April 10th 2008 11:07 am
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I'd been having a rough time dealing with a couple of things. My new job with this group practice is starting up at a snail's pace, if you can say it's starting up at all. And it's hard to say what kind of progress is to be expected, what I have control over or don't, what role God is playing in the timing of all of it, and what, if anything, I should be doing differently. There are some bottlenecks in the office-management, but the people are wonderful and God clearly pushed me to pursue this job. But, it took 2+ months to get a contract signed and that was 4 months ago.
I have, however, been available to do a lot of work at my church. Our youth pastor left and she dumped (in the nicest possible sense of the term) many of her duties into my lap. (Let me remind you I've been a Christian for all of 4 years.) I've also taken the lead with our minister on a committee that's attempting to create some adaptive "cultural transformation" at our church. The hope is that it will no longer be just a social club or humanitarian aid station (both great things but not things that are centered on God’s purpose for us as a Christian church). Prior to that, I agreed to be a member of the Christian Education Ministry, even though I knew nothing about it. It was an option to leaving the church. I believe when you see problems you use your gifts to help solve them if you feel called to do so. Going to church isn't so much about what you get out of it as it is about what you are to put into it.
Anyway, the process has been long and murky and while clear to me that it is to happen and that my husband and I are to be there for it (either as contributors or as recipients or both), the ‘how’ and the ‘what’ are as murky as can be at times. This past week I've been feeling particularly lost and spent. Our worship services usually leave me feeling like I've just fought a battle more than I have just worshipped God with my church community--though I do feel some of the latter, to be fair.
But let me get to the relevant part of my entry before I go any further into that aspect of it. Yesterday my 3-week cold was sidelining me again and I decided just to watch TV instead of doing much work for church or my job. A movie, Ulee's Gold, was on. I'd never been able to watch more than a few minutes of it but I’ve always wanted to see it. This time I got to watch the whole thing! During the credits they played Van Morrison's "Tupelo Honey"--of course--and it made me think what a great name Tupelo would be for a light red Shiba (or any honey-colored dog, for that matter). I thought about Nadine needing a new name but quickly remembered she was black. Bummer. ....So, I was singing the song and getting increasingly frustrated because I had this great name but nowhere to put it.
Then my cold really started to kick my butt and I tried to take a nap. No luck. I just lied there ruminating about my job and my church and how useless I felt. I'm not cut out to be a housewife and no matter how much I ask for help from God on that, He isn't giving it. And I'm okay with that. But, if He's not, then what does He want from me right now??? I can't get any clarity from God right now as to what I'm suppose to be working toward or for or if at all or anything with this church. And the people and pastor at the church aren't helping much either. There are so many things that go on there that conflict with where I am in my walk with Jesus. But, having been an atheist for so long, I feel like I--more than most people--should to be tolerant. Mostly, though, I'm just frustrated with my own frustration, with my constant frustration. There's no point in it. But it's there. So why, given all that, should I have to stay there? Why has God put staying on my heart?
Jesus then gave me a pretty ugly image of all that he had to endure during his time here. All the less-than-perfect faith around him. All the "falling short." All the outright meanness that injured his body...And I had the gall to complain again??? Wasn't I contributing to those injuries just the same in my own way? Yes.
And so, finally, I asked the better question. "God, please let your Holy Spirit help me worship you more fully with my church community. Let me know that you have been praised. Remove whatever is blocking my awareness. Help me to focus on the quality of my worship and not the quality of my church's service." The tears flowed and flowed for a bit and I was grateful for having been met in that moment.
I got up but I can't say I felt much better. I tried a different solution. We were out of coffee so I drove to a very nearby Starbucks and purchased some finely ground French Roast and got back in my car. The shopping complex where this Starbuck is located is strip-mall-like but in a circle with two shops in the center. Each outer quarter has about 6 shops in it and there are some well-manicured patches of grass here and there. It's not Rodeo Drive, but it's nice.
Anyway, as I'm approaching the quadrant that I'm going to exit from, I notice a young woman in a hippy-ish outfit--long purple skirt under layers of tanks and shirts under long dark hair and glasses. She's standing on the patch of grass next to the exit area. Then I notice she has a puppy at the end of a lead! I thought, "Well, that's strange! I wonder which store here would let an employee keep a puppy with them while they worked?" There were no apartments connected and the apartments I lived in provided much more reasonable places to walk a puppy. It just didn't make any sense for someone to walk a puppy there. But, I was next to her before I knew it and realized what she was leading looked a lot like a very young, reddish Shiba Inu! There was no one behind me so I rolled down my window and asked, "Is that a Shiba Inu?" "Yes!" she said. "What's its name?" I asked. "I don't know...we haven't picked one yet...it's a hard thing to do!" A car was coming, but I said to her, "I just thought of a name this morning." By this time I'd noticed that the puppy was the exact color of Ulee's honey. "What is it?" she asked. "Tupelo!" I said, "Like tupelo honey." No doubt this girl knew the song, too, despite her young age. "Oh! That's a great one," she said as she smiled broadly. The car was on my tail but I yelled, "Think about it..." as I drove off.
I felt a sense of relief at having found a outlet for my 'great dog name.' There was an unbelievable uncanniness to the event, though. “Did that really just happen?” I thought. I drove through the parking lot by the other strips and buildings in a bit of a daze. I rounded a corner and noticed a large van parked at the edge of the last lot. It must have been an employee’s or something for it to be parked this far from the buildings. The license plate on the front said, "GOD WINS" ...to which I smiled and thought, "Yes…yes He does. Yes He has."
What I realized in that moment (like others before but always forgotten) is that, like Tupelo and the Shiba puppy without a name, God is in control of the timing. I am where I am supposed to be. Or He'll take care of things if I get myself off track. God wins. God won. Be patient.
I went home and looked up the lyrics to the Van Morrison song. As I read it and heard the song again in my mind, I grinned and my heart pounded with that joy that only comes from knowing Jesus and His ways. Do you remember that other line in the chorus? It is true, she is "as sweet as Tupelo honey" but she's also "an angel of the first degree."
Whether she came from the spiritual realms or from some logical place here in Wheaton, IL, the young hippy woman with the honey-colored Shiba puppy without a name was prompted to that corner at that time for a spiritual purpose. She was an angel and she did her job very well.
Thank you, Jesus, for sending me an angel. You are ever faithful, always here when we need you, sending us your servants to tend to our wayward souls. Thank you, Jesus.
May 31st 2007 7:49 am
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My friend Ayumi tagged me!
Here are the rules:
Each player starts with seven random facts about themselves. Dogs who are tagged, need to post in their Diary the rules & their 7 pawsome facts. Then choose 7 dogs to tag and list their names. Don’t forget to bark them a pmail that they have been tagged and to read your Diary, or, send them a fun Rosette announcing they've been Tagged!
So here are 7 fun facts about me - Aya!
1. Hanging my head over the side of the couch or bed is the best way to sleep.
2. I'm a very good traveler--trying to bite the air out the window is way fun.
3. I like to play ostrich. For instance: I bury my head beside my mom on the couch and then pretend I'm going to do a forward roll over her. But I'm NOT. It irritates me if she tries to pull me all the way over, so now she just let's me do my almost headstand.
4. I like to smoosh my nose and mouth against the sliding glass door or screen when I want to come in. I can make some scary faces when my teeth show.
5. My big sister is usually pretty cool but she's quite the female dog around her food dish. So... I'm patiently desensitizing her to my presence next to it. A couple weeks ago I pushed it too far too fast and I still have a boo boo on my face as a result...Minor setback. I pushed on and last week I was able to lay down with my snout between her back paws as she ate. And last night I got my snout 3 inches away from the bowl!!! She'll be serving me her delicious kibble before you know it.
6. I love the Roomba!! I'm getting good at catching the tiny brush that goes around and around on the outside. Mom says it's trying to sweep stuff on the side to go underneath the vacuum part, but it's really a toy. Sometimes I accidentally pounce on it and hit the off button. We both get frustrated when that happens.
7. I'm very expressive and talk a lot for my age.
Now I tag the next 7 pups!