Saturday, June 27, 2009

Feeling down? Only one place to go...

Having some hard days physically? Can't get done what you want to do? Hard to remain positive emotionally? Dragged down by fatigue?

Check out "You Alone" by Kim Hill on my playlist to the right. It lifted me up this morning!

I lift my eyes when I am troubled
I lift my hands, I lift my heart
And there I stand knowing nothing can defeat me
Just as long as I know where You are

In You alone
Is where I find my comfort
In You alone
You're my only hope
In You alone
My heart has found a resting place
In You alone
In You alone

So I won't fear though darkness hides me
No, I won't let my courage sway
For You are near and at the brightness of Your glory
The shadows of the night melt away

In You alone
Is promise I can cling to
In You alone
You're my security
In You alone
My soul has found a dwelling place
Only in You alone

What could separate me from Your love?
Neither life nor death, nor anything at all
Anything at all

In You alone
Is where I find my comfort
In You alone
You're my only hope
In You alone
My heart has found a resting place
Only in You alone
Only in You alone
Only in You alone

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Hurting with Hope. Hold the Sugar.

“We're not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be.”
~C.S. Lewis

Father's Day was painful for me on many levels. My broken relationship with my father has not improved, and I am heartbroken by his actions. My repeated attempts to convey my feelings and boundaries in an honest and straightforward way have not been well received. Rage and blame. It's always the same.

I'm often tempted to use the word "hopeless" to describe the state of things with my dad. And honestly, aside from a miracle, it is a hopeless situation. It's as if the relationship is simply dead. How can things ever get better as his heart becomes harder and harder? How can this situation be God's best for me? There is no denying the deep, abiding grief I'm feeling. But through my faith in Jesus, I know God can use my brokenness and work miracles in seemingly dead and hopeless circumstances, to bring about new life.

I share the C.S. Lewis quote because it's the next best thing to tattooing it on my forehead. I love this quote. It's honest. It's real. It's faith without sugarcoating. As the storms in my life rage out of control, I don't doubt that God has a plan for it all, but everything in my body starts screaming in fear - a fear of what else I will have to lose, a fear of what "new normals" (read: new lows) I will have to get used to, a fear of how isolated my circumstances can make me feel.

The pain that God uses to shape me is like a surgeon's scalpel. It's controlled by a wise, perfect, and loving hand, but that doesn't make the incisions hurt any less.

Though I do not know what the future holds, I will not lose hope, for I believe in Almighty God - "the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were."
Romans 4:17

Saturday, June 13, 2009

I Wait For The Lord, My Soul Waits

I've wanted to add this Jeremy Camp song to my blog music playlist for a long time. (To hear it, click the play button on the list to the right.) This song embodies what 'Colors of Qavah' is all about - waiting for God to redeem suffering. I'm not waiting with my hands tied like some powerless bystander, but I am actively waiting. I'm engaging God and wrestling with my fears, my honest emotions, my questions, and my worries about the future. I wait for the Lord with eager anticipation.

When I began this blog, my primary focus was waiting for God to resolve the painful circumstances in my life. And guess what? He hasn't done that yet. But God has shifted me into a stronger position of waiting on Him to see what he will do with my pain. How will he redeem my circumstances? How will he use the pain in my life to change me? How will it be used to encourage and bless others who are hurting? How will he strengthen and sustain me through this storm?

This song resonated in my heart tonight as I read Psalm 130.

Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD;

O Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive
to my cry for mercy.

If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins,
O Lord, who could stand?

But with you there is forgiveness;
therefore you are feared.

I wait for the LORD, my soul waits,
and in his word I put my hope.

My soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning.

O Israel, put your hope in the LORD,
for with the LORD is unfailing love
and with him is full redemption.

He himself will redeem Israel
from all their sins.

God, as I get weary in my waiting - when my strength fades, when I sin against you, when I'm in the depths and feel that I just can't go on, please give me hope in your word. Help me to wait for you with the same confidence as the watchmen wait for the certainty of morning.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Are You Prepared?

The conversion from analog to digital TV happens today. It's been a long time in coming. Years ago, I remember the ads that began warning people - in distant 2009, converter boxes would be needed for anyone relying on an antenna for TV reception. Repeatedly, announcements and warnings were run for the impending February 17th switch. So why am I writing this in June rather than February? Mercy. Well, kind of. Earlier this year, Congress tried to give a break to the estimated 6.5 million people who remained unprepared for the switch. It was a benevolent extension for those who were about to be shut out, left in the dark with a TV full of static.

CNN reported recently, "Republicans opposed the delay, saying the government had already given people years to prepare."

But guess what? Despite the warnings, despite the merciful extension, people are still unprepared! The news this morning said 2 to 3 million still remain unequipped for the switchover happening today. MILLION.

This reminded me of just how many people remain unequipped to face death, the ultimate deadline. It's not like we aren't warned well in advance. To quote Randy Alcorn, "the current death rate is 100%." Yet there are many people who will die having procrastinated the most important decision in life just a little too long. Are you prepared for the switchover when you inevitably pass away from this world? Or, like the 2 to 3 million people still watching analog today, are you unprepared? Shouldn't we give more thought to where we'll go when we die than we give to our source of NBC, ABC, and FOX?

There is a way to be sure of your eternal home. Jesus stated clearly:
"I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
John 14:6

In this day and age you can easily find a friend or acquaintance willing to offer you their personal theory about God, heaven, hell, and eternity. Some say that if you live a good life and don't kill anyone you will go to heaven. Others just assume that heaven is the "default destination" for people who are "good enough." The confusion that surrounds the issue is enough to make someone just not make a decision one way or the other. But be assured, not making a decision about Jesus is a decision. There is ONE way to heaven and only ONE way. This isn't my opinion, but the very word of God about Jesus: "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."
Acts 4:12

Now, some might call this "one way" approach narrow minded, but think of it this way- Wouldn't it be absurd if you tried to hand your analog-TV-loving neighbor a converter box today as a gift, but he refused it, insisting he'd get reception his own way by wrapping his antenna with foil instead? It will be just as absurd on Judgment Day for someone to rely on a list of "good deeds" rather than on the Cross of Christ in order to get into Heaven. Our good deeds are "like filthy rags" (Isaiah 64:6) to a holy God. Only one sacrifice is acceptable to him - the sacrifice made by our Savior, Jesus Christ the Son of God. Don't be one of the many caught unprepared for death. God has been merciful in extending to you a benevolent grace period, but it won't last forever.

If you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
Romans 10:9

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Just a thought...

Since my computer has been out of service for a while (and my mom has generously let me monopolize hers), I have put off charging my iPod nano. These little iPods are pretty cool devices, but they don't last long on their own power. In fact, to do anything worthwhile on one for an extended time, it has to be plugged in while you use it.

I'm kind of like that spiritually. I can't run on my own power. God's my source, and if I disconnect, it doesn't take long before my spiritual battery dies and I'm back to the yellow triangle with the (!) in the middle. This is a good reminder for me to remain daily plugged into Christ!

"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."
John 15:5

Thursday, June 4, 2009

One in a Million

Yesterday was errand day.

Now if you're healthy, that probably sounds pretty dull, but having been sick for years and disabled to some degree, doing errands is something like a combination of the prom and the World Series.

Getting dressed, driving a car by myself, having independence to go in and out of places, set my own schedule, have control, and do what I want?! Heaven on earth.

Heaven's been on my mind a lot lately. I finally started reading the book Heaven by Randy Alcorn after having it on my book list for quite some time. I have not stopped hearing good things about this book, and after reading the first 2 chapters, I can see why. Down to earth, accessible, jam-packed with scripture, well-researched, uplifting, thought-provoking. All that, and it comes with a study guide that asks for more than simple regurgitation of facts. Yes, this book has won me over. And to make things even better, I'm reading it along with people whom I admire so deeply-- women of faith who have tremendous character and have suffered with such devotion to God. What could be better?

Anyway, back to errands. First, it was raining and I wanted to stop by the bank, but my energy is limited, so I was hoping to make my deposit without having to get out of the car. Now, for my whole life, I have been simultaneously intimidated and fascinated by that drive-up sucky-tube thing that sends your checks to the teller. Today, I used it for the first time. Amazing. It sucks right up into the ceiling! I was like Will Ferrell in the mail room from the movie Elf. I was nervous I'd breach some sort of "bank etiquette" or not press a button to talk or something, but it was pretty simple. Why did I not figure this out for years? Stubbornness? Fear of the unknown? What an energy saver! I kind of want to go back just so I can do it again.

I did a few returns after that. At my favorite store, I found myself the target-demographic for basically every item of clothing on the racks. I must be the epitome of what fashion marketers talk about in business meetings. Everything was shiny and colorful, and I'm ashamed to admit it, but I kind of bopped along to the "cool music" they had playing oh-so-subtly in the background. Starved for stimulation, I was like a pinball bouncing from "neat" to "pretty" for more time than I'd care to admit. Not much of it ended up fitting or looking good. I'm pale by profession, and pale is apparently not in style.

So my last stop of the day was the post office, and there I felt like it was Christmas day when my letter arrived from Compassion International. I have decided to sponsor a child, and believe me, I'm not the sponsoring type. I get overwhelmed when I think about every poor, hungry, and sick child in the world-- a kind of paralyzing what-can-I-possibly-do kind of feeling that stops me in my tracks. Sure, I could give money to one child, but how will that change the problem? Tons of charities and ministries pour millions of dollars into third world countries. Homeless shelters in America serve up meals year after year. The poor are still with us. The commercials to save the children never end. It's heartbreaking, and until recently, I was believing the deception that one sick girl like me could not make a difference with her part-time pay.

The change came about gradually in me. The seeds were planted by my cousin adopting not 1 but 4 children from Haiti. Then an old high school friend shared she would be adopting a disabled child from overseas. The picture of her little girl's misshapen head and sad eyes moved me. I read about the mommy-blogger Angie Smith traveling to India and read her gut-wrenching but all-to-familiar stories about the brutal poverty, the children with nothing but dirty water, and dirty feet. Her first-hand account of her 2 sponsored children was another seed planted. Faces instead of charity envelopes. People instead of statistics.

Countless other seeds were planted until one night, I decided to look at the children on the Compassion site. I didn't plan to do anything but look. I figured the sheer number of them would overwhelm me into clicking out of there. I figured I'd rely on my standard "someone else will help" response.

Two nights later, I was back, searching the pictures of little girls in Asia. And there she was-- the face that made me want to reach out and hold her in my arms. I was going to do this because my heart had already decided before my head.

Later, I happened to see a video of a young woman from the very same country as my little girl. She even looked a bit like her. She was all grown up, and when she spoke about her experience with Compassion and her sponsor, tears came to my eyes. She was not every poor child, but she was one. She was now speaking to others, and her family had been changed by her sponsorship. She was a living, walking, breathing testimony of Jesus in one of those million children. And that "drop" into an ocean of poverty had made ripples that spread out to touch every person at the conference where she was speaking and every person who watched that video online like me.

That 1 child lived to be God's servant. One woman decided to give to 1 child. She didn't save the world. But through her, Jesus saved 1 more child. One more light burning for Christ in the dark. One more soul bound for Heaven.

“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do. And by the grace of God, I will.”
Edward Everett Hale