Saturday, May 29, 2010

timmy timmy time

with graduation impending... well, in the next 9ish months, i have started to panic about what it is i am going to do with the rest of my life. in fact, i'm obsessed with thinking, planning, and worrying about what is to come with the end of my college looming in the near distance. i am not such why this is something i cannot seem to place in His hands since He has proved to have perfect timing in perfect plans for me, but i'm busy keeping it in my little palm.

my life, or at least one of the greatest parts of my testimony, speaks to the wonderful timing that God has for His believers. jeremiah chase, my precious littlest brother, is a blessing from God that came just when we needed him. and boy, oh boy, did we need him! but this story is just too glorifying to not be told!

in sixth grade i decided i really wanted a younger sister. oh man, did i want one. i prayed and prayed that God do what is best for our family but please, oh please, give me that little sister. a leader from church pointed me to jeremiah 29:11 and said, "amber, this is my favorite verse and i feel like it'll bless you as you pray for your younger sibling."

when getting back home i quickly looked up the verse and to my surprise it said:

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future." -Jeremiah 29:11

well, He did have a plan. about six months later my parents sat my brother, scooter, and i down and let us know that we were going to begin the process of adoption. one year later, we were finally approved to have a child placed in our home. about three weeks later, we got the call. after a family vote we were on our way to the adoption agency to pick up sweet baby hallie. her and her mother had tested positive for cocaine at the time of her birth and she needed a safe place to stay. we just loved her and i was ecstatic that my little sister was here. God was perfect and He granted my prayer for a little sister. amen.

for three days we doted on her until it was time to have a visitation with her mom. a visitation that became a permanent stay from which she never returned. i was beside myself with devastation. i was livid with Him for taking away the little sister He should know that i deserve. my family really struggled to bounce back from the loss of Hallie. a family friend from church came over one afternoon and shared a bible verse with the family that she was sure would help was during our test of faith.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future." -Jeremiah 29:11

with a change of our agency and about eight months we were back on track. a month and a half later, another call came and the amazing baby jeremiah was placed in our home. from the moment that we met jeremiah in the lobby of the agency building to his sweet little self wiggling at my feet on the sofa this very second (i'm visiting home for the three day weekend!), he has been a light, a hope, a blessing.

a year and two months later we stood in front of a judge in the los angeles family courthouse, jeremiah became a minegar. what a lucky family we are! so my sister, though i wanted her so badly, didn't happen. but my amazing little brother did. amen. He is good and faithful in everything that He does. hallelujah.

the bible speaks of His amazing timing. it speaks of the great things He has planned for you, for me, and for all.

"He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end." -Ecclesiastes 3:11

that's right, He has set out eternity. our lives are already laid out ahead of us, we just must remember to long after glorifying Him. thank goodness He has it all figured out because i sure don't.

song of the day:
in God's time by:barry scott and second wind

Monday, May 24, 2010

perfectly imperfect

i’m back again! wahoooo! i have been doing so well, but it really honestly has nothing to do with myself and so much to do with God teaching me amazing lessons about His role in my life. for the first time ever in my dozen years of church going experience God pushed me last night. it was the weirdest experience, but the most effective God has ever been at speaking (ok, it was more like YELLING) into my heart.
i have struggled for as long as i can remember with perfectionism. this was something that was so loved by teachers and group mates in high school because i would put all i could into my work just to ensure it was perfect. but it wasn’t just at school. then i moved to college and i was tested beyond my wildest imagination and i realized that i couldn’t be perfect in school anymore, but i could be perfect outside school, so i became a neat freak and cleaned, organized, and labeled like it was going out of style (which it still hasn’t!). then i needed to move off campus and into an apartment and i found myself relocating my “home away from home” 3 times in four short months. i realized that being perfectly organized was a very difficult task with so much movement, so i transferred it to relationships. i longed to be the perfect daughter, friend, sister, girlfriend, classmate, employee, teammate, and the list goes on.
well, lately i have taken on almost all of those longings for perfection at once. but i have also retroactively applied this desire to a point where every action, word, thought, motive i can remember comes under scrutiny. if you hadn’t got the memo let me share, i’m not perfect. yep, i know, hard to believe. it’s tough for me too.
but that’s not it. of course, that’s not it. so yesterday i was driving to meet a partner for a project together and realized that i was putting too much pressure on myself to be mistake free, or perfect. i had a moment of realization that God is perfect and in His perfection i am allowed to be imperfect. not only am i allowed, i am imperfect.
so last night jason and i head into another service at our beloved church and i am ready to enjoy a night of worship and encouragement. but God had another plan for me. He spoke through paster matt and He screamed into my heart. He let me know that i am imperfect, broken, flawed, but He is perfect, proficient, restorative. my list of wrongs that i spent years beating myself up over was only bothering me. yep, you read that right, i, the wrongdoer, was the only one stewing, hurting, hating my wrong. the God who has every reason to condemn me for my lies, deceit, jealousy, gossip, hate, anger won’t. why?
because our sin, our mistakes, our shortcomings are really between us and Christ. like John describes in John 8, when the adulterous woman is brought before Jesus to be stoned,
"If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." – John 8:7
Christ is the only one without sin. He is also the only one with the ability to forgive what would easily be condemned by pain, by torture, by death. so, i need to forgive myself simply because Christ forgave me and He is the only one that can hold me accountable for my lengthy list of transgressions. what do you need to forgive yourself for? do you realize that Christ has forgiven you and wants for you to do the same for yourself?
not only did God show me that i needed to let all of these wrongs go. He showed me that by keeping a list, by keeping a record of wrongs, i am limiting my own ability to love myself. just like God says in 1 corinthians 13:4-8:
love is patient, love is kind. it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. it is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. it always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
no i don’t struggle with my weight or my athletic abilities (or inabilities) or my intelligence. i struggle loving my imperfections, my flaws, my mistakes. i have a great disdain for doing things the wrong way. well, news flash to me, i am imperfect. inherent in imperfection is doing things the wrong way, slipping up, getting a scuff when i fall down. but those imperfections need to make me who i am, not make me hate who i am. it’s time to let go and love.
song of the day:
everything glorious
by: the david crowder band
“you make everything glorious
and I am yours,
what does that make me?”
they capture every little lesson i’m trying to put out there in this song. and it sounds so much prettier than my big blob of text! J God bless everyone. i’m praying for you all. keep it up, He’s teaching us all something so cool.
and, lastly, email me about you if you’re reading. teach me what He’s teaching you.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

forgive them for they know not what they do

lately, i have been struggling with persecution. but not in the random mean people making rude comments sort of way. nope, it's someone that is supposed to be my "friend" that is testing my ability to withstand persecution.

for some reason my many years growing up in the church had always given me the impression that persecution had to come from outside your circle of friends. i somehow took the church bubble and included all of my friends, christian and not, as a part of the nice group. however, this friend of my just tests my ability to remain strong as a person of character. but i guess more details will allow for a greater lesson.

i have been assigned to a group project by one of my professors with four close friends. a precious girl from one of my classes was assigned to work with us and she decided to email me because she felt out of the loop. well, we just hit it off and ended up being in multiple classes together. i just really enjoy her and the fact that we have many things in common in such a short period of getting to know each other. none of my friends on the other hand have taken any interest in being cordial to her, much less befriending her. well, i am glad to have her as all mine since no one else has made an effort, and i'm really excited to say she is worshipping the same God that i am at the same congregation i attend!

in all of my excitement i shared the great news about my new friend to a couple of the other girls in the group. the same girls that took no initiative in reaching out to her. one in particular took it upon herself to let me know i'm weird and creepy in taking such an interest in a random girl in my classes. she has taken it upon herself to make sure i know how negatively she feels about my choices and actions at every opportunity and has even brought other friends into the mix by encouraging them to take on her rude ways. from verbal statements to facebook posts, it all is rude and hurtful.

while every part of me wants to shake her and say wake up you aren't that much cooler than me! i realize that there is no point in doing so. she believes that she is too cool to make an effort. she believes that anyone worth being friends with will pursue her. well, she is missing out. i am working on being proud of my friendliness and outgoing ways, while continuously being humbled by her rude words. jesus had some of the same issues during his time on earth.

we all know the stories of peter and judas. the ultimate traitors. they were in the jesus camp. they knew what he was up to, they knew he was the son of an almighty God, yet they betrayed him in the ultimate of ways. but more than just judas and peter, jesus was/is betrayed by us, the ones He came to save. he made the greatest of sacrifices, yet we daily persecute Him through our intentions, interactions, and all else.

but thankfully, jesus, while hanging upon the cross, begged for our pardon in saying,

"Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." -Luke 23:34

jesus was not just speaking about the group gathered around him at the time of his crucifixion. he is speaking to God the Father about us too. knowing that for centuries after his sacrifice man would continue to sin against Christ day in and day out. thankfully, he is not looking to give us what we deserve, but instead he desires to bring us into the heavenly kingdom with him and His Father.

so, in persecution, whether from inside your bubble of friends or not, be faithful to Him. or in the words of the greatest cliche, do what Jesus would do. think about it like jesus is asking you, "________ (insert name here), to forgive them for they know not what they do". wow, with a decree from Christ himself it is so much easier to keep a kind heart. just smile, it's hard to say mean things with a smile on your face. and remember He is watching from above and is proud of your obedience.

song of the day:
after your heart
by: phil wickham

learn the words and sing along. it makes you want to be more like Him. this is a desire that is so important to breed and song always makes it easier... :) and like Phil says, "lift your soul and sing with the choir... Hallelujah"

Thursday, May 6, 2010

i'm headed home.

i'm going home tomorrow for the weekend! wahooo! this afternoon i was running and thinking about my blog and what to write next. and boom, home just made so much sense. why? well, let's get to it!

when i have been away from home for a significant amount of time (which is only three weeks) i get so antsy to head back to the sweet abode of my youth and my amazing family. then i got to thinking, is this what happens when we die? do we begin to think of the wonderful place that we are going to get to return to and our hearts fill with excitement? i sure hope so!

"My heart and my flesh may fail; but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." -Psalm 73:26

throughout the bible it is discussed that we will all die. that the heart and flesh will not serve our purposes forever and will grow faint and fail. the body serves as a temporary housing for the spirit that God created which makes us who we are. but without the confines of a body our spirits will have the chance to be free and fly with no physical constraints to drag us down.

so, how should we feel about death? i think He intends for us to be excited just like i am. i truly believe that God arranges a room for us in preparation for having us home. our job in this process, rejoice and be glad, you don't even know how great it's going to be!

"Rejoice and be glad for great is your reward in heaven, for so persecuted were the prophets which came before you." - Matthew 5:12

just imagine what this homecoming would be like. the angels will sing, family and friends to have come before you will gather with joy, and in the middle of it all that King of Kings will be there to give you a warm welcome home! gosh, death seems like a reward and no longer a loss. i believe this is how God meant for death and the ascension to heaven to be regarded.

why a blog like this? well, on days that are hard, when the world seems too much and everything is going all wrong, or after losing someone very precious to you, remember He is there with the greatest of plans and parties to welcome us home. there is a greater reward that waits for us outside of the world that is grander than anything that we could ever imagine.

song of the day:
i can only imagine - mercyme

i identify with the way they talk about entering into the pearly white gates of heaven. i wonder what i will do. when i go home now to see my family i honk and hoot and holler out the window hoping everyone is just waiting to see my little car out front. how will i react knowing God is waiting for me? oh my. i feel overwhelmed now and i'm only 21. i have lots of life ahead of me. but He is excited. and so am i.