Tuesday, May 29, 2012

keep your distance

This last weekend, I went on a short women's retreat in a lovely place outside of the hustle and bustle of life.  During the retreat, the owner of the place gave us the opportunity to check out their snakes...which included rattlesnakes and an 11 foot python.  The python was in a pretty good mood, so many of us were able to hold him...including me.  At one point, about ten of us stretched him out, and I had the duty of holding the area closest to his head.  I wasn't really freaked out until this moment.  I quickly realized that should he wish to attack me aka bite me, he could.  He didn't, thankfully, but nevertheless, the idea that he could stuck with me.

I was falling asleep that night, and was having vivid thoughts/dreams about snakes biting me.  It filled me with fear so much that I awoke and couldn't stop thinking about it.  I then remembered something that the owner of the snake said, that snakes can only strike a short distance from where they are bent.  Realizing, of course, that I was nowhere near any snakes at that moment helped me to calm down.  I realized though that my fear of being attacked was less of an actual fear of snakes, and more of a spiritual thing.

It's not a coincidence that God chose the snake to represent Satan.  His ability to attack, though fierce, is limited.  He can only attack those close to him.  The thing is, we often allow him to come close...sometimes openly, sometimes without realizing it.  We do it when we choose fear instead of faith.  We do it when we choose doubt because it feels easier than believing for greater things.  We do it when we choose to do something we know isn't right, but we want to anyway.  In those moments, we bring ourselves close to an enemy whose ability to attack increases the closer we get.  Jesus shows us how we ought to respond in those moments that the enemy draws near.

"Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.  The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:
“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
    and they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”
Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor.  “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him." Matthew 4:1-11
Regardless of whether we have let the enemy close to us or if he's found his way by other means, our response should be the same...lean on the word of God, the TRUTH.  Against that, the enemy has no power.  His attack holds no ground when confronted by the truth.  It's our best weapon.

Anyway, all of that is inspired by my most recent run-in with a few snakes.  I am pretty sure that I'll be avoiding both kinds...physical and spiritual, even though the chance to hold such a large and powerful animal was quite the experience!

Monday, May 21, 2012

fragile: handle with care

“Don’t get all hung up on your clay jar.”  A few Sundays ago, I was the distracted one getting up and down because my work’s on-call phone refused to stay silent, and the circumstances it presented demanded my attention.  So as my pastor ironically began to talk about “quit burying God”, I knew I needed to hear its message...but I had a very difficult time.  Thankfully, God knows how to communicate with each one of us and knows what we need to hear.  Those words, “Don’t get all hung up on your clay jar,” are what lingered.  

You see, it’s not that I don’t believe God can do anything...well, in a way, I don’t.  I’ve been hung up on my clay jar.  My jar has been dry, cracked, and sometimes broken.  And instead of seeing that God, my potter, can do anything, I’ve looked at my state and said, “how can this clay jar possibly be used?”  It’s a mind full of doubt instead of possibility.

I am reminded of this verse... “This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him. Then the word of the Lord came to me. He said, “Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand,” Jeremiah 18:1-6

God can take my fragile clay jar and mold me.  He can soften the dry spots, seal the cracks, and give me the newness I need.  I just need to let Him.  Instead of trying to keep going in my condition and slapping on the sign “fragile: handle with care”, I can place myself back in the hands of my Maker to be remade.  And so I am.

Friday, May 4, 2012

missed ya'll ;)

I wonder if people have stopped checking in since it’s been so long since I’ve written!  I literally just got back from a THREE week vacation in the South...which to sum up was incredibly relaxing and I almost didn’t come back.  Haha, not really, but I thought about it.  

Highlights of my trip:
-Swimming in the warm ocean in Florida...the water is way too cold to swim in here!
-Going to the Magic Kingdom and Islands of Adventure...so fun :)
-Seeing a ton of friends, mostly NEEDTOBREATHE related
-The food.  I ate so much Southern food, as well as a few other specialties like Cuban food.  So so yummy.
-Getting to see several states I have never been to before...I love seeing new places!  I’ve decided next year I need to spend more time in Georgia and Tennessee for sure.
-Seeing my favorite band...front row...and them singing the one song I’ve been wanting to hear live!  Oh, and seeing the drummer and being able to introduce him to some friends.
-Dave Barnes live.  He’s a HOOT and such a great musician.  That was such a great show.
-Spending time with my dear friends Emily and Kyle, who moved to NC last year.

Things I’ve decided:
-I really want to live in a place that feels like the South...perhaps in the South.  I want to raise my kids on acres of land and not live at such a crazy pace.  I almost think I could get over the weather they have there to get the rest of what they have.
-After staying with Em and Kyle and eating their whole food lifestyle (mostly), I’ve decided to give it a whirl.  I just need to get in the habit of prepping my meals so it will be a little easier!
-Three week vacations were created and blessed by God.  So so good.

-Shot a gun for the first time.
-Tried butterbeer.  Yum!
-Went to a Zumba class.
-Went to a distillery and tasted their beverages.
-Stayed at a resort...like a legit fancy one.
-Time in Florida, Georgia, Tennessee and Virginia...

And, I may or may not have put in a request for vacation the day after I got back to work ;)  I'm excited for that one! A cruise to Mexico...where I am finally going to get to swim with dolphins!!!

All that to say, I had a wonderful vacation, and this week has been quite the adjustment to getting back in the groove of LIFE.  It's crazy how things just keep on keeping on...and how easy it can be to jump back in.  I've got some things in the mix...like going after certain goals I have for this year (like singing more and losing that weight...) and I am applying for a big promotion (!!!).  While I am qualified for the position, new things can be daunting and there is no guarantee that I'll get the position.  I'm going to try anyway.  I'll let you know...

Happy Friday! Let's hope on-call doesn't slaughter me over the weekend! (top of the list of brilliant ideas after coming back from vacation...)