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God gave me time.

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Every morning I like to be out of bed between 7-7:15 am, regardless of what I have going on. I try to schedule appointments between 8 and 8:30 so that I can always have solid time to prepare myself for the day.

This morning I was ultra tired, and at 8:30 am I was still in bed. Awake, but in bed. Then I remembered, sadly, that I was out of coffee. As if I needed more reasons to stay in bed. After 30 minutes of pep talking, I got myself out of bed and was in my car driving to Pines to get coffee.

AND THEN IT HIT ME. LIKE A TON OF BRICKS. MAYBE TEN TONS OF THEM.

Yeah, it was 9 am. I’d probably get back at 9:30. But that was TWO HOURS before I needed to leave for work. TWO HOURS IS A LOT OF TIME, IF IT’S SPENT WELL.

This is what hit me.

God gave me time.
He didn’t give me to time.

I don’t belong to time. God didn’t create time and say to the Hour, “here is Stephanie…. do with her what you will.” He created me and gave ME the hour and said “Stephanie, be responsible with this.”

As I got the coffee, I was thinking about the things that needed my hour(s) the most .What were things I WANTED or NEEDED to do that I could reasonably do within two hours? I made a small list.

  • Breakfast
  • Coffee
  • Pick up the clothes off my floor and put them away
  • Write letters to Claire and Chanelle
  • Do a load of laundry

So I got home, and guess what I did. As the coffee was brewing, I threw in a load of laundry and put my clothes away. I made my bed, since I was there, and then I made myself oatmeal. I spread out the things I need to write letters to my friends, and then I started writing.

I was one paragraph into my letter to Chan when I thought.. you know I bet there are a lot of people who are wasting away hours and minutes and moments and I decided to share what I was convicted of this morning.

God gave you time. He didn’t give you to time.

Take advantage of every single minute you have. Cherish it like the gift that it is, and get stuff done. Don’t neglect important things for stupid things like pinning unrealistic expectations on Pinterest, or  having to wear one more dirty shirt because you’d rather spend time scrolling through your Facebook newsfeed and hating people that you don’t actually mind in real life.

Time is God’s gift to you. You are not God’s gift to time.

I’m out.

ps: “God Gave Me You” came on right as soon as I finished typing that last sentence.

ps again: I put bananas, coconut flakes & cinnamon on my oatmeal and it was the best.

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My dress is beautiful.

This morning I almost w0re a skirt, but instead decided to wear this lovely vintage red dress that I only recently decided I really like. After church, I considered going straight home but decided at the last minute to pull over at my favorite Starbucks.

As I was walking in, this wonderful older lady told me that my dress was beautiful, that she loved the colors and thought it was very cheery. I thanked her and we began talking. Her name is Irma. After noticing my Bible, she asked if I was a Christian and when I responded “yes!,” she told me about a musical going on at a church nearby during this Easter week. We walked around for a little bit until we found a promotional flyer on a store window in downtown Covina.

When it came time to part ways, she asked me if I could keep her in my prayers. So I prayed for her right then and there, asking God to bless her and guide her and love her so much. and then she said “it was no coincidence that we met today.” I replied “I agree, it was not.”

There’s this invisible wall between me and God right now.  I am shouting to him over it, and I know he is responding, but there’s something troubling that’s in the way. I’m not entirely sure I know what it is, but as I’ve thought more and more about it I’ve concluded that this wall is my desire to grasp the totality of God.

Donald Miller once said, “I can no more understand the totality of God than the pancake I made for breakfast understands the complexity of me.”

This is my problem. I’m trying to grasp it, to understand it. I can loosely believe that there is a Being who always was, who currently is, and will be tomorrow and throughout eternity. Loosely, I can believe that. And I can loosely believe that despite what my eyes see, He is in control {sounds like an old Stephen Curtis Chapman song – King of the Jungle} and that everything I read in the Bible is about HIM.

Thinking about God – and I mean God himself, not Christianity nor my response to God – gives me a headache. I close my eyes and concentrate on the dots in the blackness behind my eyelids, hoping God will reveal himself, that he will show me a glimpse of himself: as if seeing God will erase my troubles and my headaches.

But I know what I must do. I must let go and stop trying to understand. Nobody can answer the questions I cannot even begin to ask, and I don’t think God wants to satisfy my curiosity.

Side note: Two weeks from today, I’ll be heading towards San Francisco.. a little bit of a layover before moving back to Washington. Soon I will be in Washington, with people who love me. ….and it’s more sweet than bitter, though both are there.

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Lent: Day 1.

I love the Lenten season. Maybe because I love Easter, but not how I love Valentine’s Day. Valentine’s Day is my favorite holiday: it’s pink, sparkly, lovey, hearty, glittery… makes sense, right? But Easter is my essential holiday. As Easter approaches, I start to get really excited. Easter is the most important day in the history of the world. Maybe not Easter in general, but what it celebrates. You know. The Resurrection. and so I appreciate the 46 days before, a time of denial and sacrifice. and other things.

Awhile ago I was clicking around Wikipedia and stumbled upon various aspects of the liturgical year and was elated to discover a book simply entitled The Liturgical Year available for review on BookSneeze. I’ve timed it to be at the Lent/Ash Wednesday part today. and by “I’ve timed it” I mean… yesterday I sat at Starbucks and read a deliberate number of pages. It kept my heart quiet and contemplative as I reminded myself again and again what I would give up, implement, and for what purpose. Here are a few parts I especially enjoyed:

To be able to control our bodies is to be able to control ourselves in even more challenging situations. Fasting enables us to say no to ourselves, no small feat in a world that stresses self-gratification to the ultimate.

Learning to forgo the lusting self, then, is one of the disciplines of the spiritual life. But giving things up does not imply loss. In fact, because of what we give up, we stand to gain a great deal.


We become aware of what is necessary in life, rather than wasting all life’s energies on what is at most cosmetic. We gain the kind of consciousness that is lost in the fog of alcohol or gluttony, agitated by lust, consumed by greed. We learn the greatest gift of all-freedom from the demands of the self for the good of the flowering of the spirit.

{Joan Chittister} Read more from the book on Joan’s page.

 

 

So this morning I got up {at 5 am. Brutal!!} and did devotions. In the spirit of Lent, sacrifice, and holding my possessions loosely, I picked out one of my favorite necklaces to give the little girl I spend most of my time with.


She was really excited, and I knew it was a great decision. Plus, it was on my list of 20-11’s. Because I’ve still been working on it, just haven’t been great with the posting part.

Babysat for two other kids right afterwards. Called my dad.

Then, I went to the post office. Because yesterday I got a slip saying there was a parcel for me at the post office. I had no idea who would have sent me anything. So I was anxious as the lady brought a box up for me, return address “The Dutch Blitz Club.” Cassie and Katie. My intentions were to wait until I got home to open it, but who are we kidding? I opened it right away but waited to get home before unpacking it….

That’s what it looked like on the drive home. My friends know me well, right? Then I took it all out…

That would be… a nice fuzzy blanket with hearts, a pink framed Justin Bieber picture {picked out by anti-Bieber Katie herself!} a pink polka dotted mug {that you can write on with chalk!}, silly putty, a sparkly pink box with candy, a candy heart frame, and letters. It was good to receive.

When did I become the kind of person whose friends send her books, make her quilts, send her coffee, send her boxes of awesome, write her quiet unannounced letters {Heather!}???? Have any of these people actually met me? The best part is they have. and have all seen me at my worst, and yet somehow think favorably of me. My friends are clearly the most graceful people in the world.

 

My devotions this morning were great. I’m in Judges. Don’t ask me how long ago I started with Genesis. Please, just don’t. You will lose any respect for me you may have had. But have you EVER tried to read Leviticus? Let me tell you that it took me THREE MONTHS to get through Leviticus.  Back to Judges.  I underlined Judges 5:21b.. March on, my soul; be strong! That’s all.

 

  • Pastor Eugene has written a great blog about the heart of Lent. I dig it.

 

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The Lucado Life Lessons Study Bible, NKJV.

When I opened the front cover of my newly acquired Lucado Life Lessons Study Bible, I knew I was going to like it. On the inside dust jacket flap is a little something written by Max Lucado reflecting on the power of the words “It is written…” and I decided then and there that I was excited to read this Bible.

Not only is it a translation I’ve never read {New King James Version} but it’s full-of commentaries and devotionals from Max Lucado, who is a phenomenal writer. Not only that, but in the back pages of the Bible are plenty of great extra tools and such, the one that excites me the most is a 30 day study for new believers. Guess what I’m going to be doing?

In reviewing this Bible, it wasn’t required to read the whole thing but was suggested that I pick my favorite book and read from there. I considered that and then decided that instead I’d just pick up where I was already reading: Joshua.

and that dust jacket flap was an accurate preview of this edition, because I fell in love with this Bible. The margins have Life Lessons from Max Lucado, and I sat in Panera, excited about the way he drew inspiration for my every day life from these stories in ways I probably would have never found.

Awhile ago as we did our devotions and I commented to Rachel and Hannah that if it was not hardback, I would use this as my all-the-time Bible. It’s hardback and of decent weight/thickness, so I’ll probably use this one mostly inside of the house. If you are looking for a new Bible, take the time to look through this one. I pointed it out to Brittany when we were at Borders the other day.. and read her the inside front dust jacket flap.

This is a really great Bible that has great life applications and encouragement and I’d recommend it for anybody looking for a new Bible. I just hope that one day it comes in a soft cover 🙂

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Adam and Eden.

This morning I didn’t go to church, so I just spent some quiet time with God.
Then I started playing the keyboard and I was singing this song, Eden, by Phil Wickham.

So I started thinking about Adam, and that song from Adam’s point of view..

 

“I remember how you’d call my name, and I would meet you at the Garden gate; how the glory of your love would shine.. I want it like it was back then, I want to be in Eden.”


Do you know that I love history channel shows that are not religious but are about the Bible? I really do, because things make more sense to me when they take an hour to explain five sentences, contextually and culturally. So when I was at home, I watched this show about Cain & Abel. You know, the sons of Adam & Eve.

In the show, the brought up questions like:
-Did Cain understand what he had done? Did he comprehend or grasp the idea of death?
-How did Cain know how to kill Abel? They suggested that Satan himself came to Cain and instructed him how to finish off Abel.
but the questions they raised that have stuck with me the most were the questions about Eve and Adam. How did they cope with this? Knowing that they were the ones who got themselves kicked out of the Garden, did they realize the correlation between the two? Did they feel guilty? How they come to understand the finality of death on earth?

I wrote in my journal once about how painful the parting of mankind from the Garden must have been on the Lord. There’s not much written about it, except that in his mercy God clothed man and sent him on his way to never return, to begin the real Exodus we are still a part of, the journey back to Perfection. That moment, that departure, is something I wonder about painfully. Did Adam and Eve weep and cry out the entire journey? Did they longingly look back and repent and fall on their knees? Was God watching longingly with a broken heart, knowing the cost required to get them – to get US – back?

So I like to pretend that at the moment Cain killed Abel and the weight of it fell on Adam, as a father and as a child of God, that he sang this song out to God. I want to pretend that was the moment Adam really felt the distance between Heaven and Earth, that he wanted nothing more than to stroll with the Lord and share with him and receive from the Father and be amazed by Him.

When I had finished playing this song, I don’t know maybe eight times {sorry people in neighboring apartments!} I started playing Heaven Song, because it seems like reflecting on our Exodus out of Eden should only be followed by anticipating the Promised Land.

 

“I want to run on greener pastures
I want to dance on higher hills
I want to drink from sweeter waters
in the misty morning chill
and my soul is getting restless for the place where I belong
I can’t wait to join the angels and sing my Heaven Song.”

Eden
Phil Wickham

Heaven Song
Phil Wickham


 

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