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Like We Were Younger

I just spent the weekend with my cousins in Oklahoma.  They are both married, and one of them has 2 kids.  Last night a group of us went cosmic bowling, and as I watched my cousin having fun with her 6-year-old son, my mind flashed back to all of us as kids at Grandma’s house.

I remember running the fence with Cody, Grandma’s husky and playing with the old dirty dishes on the picnic table in the back.  We would pick mullberries from the tree that is gone now and eat them by the handful.  We would put pepper in each other’s punch when the other wasn’t looking, and every Christmas we’d all sneak upstairs and watch A Christmas Story on the old tv.  I remember Grandma’s toys she had-the frog that squirted water in the bathtub and the sesame street house that opened up.  I remember playing hide and seek in Grandma’s HUGE backyard, and all of us cousins at the “kid” table in the kitchen and Uncle Dan sneaking in with his video camera.  Reunions are different now, but every once in a while we catch a glimpse of what it was like to be kids again, playing at Grandma’s house.

Sometimes I really miss those days, when life was simpler and we all lived closer together.  Now we’re all grown up with grown up houses and grown up responsibilities.

However, there’s something special and completing about growing up together and being grown up together.  Life is so much deeper and richer as the journey grows longer.  The farther we can look back, the closer to each other we feel.  There’s just nothing quite like family.

The cool thing about growing up is that we can still laugh like we were younger.  The years of our lives can’t change the memories, and we continue to make new ones.  Thank you to my AMAZING family for this incredible weekend.  I wish it didn’t have to come to an end.

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Lights in the Fog

About a week ago, I headed out to look at a basement that I thought about moving into.  I wasn’t able to go during the daytime, so I ended up driving a ways on the highway at night.  For some reason, there was a considerable amount of fog that night, and although it wasn’t impossible to drive on the way to the house, the intensity increased for the return trip.

This wasn’t just any fog.  I could barely see the front of my car.  Add to that a speed limit of 65 mph cars and deer habitat all around:  I was a little freaked out.  There comes a point when you can’t turn back.  You don’t even know which way is up.

As I was becoming a little overwhelmed, a miracle of miracles happened.  A car passed me on the left and I got the bright idea to follow it.  Maybe the car knew something I didn’t, for example, where the road was.  I sped up and kept my eyes on the lights, because believe me, that was the only thing I could see.  I figured, whatever happened, that car would encounter it first, whether it was a deer, another car, or the loch ness monster.  I had no idea who was driving the car, but I felt a lot safer behind him.

As I was driving, I started to think about my relationship with God.  I really feel like in some ways I am driving through a thick fog and I don’t even know which way is up.  A million dangers are out there all around and I can’t even figure out where the road is.  Then miracle of miracles, a car comes up beside me and invites me to follow Him.  However, this is no stranger.  This is my Jesus, my best friend, my everything.  All I can see are the lights of His car in front of me, and I have peace inside that whatever dangers will befall me, they must go through Him first.

Have you ever thought about that?  In Kerri Roberts’ song “No Matter What” she says, “Before a heartache can ever touch my life, it has to go through Your hands.”  I find HUGE comfort in that.  I am no longer driving aimlessly in the fog.  The driver in front of me really does know something that I don’t:  what’s ahead.

Some people ask, “Why doesn’t He just take the fog away?”  He could.  However, I’m not sure I want to know everything I came close to crashing into but avoided.  Someday the fog will lift, but until then I am so glad that I am following Someone who knows His way through the dense white darkness.  I trust in the heart of my best friend to lead me down the path of His will, and I will keep my eyes on His lights in the fog.

Don’t Stare At Me

On my way to Oklahoma today, I stopped at a McDonalds quick for lunch.  As I was sitting and eating my meal, I looked up and noticed a little girl staring at me.  Her gaze didn’t dart away when our eyes met.  She just kept looking at me.

I began to wonder what happens to us as we grow up that makes it so uncomfortable when someone stares at us.  To kids, if something is interesting, they look at it…and keep looking.  “Social graces” have not yet been instilled.

Do we become ashamed of who we are the older we get?  Are we more aware of the things that make us different?  What is the reason we reject a glance and inwardly say, “Don’t look at me”?

For me, I am afraid that when someone stares at me, they can see inside of me and all the things that I don’t want anyone to know.  Maybe on a deeper level, I want someone to know these things, but I am afraid of being rejected because of them.

Are we afraid of some of the things that make us different?  Sometimes, I’m ashamed of my glasses.  Soemtimes when I am having a difficult day physically, I have a slight limp.  All I want to do is hide these things.  I want people to see me as beautiful and put together, but when someone stares at me, I fall apart.

We’ve all read the love chapter in 1 Corinthians 13, and most of us could probably quote it word for word, especially in the NIV translation.  Verse 12 kind of gives me trouble though.  It’s talking about now and then.  Now we only see a reflection of God, but someday we will see Him face to face.  Now we know Him only a little compared to how much we will know Him, and then Paul throws in the statement, “even as I am fully known.”  That is a present tense statement.  God sees and knows us fully NOW.

The most amazing thing to me is that He sees every part of me, the secrets I keep and the insecurities I try to hide, and He loves me, accepts me, and wants me anyway.  I am beautiful to Him, even with my glasses.  Sometimes I imagine what it would be like to be sitting across the table from Jesus, not saying a word, but just looking into His eyes.  I think I would be ashamed of Him to see me.  I would probably start crying, because love like that just doesn’t come around very often.

Do I put too many walls around my heart?  I feel that not many people really know me.  I’m afraid of someone getting too close.  Trust does not come easy for me.

I realized today that my goal with Jesus is to get to the point that this little girl was at.  When our eyes met, she didn’t resist the stare like I did.  I want to not be afraid or ashamed of Jesus looking in my eyes.  I want to be able to let my guard down and enjoy being fully known and fully loved.  I don’t want to say to Him, “Don’t stare at me,” but rather, “Come on in to my heart, Lord Jesus.”

The Petrified Bagel

Well, today did not go well.  If I had to summarize the past few waking hours of my life, that would be it.  Oh, don’t get me wrong, some really good things happened today.  Then the ONE REALLY BAD THING happened, and I completely lost my sanity.

So, I lost an important paper.  This paper, in perspective, keeps one of my major college loans from going into repayment…next week.  Life and all its expenses are enough without added expenses that didn’t need to be there.  This whole episode reminded me of how disorganized I am, which means that I am irresponsible, which makes me incompetent for life and a horrible person that frustrates everyone around me.  And yes, I got ALL THAT from a lost piece of paper.

And what’s even worse?  I totally lost my cool.  I got really upset.  I don’t even know why I was so upset.  Usually, I am a pro at handling stressful situations.  That’s my job.  However today, I not only lost a piece of paper, but I temporarily lost the ability to deal with my life.

My boss saw me losing it and stopped me in the hallway.  I made some comment to him about locking myself in my office for the betterment of humanity and he told me, “Don’t do that.”  I explained to him that I was frustrating everyone around me and I needed to not be with people and he told me something that I had never heard before in my life:  “Don’t play the movie before it’s been made.”  He said that many times, especially in frustrating times, we rush to conclusions about what other people are thinking, and the entire scenerio is playing in our minds before it even happens.  Most of the time we are entirely off base.  “Chelsea, don’t play the movie before it’s been made.  Don’t try to guess what I am thinking about you.”

We stood and talked for a while in the hallway and he started telling me about the people in our lives that can be false prophets to us.  Sometimes these people are close to us.  Sometimes they are our friends.  We often can become false prophets to ourselves.  Like the people of Israel listened to the false prophets in the Old Testament, we can hear and believe something about ourselves that is completely devoid of God’s truth.  In Him we are precious and loved and valued and empowered.  Why do we so often choose to believe the false prophets that say we are failures?

Well, it was 5:00, so I rushed home and TORE APART my room.  I mean, every single paper that I should have thrown away months ago was scattered all over my bedroom floor.  I was digging through boxes in my closets and old college backpacks and then I found it:  a bagel from at least a year and a half ago, sitting on a pair of socks that had not been washed in just as long.  Gross does not begin to describe the sight.  Any bugs that had attempted to feast on the historical morsel had died and disintegrated long ago.  And the bagel was COMPLETELY petrified.  For a moment, I forgot every every problem that I had ever gone through as I tried to wrap my mind around what I was looking at.  And then I started laughing.

Well, I never found the paper.  I ended up having to order another one.  The whole thing really wasn’t worth a stroke, though I nearly gave myself one.  It took a petrified bagel from an old backpack in my closet to remind me that everything is ok, and God can really use anything to get our attention and bring us peace.  As Francesca Battistelli says, sometimes the stuff that drives us crazy is the stuff God uses to show us that “it’s not the end of the world.”

Developing A Track Record

One of the things that God has challenged me to do lately is to remember.  A couple months ago, I actually sat down and wrote my life story, about the events and the people that have helped to shape me into who I am.  The biggest thing I noticed was how God molded me through every experience as my idea of following Him was refined.  I kind of see myself as a wild horse that needed to be tamed.

Doing this also showed me some areas in my life that really needed healing.  Writing about the painful experiences helped me to bring them before God and let Him teach me and give me peace.  It also helped me to see how God has been pursuing and calling me every step of the way.

Before I really knew anyone at my church, I was challenged by a sermon and went down to the altar to pray.  One of the pastors came to pray with me, and he said something that seemed so off the wall at the time but has come to make a lot of sense in my life.  He talked about developing a track record with God.  This involves taking note and remembering the times when God has proven to be faithful and therefore we gain confidence in His faithfulness for the future.  Just like any relationship where trust is earned, God calls us to recognize and remember what He has done.

Going back over my life and working through things took some time, and there are still some things that continue to be a matter of prayer.  However, it was time well spent.  Like a MasterCard commercial, you can’t put a price on experience, love, and faithfulness.  I encourage you to take a look back over your journey so far.  Your story, no matter how painful it may be, is a gift from God and something that He can use greatly for His purposes in reaching those around you.  Be open to how God has been faithful and be willing to share that faithfulness with others as He provides the opportunity.

My Love, My Life

Hey, first of all, thanks for following my blog!  Some people I know do this, so I thought I would give it a try.  Especially these past few weeks, God has really challenged me to dive deeper into falling in love with Him and to be more intentional in spending time with Him.  I would love to share some of this journey with you, and feel free to share yours as well and to comment as you desire.

For me, it has been about finding a place that is sacred.  I have a restaurant that I go to that is open 24 hours a day.  Sometimes I stay for hours and write in my prayer journal and read my Bible.  Sometimes I just sit and observe the people around me and talk to the workers.  I’m starting to get to know the employees and the things that are going on in their lives.  After a while of coming, they started to ask why I was there and I had several opportunities to share what I do when I come.

The thing that I have done most recently that I wasn’t planning on sharing with the general population was I joined eHarmony for a month.  Something that I have been struggling with recently is the whole idea of marriage.  There’s a big part of me that started to wonder if my ambitions were too “out there.”  There was a voice in the back of my head saying, “Chelsea, when are you going to grow up and realize that you are thinking and dreaming unrealistically?  The rest of the world has figured out that their dreams have limits.  They’ve gotten married, had kids, and found a career.  You need to get a grip, grow up, and get with the program.”  I had even been told by a couple people this last week that my spirit is great, but they think more realistically.  Maybe that’s what started me doubting my sanity.

So then I went through this whole personal battle.  A lot of discussions with God and with those I trusted.  I guess the biggest question in my heart was, “Will I have to choose between getting married and following the dream that I believe God has placed on my heart?” followed by the question, “Was I just following my idea of God’s calling or was I really following His will?”  Hence my joining eHarmony.  I was so frustrated on the inside.  In some ways, I didn’t know I was that weak to even consider laying down the vision that I had for so long.  And I actually did lay it down…at the feet of Jesus.

“Lord, I want YOUR will, not mine.  Was I pushing my agenda?  Do you really have something else for me?”

It is such a scary thing to give up something that you have envisioned for so long.  You feel like a boat that is sailing without direction, so lost.  I had to come back to the basics of my life to figure out where I was.  In the process of falling in love with God, I had to make sure that it was really Him that I loved and not my idea of Him.

I dove in the Gospels and I asked a lot of questions.  I was convicted of many things, but the thing that repeatedly stood out to me was the cost of being a disciple of Christ.  God blew me away when He asked me the question, “You can get married to a good man, settle down, have children, and live a nice and quiet life, or you can follow Me where I am leading you and live the dream that I have given you.  The road will be hard and will cost you much, but which choice is the greater cost?  Would you choose a sacrifice with an eternal reward and daily joy, or a life of quietness and peace?  Because if you choose the quiet life, you will live every day with regret and you will wonder what would have happened if you would not have given up so soon.”

So I laid down my dreams and God gave them back to me.  He showed me that these desires are truly from Him.  He is teaching me how to trust that He’ll provide everything I need to do His will.  I think we all have to periodically stop and make sure that we are truly following Him…we can put Him in a box without even realizing it.  A good course check is always a beneficial thing.  Please join me in this adventure, and I hope that my journey will be an encouragement in your journey as well.

And if you’re wondering about the title of my blog, it’s from the song “All In” by Lifehouse.  This is my commitment to God.  I’m all in for life!

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