Monday, October 31, 2005

"The Dream Giver"

My sister gave me a book a while back, The Dream Giver by Bruce Wilkinson. I must confess, I'm not a huge Wilkinson fan. I read The Prayer of Jabez and I really didn't like how Wilkinson turned those few verses into a spring-board for the Health and Wealth Gospel. But that's another post.

This book is a little different. It's about a Nobody named Ordinary who leaves the Land of Familiar to live his Big Dream. I know. It's almost too "cute" even for me. The first half of the book Wilkinson considers a parable, the second half he explains the parable. I don't think it's a parable because parables are metaphoric. This book isn't a metaphor. You don't have to figure out who Ordinary represents and where the Land of Familiar is because it is simply stated.

I'm getting off the subject.

The second half of the book isn't too bad. Apparantly, my sister knows exactly what I need to hear right now. She read this book, thought of me, so she bought one for me. I am very grateful to her.

In the first half of the book, Ordinary gets stuck in the Wasteland as he is on the path to his Big Dream. I like what Wilkinson does with this portion of the book. He explains so very well how the Wasteland is necessary for all of us who have Big Dreams. He uses examples from scripture: Moses, Joshua, and David, all who had their Wasteland experiences before God used them and they achieved their Big Dreams. I like that. It's where I feel like I am right now.

But I have a problem. It's a problem because, even though I'm stuck in the Wasteland, I don't know what my Big Dream is. This is where I think Wilkinson has messed it up. Moses didn't know what his Big Dream was, either, and neither did Joshua. At least, they didn't know what their Big Dream was while they were stuck in the Wasteland. They did discover it later on, but it wasn't until they came out of the Wasteland before they were able to discover their Big Dream. And I would even argue that it wasn't their Big Dream. It was God's Big Dream for them.

Wilkinson does have one thing right: a Wasteland experience can be long, it can be hard, and it can be life-altering. But God wants it that way. It is only through those experiences that God will shape us into the people that He wants us to be. It is only in the tough times that our character builds and that we learn to rely more on Him and less on ourselves and the people and things around us. I have to keep pounding that into my head, otherwise I don't think I could make it. I don't see the changes, but Wilkinson says that my friends and the people closest to me probably do......they may be able to see just what God is shaping me to be.

What do you guys see in me???????

Friday, October 28, 2005

I'm Copying

Jana did this, and I thought it looked fun, so I'm going to do it, too. :o)

If you were having a party and could invite any one (as long as you had never met them before), who would you invite?

Jesus (duh)
Ghandi - I think it would be really cool having Jesus and Ghandi at the same table.
Dolly Parton - She's just cool and really the only celebrity that I would go ga-ga around (even though I'd try to play it cool).
Mother Teresa - Boy, the things I could learn from that woman.....
Bill and Melinda Gates - Because they're super rich and still give away lots and lots of money. I'd like to talk to them about how they choose to whom (where) to give the money.
Oprah - She's Oprah, people!
Henri Nouwen - One of my favorite authors. Another person I would love to learn from.
Mary Magdaline - I want to know if she wrote the gospel of John and what she did after Jesus left Earth. Scripture tells us nothing of her.
Laura Bush - I just like her.
Watson and Crick - The guys that discovered the DNA structure and some other cool stuff....how do people like that think???
Some other early scientist people - what where they thinking when they infected themselves or their loved ones with stuff that could have killed them, but that didn't kill them and led to some of the most significant scientific and medicinal discoveries our world has ever known. What risk-takers!
The guy who first looked at a cow's udders and thought to himself, "What if I were to drink from those????" And then had enough courage to actually try it.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Same Song, Different Verse

I know you guys are getting sick of me saying, "Well, I'd post more if I wasn't sick." But here it goes again:

I'd post more if I wasn't sick.

I've had a virus since Monday night. I stayed in bed all day Tuesday (except for when Rick took me to the doctor). I came to work yesterday for a couple of hours to do absolutely what had to be done, and then I went home again. I couldn't talk, and when I tried to talk, people would either laugh at me or look at me with this terrible look on their faces like, "GO HOME!"

Today I'm a little better, but I still get the look from people like, "Well, you can be here today, but stay far, far away from me." I'm tired and I would have stayed home if I had any sick time left. It's all gone.

I have nothing to write about since I've been stuck at home watching civil court tv shows all day long. I guess that's better than soap operas.

The things people will sue you for.........

Monday, October 17, 2005

Another Diagnosis

I saw my transplant doctor today.

I'm almost embarrassed to write this (after freaking out over what my problem could be), but he thinks that I have a pulled ligament in my back. That's much easier than an ovarian cyst, or the other things that my imagination told me it could be. He gave me some exercises to do and told me to try it out for a couple of weeks and see what happens.

It can't hurt......

Friday, October 14, 2005

Results

This is going to be short because I still have a lot of people to notify about what I found out yesterday.

I went in because my doctor didn't find anything wrong with my kidneys, but he did a pelvic exam and my left ovary was very inlarged and painful. He thought I had a cyst.

So I had the ultrasound done yesterday and everything was completely normal. No signs of anything growing or abnormally sized or weird tissue. That's the good news. I would have thought it was a miraculous healing except for the fact that I was in more pain yesterday than I have been in a very long time. I'm even (still) hurting a little this morning.

I've got to call my doctor today and see if he has any more ideas as to what could be wrong. I see my liver doctor on Monday for my normal check-up and I will tell him what's going on, too, to see if he has any ideas. And I'm going to make an appointment with my Gyn to pick his brain a little. Hopefully between the three of them (and they are three incredibly smart men) they will have some more ideas as to what to check....I may even have them do a conference call to pick each other's brains and share ideas. 3 heads are better than 1, right????

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Pain Hurts

Since Friday, I haven't posted much because I haven't known what to say. My fear of what is to come tomorrow has rendered me speechless on many topics. I felt the need to post yesterday, so for lack of anything else to say, I posted that story that I have been promising about my junior year.

But I have something to say tonight.

I am only learning that people all deal with pain in the same way. Christians, that is. As I sat tonight and listened to the story of two parents who have struggled with their children and their children's problems, I cried because although our pains are so different, they are so much alike. The pain has driven all of us to our knees at times; driven us to the point of prayerless-ness, of literally being unable to utter words to pray, of being sick and tired of praying with no answer - much less a clear answer - in sight.

But I'm beginning to understand something.....I'm beginning to understand how Scripture says that Jesus knows our struggles. Jesus didn't have to undergo a liver transplant and have to deal with medical problems throughout his young life, but He still knew pain. He knows the emotion that goes along with praying and not getting the answer that you had hoped for. He knows what it feels like to feel as if God has abandoned you, and, friends, that is a much more difficult pain to have than the pain of anything physical.

My current struggle has me so emotional. I want to badly to believe that God is going to take care of things to the point of removing the problem completely, but I can't let myself. I can't let myself believe it because I don't want to be let down again. I don't want to have to struggle with praying for God to heal me and then dealing with it when He chooses not to. That's much harder than not really believing that He'll heal me to begin with. I asked time and time again for healing years ago for my liver, and He didn't do it. What's to make me believe that things are so different now that He will?

I don't know what to pray for. I don't know how to approach God when I'm hurting so badly. You would think that I would have that lesson learned by now, but I don't. I want to believe that I've learned so much from my last round of struggles (that I wasn't even through with when this hit) that this would be easier, but it's not. Pain is never easy.

I hope that I can come to you tomorrow night with news of God's miraculous healing, but I'm aprehensive. Please continue to pray for me and Rick. Pray that whatever part of my flesh that needs to die will die through this. I have no idea what else to ask.....

Monday, October 10, 2005

Junior Year

I have told you guys multiple times that I would write about the "God stuff" that happened my junior year of college, so here it is:

I had been dating a guy for almost 3 years. We started dating my senior year of high school, got engaged without telling my parents, I broke off the engagement, and then we got engaged again. I have to say, this was a nice guy. He didn't drink, didn't smoke, and went to church, but there were problems. He was in his early 20s, didn't go to college, and worked at a factory near my home town. He lived with his mom, who took care of all of his finances. She paid his bills, deposited his checks, and literally told him how much money he had to spend each month. I was only 17, but I saw the red flags. He was in a lot of debt and did not flinch at paying thousands of dollars on a "system" of speakers and such for his car.....which he would get upside down on and trade at the drop of a hat once someone else he knew bought a new car. I knew deep down during our first "engagement" that we would not get married, but I stayed with him hoping things would get better. I prayed that he would change because I knew that the way things were going, I would graduate from college, move back to my home town (which I really didn't want to do), get married, and never go anywhere (and by that I mean my life would never go anywhere). And part of the "hoping things would get better" came because our relationship was not pure. I told him over and over again that I wanted our relationship to work but that things were going to have to change. And things would change....for a little while. Then we'd find ourselves back in the same trap again. But I kept praying for God to show me if I was supposed to marry him.

This was going on my entire college carrier. I loved being at school because it meant that we could still have a relationship, see each other on weekends, and the chances of us "messing up" were much lower because I was 2 and a half hours away. But this entire time I never started wedding plans. We kept telling everyone that we would set a date once I graduated from college, which was my way of hoping that he would get sick of me and break up with me before my parents spent any money on anything "wedding."

My junior year God was really working on my heart. I was taking some very difficult upper-level Bible classes, one of those was a preaching class that I had to take for my Bible major. I was not upset about this. I was one of the few girls in the class, but I loved to speak. I went in with the attitude of, "this may be the only chance I get to preach, so I'm gonna preach!" Dr. John York who also ministers at Woodmont Hills CoC was my professor. I had never met him before until this class. Our first sermon was supposed to be the story of our spiritual journey, so I told the story of my upbringing and my struggles with my health. People were moved. I couldn't believe it. I was the first person to speak during class that particular day, and the last. Class suspended after my talk because they all felt the need to pray for me. It was incredible.

After each sermon, we were to stop by Dr. York's office and he would "grade" us and give us constructive critisicm on how to better our preaching style. I stopped in one day, and it was the first time I ever spoke to Dr. York.

Me: "So, how do you think it went?"
Y: "Fine, but I don't want to talk about that."
Me: "Ok......"
Y: "I want to talk about that ring on your finger."
Me: "What about it?"
Y: "When did you get engaged?"
Me: "A year ago."
Y: "Are you going to get married."
Me: "I don't know...."
Y: "Yes you do."
Me: "I don't know...."
Y: "You keep saying 'I don't know, I don't know,' but you know. You're afraid. You're afraid that if you break up with this guy that he will fall away from the church or hurt himself. You can't blame yourself for his actions. You have to do what is best for you and what you know God wants you to do. This guy is childish. You have plans and goals and he has none."

But he didn't stop there. He kept telling me details of my relationship that I had shared with no one but God in my prayers. I did not mention this guy in my sermon, and because of that I had been thinking all week that I had to end it. This guy had no impact on my spiritual life, and I could not marry someone who did not influence me or help me grow spiritually. I had been with this guy for three years. If he did nothing spiritually for me in three years, the chances are that he would do little for me over the years if we were to get married.

I walked out of Dr. York's office knowing that I had just talked with God. Knowing that John York had allowed God to, literally, speak through him. And I knew what I had to do.

I made a clean break. I gave him back the ring and did everything I could possibly do to make sure that he knew that it was really, really over. That this wasn't going to be one of those relationships where people break up and get back together and break up and get back together again. I didn't call him. I didn't see him. I would talk to him very, very rarely when he would call me just so he would know that I didn't hate him, and I don't. I haven't seen him or heard from him in years.

But I have to finish telling you about my preaching class. It was incredible. If I had to pick a "mountain-top" year for my relationship with God, it would have to be that year and that class. Guys would come up to me after class with tears in their eyes and say, "You make me so uncomfortable. I have been taught my entire life that women can't preach, but how do I reconcile that when He has so obviously given you that gift? What kind of God would gift a woman with the gift of preaching and then tell her that she can't use it?" Even years later when I'm with Rick and run into a guy or girl that was in that class they look at Rick and say, "Man! That woman of yours can PREACH!"

My life changed that semester because I saw God use me in ways that I had been taught that He never would. My professors that year encouraged me to go on and use the gift that God had so obviously given me....even in a Church of Christ school! My view of women's roles in the church have obviously changed, but more importantly, my faith multiplied. I have now seen how God can speak to me and use me if I am only faithful and open to Him doing so.

Friday, October 07, 2005

More Next Week

I'm exhausted. I spent three hours at the doctor's office this morning having numerous tests run to try to figure out what's wrong with me. They don't think it's my kidneys, but more tests are needed. They have an idea of what it could be, but I don't want to tell you yet because it could be nothing or it could be serious. Just pray for me, please. I'm supposed to leave this afternoon for Jellico (see the link to GoodSoil Ministries Blog on my sidebar) and I don't want a heavy heart.

Thanks.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

A Rant

Any time I come to work before 9:00 (which only seems to happen on the days I have class) it never fails that there is a homeless man (and it isn't always the same homeless man) at the end of the exit ramp. This morning as I drove by, the man looked at me, cocked his head, shrugged his shoulders, and gave me the most pitiful look as I saw him mouth, "Com'on!" I don't know why this upset me so much. I had no cash. I never carry cash.

I did a lot of work with the homeless of Nashville when I was at Lipscomb. I know the reasons that so many of them are homeless. Some are there because they simply want to be. Others hit some hard luck. Still others are on the run from the police. And I also know that something like 70% of the homeless in the US have mental problems and would/could be productive citizens if they were able to either afford or somehow receive medication for their illness. I'm not naive.

I don't carry cash, as I said before. I don't like to carry cash. Used to, I would keep McDonald's gift certificates in my car and hand them out to the homeless that were asking for money, but I haven't done that in a long time because I haven't been running into many homeless people in a long time, I guess I need to start doing that again.

But back to my rant......I'm not afraid to look a homeless man or woman in the eye. I do it all the time. I drove by and smiled at this man this morning. I didn't offer him a "haha...I'm better than you, loser," smile, but my nicest smile. My, "I'm sorry I don't have any cash but I still think you're a valuable person" smile. But, you know what, he made me feel guilty. And that's why I'm upset.

Some of these guys are simply con artists. You can make a decent living out of begging for money....and if you stop and speak to them and tell them, "I won't give you cash, but I'll take you to get something to eat..." they'll turn you down. Every time. I know because I've done it, and only one time did someone actually take me up on it. And that pisses me off. I don't like to be taken.

But you know, this guy could have been different. He could have been that one person that would have taken me up on the offer to run him down to McDonald's and pay for his breakfast. But my logical brain says that, more than likely, he wasn't.

I don't know what the purpose of this post was. I'm upset. I'm upset because he tried to make me feel guilty and I'm upset that I believe it's my responsibility as a Christian to do things for people because it's what Jesus would have done. And I'm upset because social situations make being Christ-like difficult. I would never be comfortable picking up a homeless man or woman and driving them anywhere, especially when I'm alone.....because I don't know what they may or may not have hidden and that would put me at a huge risk.

*sigh* I guess I need to invest in some more McDonald's gift certificates.