Sunday, February 27, 2011

Everything is Beautiful

"Everything God created is good..."

Someone gave me a card with this verse on it the other day. I looked it up in context, which put it in a whole different context, but it still made me stop and think about how I view people. "Everything God created is good." Everything. Not just a few things. Not just the things (or people) that we think are good or think of as beautiful. I started thinking about how we as humans put people in categories: beautiful, ordinary, untouchable. What's that all about? "EVERYTHING that God created is good." All people are the same. God doesn't split us into categories according to our facial features, weight, or personalities. The Lord told Samuel in 1 Samuel 16:7 that man looks at the outward appearance, but He looks at the heart. When I meet people, am I looking at who they truly are? Am I asking God to show me how God sees them, or am I looking at their face, their clothes, and their status? The other day, I found myself falling in love with a baby who by the world's standards is not very cute. But as I rocked her and sang to her and prayed over her, my heart began to spill over with love for this precious new being. Could that be just a little taste of how God feels as He holds each of us in His arms? He gave each of us life and He thinks we are beautiful. Because everything He creates is good.

God, give me Your eyes that I may see the beauty of those who surround me. Let me see with my heart the beautiful things that my eyes glance over. May the days to come be full of new discoveries of beauties not yet conceived. Amen.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

I've been searching for complete sentences to construct complete thoughts out of the broken phrases that have been running through my head for the past week. This week has been one of those times that everything little thing seems like a big deal and God seems to be hanging out in the distance rather than right next to me. Deep questions about life and the way I should live continue to bombard my mind and heart, becoming more and more complex. Let me share one with you.

One day last week was especially challenging. I had had a very long day and had many pent-up tears to cry when my dad picked me up that evening (he wasn't letting me drive in the snow yet). Through a face full of tears, I explained my "horrible" day to my patient father as he navigated through the icy streets. "Dad, she's just awful. She doesn't like me and I don't like her and it's so hard to communicate with her! It was just a horrible day!" I was hurt and upset and all I wanted was for my dad to justify my feelings. My dad, being the down-to-earth kind of guy that he is, proceeded to explore some of the reasons that this particular person may be the way that she is. That was not exactly what I wanted at that moment. I didn't care why she was the way she was. I wanted to be hurt and live in my little pity-party world without interferance. I continued to listen to my dad as we talked more about the situation. And then he prayed. The words that came out of his mouth next made my jaw drop. "God, I pray for this person. We bless her, Lord." Bless her?! I didn't want to bless her. She'd hurt me. She didn't deserve a blessing. Blessing her meant that I had to forgive her and that how she'd treated me didn't matter. And it did! I sat silently in the passenger seat, quietly collecting my thoughts. Shouldn't forgiveness be my first response to hurt? Shouldn't I want to bless her and pray for her salvation and understanding of God's love for her? It's been drilled into me since I was a small child: "forgive as your Heavenly Father has forgiven you." Sounds simple enough, right? Sure. In theory. That night, I realized that I have some pretty deep spots in my heart that I haven't yet allowed God to penetrate. I've kept pockets of hurt and pain from Him, knowing that if I allowed Him to open them, they would ooze and overwhelm me, causing even more pain. I wanted to have my own pity place, a place safe from conviction to allow me to dwell on the past rather than let God heal the wounds the past has left. A situation that happened last night opened up another pocket, causing me to realize yet again that forgiveness has been a continual struggle in my life. As hard as it is for me to admit, I'm thankful that God has brought this struggle to light. He is challenging me to forgive, even when it hurts, to be a living sacrifice. Yes, it hurts. And it's hard. But I'm willing to learn, willing to be poked and prodded and molded until I reflect my Savior's image. Why? Because He's worth it. And I love Him.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

God is like an Iron

Today was another snow day. Crazy, right? Yes. I couldn't believe it. I woke up this morning determined to not let the snow beat me this time. I WAS going to go to work and nobody, not even the snow, was going to stop me. So, I drug myself out of bed (a little later, since it was technically a snow day), pulled on my pink polka dot boots, and trudged out to see the what surprises the snow had left me. Well, my car (actually my dad's car that he kindly let me borrow) was hidden underneath a foot of snow. Not to mention the foot-high drifts pressing against all four sides. I set to work swiping away at the snow, still determined that it wasn't going to win. After about 2 minutes of swiping, I'd barely made a dent in my car's new fluffy white hat. Discouraged, I trudged back inside to my roommates, who were much too amused at my determination to get out. Needless to say, I gave up. The snow won yet again. Oh well. Life happens, right? If there's one thing I've learned through all of these snow days, it's that I can't control the weather.

Well, I eventually made it to work around 11:30 a.m., thanks to my roommate's fiance who has a coveted 4-wheel-drive vehicle. Thank you, Jake. When I opened the door to the nurse's office on campus where I work, I noticed a white towel spread on the floor beneath the sink. After reading the note my boss had left me, I remembered that I was supposed to clean up a rather large mess that I'd accidentally left behind on the carpet of the office. Last time I worked, I knocked over a melted candle. Enough said? There was a huge, waxy white spot on the carpet that could only be conquered with an iron and a large supply of paper towels. I set out to find an iron, which I secured about two hours later. After the iron had warmed up, I gingerly knelt on the floor next to the stain, placed a paper towel over the wax, and proceeded to apply heat to the seemingly never-ending stain. As I was sitting there ironing the floor, I started to realize something. This was not going to be a quick fix. Sometimes I used two paper towels on one small spot of wax, pressing the same place over and over again until all of the wax had absorbed into the paper towel. I then had to repeat the process on the next small spot. After about fifteen minutes, I was only half-way done. As discouragement threatened to set in, God brought an analogy to mind. God is like an iron. Which means that we're the carpet. We all have blemishes in us, little pockets of struggles and weaknesses that God has to carefully iron out, one at a time. He doesn't rush it, doesn't blast us with heat all at once to make us repent and reform, but instead He gently coaxes the wax out of us, one small spot at a time. It may take days, weeks, months, or even years, but He won't give up on us. And eventually, after much patience on His part and probably tears on ours, we'll be spotless! I was, in fact, able to transfer the majority of the wax onto paper towels, which I promptly threw in the trash can, never to be seen again. It's the same way with the things God irons out of us - they'll be gone forever, and we will be left in freedom.

"Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." Philippians 1:6

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Snow Days!

I live in Oklahoma. We get 2-3 snows a year, usually lasting about a day each before the temperature soars, it all melts away, and we forget it even happened. Not so this week. This past Tuesday, a record blizzard swooped across the Midwest United States, dumping 15 inches of snow in my yard. Crazy, right? Yes. Especially since I couldn't even leave my house until Saturday. It felt like Christmas Break the Sequel: sleeping in every morning, wandering around the house trying to find something to do, watching TV for an ungodly amount of hours, and purposely avoiding doing anything productive. Tomorrow is Monday, which means that I will have to drag myself out of bed at 5:30am and go to clinicals, after which a crazy week of classes, studies, and work will begin once again. All I did this week was complain about being snowed in and not getting to see my friends, but when I woke up this morning, I had gained a whole new perspective. God gave me this past week as a gift. Even though only three weeks of school had passed since Christmas break, I was already exhausted and in need of rest. God knew that and He answered with 15 inches of snow! So this morning when I went to church, I was thankful. Thankful for the rest, thankful for the reminder that God knows my every need, and thankful for His strength that renews me every day.