make it more difficult to deal with the dream. We are better off to acknowledge it and to embrace it and to continue to take it to God. He is the One who can satisfy and who can give us the strength and courage it takes to keep on going with life while we wait.