Cool Beans

I am daily encouraged watching God move mountains in others’ hearts. This weekend was tough, but yet another testament to God’s faithfulness. This is one of those times where the details aren’t mine to share, but I was amazed to finally see forbearance in action; people who had a loved one not following after God never spoke ill of them, but loved in actions and word in Christ until that individual came around. Wow.

On a semi-related note, I have seen God work through some very simple acts of service and Spirit-placed words I couldn’t have contrived. He truly makes everything beautiful in its time.

In other news, I have an interview for a tutoring place tomorrow (later today), my wedding wedges came in the mail this weekend, and I’m going to get back into journaling. I’ve found writing out my prayers slows down my thinking enough to listen to God, and often He answers before I can finish writing the question. I love it when that does happen.

Real post sometime this week.

Like this song:

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The Faithful Resurrection

It only takes a moment to stop your heart
when the veins clench
and your breath trips over that singularly horrifying knowledge,
cleaving reason from thought.

Preserved like leaden amber
becoming numb and immobilized
for an eternity
I see the world with a fixed gaze
dilated pupils darkened indefinitely.

My Love sees my every detail
flaw, defect, sin
And detects my confounded posture.

He wraps me in the warm coils of His arms
Melting my jaded state with such intensity
That I am liquified with tears and a surge of fiery truth filling my lungs;
liberated from the resin of my past.

On the Roadside

A Tale of ordinary angels

Saturday morning was a really golden fall day. The air was sweet and cool like apple cider, and it was sunny. It was a pleasant day for a drive home. Chris and I piled in the car, after filling our matching travel mugs with freshly brewed tea, and headed out of town. We were past the outlying town of our college city, when a bolt on the caliper decided to take an impromptu vacation and fall off the literal and proverbial band wagon (a.k.a my mid-sized car). It started making an awful noise, which makes sense since it was the bolt that held part of the bracket for the brakes in place, so I pulled over.

Chris got out the jack and instructed me to look for the bolt. He was concerned and felt partially responsible and annoyed with himself since he had just replaced my brakes a month ago. I was surprisingly unalarmed, and started walking back the way we came on the side of the highway. I tried to not look overly concerned for fear that those passing on the roadway would get the idea that I was fleeing my vehicle and significant other on foot. I smiled to myself and praised God that it was neither raining nor snowing. My toms would not have survived that. I continued on my way. A mile was about how far I walked before somebody stopped. It was this sweet older middle-aged couple. The woman seemed very concerned and said, “Are you okay? Can we give you a ride somewhere, sweetheart?” I told her I was okay- just looking for a bolt from my car, but that my fiance was down the road assessing the situation and that they could stop and ask him how it was going if they’d like. They stopped.

I began walking back to the car, scanning the roadsides and wondering how long it would be before we called friends and had them drive out. It was not looking like we’d make it home today. Before I reached the car, the woman was already walking back toward me.

“It’s like looking for a needle in a haystack, huh?” I agreed and smiled wryly.

“I’m Rachel.” I said, extending my hand.

She clasped it and responded, “I’m Teresa.”

Her husband was watching as Chris topher examined the wheel well. We would need another bolt to get going. Again, Teresa and her husband offered to give us a ride. They were from the next town, having traveled from the same place we had started. Chris topher told them what we needed and that if they could get us back to town, we could find a bolt and he could get his car.

They didn’t give us a ride back home; they gave us a ride to the outlying town we had just passed, and took us to not one, but two different hardware stores in order to get what we needed. Teresa was so kind, and spent the time we had waiting on the men to wander through the parts section to talk about life, her daughter, their work, and a lot of her life history. I hardly noticed the time passing and enjoyed talking with someone new. I could not believe how caring and unhurried they were. Even though there were plenty of things they could have been doing with their time, they invested a couple of hours in helping others.

Thankfully, it only cost about $10 to get our supplies and get back on the road. Our unexpected good samaritans stayed until they saw we were successfully on our way, and I even exchanged phone numbers with Teresa just in case we needed to get in touch. She insisted that we call if we needed anything else. She even texted the next day.

When Chris topher said goodbye, he thanked them profusely, and I could tell that he was genuinely moved. Our ordinary angels just said, “We believe what goes around comes around and that we would want others to help us when we’re in the same position.”

As we got in the car and drove away, I noticed how contemplative Chris topher was.
“Are you okay?”

“Yes, I just really wasn’t expecting that. What they did was incredibly kind.”

“You’ve never had anyone stop and help you like that?”

“No.”

I had never recognized it before, but I have been extremely blessed in God’s provision of strangers and helpers in my times of need. I thought about the totaled cars I was in with my mother, the should-have-wrecked-but-didn’t situations, and all those times I have dealt with dead batteries or other travel complications. God has simply always always ALWAYS kept an eye on me, particularly in travel. I reflected a moment more, and smiled.

“Then I’m glad you finally got the chance to experience that. Maybe we don’t get to go home today, but I think this day is still well worth it.”

A Bizarre Fascination

Every time I see a facebook status or blog or sometimes even those window decorations commemorating someone who has died, I google search the name, adding where I think the location would be, and “death” or “obituary.” I recognize this may not be normal, but for some reason I am always curious.

Who was this person? How did they die? How old were they? How are people responding? I think we all wonder a little bit at the mystery of the unknown of death, as symbolic as the veiled portal in Harry Potter, or as concrete as the crosses and markers one sees roadside in town and on highways. I want to know in order to understand something I know we will all one day face. I want to know in order to understand how people deal with grief and loss. What would I say to a family that has lost someone?

The long and short of it is, I don’t know. The most I have to offer is a hug and my prayers, and a motherly eye keeping track of meals and helpful daily routines. Each situation is different.

Christ happens to be the only one I know who experienced death and returned to tell the tale. I just always wish I could do something more, but I suppose that gap of my understanding and discernment leaves space for grace.

Rachel the Biker

No, not a motorcycle persona (yet), but a typical college town kid mode of transportation. For the past week, I have been biking to work around 6:30 a.m. with a co-worker who lives near me. She has been riding her bike to work since, oh late February or so. No. Big. Deal.

Needless to say, I was a little intimidated by her request earlier in the summer for us to bike to work together sometime. I had a class for four weeks and needed to show up not covered in sweat, but this was the first week after the class, and since she is only in town for 3 weeks before she moves, I figured now is the time.

Although I was a little concerned that I would slow her down (seeing as she is both taller than me and more conditioned), it turns out that my borrowed hybrid mountain bike is lighter than her 8 year old mountain bike, and we can comfortably ride at the same pace. Yeah, my regular campus bike is an ancient (but free!) mountain bike with questionable gears… not something to bike about 7 miles daily to and from work.

It was difficult toward the end of the week to want to keep going, but I was encouraged by the thought that this is such a unique time in our lives. As I prepare for student teaching and my career, I don’t know that I will ever be able to have sweet fellowship with another believer biking to and from work. It’s the end of the college era for me, summer job in a cornfield and salt roommates and all.

As I work to transition, and to figure out how to be more mature and Christ-like in my daily life, I am struck with humility for how much grace was necessary for me to be where I am today, and how beautiful the view from God’s perspective is when I am suspended by grace. I know I’ve expressed that thought before, but I keep coming back to it, and am oddly reminded of a dream I had a couple of years ago in which I felt that relief to let go without reservation, and to calmly trust.

Snapshot

The soft acoustic picking of my cell phone alarm resonates my mind into fuzzy consciousness. It is 5:30 a.m. and I am awake. Mostly… hit the snooze…. again…. and roll out of bed. You would be amazed at how difficult it can be to select a t-shirt, even knowing that soon it will be covered in dirt, sweat, and corn dew, when one is at this stage of consciousness.

I grab some socks, clip on a white access card, and my keys. I barely glance in the mirror as I brush my hair upside down into a ponytail. I am mildly aware of a bump in my hair, and for some reason, this matters. I redo it, wash my face, and head for the door. It is 6 a.m.

The sun has just begun to stir, blinking and squinting its golden eye to a small sliver on the horizon, shooting bleary yet glorious scarlet rays as though one is seeing light through an eyelid. This halcyon hour of the early morning is my favorite. I think about it every day when I’m driving to breakfast before work. I am transfixed by its every projection on buildings and on trees and I secretly wish that somehow it would not end, and heaven would come to earth.

Take me where the sunrise means something.

These words come to mind and I realize that I am sometimes just world weary. But what also rises with the sun and my heart is the remembrance that, even in the small span of a day, we can choose to take God’s offer of new grace each day and follow Him (Lamentations 3:22-26).

Take a moment and consider this; God is outside of time because He created it and has complete control. As I was reminded last Sunday in church, God keeps his promises even when hundreds of years have passed here. His Word is trustworthy. Therefore, He promises such abundant love and grace that we are presented with a chance to start over and choose to love Him each day, as small of a fraction of eternity as it is. Our lives are the sum of our days.

C.S. Lewis discusses this thought quite beautifully in “The Great Divorce.” It is a very abstract piece to understand at first, but it is a difficult and complex topic to talk about in the first place. I would highly recommend reading it. Here’s just a snippet:

“[Mortals] say of some temporal suffering, ‘No future bliss can make up for it,’ not knowing Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory. And of some sinful pleasure they say ‘Let me have but this and I’ll take the consequences’: little dreaming how damnation will spread back and back into their past and contaminate the pleasure of the sin. Both processes begin even before death.”

So in this snapshot of your life- today;  for what or whom are you working?

I pray desperately for the grace to make the right decisions, the steadfast strength of God to overcome my weaknesses, and His love to reign on the throne of my heart. I have simply to make the choice.

(See also Judges 2; I read that this morning and was moved by how God promised success to Israel if they would set Him apart from other gods of the land they were about to take over. Those that did succeeded, and those who did not failed. Praise God that He loves us enough to be true to His Word, and that we have ample opportunity to succeed! God be with you as you make your journey today.)

The last class, cornfield communication, and a prayer request.

The last class-

I am currently enrolled in CI 426, Principles & Issues of Secondary Education. It is my last methods course for education, my first and last summer class through ISU, and my last class on campus as an undergraduate student. I am beginning to feel like it might all be over someday, but the crux of the matter is, the end is just the beginning. Regardless of this philosophical/sober discourse tinged with nostalgia and peppered with the ever-popular coming-of-age motif, this is it, and I am loving it! I found myself as giddy as I was as a child to be in school. I’m pretty sure I fantasize about my first day of school the way I’m supposed to about my future hypothetical wedding, but that’s immaterial. This class is so much fun! It’s cross-listed as a grad class so everyone there wants to be involved with education as a career, and the instructor is the biggest gem of all! He has been in schools for 30 years, both as a history teacher and a principal, and says that his current job is the best yet. He is always just pouring out classroom wisdom that I attempt to jot down in between other notes. I do my homework, and I am affirmed that teaching is not only a great fit for me, but also that I feel the peace and joy of pursuing what God has prepared for me to pursue! Additionally, he openly shared that the most important thing in his life was his faith walk… I’m hoping it means Christianity, but I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to figure that out. Anyway, I am really glad I’m taking this class during the summer. It allows me to enjoy the material to a greater extent, and become more prepared for student teaching in the fall! I am so glad to be excited about school again. It’s been too long.

Cornfield communication-

I love the conversations I get to have at work this summer in cornfields. What is even sweeter is that God has been answering my prayers for more women of God to be in my life. I’m living with some great girls from salt, and even have an accountability partner in a former connection group girl I’ve loved working with in the past year, but even cooler is that there are two other girls on my crew at work who are believers! I know that when I need to talk to them about life issues that 1) they won’t be horribly gossipy and 2) the advice they give me is solid and biblical, rather than steeped in worldly wisdom. Also, for some reason this summer has already afforded several occasions for me to need that support, which leads me to my last point of this post.

A Prayer Request

I really don’t want to bare all details to the internet, but I will say pray for my 16 year old brother. He’s making some negative decisions and having a hard time with my parents and other authority figures. I love him so much. He’s been talking with me, but if you know me at all, you know that my knee-jerk reaction is to want to make him move to Ames so I can keep him close and love on him, but that just isn’t going to happen. He was here last weekend, and we put him to work re-landscaping a friend’s yard. It was good to see him. Just pray that God would speak to his heart in such a way that he won’t be able to do anything but seek Him with everything he’s got.

 

Blank

Negative space grows between us
As nothing
I type and erase feedback
I don’t press send
Or “Add as friend.”
My tendrils of fresh thoughts to you I suspend
And instead become two-dimensional.
Static.
A blogging persona
A ministering angel shall I be
To you as you move on in life
Because a little bit of me has fallen
Into the stream of consciousness that
Is simply a part of the human experience.

It carries me away
These lines of electronic ink
On digital parchment
The paper piles grow
The shredded verses snow
All the discarded drafts

You’ll never know.

FRIDAY!

1) Just filed my taxes. First time ever I did so on tax day… usually i’m on top of it. Lost a w2 for the only employer where I actually had withheld federal tax. Got it emailed to me 😀

2)It is pouring outside. I don’t want to go to work, but I will because I haven’t been doing so this week due to a project that is now done.

3) “Now without faith, it is impossible to please God, for the one who draws near to Him must believe that He exists and rewards those who seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6

Have a great weekend, friends 🙂

Shots of my Thoughts…

because that is the only kind I will be taking this VEISHEA week.

1. I have a multicultural foundations of education class in which I am constantly exposed to anti-Christian sentiments, pansexual awareness, and religious pluralism in the classroom. Thank GOD for my friend Amy S. who is there and wrestles with these tough issues with me. How do I maintain the integrity of my faith and properly express that in a way that shows God’s love for humanity and is still honoring to Him?

2. It’s VEISHEA week. It’s supposed to snow on Saturday like my freshman year when I remember taking photos of friends and FREEZING at battle of the bands. I’m nostalgic, but also way too homework-taxed to really enjoy this.

3. I’ve started writing down my dreams in an attempt to understand them better. Lately, they haven’t been nightmares like I used to have all the time. They’re still reasonably dangerous, but my dream self isn’t terrified anymore. I’d like to think that says something about me, but I don’t know if it does.

4. I have a lot of homework but I feel like my mind is focused as long as I start breaking down the massive block of fear about it and don’t dwell on these feelings. As such, I haven’t been going in to work this week, and I don’t feel bad about that decision. School > work.

5. Romans 12:1-2 or Romans 5? I should show you the design I have drawn up. I still want that tattoo on my ankle. Apparently, I also explain why better when I’m half asleep. If it happens, it will be extremely pre-meditated.

6. Lord God, You are faithful. Reign in me and work powerfully through me for Your glory and credit, that I may love you more as Your daughter. Hide my will in Yours, open my eyes from blindness, and lead me Home in Your time. I love you more than I understand, because Your love is beyond what I can learn in a lifetime.