Thursday, January 17, 2013

Confession: I'm Dating

I’m sitting in the prayer room, singing along to the chorus, “Catch me up in your story, all my life for your glory.” At the same time, I’m reading today’s devotional from Jesus Calling and meditating on the Scripture at the bottom of the page:

And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus…Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. –Philippians 4:19, 6-7
I’ve been asking God, since yesterday, to inspire me with some blog idea for my friendship with God theme. (I want to try to and write something about this every Thursday this year.) But, I haven’t gotten anything. And, what I am getting is that I should write about how I’m dating and what God has been doing.

First, I want to explain why I haven’t written about this yet. It was a complete surprise that just about knocked me off of my feet at the beginning of December. I have needed time and space to adjust to this new relationship. It was too new for me to explain to myself much less to write about it. And, I wanted to treasure the whole process in my heart for a while before inviting other people into it.
About a week ago, I started feeling ready to write and share, but fear has held me back. You see, I have never dated before and I’m really afraid to do it wrong. I’m also afraid to have people like you think that I’m doing it wrong because then I would have to face your judgment and being bad at dating. So, I have just avoided writing about it and even telling people about it.
When I was singing, “Catch me up in your story, all my life for your glory” and thinking about friendship with God, I felt Him ask if I think that my dating is part of His story. And, I told Him that I do. (Ben is a completely amazing guy who I first met at the house of prayer. He is passionately pursuing relationship with God and I believe that God has brought us into relationship with one another very intentionally for His good pleasure and purposes.) Then, I felt God ask why I am anxious about sharing my relationship with others. My response: fear of man.

I feel God inviting me to step out in faith. Instead of caving into the fear of man and rejection and hiding my news, I want to believe that God is leading me in this new season of my life and that I can share this information. I want to enjoy the exciting adventure that I’m on and stop censoring myself at every step out of fear of what other people think. I want to share with those of you who have been praying for me for years and want to rejoice with me. And, even if some of you have thoughts and feelings about how I’m dating and the process that God has me in, I’m going to ask Him to help me be brave enough to hear your feedback and process it with Him before I panic and assume that I’m doing everything wrong. I’m going to accept that I will not be perfect in this process and that God will lovingly lead me.
So, now you have it from me: I am officially dating. And, I’m really happy and thankful.

Still Counting Gifts:
·         #674: That God really does do far abundantly, beyond all that I can ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20)
·         #675: My last client cancelled and I got to go home for dinner with my family
·         #676: How God is bringing me into deep companionship with Him
·         #677: My new mug and how it’s the perfect shape
·         #678: Hair fun with Chrissy
·         #679: Singing God Bless America at Rotary Club
·         #680: Ghirardelli dark chocolate brownies

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Friendship with God: Praying for a Wedding

Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready. It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Revelation 19:7-8

I have probably prayed about finding a husband and getting married thousands of times over the course of my life. I have dreamed about my wedding since I was a little girl. (Except for that one season where I was so offended at God's leadership that I thought I didn't want a wedding. Fortunately, He healed my heart and changed my mind.) I spent hours thinking about the season, the location, the dress, the flowers and more details than my usually detail-avoiding brain could handle.

But, I haven't prayed about Jesus' wedding very often. I haven't spent much time and energy imagining how glorious the day of the gladness of His heart will be. I haven't asked Jesus what He's looking forward to and how He hopes that day will be. And, isn't this part of what a good friend does for one another?

My sister is getting married in June and we are spending lots of time and energy preparing for her wedding. I am happy to listen to her plans, help brainstorm, look at pictures of beautiful things from other weddings and even assist with her craft projects (which I am less skilled at) because I love my sister and I'm excited for her wedding. I want to do everything possible to serve her in love and share in her joy during this process. I am asking questions and helping her prepare for her special day.

Jesus is getting married on a day that we don't know, but we do know who He is marrying and we can prepare for His wedding by praying for His bride to make herself ready. We can pray for the church to grow in righteousness so that she will be able to wear fine linen on that day. We can ask God to grow His church, Jesus' bride, into maturity so that she can be a fitting eternal companion. We can pray for the gospel to go out in the world to "every nation and all tribes and people and tongues" (Rev 7:9), so that Jesus can come back and marry His bride. We can petition God to hasten the day of Jesus' return and fulfill the desire of His heart to live with men and women on earth forever.

I have set a goal to pray for two things for Jesus every day. 1) I pray Matthew 9:38, to "the LORD of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest." I know that the good news has to go to every people group for Jesus to have His complete inheritance, so I'm asking God to send forth the gospel. 2) I pray Revelation 19:7-8 and I ask God to fulfill the desire of Jesus' heart and give Him in marriage to a bride who is ready. I ask God to let Jesus get married soon and make His joy complete.

Still Counting Gifts:
  • #684: One year in private practice counseling
  • #685: The great adventure that the past year has been and
  • #686: God's satisfying companionship along the way
  • #687: How God still reminds me that I am an intercessor first and a counselor second
  • #688: Sugar Jones' cupcakes
  • #689: Coffee when my eyes won't open properly and I have to be at work early
  • #670: Getting to visit middle school students through Rotary Academy
  • #671: Extra moments to connect with God
  • #672: How He stirs up fruits of the Spirit within me when I'm empty
  • #673: Mercy just when I am desperate for it

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

When I wish I had a get-out-of-jail-free card

We don't play a lot of Monopoly in my family. I think that this is due, in part, to the fact that it's my dad's least favorite game and we like to stick to things that everyone enjoys. Despite my lack of experience with this game, I do remember how precious those get-out-of-jail-free cards seemed. I felt immensely thankful any time I pulled one and I would set it ever so carefully at the center of my area. My anxiety about landing myself in jail was greatly reduced because of that little card and I enjoyed a chance to be anxiety free about anything, even Monopoly.

Recently, I have been wanting out of the process that God has me in, to grow and to change me. I have been wishing for a get-out-of-the-process-free card that I can use in my life.

This really isn't a new desire for me. I've been wanting out of the process for a long time in several areas of my life. When I was working at the lycée, I wanted to be in private practice counseling and at the House of Prayer. When I was living in Chicago, I wanted to be living in Rockford. When I quit my job, I missed the structure and stability of working. When I was building my private practice, I wished that I was already working full-time. Now, I work full-time and I find myself wishing that I could work part-time, but make full-time money.

I always want something more, which is just outside of my reach. I want permission to skip ahead to the part of the process where I receive what I desire and the hard work of developing skills that I don't have and strengthening feeble muscles is done. I find myself whining to God about how hard parts of this season are and asking Him to take me straight to the end.

God reminds me of the baby bird who must fight his way out of his shell. If it is helped, then it will not survive. It will literally not have the strength that it needs to live. The baby bird prepares for life and develops critical muscles in the process of getting out of the shell.

God reminds me that I can be a lot like a baby bird and He is trying to prepare me for life and equip me with all that I need. He chooses to do this through giving me the process. I can choose to quit or avoid it, but I will not be able to live in fullness of joy in His presence the way that I want to unless I press through and receive the process as part of His gift to me. I will miss gifts of strength and blessing that God wants to give me if I choose to reject the process.

So, today, I choose to thank God for all my weak places, underdeveloped skills and feeble muscles. I choose to hold out my hand for His and ask Him to lead me on the journey and guide me in my process of growth and life.

Still Counting Gifts:
  • #675: I am not finished, but God is faithful to finish the good work He has started in me
  • #676: I am still able to run, even after 2 weeks off
  • #677: My feelings of frustration and impatience as I engage in the process God has given me
  • #678: The way God comforts my heart and gently leads me
  • #679: Space in my schedule to breathe and live
  • #680: Ideas of things that I want to write about
  • #681: Praying ekballo every day
  • #682: A fresh desire and motivation to memorize Scriptures
  • #683: Time with just my sister

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Friendship with God

This is the time of year where people make resolutions and set goals for the New Year. I am not one who usually follows this trend.

But, I was intrigued when I read that Ann Voskamp, one of my favorite bloggers, picks a word for each year to give it a theme and a focus.

I wanted to try it, but then started putting all kinds of pressure on myself to come up with just the right word for this year. And, I have no idea what this year will hold, so the task feels that much harder.

I had almost abandoned the idea until I was talking with God while I was driving to work yesterday. I was reflecting on some of the things that had been stirred up in my heart by the OneThing 2012 conference. On two separate occasions, I recognized gaps in my friendship with God because I do not take time to really pray for those things that are on His heart. This caused me to start evaluating my friendship toward Him in general.

I realized that I am constantly pouring out my heart to Him, reminding Him of what I want and need, and asking Him to listen and do things for me. I spent much less time listening to His prayers, dreams and desires. Jesus is my constant advocate before the Father, but I rarely petition God for the unfulfilled dreams of Jesus' heart.

In 2013, I want to grow in deeper friendship with God. I want to cultivate more of a two-sided relationship. I want to spend more time listening to what Jesus is thinking and feeling and pray with Him for the desires of His heart to be made manifest on earth as they are in heaven.

No sooner have I determined this and I am discovering opportunities. The client at work who exposes all of my inadequacies is one that I would rather not see. But, God tells me that He loves this person deeply and wants us to spend time with them. So, I purpose in my heart to see this client in partnership with Jesus because He is my friend and He desires to be with that person. I'm putting reminders in my schedule to pray for things that I know Jesus desires. I'm asking God for feedback in our friendship and that He will take it deeper this year.

I'm careful to tell myself, here, at the beginning, that perfect friendship with God is not possible this side of heaven. But, I also want to get as close as I can to the One who loves me best.

Still Counting Gifts:
  • #666: My Nespresso Aeroccino 3 and how wonderfully it froths milk for cappuccino's when I'm desperately trying to get my eyes to open and my body to awaken
  • #667: Karyn working from home today and making crêpes for breakfast
  • #668: Chatting with God during my morning drive
  • #669: How His presence really does give me peace, even in the midst of challenging situations
  • #670: Difficult clients who make it so clear that I can't do the work of counseling without God
  • #671: Faith, with all its fragility and boldness
  • #672: Philippians 3:12-14
  • #673: The details of life and how they demand maintenance
  • #674: God's provision in unexpected and inconvenient ways