Monday, January 30, 2012

*It Makes Me Rest*

Today I had about an hour to sit at the car shop and wait alone. It ended up being exactly what I needed because I started to read a book on my iphone kindle that was really eye-opening.

It's called "More than Ordinary: Enjoying Life With God" and the story is written by a man who apparently came to know Jesus through an encounter with Jesus Himself. I was kinda weirded out at first, but then I kept reading and it really drew me in. It was about living with God in our everyday lives, believing and acting on the fact that Jesus is with us in every moment. It explained the nature of Jesus and His personality which is the best personality ever.

One of the things I read that really stuck out to me was when the author said: "I could sense that Jesus really liked me. I could tell He really wanted to be around me." I know that is the truth about our God, but I don't always think like it. It's hard to believe that God can NEVER get annoyed of us. He is slow to anger and loves us just the way we are. He isn't bogged down by human frailty and therefore He is the greatest friend we could ever have. He loves being around us…even on our worst days.

My favorite part is the fact that Jesus will never ignore us. If you want to know how to truly hurt me, ignore me. I'd rather have someone yell in my face than completely ignore me all together. I can't imagine hating someone enough to ignore them. It's like saying: "You aren't even worth one ounce of my emotional energy." It's treating someone like they aren't even human. Their opinions and side is so worthless that it's not even worth listening to. That, my friend, is the worst thing you can do to me. It's so hurtful…and stays for so long.

But Jesus would never imagine ignoring us- not even if our opinion is absolutely ridiculous (which mine often is when talking to Him). We can't do anything to make God not like being around us. We can't do anything to change His opinion of who we are. It is impossible for Him to act like a human towards us…His love is the only love that is truly unconditional.

I guess I just needed a reminder of who my greatest friend really is. When I remember that strong safety I have in the Lord, it makes me not chase people on this earth so much. It makes me realize my worth. It lightens the burden on my mind about the opinion of others. It quiets my emotions.

It makes me rest.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

*Maybe We'll Finally Get It*

"Maybe this time we'll get it. REALLY get it." I heard Pastor Mark say as the worship guitar started to strum contemplatively. Not thirty seconds later as the praise song words came on the screen, 25% of the room started heading for the door to get to lunch early…unchanged.

Today we were talking about Grace. We were talking about how we get bored with church because we forget about the great work God has done in us. We forget how black and cold our hearts are and get consumed with who we "think we are". We have this perception of ourselves that makes us feel pretty good. We start to think that God is lucky to have us on His team and we even have these beliefs that God should answer our prayers exactly the way we want because of it. We become spoiled in a sense and forget who we truly are in our deepest, ugliest parts.

It's easy for me to forget how broken I am. There are very few people that have to experience the worst parts of me and let me tell you…if they catch a glimpse, they are headed to tim buck two outta my life with not so much as a new address to leave behind. It's easy to forget that dreaded part of me because 98% of the people who know me or come into contact with me only see my good sides.

It's so easy for me to look at my life and get a blinded pride by what I think I am. I mean…I am taking care of children all day long and pouring out my life to them. I am constantly told how amazing that is and I'm not gonna lie…it's an adorable job. Nobody looks at me when I tell them I'm a first grade teacher and says: "Ewww…terrible life calling." NO, they think it's precious.

It's the cutest thing to have on a resume and it kinda gets to my head sometimes. I start to feel like I'm this really great person especially since it comes so easily for me. What some people see as hard work or a pain in the neck, I see as a fun and exciting day. I LOVE loving children. I am always courteous to other teachers and haven't gotten even close to an altercation with anyone. I never talk bad about others or spread gossip in the halls. I stay very peaceful and look pretty good to myself. I get on my high horse thinking that I'm teaching bible everyday and that must mean something great. I find myself believing I'm a good person….and even worse…I sometimes think I'm a better person than others. I brought a kid to Christ, what did you do today?

Look at me…Abby….first grade teacher…lover of children…teacher of bible stories…giver of time and efforts to others constantly throughout my week. My closet has no immodesty to be seen and I have more Christian books than anyone I know. Some people even say I encourage them or help them through some of my blog posts. Look at me…so holy. So GOOD.

I forget how much grace I need daily and put the people out of my life that bring about those hidden truths about myself. Anyone who knows the sinful side that is not seen on a regular basis…oh you know, I just call them crazy and head for the door! They do NOT know what they are talking about. They HAVE to be wrong about me.

Only, they aren't wrong at all.

I have not had an opinion of myself that is true. I am not GOOD. There is nothing good within me and my heart is painfully deceitful and wicked. The only way I am able to be good is because of the Holy Spirit within me. He has given me my passion and loves and has made it possible for me to do whatever it is that I'm doing. Because of His grace and His grace ALONE, I am able to live a life that I can be proud of.

In the midst of everything going so well this year, I forgot how much of a wretch I truly am. Maybe some of the hard things I've been through in my life are worth it just because I'm reminded of how bad I can be. How much grace I have been given and how unworthy I am of eternal life and forgiveness. I am nothing….I am nothing but a sinful girl with a heart that is hopelessly wicked to it's core.

I think that's what's so amazing about grace. A girl who is desperately deceitful even to herself is turned into this royal saint with all sin wiped away as if it never happened. I am filthy and needy, and yet the Lord longs to pick me up and clothe me with strength and dignity. He wants me to think good things about myself and have confidence in knowing that I am a daughter of Christ.

He loves me as much on my bad days as he does on my good. Grace is not something that we have to work for and we don't have to make ourselves "better" in order to get the favor of God. The favor of God is already given and there's nothing I can do that will make Jesus stop loving me. There is no time in my life when He won't give me another chance. His mercies are new every morning.

When the pastor said "maybe we'll finally get it"…I realized that I don't think we can. As I write this, I still cannot fathom it. I do not understand it in my mind and part of me still doesn't believe it to be true. I still feel ashamed to write in my journal about some of the things I did or feel. Sometimes I stay away from my devotional at night just because I'm afraid to see myself for what I really am. I feel so embarrassed because I know God has taught me better. I hate that I do some of the things that I do!

The Lord wants us to come with our hearts open and our mind clear of the illusion that we need to be something "holy" or "good" to spend time with Him. He doesn't want us to ever feel shame when it comes to Him, because He has already forgiven us. I write that right now, but I still can't get it in my mind. I just can't. It's too great of a thought…..I feel my brain stretching to try to understand it, but it's impossible.

I need to stop this teeter totter mind game of going from feeling so "good" and "holy", to feeling too broken and ashamed to come to Him. Both of these things are hurtful to us, and both of these things do not bring us closer to the Lord. We need to stop thinking we are better than we are and see ourselves for the broken, filthy people that NEED a savior more than anything else. But on the other hand, we CAN'T let that bring about shame that stops us from going to the Lord. We cannot allow the truth about who we are give us shame that will separate us from the only One who can make us new.

This afternoon I fell asleep for three hours and literally could not wake up. I could hear things going on around me, but I stayed asleep even so. It was so random, because I go plenty of sleep last night….maybe I took that nap so I could write this tonight. It's neat how the Lord works.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

*Men and Football*

God loves men. He loves the way He made them and He doesn't think He made any mistakes. I am learning just how much He cares for them in the oddest way....I am learning about it through football.

I have always been most attracted to the man's man. Something comes alive in me with that type of guy that can't be explained exactly. Maybe it's the safety. Maybe it's the fact that they can do so much that I can't. Maybe it's the attraction. Maybe it's so many things put together.

The only problem is....these type of men have been the hardest for me to understand. I am packed full of pink and ribbons and emotion and I rarely see any signs of that when it comes to them, haha. It has always bothered me to be shhhed during a football game or left in the cold for a deer. If I liked someone I would want to talk to them as much as possible, so why doesn't a man? Why is watching sweaty men run into each other more important to view than the outfit I spent thirty minutes trying to pick out? What about the hour I spent to get ready?! Why doesn't he want to sit around and talk about how special he is like I want to? haha hmm, here's what is now a no brainer that I'm unfortunately just now realizing....BECAUSE he's a man. HELLO....and I think they don't even remember what outfits we wear, haha. All that time for nothing.

I think I have been wanting to find a manly guy with female qualities which is just crazy. Why have I not seen that before? Some women including myself become so nagging and unfortunate to be around because we expect men to think like women. If we did some of the things they did, it would be an act of hate, but to may mean absolutely nothing. We try to look at men through our own eyes, but the problem is, we can't do that. We need to try to understand them for the perfect way God made them. They aren't meant to want to mute the football game and ask us how we are feeling...that's why we need our girl friends in our life!

Dad once tried to explain how talking during a football game is like someone talking to me during "So You Think You Can Dance"....the thought of that is terrible. Horrifying really. What a perfect example, haha. The other day at the dinner table I told my family: "Okay, so I've realized that I like the manly man best of all which means I need to find a way to be perfectly content with whatever comes with that." I need to be the best bean dip maker America has ever seen and learn to zip it and let the man have his football...because you know what I've realized? I think a man who loves football is secretly a man who is in touch with his emotions and does have a caring heart. Maybe that's where they tap into it. I know...sounds crazy, but let me explain.

I've made it my prerogative to investigate things about football and find what draws a man to it other than the obvious. Maybe....just's because they have a good heart. I always hear the players talking about what a "family" they are and how the game will be full of emotion. I have seen men who NEVER cry, cry after a football game that has gone wrong. I see men holding hands or hugging each other on the field that never happens in real life. They find a true connection through football and there are so many stories involved. They are there for each other and are in this fight to reach a goal, counting on one another. The bond they have is strengthened through smashing into each other at practice and all the long hours they give to it. It's a way to be the type of man every woman wants without looking like a sissy. They aren't afraid to show emotion on their face after a game or hug another just seems like all of that everyday man attitude is thrown to the wayside on the football field.

Or maybe football is just important to a man because he needs an escape from having the world on his shoulders the entire week. The constant pull to be a provider and know that his failures could cost so many people....that would be SUCH a hard thing to bare. Football has a way of taking you to another place, taking you away from the real world for those three hours. Maybe it's important for a man to get a break without a nagging in his ear.

It's hard to understand as a woman sometimes, because we see life so differently. So many things they do not meaning anything, but it hurts our feelings so much. We look at life the way a female does and think about how we would react and it's never like a man. It can be so confusing. But when I saw so many wonderful men doing the SAME things that bother us so much, I wanted to look into it further. When I fell in love with some first grade boys who constantly talk about football and want to be players when they grow up...something inside my started to open up. If I loved someone who played football, if they are on a team one day....I would be the biggest fan this world has ever seen! And I want everyone to be their fans, too..every man on that football field has a mother or woman who loves him. Isn't that a reason to be a football fan? I would want people to support someone I love!

The sad thing is, those boys I love so much would be the same type of boys I might nag when they are older. I look at them and want to stop myself. These boys deserve so much love and respect and unfortunately the confusing differences between most male and females tend to bring about rough results sometimes. But maybe it doesn't always have to be that way. Maybe we can try to understand one another and even get to a point of encouraging or getting excited about the things we don't understand or that hurt our feelings before. Maybe if we can't wrap our minds around it, we just need to pray and ask God for us to know enough to do the right thing for them. I pray that my students and my future baby boys find women who can encourage them to be men and not nag them for it.

I have recently learned this important lesson and I think it will be one I will need to continue to think about and work on. I'm also learning that with things like football, there's something for everyone. You just sometimes have to look for it. We can all be fans if we are open to it!

I'm also realizing that I'm glad I'm not married yet. I'm glad because each year I learn something huge that will help me be a better woman for him. Maybe waiting out the years and not being in a rush to find the right person is the most loving thing I can do these days.

For me anyway. :)