Monday, June 29, 2009

Turning Pages

Somebody find my seventh grade yearbook, because I'm turning back into that little 13-year-old girl I once was.

A few of you know me from back-in-the-day when I wore overalls to school and did math...for recess. I also read. A lot.

And I'm proud to say: that girl is back! I may have contacts now - and the braces are gone - but deep in my heart, I'm a student who loves to learn. I was thisclose to being valedictorian (darn you, Callie!). Nevermind the fact that I had to just Google valedictorian in order to spell it correctly. What I'm trying to say is, I'm embracing the inner part of who I am - which is that nerdy little 13 year old whos reflection I still see in the mirror each day. I've tried to outgrow her, but she's persistent, and no matter how hip & trendy I try and be on the outside, I will always be the straight-A-striving, overachieving, book-loving fool I was meant to be. Is no wonder I fell in love with a man who was homeschooled and graduated high-school at the age of 16! My heart nearly burst out of my chest when we started dating: "Hooray, we can do cross-words together!"

But back to the reading. I just signed on to be a Thomas Nelson book-reviewer-blogger-whathaveyou. Have you heard about this? Brilliant! The publishing company, Thomas Nelson, is giving away free books to bloggers to review. Sign up here if the seventh-grader inside you wants to do book reports, too.

So anyway, I figured, as I wait for my first book to arrive, I will choose one of my own favorite books to review just to get started. Upon looking at the back page however, I realized that this book is also indeed a Thomas Nelson book, so go figure.

Sam introduced me to this book a few months ago. She said: "Its like Jesus calls you up each morning and leaves a voicemail..."

The author, Sarah Young, explains that she had read a book years ago that talked about waiting quietly in Gods Presence, pencil and paper in hand, recording what she believed He was saying. This was so refreshing to me, to read someone else who shares this experience, because often this is what I do when I find some time to sit quietly. So the book, Jesus Calling, is written in the first person, as if Jesus were talking.

I was reading todays and thought I'd share:

"As you get out of bed in the morning, be aware of My Presence with you. You may not be thinking clearly yet, but I am. Your early morning thoughts tend to be anxious ones until you get connected with Me. Invite Me into your thoughts by whispering My Name. Suddenly your day brightens and feels more user-friendly. You cannot dread a day that is vibrant with My Presence.

You gain confidence through knowing that I am with you - that you face nothing alone. Anxiety stems from asking the wrong question: "If such and such happens, can I handle it?" The true question is not whether you can cope with whatever happens, but whether you and I together can handle anything that occurs. It is this you-and-I-together factor that gives you confidence to face the day cheerfully."

Psalm 5:3
3 In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice;
in the morning I lay my requests before you
and wait in expectation

Friday, June 5, 2009

Across The Street

Its symbolized by a stack of paperwork on the kitchen table that never moves.
A few file folders, a bunch of bills, some school registration forms and maybe a book or two. Lots of Post-Its.

Its often a joke around my parents house – that stack of paper.
If my mom is reading this right now, she’s smiling I’ll bet.

But I want to tell you what it represents.

The other day, I was at my parents house picking up my daughter, and I saw the stack. (It seemed to be growing larger.) Not all of the paperwork is urgent… its just important enough not to toss. It basically represents a long to-do list.

Yet, the other day when I noticed it again, neither my mom nor my step-dad was inside. No one was at the kitchen table working on the stack.

Instead, my step-dad was across the street, helping his neighbor move some furniture. My mom was at the same house; weeding.

But let me step back a moment.

I loved the neighborhood I grew up in. My parents house was at the top of a cul-de-sac, perfect for riding bikes with the neighborhood kids.

We knew our neighbors names. Their kids were my best friends growing up. Sometimes we would have Christmas parties together and put on a little talent show. I enjoyed the neighborhood.

Except for one house.

As a little girl, I was afraid of the man who lived there, because one time I hit a baseball into his garage and he said "Its mine now!" and slammed the door. He and his wife didn’t have small children, so I assumed he didn’t like any children. Therefore, it was the one house I skipped when I sold Girl Scout cookies.

I remember my step-dad telling me a story that years ago, his car wouldn’t start and he desperately needed a ride to the airport. He began knocking on neighbors doors, seeing if anyone was home. When he got to that house, and the man answered, my step-dad humbly asked for a ride. The answer was no, and the door was shut.

Even after all these years, its the one house I ignore when I drive into my parents driveway to visit.

A month ago, my mom called me and sounded serious. She informed me that the man who lived there had just passed away suddenly. He left behind his wife, who was on vacation when he passed.

Can you imagine being that woman? I pictured her, on an airplane, knowing when it landed at Sea-Tac that she’d be coming home to an empty house. It broke all of our hearts – so my parents decided to do something about it.

I have watched my parents, over the course of the past month, carry over food, mow her lawn, weed her garden, do her laundry, fix her lightbulbs, feed her cats, and everything else under the sun. What’s more is that they spend time with her. Sometimes at night, when the sun is going down, my parents go over just to watch television with her, so she's not alone. And I know for a fact that its not their choice of programming. They simply sit with her on the couch, and laugh with her at the comedy on television, so that shes not by herself.

So, what does this have to do with the stack of paperwork?

It would be easy for my parents to be too “busy” to do any of these things. They both work, they take care of my daughter in the afternoon when I’m on-air, and they have active lives. Its not like they are sitting around each day looking for something extra to do. Their plate is full. And the stack of papers proves it. Plenty of bills to pay, plenty of decisions to make, plenty of things to get done for the next day.

Yet they prioritize. The paperwork can wait another day.

They choose to walk across the street.

What does God expect of us?

A few days ago, a friend of mine who works at World Vision handed me a copy of this book.

Man, I'm glad he did.

I have

Granted, I'm only on chapter 3, but thats already deep enough to pause and tell you about the book.

Its written by the president of World Vision, Richard Stearns. He quickly drew me in by sharing the story of how God brought him to World Vision in the first place. Richard was a very successful businessman at a large fine-tableware company called Lenox. He had previously been the CEO of Parker Brothers (Monopoly, Clue, etc). He was in NO WAY looking to leave his position and join World Vision. He was quite comfortable in his large house, with his Jaguar in the driveway, living comfortably with his wife and 5 children.

I'll let you start the book to find out what happened next.

On a personal note, I've toured the World Vision building. Did you know we are lucky enough to have World Vision headquarters right here in Washington State? I'm sad to say I only realized that a few years ago! Located in Federal Way, the World Vision building is something to behold. I walked through the mail room, where every letter is sorted and sent. I attended one of their chapels, and watched a few employees receive recognition for a number of years of service. I saw pictures lining the hallways, each with a story. I left feeling humbled, and excited, knowing that the more I learn about what is actually going on around the world, the more I want to get involved. My husband and I sponsor a little girl named Juliet through World Vision. She lives in Zambia, Africa, and is the same age as our daughter Olivia. Sometimes when Olivia does something new (new words, new milestones) I think of Juliet, and wonder if she's doing the same.

On to chapter four,