jaguar at taco bell

March 26, 2008

It was 10 p.m. That’s about the time my stomach says, “If you’re up this late running errands, I’m going to talk to you.” (Is it just me, or does it seem like after 8 is the only time people frequent Taco Bell?)

So I turned into the drive-thru lane, 5 cars deep. My ’97 Escort, a sniffing distance behind a Jaguar.

A Jaguar? At Taco Bell?

Odd. Not exactly where I’d expect to find the owner of a $70,000+ automobile spending his or her free time.

Yet, I can be like that. Not acting like who I am. Pulling into the drive-thru line for pettiness, selfishness and scarcity-mentality.

C.S. Lewis once said, “We are halfhearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

The neat thing is that when I start acting out of character like a Jaguar in the Taco Bell line, God begins to remind me who I am. A kind of conviction of righteousness, you could say.

“Angie, that’s not who you really are. ” He says kindly, beckoning my heart. “Act like who you really are.”

And this is where I’m finding life change. Not in the rules that never wooed my heart to different behavior. Rather, out of love and the reminder that I have great worth.

Valued beyond even a Jaguar, in the eyes of my Father.

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humility

October 31, 2007

On Monday, in our office devotional time together, we talked about humility. Diane, my coworker who led us, told us this quote and I couldn’t write it down fast enough.

“Humility is deciding to let God be God.” — Martin Luther


i want it now…but maybe i can be convinced of later

October 6, 2007

The more I walk this humid earth (at least in Florida and Nebraska) the more I see a sad, sad reality:

A life following Jesus involves delayed gratification.

This causes much strife in my life because although I seem in every way a 32-year-old woman who’s mature, educated, patient, a sharp dresser…(sorry, I got carried away and that’s beside the point), inside I’m just a little 3-year-old who throws a temper tantrum if I don’t get my way.

And I want it now.

I’m reminded of this as I’m studying Hebrews 11 with my small group.

Today, as I was reading the chapter again and letting it steep like a cup of tea on a snowy day, it’s oh-so-clear that this isn’t my home.

And I made a list of what I saw in the chapter that makes me think this way:

  • We don’t have clear vision yet. (v. 1)
  • Our place of inheritance isn’t yet available for us to receive (v.8)
  • We are aliens (Sigorney Weaver need not apply) (v. 9)
  • We are dwelling, in essence, in tents. (v.9)
  • We are heirs of a promise not yet realized. (v.10)
  • We are strangers and exiles. (Not exactly how we pitch the Christian life, huh?) (v.13)
  • We are desiring a better country; a heavenly one. (v. 16)
  • There’s a city prepared for us beyond. (v.16)

As I read this I find myself nodding internally. Yeah, that sounds like what my heart’s trying to say. This isn’t home yet but I sooooo want it to be. No wonder all the “now” I demand doesn’t take away the ache that there’s something more that I can’t experience here. Even as good as it gets here. (And it’s pretty darned good these days thanks to God’s gift of Scott in my life.)

So I wait. And I fix my soul’s eyes on what my earthly eyes can’t see.

And I stop demanding (at least for the next 5 minutes) as I remember this: I am to live in the present tense but that my hope is set in the future.


skewed vision

October 4, 2007

silly-ja-me.jpg

I woke up this morning funkified (I felt like I look in this picture). It’d been a sad 3 days and my usually-half-full glass was losing fluid quickly enough to demand an I.V.

Stat.

I knew I was in a funk but I couldn’t shake it. So I wish I could say my next decision was a novel one. But it wasn’t my first time.

I drove to 7-11 and exited with a Big Gulp Diet Coke and a donut.

Ugh. Did I really do that? Am I really confessing that?

Who does that? Oh, wait. Me.

As I wiped the remnant of the pull-apart icing off my lips I saw my actions for what they were: empty.

Empty. (Albeit really close to humorous. I mean, what kind of breakfast combo is that?)

It wasn’t until my lunch hour and praying with my dear friend, Amanda, that the fog advisory lifted.

We get together to pray each Thursday and I never cease to be amazed at the different Angie that emerges from the room at the end of the hour. It’s as though I leave saying, “Oh, YOU’RE God!” Truly, I am changed. Even if my circumstances don’t budge.

So I look at today and am saddened by my Greg-Louganis-jump to my own solution of provision. Whether a Diet Coke/donut seeming self-medication or throwing myself into working longer hours to distract myself or…whatever is a quick band-aid.

Oh, wait. Didn’t I just learn this lesson last week with the iPod?

Jesus, I have such skewed vision. I can’t see clearly and thus forget that You’re at work. Let me see with Your eyes and not run with my feet to try to make life work for myself.

And remind me about all this again the next time my blinker’s on and I’m careening into the 7-11 parking lot?


an unpruned tree

August 30, 2007

unpruned-tree.jpg

I can’t say I’ve ever mowed our lawn and had any deep thought. Not even an “oh-I-need-to-remember-to-get-more-paper-towels- at-the-store” moment. Usually it’s just bearing the Orlando sun for an hour and counting the lawn swaths to go like days left of school.

But last weekend, with the Toro as my witness, the backyard tree spoke to me. Ok, maybe not really. More like God said to my heart using our unprunded tree as fodder:

Angie, see that branch that’s sticking out? It’s almost like the bulk of the tree is going one direction and it’s taking an unforeseen detour. I’ve created the tree to go in one direction and it’s taking extra energy in a direction it’s not meant to go. And it’s not the only branch like that.

My life’s become a little bit like that. Going in lots of directions, spreading my energy in trajectories that are good…but not the best. (A favorite quip of mine: the good is often the enemy of the best.)

Pruning hurts. It’s not convenient. But the gardener does it for the benefit of the plant as there’s only so much water/sap/energy (I’m not a horticulturist, sorry) and so it must be maximized by trimming and redirecting.

That’s what I feel God’s doing. It’s not fun but I know the benefit. I don’t want to invest my life in a million different venues, peoples and activities. I want to choose a few, key things. God’s reminded me of the passion He’s given me and calling me to filter my life and activities through that as a means of making decisions:

Helping women realize their potential in light of God’s truth.

That’s the direction I want my branch to grow in — upward.


struggling to rest, piles for Korea everywhere

June 26, 2007

Let’s just say that today is a good day to take God up on resting amidst the piles.

Literal piles.

I’m going to Korea tomorrow. My passport is flapping its pages in excitement. Wanderlust is a very real thing in my life.

I love going. I really, really, really don’t like preparing.

Here’s what is happening: I’m trying to time the laundry and the last of the work e-mails I’m launching out like hopeful ships. In getting ready I remember other 4 errands I need to run. I’m starting to worry how I find the right students in Korea to interview. I mean, there are 15,000! How will I know who? And, oh, time reading Hebrews seems like a mirage right now.

And I’m not yet in Korea, but I’m already thinking about my return: writing the feature article (I’m feeling rusty; it’s been 18 months since I’ve worked for the magazine), preparing to go to Ft. Collins for Campus Crusade’s take-over-the-Colorado-State-campus conference and having my boyfriend, Scott, drive out from Omaha to meet me for it.

So this, from Preston Gillham, comes at a good time:

The result? What Germans call angst — a tumult in my stomach, a preoccupation within my mind; my emotions are tense and my sleep is disrupted. I’m distracted…and let’s cut to the bottom line: Spiritually, I am sinning.

That’s a drag. When I am attempting to be diligent and responsible across the breadth of my life, God considers my effort to be sinful. What’s this about?

My struggle is rooted in self-belief, self-sufficiency and self-indulgence. Therein lies the source of my sin: self.

I am supposed to rest in Christ. Nevertheless, the struggling to rest is disconcertingly familiar to me. More often than not, my struggle is to control people and circumstances, which is to say, I harbor the deceptive belief that if I can gain control of all that affects me, I will achieve rest.

So, like a child looking through 3-D glasses for the first time, I’m seeing that rest doesn’t come in the form of Old Testament Sabbaths or in me getting all my piles organized. Rather, my rest comes in a Person — Jesus. And He’s pretty much never asked me to clean up my act before He provides what I need.


confessions of a grace hoarder (who’s recovering)

June 11, 2007

I always thought it was so very silly that the Israelites became like insolent 3-year-olds and hoarded manna.

And what happened when they hoarded it? It stunk up their houses and they couldn’t eat it.

God never designed manna to sit on shelves in a spiritual Y2K safe house like bottled water and batteries. It was intended to show the Israelites that they needed God to provide for the basic necessities of life…and that they would need Him to do it again tomorrow.

But I was reminded this morning during our team Bible study that I try to do the same with today’s grace. (We’re continuing our John Piper video series on Future Grace.)

With all of my might I can try to amass grace to last me for a week. (Ok, a day or two would even be good, I think.)

And my motive if I’m honest? Because it’s scary to depend upon God. It’s easier to stockpile and feel safe. To not need.

To subtly announce independence. (God doesn’t think it very subtle.)

Matthew 6:32 (the end of the “do not worry passage”) instructs, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

If I was Matthew I would have wanted to end it a little more sunny side up.

But the reality is that today can be hard. And tomorrow? Well, it has enough trouble of its own.

So what hope do we have in the face of that 10 o’clock news report?

Future grace. Lamentations 3:22-23,

22 Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.

23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

I can’t snatch tomorrow’s portion of grace out of God’s hands today. I get today’s grace today and tomorrow’s grace tomorrow. I don’t have what I need yet to meet tomorrow’s challenges.

But I can be hopeful. Morning is coming.