Sunday, September 26, 2010

Just Believe, Part 2.

My brother, in my opinion, is all kinds of awesome. An electrical engineer, a helicopter pilot, a bold evangelist, an amazing father, and a singer-songwriter. Some of my sweetest memories as a little girl are of how Sam would come home at holidays and the house would be filled with music, him and his guitar singing. I treated him like a jukebox sometimes, putting in my requests for songs. Topping the list? Garth Brooks' "Belleau Wood" and Sam's very own "Just 'Cause He said So."
And we have faith that He'll never forsake us, just 'cause He said so
And we have hope that He'll take us home, just 'cause He said so
And we know that our very souls are loved, just 'cause He said so
And we know that someday pain will be no more, just 'cause He said so
And I believe it's true, just 'cause He said so
He said it, and that's enough for me. It's a child's faith that counts on a Father's honesty and on Daddy doing what child can't. I want to believe just because He said so.

You and I, we are weak human beings. We can't do it. We can't do it, folks! We want to change the world, but we have no power. (But boy oh boy, do we think we do. Pride is nastier than strep throat. On a side note, Jesus heal me!) We may be weak, but those weak folks are the ones God uses. All the glory is His!

So see...the way it works is: We have nothing. He wants to use us. We believe Him. He puts His power in us.

What I see in that passage from Mark is a declaration from Peter to Jesus: "I really believe You. I've decided: You are who You say You are, and I really believe You." Then, then, Jesus had an open door to start telling Peter and the rest of the motley crew the reality of what redemption would look like. Notice that word "plainly." I want to hear from God that way! I want the invitation of belief in my heart that says: "Tell me anything, Jesus...I want to know and I believe what You say."

See, Peter still had some struggles [like me]. Jesus had to set him straight and boil it down: "STOP thinking like man. Believe the things of God." Then, then, came the answer to Peter's (and our) question of how to give everything for Jesus. Friends, I want to give everything. I want to believe, I want to trust, I want to live totally and completely for Jesus, I want to hold nothing back. I want to spend everything. "Take up your cross and follow me" is the handbook for that style of living, and I want the heart of belief that welcomes the teaching of the Lord on this. I want the seal of approval from the Lord that says "I see Your heart and that You really want me, and I am going to teach You how to give it all."

Belief, trust, faith...as faith is cultivated in your heart, God has a larger and larger blank canvas to work with. Seeing as my desire it be painted by the Great Artist's hand, I want to offer as big a canvas to Him as I can. There needs to be lots of room for His signature in that corner, because it's all about Him.

I want to walk with Him, like all those folks in Hebrews 11. There are moments, though, where I tell the Lord honestly: "I don't know how! I know I need to trust You more, but I don't knowhow!" Well, faith without works is dead, so I am asking the Lord for specifics of actions I can take to walk in faith and belief and trust. I don't have it, and I need more from the Lord. He gives, though. Oh, He gives generously.

I want to receive. He will walk with me and talk with me like He did with the disciples, and many, many great men and women of faith have walked before me. I pray that I will see the fruit of faith in my life, and if you ask, you will see it in yours. Oh that the glory of the Lord would shine from our lives.

Let me leave you with this quote from Oswald Chambers in his writings on the Sermon on the Mount:
Faith is our personal confidence in a Being whose character we know, but whose ways we cannot trace by common sense. By the reasonings of faith is meant the practical outworking in our lives of implicit, determined confidence in God. Common sense is mathematical; faith is not mathematical, faith works on illogical lines. Jesus Christ places the strongest emphasis on faith and especially on the faith that has been tried. To have faith tests us for all we are worth; we have to stand in the commonsense universe in the midst of things that conflict with our faith, and place our confidence in the God whose character is revealed in Jesus Christ...most of us are pagans in a crisis; we think and act like pagans. Only one out of a hundred is daring enough to bank his or her faith in the character of God.

The golden rule for understanding in spiritual matters is not intellect, but obedience.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Just Believe, Part 1

Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to Him as righteousness.

After going to bed quite late last night with battle wounds from a late night "Rolfball" game, I woke up at 5:40 to an invitation from the Lord, saying He wanted to tell me something. To be perfectly honest, I was tired. I laid there awake for a few minutes, until a specific Scripture dropped into my heart. The first time I pulled it out and read over it, I didn't get.

Mark 8:29-36
And he asked them, "But who do you say that I am?"
Peter answered him, "You are the Christ." And he strictly charged them to tell no one about him.
And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things...And he said this plainly.
And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, "Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man."
And he called to him the crowd with his disciples and said to them, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me...For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?"
Over the course of the day, this passage has steeped a bit in my heart like a good cup of tea, and I think I know a bit of what the Lord wanted to show.

A while ago I was praying for a friend of mine and the Lord showed a picture of multiple doors standing in front of her, with keys to unlock them. I asked the Lord what she needed to do to be able to unlock the doors and His answer surprised me that night and has surprised me almost every time I've thought of it since: Just believe Me. That's enough.

There is part of my heart that is still absolutely convinced that good Christians are equatable to chemical engineers. There must be an incredibly complex formula to pleasing God and doing His work, and to understand it I am obviously going to need a Master's Degree in being a Christian. "Just believe" sometimes just sounds too simplistic.

Enter Keith Green.

About mid-week last week, I was sitting in a undeniably funky funk. I had a feeling my own sin was the source of it, but was having trouble jumping over the "I'm a failure" hurdle into King David's "Man, I messed up but God sure loves me!" field.

My sister had to go into work for a few minutes, and after asking the Lord what I was supposed to do, I went with her for the sake of the piano. My sister's job is my only piano source at this point; there is a lovely grand that is open for me to play any time I am there. We walked in and I ran straight for the piano room. With little-to-no plan of what I was going to play, my eye caught the "Keith Green Ministry Years" music books and I dived for them. Over the next few minutes, I played that piano louder than I have in a long time and sang my heart out.

Create in me a clean heart, O God...Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation...I wanna die and let you give Your life to me so I might live...I want to take Your Word and shine it all around...When Your eyes are on this child, Your grace abounds to me...

The Holy Spirit did something, right there at that piano. I just sat and my heart felt as if it would burst from thankfulness for lives like Keith Green's and King David's. I take great encouragement from the fact that men who walked in power doing the Lord's calling on their life went through five million plus moments of "is it just me, or am I a complete and total failure?" and "I can't do this at all...it's got to be all You, God."

If you haven't heard Keith's music I highly recommend jumping onto Grooveshark.com and listening. (mash down HERE to go straight there). I read No Compromise a few weeks ago and it absolutely gripped me. I think I got through the whole thing in 2 or 3 days; I just could not shake the feeling that what God did in Keith's life is significant to understanding what He wants to do in mine. Maybe it was something about the fact that He was just some passionate kid who played the piano...that sounds familiar. :)

Before I read the book, I only listened to Keith's happy, upbeat, "Go Preach the Gospel!" songs. His heart-wrenchingly honest songs didn't catch my ear. Until, that is, I found myself in a desperate place where my pride had gotten cracked enough to say "Oh boy, this is going to have to be all God." Read the book, folks. I see Keith as someone who walked radically and boldly as who God made him to be and affected thousands upon millions of people because he obeyed, but he reminds me so much of David of the Psalms, because this radical man had struggles and had to repent and messed up and saw his own weakness.

Today, with the passage from Mark, these sorts of thoughts began to feel full-circle. (Bear with me, I know this is getting long! All this blogging's been pent up for months. ;)

Keith Green and King David, they were messed up.

BUT! They changed the world.

They believed God.

Belief. It's enough.

Part 2 tomorrow on how that Mark passage has anything to do with all of this and how setting your heart to believe is like sending heaven an invitation to invade your life.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Lub Dub

Laura and I grew up together. I wasn't allowed to have Barbies, but I was allowed to play with them, and Laura's house was where I did just that. Hours upon hours in her backyard pretending to be princesses; probably days worth of time hiding in her basement pretending we were fugitives. I remember Polly Pocket (the real kind...not that rubber doll they sell now), and Nintendo 64 (her dad would rent Mario Kart...always a fave). Music school together, bagels with cream cheese together (her mom made the best snacks). Hey, once we even made our own salad dressing!

This is all off topic. But sweet! Laura, I love you.

Laura, if you were to sit her down and interrogate her, could tell you easily how much we played doctor as little girls. "Lots" or "Too much" or "OHMYWORD Anna was obsessed" would probably be her answer. Let's just call Laura my first patient.

Now, I have real patients.

No, I'm not a doctor. No, I'm not a nurse. Lemme 'splain. No, lemme sum up.

The reason I moved back to Kansas City was to get my Nurse Assistant certification and work as a Medical Assistant to see if I want to keep going in a medical career.

The Lord has been good to me. (Oh, SO good!) I got the job at the practice I was hoping for, and today was my third day of training.

I am in love. I love wearing a stethoscope around my neck. I love learning fancy words for things. Tomorrow, I bet I will love pulling medicine into syringes (INJECTION CLASS...duh duh duh). I love (love love LOVE) listening to a baby's heart. I cannot even describe the preciousness of this tiny one, her chest smaller than my hand, rising and falling more quickly than I ever breathe. It was so absolutely and completely surreal to put a stethoscope in my ears, the other end on her chest, and listen to that piece of the Lord's artwork going strong inside.

When I moved to Tacoma, I was astounded at the way the Lord answered my prayers. I had long dreamed of living there, but had somewhat forgotten and stopped asking Jesus for it. Even when I had forgotten, He hadn't, and, quite literally, my dreams came true. That is how this feels. I gave up on my medical dreams, thought they would never fit with the Lord's calling on my life. Instead, here I am...walking in His will and doing what my heart dreamed of as a little girl.

Jesus knows us, and He doesn't forget. Thank you, Lord, for You have overwhelmed me with kindness yet again.

And thank you, Laura, for being my guinea pig. :)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Small Things

My phone has a trick that, apparently, it thinks is quite funny. Sometimes I'll wake up two hours past when I was expecting to, only to find that trusty LG decided to turn off during the night. Maybe he was tired. Maybe he just took a mini vacation to Africa. I don't know...whatever it is, it makes me sleep in, which aggravates every bit of control in me.

Oh, did I say control? Oops.

This seemingly small and insignificant situation presses the huge red button marked "ANXIETY" for me. It's obviously something small, but sometimes I hardly sleep the night before something big happens. I mean, if I oversleep, the world might end! Or internally combust! Or externally explode! Who knows what could happen?!

This morning I woke up to a phone turned off. At first, the disappointment. Then, an interesting prompting: "You need to trust Me that I'm going to make your alarm go off in the morning."

Now, if I were to walk up to some random person on the street and said, "Excuse me, God just told me He wants you to trust Him to make your alarm go off in the morning," they would look at me like I was crazy and tell me to go home. But as we have already established, this line means something to me.

I understand I am supposed to trust the Lord for the job that I need. I understand I am supposed to trust Him to provide for the car I need. And the friends, and the money, and the husband, and the children, and so on and so forth. I'm not saying this trusting process is easy, but it's easy to at least answer "Well, I'm going to trust the Lord" when someone asks "How is that [huge, massive, life-changing thing] going to happen?"

This morning, it became about the small things. After the alarm fail, it was the invite to that wedding. Then it was getting to Olathe to get my tuberculosis test read. Then it was how to get to my job tonight on time. And so on and so forth.

The small things. That verse in Philippians about not being anxious? It says to not be anxious about anything. So I found myself in the car, the rain pouring down, the clock ticking, and I threw my hands in the air (then re-grabbed the steering wheel quick) and said "Okay, I trust You!"

I am absolutely and totally convinced that Jesus cares about the small things. We take His command to not worry about what we're going to eat and what we're going to wear as protection against starvation and homelessness, but when I read that verse I'm struck by the fact that food and clothes are our most basic needs. We put on clothes every day, we eat food every day. Jesus is intricately involved in our every day.

I want to spend my days putting everything into His hands. Every single little thing. It's not okay to separate my "big trust issues" from my "small life circumstances." It's all His. I want to refuse anxiety any small crevice in my heart. If I leave it the small places, how am I going to tell it to get out of the big places?

There is no room for anxiety in Jesus' heart, and there is no room for it in my days. The little things, they are His too. I'm talking practicals here, folks. That you will have time to eat lunch between your meetings. That if the printer isn't working, it's all going to be okay anyways. That if you have to pay for that TB test again, so what? It's the Lord's money anyways.

I have known for a while that Jesus is taking me through another trust intensive course. Honestly, I have been stumped. How do I trust? What does it look like? I know the words, but my heart wants to know the movements! Oh, HELP! I think this morning may have been a part of the key - refuse anxiety any place. Give worry no thought, no space. My inheritance is peace - about my time, about my money, about my phone calls, about my texts, about my calendar, about the cake I want to bake. PEACE. If there's not peace, something is wrong.
Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way.
-2 Thessalonians 3:16
Let me close with some quotes from Practicing the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence. Walking with Jesus is an every day, every moment relationship. Don't put it in a box, let Him be part of everything.
Brother Lawrence pointed out that he spoke very simply and frankly to God. He asked for help with the things as he needed it, and his experience had been that God never failed to respond.

In the beginning, Brother Lawrence declared that a little effort was needed to form the habit of continuously conversing with God, telling Him everything that was happening. But after a little careful practice, God's love refreshed him, and it all became quite easy.
Nothing is too small.

Friday, July 16, 2010

BFS

This week, I became an employed human being. It really is a wonderful thing, you know, this working thing. I get to spend my days with a family I have long hailed as one of my favorites - the Bohlender tribe.

One of the things that I have come away with, after mornings of dancing with little girls and lunchtimes of sweeping, cleaning, feeding, and cleaning again is this tidbit of information:

One day, when I have seven to twelve children, I will have to make extremely large batches of macaroni and cheese if I ever hope to have any myself. There has been a running theme through lunchtimes the past couple days, and it has been that of the food I was about to put on a plate for myself instead getting eaten by another child showing up in the kitchen. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm happy that said child then has food satisfying their ravenous hunger, but at some point this girl's gotta eat.

It's something we who come from large families call "BFS." That's Big Family Syndrome, to those unacquainted with the acronym. It involves eating everything in sight very quickly, because chances are it will disappear into one of the mouths of the many other house dwellers in less than...oh look, it's gone.

Moral of the story: eat quick. And make lots of food. Nom.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Being Seen

A window, looking out on a sunny Paris day. A massive bed with a fluffy white comforter and 15 fluffy white pillows. Me, melting into said pillows.

I think I'm really tired and should just go upstairs to my own bed which will probably feel more wonderful than any Paris comforter.

***

This morning, I poured the coffee, sliced the strawberries, lit the candles, and cuddled under the blanket with the book of John.

I melted into tears at this:
Then Jesus said to him, "Get up! Pick up your mat and walk." At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked...The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there. Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, "See, you are well again..." John 5:8-9, 13-14
By 'melted into tears,' I mean that I was reading the story, got to the end of "Jesus found him at the temple," felt wet hot drops on my cheek and thought: "I'm crying! I'm crying? OH, JESUS!"

I hardly know how, I didn't even have time to think about the verse. It just hit my heart. He's not a miracle-machine. He really and truly cares. Jesus knew this man, He went and found him.
He went and found him.

I have no idea how I could ever write anything that would make those words more beautiful than they are.

He came and found me. He picked me up, brushed me off. He cares.

This afternoon, when I laid on the floor crying for reasons I hardly knew except that I miss Carly and I was home alone and I need that job and I'm tired and the dishes are dirty and and and, He was there. He came and found me.

Thank you for finding me, Jesus. "Here's my cup, fill it up, fill it up."

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

62.

It's in the hazy moment, between finishing a dream and fully opening my eyes to the morning sunshine.

Sometimes I think it's the Holy Spirit's favorite moment to speak. It's as if He has a minute all to Himself, before my mind is concerned with anything else. No schedules to fuel my brain, no mirrors to catch my eye. Only Him, and His welcome into a new day.

It's one of my favorite times to hear Him speak. Something about the way it reminds me that His eye is on me, His thoughts are towards me, without me doing anything to gain them. Psalm 139 in action, I suppose:
How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
I awake, and I am still with you. [ESV]
Sometimes it's a song, sometimes it's just a line. Whatever it is He says, it sets the tone for the day, clues me in to what His theme for the hour is. This morning it wasn't there right away when I woke up, so I asked: "Jesus, what's the line for today?"

You are wanted.

Wanted. What a fantastic theme for today.

I pulled myself out of bed, made my way to the coffee pot, then settled into a chair in the bright dining room. My Bible fell easily open to the page my heart has been singing for the past days, Isaiah 61. I've been given a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, I'm made to be a planting of the Lord that He might display His beauty. Under the heading of Isaiah 62, a few familiar lines are underlined in pink:
but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her,
and your land Married; [ESV]
Wanted.

In a moment of brutal honesty -- I have a day in my mind when I assume I will know that I know that I am wanted. It involves a white dress, a handsome groom, you get the picture. There is a part of me that long has mistakenly believed that when a man desires me, I will know for sure that I am desirable. I will be a chosen Bride, a won heart, and I will know.

This morning I realized that the theme of that desire is correct, I am made to be married. My value is very clearly spoken to by the pursue of a Man, but it is not the earthly man I so easily think of. Neither is the jury still out. I need not wait to know. I can know today, because of those words pulled off the page by a pink highlighter.

I am already called Married. I am already spoken for. I have already been chased, I have already been won. You and I, we are worth something. We are wanted. The Heavenly Man, He has called us His own. He wants us. The cross proves it.

It is a sweet thing to be wanted and won.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Security

I think I was about twelve when I got sidelined by a kidney infection. I remember that it was a terribly hot July day, which I spent out in the sun at a church yard sale. I remember laying on my couch at home in excruciating pain, with no idea what was wrong except that there were knives in my back and I had lost my lunch. I'm sure my parents prayed for me, and I somehow drifted off to sleep, utterly exhausted by pain.

When I came to, I was resting between my parents in the front seat of my Grandma's old white Buick, about to pull away from our house for the hospital. The pain was totally gone, and I felt sleepily at peace. Thinking back over this last night, I realized: my daddy must have carried me out to the car.

You know, when I was small, I fell asleep in the car all the time. We would get home, I would wake up, but I would keep my eyes closed and act limp, just so my dad would have to carry me inside.

I thought last night about safety and reassurance. I don't know if you knew this, but I moved my life across the country again this week. Kansas City is home once more, and while moving home to family is a wonderful dynamic, it is still change. Transition. A moment where you look down and try to figure out what exactly you are standing on.

Honestly, the picture that came to my mind when I thought of the whisper of safety from the Lord was that of an emergency room. There's me, lying on the table, doctors and nurses and tubes and needles and beeps and more nurses flying around me. Near my head, though, bent low and close to my ear is my heavenly Father. From His presence, from His reassurance, comes absolute peace. All it takes is His constant voice: "I'm here, you're going to be fine." The safety of a Father. A friend of mine recently landed in the hospital and even though she is grown and on her own, what did her dad do? Rush to Tacoma, of course.

I'm carried, I'm covered, I'm watched out for. I know that no matter what streets I drive down, His hand is there. No matter what adventure He takes me on, He's coming too. Behold, what manner of love is this, that I am a child of God.

I'm safe.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Knowing

You know what?

God loves me something fierce.

Sometimes I worry about a situation, how something will pan out. I get frustrated with myself, afraid that I can't make something happen. All it takes is a moment, a gentle reminder from the Holy Spirit. He's in charge. He's holding on, and His grip is tight. He's going to do what He wants to do in me.

It's like a bullet-proof jacket, His love. I've never worn one, but I imagine it feels somewhat like a life jacket. I love zipping a life jacket around me, the feeling of being held in, held together, protected. If I were to crash into the water, it's not coming off.

There's a point where you have to quit simply dodging fear and instead turn around, stare it in the face and say "You know what? You're ridiculous. My God is strong." The strongest love, the most powerful force you will ever encounter, is on your side. I wish, I so badly wish there were words to describe the fire of the love of the Creator of the ends of the earth. I want to write and write and write, just to try to find a way to say it.

There's a fire all around me, holding me in, pressing me together. He targeted me, chose me to surround. How is the burning jealousy of the Bridegroom spoken in the tender whisper of the Holy Spirit?

He is big, and His love is strong.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

To Brighten Your Day

My sister wrote this wondrous song about her Glorie.  I figured I would let Glorie be a cute part of your day, because she makes everything better.  You're welcome. :)

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Simple Victory

A short post today. I was inspired by Brianna to share something with you. Actually, it's a dare.

Ladies, if you are anything like me, you have fought tooth and nail with self-hatred. The thoughts, the come so easily, don't they? Comparing the size of you with the size of the girl you just passed. Always sure dropping 5 pounds would be useful. My story is for another time, but I've skirted the sidelines of disordered eating and this battle is more familiar than I want it to be.

One could write and write and write about the trap of self-hatred and the truth that vanquishes it, but for now I have one thing.

Your words are powerful. Seriously. "The tongue has the power of life and death." -Proverbs 18:21

So I challenge you to speak life.

What if, for the next month, you looked in the mirror every morning and said (out loud): "I am beautiful." It can be that simple, or you could add in an "I'm perfect just the way I am" or a "Dang, God, You did good here!" if you want to, but whatever you do, say it out loud.

Your tongue has power, use it.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Me, Crammed between two car seats.


I have just arrived in Kansas City.  Be still my beating heart.  It's like my world world just stopped at a wonderfully blissful spot.  Kansas City is home in so many ways, and I love being here.

Getting here involved an 8 hour road trip in which:
  • I developed what I call the "blanket tent" over the high chair and baby went to sleep.
  • We got redirected onto the back roads of Iowa, as the state patrol completely shut down the interstate, and funneled hundreds of cars onto random highways which no one knows how to maneuver.  I'm glad we made it.
  • I remembered that thing I talked about yesterday, the thing I shouldn't be qualified to do.  SKIING!  Who in the world would take me to the top of the mountain and decide it was okay to leave me there to slide down on two little pieces of plastic?!  Unqualified, I tell you.
  • Soon after we crossed the Missouri state line, we saw a man walking down the highway.  That's strange.  What's even stranger is that he had his pet pig with him. 
  • I ate lots of Trader Joe's White Cheddar Corn Puffs.  J'adore.
The good news is, I've forever secured my position as necessary-child-wrangler on all my sister's forthcoming road trips.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

I think I missed a step

Isn't it funny that they just let us grow up?

I was thinking the other day about something...what was it...wait for it...okay, I can't remember.  Basically, it was some basic part of life, which, when I thought about it, was surprisingly shocking that I am allowed to do.  My line was something like "like, who decided that all of a sudden I am qualified to do this?"  You know, it was something like climbing a mountain or picking out my own outfit.  Sheesh.

I mean, I was a kid.  We were just kids.  Now we're adults (at least legally) and don't live at home and can ride a horse or drive to the store or go on vacation or cut our hair all by our lonesome.

I decided that I have seen a definite sign of aging in my life: when people who used to be *ahem* interested in you are now getting married I think you've reached a whole new level. 

Yesterday?  Yesterday my hair was lighter red and still curly, I was missing three teeth, and I didn't know how to spell beautiful. ("BEE-AY-OOTIFUL")

Today, I am gradually realizing that I can go on vacation when I want to and it's okay to have a brownie right before bed.  You know, just 'cause I want to.

And tomorrow?  Tomorrow I'll have 10 children and live in Estonia somewhere.

It's funny how you just grow up.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Hold the Leafy Green Stuff

Today, I told someone that I liked cilantro. 

They went on to say: "Is there such a thing as too much cilantro?" I murmured an assent, and was left to my own thoughts.  While I twirled a fork through a lemon (I learned today that that gets the juice out full and fast) I had an "Annie, what are you thinking?!" moment.

I don't like cilantro.

There can DEFINITELY be too much cilantro.  

Now I have to put cilantro in my guacamole.

I am just not a fan of conflict. I suppose it could be a symptom of various things (fear alert!), and it can result in any number of situations. Apparently, one of those situations is guacamole not quite the way you like it.

This avoidance of conflict, it comes out of fear.  Fear of disappointing the people I'm around, fear that they won't like what they find.  What they find...that nebulous thing that I am afraid will disappoint them, I've come to realize, is me.

After the cilantro incident, I ducked downstairs to take a nap.  It's never easy for me to fall asleep in the middle of the day, and this afternoon was no exception.  I laid there, with Kim Walker bursting in my ears: "He loves us, Oh how He loves us..."  In my mind's eye, a picture popped into view.  

I saw myself, standing dressed in a beautiful gown, picked out just for me by the Lord.  It fit perfectly, it fell gracefully, and it was the best kind of beautiful, that which is natural.  The scene unfolded as I imagined people approaching, taking ownership of the masterpiece I wore, and making parts of it theirs.  A gray flower pinned here, a purple patch stuck there, and so on and so forth. Soon, the dress the Lord had designed for me was covered with patches of other people's ideas of what would look good.

I thought about being myself, and how easy it is to let what I expect others want of me to become who I pretend to be.  I know a lot of people, and they know me.  But they don't know deep, deep down.  They don't know all of me like He does.  But I know my own tendency is to work to fit to be who other people expect that I am.  When you actually try to explain it, it's a bit of a mind bender.

I want to be who He made me to be, rather than tweaking parts of me here and glances of me there.  When I am the way He created me, I become an expression of Him. I'm created in His image.  One of my favorite parts of who I am, if you're allowed to have those, is that parts of my personality reflect parts of His.  Simple things, like I'm learning that it's okay to love adventure - because Jesus is adventurous, and He made me that way

So away with this fear.  That nasty, sneaky lie that says what He created doesn't fit the mold.  It tells me I need to adjust myself to fit other people's expectations. The truth it that they have a slightly skewed view of who I am simply because they don't have the time or the scope of vision to know me fully, to know me the way He does. Rather than accept the patches other people project on me, I want to wear the dress Jesus gave me.  It will draw others into being who He made them to be, it will point others to who He is. I don't have to be afraid it's not good enough, and I can be me even if other people don't expect it.

Let me say, I feel like I have written the word "I" in this post a whole lot.  This isn't to say that I'm a big deal; I just believe the Lord made each one of for a reason...you are not a mistake.  You have a design, and He pieced you together deliberately and specifically.  Ask Him how He made you, and live that way, because it reflects something about Him.

And, I'll take my guacamole without cilantro, but you can put some in yours if you want.

"O Lord, you have searched me
and you know me."
~Psalm 139:1

Thursday, May 27, 2010

What I Don't Deserve

I don't deserve to be given conviction that is full of mercy.

I don't deserve that every wrong thing, every wrong thought, ever selfish motive, every prideful inkling would be covered by the blood of an innocent Man.

I don't deserve to be drawn to repentance by lovingkindness. Not harsh demands, not condemning threats, but by kindness. Kindness!

If you're anything like me (as in, if you are a human being), you want to be something particular, something special. You want to be irreplaceable to someone. You want to be known, be called by your name, have that look in your eye be understood, that tone of your voice perceived. You want to be someone's first thought.

Well.

WELL.

You are what He wants. He gave everything to have you. You are the joy set before Him, You are the dream of His heart, and gaining your love and your life was the aim of His. You are on His mind and that longing? You were made with it, and He is your beautiful, beautiful fulfillment.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Dresses in the Window

Whoever said you can't just walk into a couture salon and look at their dresses needed a bit more boldness.

OhmywordIalmostmeltedonthefloor. The lace! The silk! Someday Ima get married and Ima wear a purdy dress.

I digress. This blog is actually meant to be a list of "hopefuls."

"Hopefuls." They sound like "unspokens." If you didn't attend a Christian school or youth group or what have you, an "unspoken" is probably a mystery to you. It involves a time of sharing prayer requests, where someone has a prayer request, but doesn't want to share. Hence, the irony of it all. You can multiply them too! Two unspokens, three unspokens, ten unspokens.

I'm digressing again. At this point, I have two hopefuls to share with you.

I hope to go to New York City.

I hope to have a nice camera with which I take nice pictures.

I'm happy without these things, but I think they would be fun.

And that was the end of the letter.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Midway through the Midwest


Here I am, painting, 'cause that's just what I do.

Actually, it's what I do at my parents' house. I arrived back in Chicago for a two week visit on Tuesday. My parents are moving (!!) to Kansas City (!!! again) and so I am here to help with various and sundry projects like painting the dining room trim, dusting the piano, and avoiding deadly spiders in the garage.

My mom was worried that I would be nostalgic about them leaving the house I grew up in, but I think I am just so overjoyed that they are going to Kansas City that my heart has no space to be nostalgic. Moving to Kansas City is, so far, one of the best things that has ever happened to me, and I am praying it will be the same for them. The day I arrived marked the beginning of a new season - of healing, of the Lord's kindness, of overflowing, bubbly, uncontainable joy; I am hoping for the same for them!

Being in Chicago also means screaming, melt into each other's arms reunions with some heart sisters and wonderful, steaming Indian food with so many dear people. It means seeing Noemi's face for the first time in a year and eating at the Peterson's table again. Being in Chicago means wandering the halls of my old school and finding old cds in my drawers. [Steven Curtis Chapman Christmas! Holla!]

Last night, some friends and I went to a coffee shop that turned out to be delightful...Ipsento. We had read rumors of a nutella mocha, and it did not disappoint. The two baristas talked jovially with us, and it turned out they loved Jesus! The guy who made my drink asked what my favorite coffee shop was - I said Peet's in downtown Seattle. He promised to write a haiku on the spot for us if my drink wasn't better than Peet's. I tasted, proclaimed it to win over Peet's, but he wrote us a haiku anyways. It was about loggers. If a haiku about loggers doesn't make you want to go there, I don't know what will.

Hi Chicago. Thanks for being...authentic.

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Finish Line

I figured that since I posted a picture of myself on my last day of finals last semester, you might like to see one now.
I'm not wearing a fantastic $2 sweater, as you can so, but I do have greasy hair and glasses which, let's be honest, is slightly more realistic.

I'm almost done! I can't believe it! A whole year of college... I need to finish up a paper, run it to my professor's office and do all the fun things like going to work for the last time and returning all my books to the library and selling back the ones I still have.

I should go finish that paper. In the meantime, I would like you to know that today is the 399th anniversary of the bovine arrival in America. Cows arrived in Jamestown, Virginia on May 14, 1611. Go drink some milk and be merry.


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Almost...

I can taste the finish line. I can see the baked cake. It's almost time, people.

One paper on Indian politics.

One paper on John Reed.

Two final exams.

One paper on Plato.

One presentation entirely in French.

Then...FREEDOM.

Once I have been freed from these educational fetters, I would like to:
  • Dress up and go out to dinner.
  • Watch the Young Victoria.
  • Stay in Parkland until 1am, just because I have no homework to do.
  • Spend the night at Carly's house on a weekday.
  • Read books (which aren't listed on a syllabus)
  • Go out to coffee in the middle of the day
  • Oh, and I can't forget to visit Chicago and hopefully KC because Jesus just provided the plane tickets I needed.
I don't know about you, but I am looking forward to May 15.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Him and Me.

There are parts of me that only He sees. He made the depths of me, and I figure that's the way it should be.

The other night I went to bed with a familiar longing revisited: "Jesus, I just want to be beautiful."

Something so simple and straightforward and...obvious...and yet somehow the reality of it was surprising. Bethany Dillon inspires me to want to write the real things.

When Peter talks about the hidden beauty I am called to have... This week it struck me that hidden implies that it is real even when it's not seen, and it must be sought out to be seen.

And when I come to Him, with my list of complaints against myself, I insist: "Jesus, this is what I see."

He replies: "Annie, that's not what I see. Which of us has clearer vision?"

He makes me beautiful.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Not for me.

I am so incredibly thankful for my dad.

Today I called him, freaking out, ten minutes before my piano lesson. "Dad, would I be crazy to drop piano right now?" He calmly replied: "Right now, three weeks before the end of the semester? Well, at first it does sound a little...crazy..." After we talked over the whys and the what-fors, he affirmed my choices and advised: just decide what you need to do and do it confidently. If you're overwhelmed and something has to go, drop piano. Or if you can do it, do it.

It all turned out alright, and my professor was extremely encouraging, and as for piano, I'm going to finish the semester and do my best and hey! Lord-willing, in 3 weeks, I will still be a pianist. This particular Bach sinfonia may still not be perfected, but the piano will still be my instrument.

But that confidence from my dad and the encouragement that my life is not falling apart and I am not a failure means more than you know.

There are only 12 days left of classes, then finals. Sometimes I look at these next weeks and think: "YES! Almost there!" Other moments, I look at them and want to curl into a ball. How am I going to get everything done? What am I doing next year? Why is my whole school not saved? How do I give a French presentation? When am I going to start that paper? I'm serious, that Politics reading just multiplied in length by a quadrillion paragraphs. WHERE'S MY COFFEE??

Then I have a moment. It's kind of like the one with my dad today, only it's with my heavenly Father.

Annie, you're not a failure. This is my burden, let me carry it. You're going to finish strong. I'm with you. I'm for you, and if I'm for you, who can be against you? You're doing great, just keep going. You're not alone in this, and grades really aren't the end of the world. You're not a failure, You're not failing me, You're not missing the mark.

So for you...I don't know what your area is. Maybe it's not homework or school. Maybe it's your job, or your parenting, or your house that needs to get clean. Take a second and realize right now that the voice telling you that you're failing and you need to be doing it better...it's a liar. As my dad says: "If it's not from God, it's not for you."

My intimidation over school and my feelings of failure are not from God, so they are not for me. Mmm-mmm. No way. Not for me.

What have you been carrying that's not for you? Lay it down, let it go. He'll take care of the rest.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

I'm a Refugee

I have run away from America. Blame it on Jackson's harassment stories, blame it on the high gas prices...I've crossed the border.

Canada is not very different. They have different money, even though they use the dollar sign. They play baseball and football and soccer and basketball, but man, their hockey is a lot better. In fact, we're all sitting together right now, watching a playoff game. I feel so Canadian.

Their mountains are very beautiful. Their speed limit signs are confusing, because you're allowed to 70 on a regular street. Gosh, those speeding Canadians.

I got to use my new passport, which was very exciting. The Canadian border patrol agent wanted to know where we lived, what we were doing, etc. Then she asked if we were related. We're not, but our last names are almost the same (I have finally found a Petersen with an "e"!!) Border patrol agents need to learn how to smile. (Also, I can now say from personal experience that there is more than one Canadian border patrol agent. Take that, Byron.)

I came with Carly. Here is us, being happy.
My friend's parents just had a conversation about how warm it was in the house. "Yeah, it's like TWENTY-FOUR!" I looked over, extremely consternated. Carly: "degrees celsius." My word, we're not in Kansas anymore.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Conundrum

There are so many amazing, spiritual things I could write about. My heart is literally overflowing, but at the moment I have one serious problem.

I am tired. Very, very tired. Also, I feel kinda sick.

This week has been incredibly intense, and today I have a class (I already had one this morning also) and then a study group and then a master class (fancy! not really) and then work and then babysitting, and...

I'm thinking about skipping class to take a nap. Don't judge. Yesterday I almost skipped French class to finish a paper, but I didn't. I feel like I've racked up didn't-skip points, which maybe just maybe I could redeem today? I even told my dad yesterday that I was thinking of skipping and he just said "I understand." Also, my French teacher found out I had a paper, and she gave me joke extra credit points for coming to class! That's always good, right?

I'm not saying I think it's okay to skip classes all the time. Just maybe some of the time. :)

Too bad my Russian Revolution teacher doesn't know about joke extra credit points. I should probably just go read and prepare for the quiz. *bangs head on table*

What about you? Did you skip classes in college? Or even now - do you ever just stop yourself and think "wait a minute, I just can't do all of these things because my body may collapse or implode or something of the sort?" Please tell me you've had that thought and that I am not a complete laz-o for being too tired to go to class.

Even though I'll probably go to class.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

For serious. Really, though...

He is Divine and you are De Branch. hehe.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Middle of the Night

"I'm a college student, I'm not allowed to sleep." Let me just be honest right here at the beginning, I'm supposed to writing a paper. No use hiding it.

I'm back from Hawaii. Hawaii is wonderful, simply wonderful. I think the island life convinced me that certain places have anointings, and God has chosen those little rocks half way between China and California as a special place for refreshing His people.

I left Hawaii with a whole new perspective. When I say a whole new perspective, I really mean it. New plans for the future, new ideas about the future...I think what really happened was new HOPE.

I like hope a lot.

On my last day there, I was standing on a hotel porch, looking out over the ocean. Chloe had shown me this secret spot at the hotel across the street from their subdivision, where we could steal away to any time and just sit next to the ocean. This was my third trip or fourth trip to the hotel. Chloe was at school, I was on the phone with Katrina, and all of a sudden I saw a spurt. Water, straight up in the air. It took me a second to process it, and my eyes darted back to the spot in the water. Sure enough, the smooth arch of a whale's back slid across the water. I'm pretty sure I lost the thought I was trying to say to Katrina and stumbled over my words. A whale. I saw a whale. I had asked Jesus that I could see a whale, and there, on my last day (the one that wasn't supposed to happen), Jesus made that whale swim exactly to that spot so that I could see it.

Why wasn't that day supposed to happen, you ask? I was supposed to fly out a day earlier, but a light on my airplane broke and I got an extra day. An extra day. An extra, wonderful, life-changing day (for a lot more reasons than a whale sighting).

Jesus loves me a lot, and He reminded me with a trip to paradise. Today, there's new joy in my smile and restored light in my eyes. Thank You, Jesus, for lighting me up. I can't wait to see what's up next.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Live from Paradise

I'm in Hawai'i! On the flight in, I had to sign a declarations form that I wasn't bringing any strange budding plants onto the island. I caught my first sighting out the plane window at exactly 5:31pm local time, and have been in heaven ever since.

I am with one of my favorite families of all time and am just having an absolute blast. Got to spend some time at the University of Nations, which is a main YWAM base here in Kona. Their prayer room is fantastic. Just a simple sound system and a room full of people who adore Jesus, singing their hearts out.

Went to the beach with Chloe and by the time we left, my heart was a lot lighter and my smile a lot bigger.

At night me, Chloe, and Nick drove up a mountain to see the stars. We could see the city lights below us, but the lights above us far exceeded them. I have never seen anything like it. There are SO MANY stars. You don't know these things when you've grown up in a city. :) They were so clear and they were everywhere, and I just laid my head backwards out the window and sat in amazement. Every one of them has a name. Every one is seen by Jesus every day.

Hawai'i reminds me that God is good, and that He is close. He is close to my every day life, and He is beautiful all the time.

Friday, February 26, 2010

4:40am

I am claiming victory. This morning did not go like yesterday!

Last night I procrastinated like it was an Olympic sport. First I won bronze, then silver, then gold. Then I went to bed and decided to get up early and try the paper again, because His mercies are new every morning. That's a promise, right?

I kid you not, I set four alarms. FOUR. Also, I have discovered a way to conquer my sleepy mind. If I set my phone alarm to ring with my phone-call ring rather than the usual wake-up ring, my brain jolts awake. Haha, got you, brain!

Also, I prayed. When I have to wake up in the morning, I ask the Lord the night before to help me, because goodness! sometimes waking up is hard to do.

So I was awake at 4:40, got time in the Word (I think not doing that would have been a fatal blow to my day. It makes SUCH a difference!!), and then went upstairs, lit the candles, turned on my computer, started the coffee pot that I prepared last night, and began on the paper. Things got done, and I am so thankful. There's more to do, but I think I have plenty of time. I also got to read Antigone for my 10am class, and have breakfast at the table with Jena and the kids. This morning is surprisingly fantastic.

Hmmm, maybe I should wake up at 4:40 every day. Other than the fact that when I stop moving I feel as if I might fall asleep, this feels great!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

8:21am

I have been sleeping an abnormally normal amount lately. A full 8 hours is unheard of at my stage of life, I believe. Perhaps I should mention that I hardly ever set my alarm for 8 hours after I drift off, but I usually hit snooze for about that long.

Anyways, to get back to my story. I mean, to start my story.

This morning's two alarms (I always use 2 alarms) were set for 6:15. Figure in the time with the Word, figure in time for a shower, and be on time to my 8 am.

That's not the way it went down, folks.

Instead, I hit snooze at 6:15 and again and 6:27. After that I heard my phone clonk onto the chords sitting on the floor and ignored it. Actually, I must have picked it up, because I heard it clonk again. Realizing that someone had probably texted me, I picked it up and read a message from Jena: "R u up?" Um, up? Look at the time, it's 8:12. EIGHT. ONE. TWO. My class starts at EIGHT ZERO ZERO.

I start whimpering: "Oh no, oh no" (that's what I do when I'm alone and get worried), grabbed my glasses, and ran out my door, up the stairs and burst into the kitchen. Chris and Jena are standing in the kitchen and look at me, shocked at my bursting through doors and such and I start to cry and say: "what do I dooo?!"

Jena: "Oh, your 8am? [pause] Are you crying?"

Yes, people, it was probably one of the more dramatic mornings of my life.

On the trusty advice of people who successfully graduated from college, I went to class late. In fact, it was only 9 minutes from my leap out of bed to walking into the classroom. The teacher only half-way publicly shamed me and all was well. We usually have a quiz at the beginning of the class that you cannot make up, but today for the first time in the semester, there was no quiz!

And that was the beginning of my day. Stay tuned to hear how it ends. (Or more specifically to hear how successfully I write a paper on something I know hardly anything about... don't be shocked. Behind every good blog post is a paper sitting around procrastinating.)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Rest Assured

For some reason, I often think of a tweet that Katrina sent one day last summer. We were on our way to Chipotle, driving along Blue Ridge Boulevard (my favorite! Oh, j'ADORE), and I made a comment about how unsure I was of the next year:
KStyles On my way to chipotle w/ @Anniepeterson. She made a comment about not knowing where she'll be this time next year. I grunted grumpily back.
I've thought about it, and thought about it again, and though about how funny it is that I STILL don't know when I'll be doing a year from that day. It was June 1, and June 1 of this year? I have no idea.

It's not that I don't have ideas, and it's not that my imagination can't think of enough options. Oh trust me, I've thought of options. But I have this suspicion that there's one option that's better than the others, and one God who knows what that option is.

So I wait. Waiting for Christmas morning is nothing compared to this. There are so many things that the need for patience and wisdom applies to. I'm waiting to know how long to be in school. I'm waiting for lots of my friends to meet Jesus. I'm waiting for others of my friends to get healed. I'm waiting for my husband. I'm waiting for my children. I'm waiting for my orphans.

I'm waiting for Jesus to come back. I'm waiting for injustice to be vanquished from the earth. I'm waiting to be fully known. I'm waiting to be presented blameless. I'm waiting to be free of the struggle with sin. I'm waiting to live forever with the One I love.

But the waiting, the waiting is beautiful, because rawness is beautiful. Throwing yourself on the surety of the goodness of God -- that is beautiful to Him. A weak heart that says yes -- that is beautiful to Him. And your waiting is not in vain; you will not be put to shame. You, in your waiting, will not be put to shame.

You will not reach the end and look back and say: "Wow, that was silly. What a waste of time!" or "man, I looked really silly having no idea what I was doing!" or "boy, maybe I didn't really need to wait on God to tell me every step; I could have made some up on my own..." No, friend! God's word promises that you will not be put to shame when you wait on Him. Wait with obedience, wait without passivity, but do not fail to wait.

Patience is not passive; on the contrary it's quite bold. So be bold and wait. The fruit will be good and plenty.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Xanthos

Last night I went to an engagement part for two people that are just full of awesomeness. Then, in true girl form, a group of us stayed at said party until after midnight, wigging out over wedding magazines with the bride. She was delighted that the first thing that needs to be done is: dress. I mean, who wouldn't smile at that?

Since I didn't get home until 1am, I didn't read my chapters of Homer. I know, I know.

Then, in class, for the first time in my college career and maybe only the 2nd or 3rd time in my ever-school career, we had a pop quiz.

About the chapters I didn't read.

And I guessed that there hadn't been a talking horse in the reading.

But there had been.

His name wasn't Mr. Ed. And he bothered Achilles (not the tendon).

Now I'm going home, and I will probably eat food. Hopefully you're going home and will probably eat food. And hopefully you don't feel like you wasted the last 40 seconds reading about the quiz where I denied the existence of a talking horse.

Actually, I still deny the existence of a talking horse. Au revoir.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Pray Continually...

Mike Bickle has this little saying that has always seemed qualified and excellent but I hadn't really put into practice. You know those things you hear and you say: "Hey, that's a great point!" and then walk out of church and don't think about it again for the next week or month or decade?

"Never underestimate the power of 30-second prayers."

It sounds so simple, right?

The other week, the Holy Spirit started nudging my heart to pray in the small moments. See a few desperately broken classmates in the coffeeshop, walk out with my white mocha, and cry out for their salvation down the sidewalk on the way to work. Remember your friend who was having a hard time last Saturday? Right then and there ask the Lord to show them His face. No more "oh, I should pray for them!" Do it! With your 30 seconds! Just do it, and don't underestimate the power of it. Nothing is too small to pray about!
The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. James 5:16
I found that the two or three times I did it during my day made such a difference! My heart felt lighter as the hours passed. Imagine walking down a road and passing heavy stones. You pick them up, one by one, and put them in your bag. Eventually when you get to the end of the road you are ready to lay your head on the pillow out of sheer exhaustion rather than the sweet reward of rest. Lifting up the little things that were burdens on my heart during the day kept my eyes on Jesus and my mind constantly on Him. What would His perspective be of that situation? If you're praying about it, that's what you'll be thinking. If you just let it sit in your mind and weigh you down, you'll forget to ask what He thinks. Hand Him your stones.

The God of all the universe hears your words, and He inspires the prayers in your heart, and when you open your mouth, His ears are open and His attention is on you. Right now, the attention of God is on you. What do you want to say to Him?

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

I Will Wait.

The theme word for this week, the message that has been preached on repeat in my heart for days, the thing that has occupied my thoughts and my pen, is patience.

Patience. What a word.

Before this past month, it was just that - a word. A word I found here or there, a word that drifted across my eyes when I wanted a little girl to put her shoes on faster, a word I could sing in a song and get a warm fuzzy feeling.

Now when I think of patience, there's more of a wrestle-in-the-mud effect. I have hope that this wrestle will end like Jacob's did.

Saturday night, I read about Ronel, and my heart broken into a million pieces. On the floor. At the library. I couldn't get this picture that Randy tweeted from Haiti out of my mind. My thoughts raced - what if I really left school and just went to Haiti? What could I do? What could I DO? Something turned into my heart from "One day, I am doing to be a mom and adopt orphans and they won't be orphans anymore" to "anywhere children are alone, I belong." To steal a flow of logic from my friend, it's a good thing I don't have any money or else I might have gotten on a plane to India right then and there. I texted Christina:
What would you do if I got on a plane right now, went to India, found a house, and took in 50 kids?
She replied she'd come with me. That's my partner in crime right there, folks.

I went to sleep with tears dropping from my eyes and "Oh, Jesus..." from my lips. I got up the next morning and tried to share the heaviness of my heart with Chris & Jena. Jena tried to encourage me with answers: "see what degree you need to help them!" "Pray! You might hear a story in ten years of a little kid getting out of Haiti today and look back and remember that you were praying." Finally, she identified the 200 pound weight my heart had been trying to lift for the past few hours:
It's frustrating to be filled with passion and compassion about something and not be able to do anything about it.
You see, the next words out of my mouth after "Oh Jesus, save that little boy" had been "God, why am I here?" It was so hard to reconcile the fact that my arms that could hold so many of these little boys and girls were instead filled with works of Homer and textbooks on politics. That my feet could be dirty with the mud of Port-au-Prince but instead pounded the glistening pavement of my stellar university campus. That I could burn for hearts without homes while I slept in a room that could fit at least two cribs in it, maybe three.

All that to say, Jena also identified a key aspect that I had been blind to:
You're angry with God. You're angry that there's injustice in the world and you can't do anything about it right now.
How scary. She was right. The thing is, being mad at God scares me, but it doesn't scare Him. He's willing to work with me, guide my heart, speak to me, and forgive me when I come repentant. This is where patience comes in (perhaps you were wondering!).

I walked through the evening air crying on Monday, pouring out to Christina how my heart felt tied in knots and I just didn't understand, and how could I be angry with God? She spoke some oil of personal experience and solid truth that brought peace instantly:
Annie, I don't like it. But Jesus did it.
He did! He went to school to study the Scriptures that he wrote. The one who crafted the world built chairs and tables until he was 30. THIRTY! He was a boy. He was God, and lived with people who had no idea. (Christina, I hope I'm not stealing a blog post here! :)

Then, to follow it up:
A good friend told me a little while ago: 'Jesus requests patience of me, not as an act of obedience, but as an act of love.'
That friend was me. The Lord began speaking to me as I prepared to come back to Tacoma that love is patient. 1 Corinthians 13, authentic, deep, lasting love is patient. Somehow, in the rustle of a few days, I had lost sight of it. I want to love Jesus with real love, and real love is patient.

So I am here. In Tacoma. With so many things waiting as dreams in my heart, not the least of which is the fatherless of the world, and Jesus is teaching me to be patient. I will be patient for Him to bring about the dreams He has etched in me. I will be patient for Him to perfect my faith. I will be patient for Him to show me the big picture. I will be patient.

And the only reason I can hope to love Jesus with a love fueled by patience? Jesus' love for me is patient. I can love Him with this authentic, patient love only because He loved me first with authentic, patient love.
But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience... ~1 Timothy 1:16
He loved me first. I feel as if I could shout it to the world.

Oh friends, He is patient. I am learning to be patient, but He is the kindest teacher I know. I trust Him. I committed to trust Him with everything, to throw my life on the surety of His goodness, and I am committed to that promise. Thank God He's committed to me.

Isaiah 40:31
They who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles;
They shall run and not be weary;
They shall walk and not faint.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

What you really want to read...

I have a blog post brewing, but my Classics teacher assigned this reading in the Iliad...

That doesn't mean you don't have something to read, though. Head over to Randy's blog and catch up on his Haiti journey. He arrived on the ground there today to search out everything he can possibly find out about how best to take care of the thousands of orphans left in the rubble.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Just a Reminder

Today, don't forget that your hope is alive. He's a Man, and you will see Him, very soon. And guess what? Until you do see Him, the power of God is guarding you -- at your left, your right, behind, and before, making you ready for the coming Great Day.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. ~1 Peter 1:3-5
Don't forget that you are on His mind, and He is praying for you.
Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. ~Hebrews 7:25

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Russian Steppe was Reinhabited...

I would like to say something profoundly interesting, but I'm not sure what it would be.

I could tell you about my class about the Russian Revolution. The professor is fantastic and says things like:

"Being a professor is so hard sometimes. It's like being paid to be constantly confused."
or
"And then, of course, his daughter Anastasia ran away and lives in Cleveland somewhere."
He also basically called me a Marxist. I reject this notion because 1) I'm not 2) I know I'm not and 3) the teacher took back what he said. I just happened to voice an idea that Marx may or may not have agreed with.

I have also decided that I want to visit Russia on the New Earth. It seems like such a wholly wild place right now, with all that cold and all those bears and all those trees (a quarter of the world's forest is in Russia!). I want to know what the Lord was thinking when he designed it, and I want to see what it's like after He restores all things.

Let me finish this short blog with this a hearty endorsement for this message. Danny Lehmann is part of YWAM leadership, and visited Tacoma a couple weeks ago. The message is packed with seriously awesome stories, funny jokes, and (best of all) some hard core truth about doing what the Lord tells you to do. Ready, set, listen! (For the record, he's so engaging that I listened while multi-tasking and feel like I was able to take in everything! Turn it on while you cook or something!)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

I Have a Living Hope.

For my work-study job at school, I have been going through obituaries. Pleasant job, I bet you're thinking. It's not usually what I do, but for now I am going through, searching the names to see if any of them have at some time been connected with our university. This task is not the easiest; yesterday I started to cry.

There are some I read that begin with something like: "Jim was welcomed into the loving arms of Jesus Christ..." Those are usually the ones where tears gather in my eyes. The ones where the family can say without a doubt that the man lived his life for the glory of Jesus Christ and they know where he is now.

Then there are the terribly sad ones that grieve me deeply on the inside but don't usually move me to the kind of tears that are, in the previous instance, usually mingled with the joy of the knowledge of salvation. These second ones are instead like brick walls of terribly tangible reality. I read one yesterday that exalted the way the woman had given herself to "transcendental meditation" and how that was what she had passed onto her children. These ones about people that did not know the Lord - they are the difficult ones to read. Their lives are over. Their chance to say yes to Jesus is gone.

Today, as I finished up my task, I decided: should the Lord tarry, and I die and have a funeral, I want people to get saved at it. I don't want to die simply having "made the world a better place." No, I have a far greater legacy I dream of. I want to point people to Jesus. I want to finish my race having given everything I could to love and serve Him well. When people think of me, whether I'm alive on this earth or truly alive, I want them to in the next breath think of Jesus, and how He was what my life was for, about, spent on, everything.

I know a blog about death seems at first uncharacteristically sorrowful. The truth is, however, that if you know Jesus, there is no fear in physical death! Philippians 1:21 says that "to live is Christ, and to die is gain." Only in recent years has my heart begun to yearn for the day when I am with Him fully. He has written eternity on my heart (like He has on yours), and so here I am, caught between the now and the not yet (as my sister would say). Because Jesus died on the cross with me in mind then defeated death in rising from the grave, I have heaven to look forward to, rather than the hell my sinful soul deserved. Now, life is Christ, and oh how sweet it is! But then? Then is perfect peace, seeing Jesus as He is, touching His scarred hands with which He bought my life, being welcomed as one of the Father's own into His house. Now is good, but then...then will be great.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Boogers

The impurities in your faith are strikingly similar to snot in a baby's nose.

Tonight, I watched my friend hold Zoe, the little almost-1-year-old I live with, and try to wipe her nose. She could hear that Zoe was having a hard time breathing easily, and knew that if only Zoe's nose could be clear, life would be much more comfortable. Zoe, however, had no intention of letting her nose be wiped. She arched her back, squished her face, and screamed like the world was ending. She flailed. She screamed more. And finally it was over.

I watched her and thought: that's me. I feel sometimes like my soul gets stuck in its limited vision, and I cry. Sometimes, inside (let's be honest here), I scream. But his strong arms are there, holding me, not offended by my screams. He knows I don't understand. Go ahead, I dare you, try to explain to Zoe while she screams the concept of clear sinuses and oxygen saturation. She won't get it, and she'll probably scream louder.

Through this time of transition to life in Tacoma, in the midst of aching for my sisters and warring in spiritual battles at school, 1 Peter 1 has been ringing true:

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

For a little while...if necessary...various trials...

but then?

faith...precious...genuineness...you love Him...joy inexpressible.

I can't see. I honestly can't see the things God can. I can't see the dross that's in my imperfect faith right now, and I can't see the missions and plans the Lord has ahead, which He needs my faith and trust to be at a certain, more mature spot for. So I trust Him. Love does not insist on its own way. I will bend to Him and believe that He does great work in His plans. Love is patient. I am okay with not being able to see, because I love Him so much that I trust Him and I will be patient to see what He is working. In reality, I already know the main picture: "the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls."

Monday, January 18, 2010

Back.

The time has come. I've returned to Tacoma and school begins again tomorrow. Today, I charged the bookstore, ready to take on every aisle of words and emerge victorious. Homer's Iliad was out of stock, however, which can always leave one feeling somewhat...un-Iliadish, I suppose.

As sad as this is, the past three days have not been without tears. Don't worry -- this return is going much smoother than the one in the fall. The trip over Christmas break, however, left me more sure than ever that Kansas City is a home for me. When I'm in Kansas City, I know my way around town. I can walk into the coffeeshop and greet a handful of people I know within a few seconds. I can walk into the prayer room and hear the familiar rhythm of prayer leader - singers - prayer leader - singers. In Kansas City, I can head to Amy's house any time of the day or night and curl up by her fire (after having raided her chocolate stash or drunk some of her raw milk that she gets from the farmers every Saturday at 3 o'clock) with either a book or with a simple desire for warmth. In Kansas City, I can merely begin the word "snuggle" and have at least one of five cuddly children thrown into my arms. In Kansas City, I can be teased by sisters while I make them dinner. I can go on midnight runs to HyVee with Christina for $1 ice cream. I can knock on the Bohlender's front door even though I know I could walk in without knocking.

Kansas City is home in an instant. My home in Tacoma is still growing.

This verse has been touching the tender part of my missing-home heart the past few days:

"He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also planted eternity in men's hearts, yet so that men cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end." Ecclesiastes 3:11

So if you find yourself in a place where you know the Lord has placed you, but today - just today - the circumstances hurt for a little bit, remember that He makes everything beautiful in time. Your faith will be tested, but it will be more precious than gold refined by the fire. It's going to be worth it. The things you do now out of love for Him, regardless of pain or discomfort, they will last. He sees all, and you are safe. Utterly, completely, totally safe.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Time to Go

Tomorrow (well, today) I leave home to go home.

It's like being caught between two oceans, but being on the most perfect little island you've ever known.

Sometimes you forget it's so perfect, but then the Lord reminds:

"Love does not insist on its own way."

So here I go, my offering in loving Jesus: to obey, to follow, to not insist on my own way. There are moments, like just now leaving Christina in the car after a midnight ice cream run, where my heart aches. Let's be real: those moments happen.

But somehow, the Comforter wraps your heart in peace, every time. When it feels victorious, I exuberantly shout praise. And when it aches (like it does a little bit right now), I whisper: "It's all for You, Jesus. I'm still all in. Anything, anything, anything to obey You and love You more."

Sunday, January 10, 2010

{Read it!}

I just have to put in a shameless plug. If you are a parent, you know a parent, or you are thinking of ever becoming a parent, this is for you. My sister Suzanna has just started a one-week blog series on parenting. The first one alone will blow your mind, and I have no doubt that the rest will too, once they are written. Things she writes usually blows minds, if I her sister may say so myself.

Read it HERE. Need the link again? Here, here here!

It's gone

When I got to Kansas City, people's comments, strangely often, centered around my hair and how long it was. Hair is a funny thing, because you never really part with your own hair, so its growth doesn't shock you. All that to say, my hair was very long. See here:


But now? Now it's gone!


My head feels strangely light... The last time I got my hair cut, I loved the lady who did it so much that I told myself I would wait for Christmas Break and come back! If you are in Kansas City and need the best hair cut you've ever gotten for $20, let me know. :)

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Go Climb That Mountain!

There is so much snow in Kansas City. SO MUCH SNOW. Since that seems to be the theme of most Kansas Cityians' social networking these days, I figured I would join in.

Yesterday, driving around through the snow, I realized that there will most likely be no snow on the ground when I get back to Tacoma. This is sad.

Earlier in my trip home, Christina picked me up in a borrowed 4WD, and it was fantastic. You could climb a mountain in that thing! We, however, merely drove to Chick-fil-a. There was this guy shoveling all the snow out of his driveway onto the main road, though. We crossed that pile, but it was more of a large hill. Okay, a small hill. As we drove, I started to trying to tell her how much fun driving in snow has been. I started saying something about our breed: "Midwest girls, we just..." and she burst in: "we are the STUFF!" I heartily agree.

My sisters all live within a few streets of each other, but those streets have been covered with snow for quite some time now. Driving with Amy, we would turn onto her street and kind of head straight for the lightpole and then turn just in time. Then, we almost kissed the bush near her driveway, but yet again the nose of the car got pushed toward the basketball hoop and pulled back into perfect alignment with the garage door. When you have peace, slip-sliding like that can actually be quite fun. I wish I could count how many angels there are around the Midwest during winter. In fact, I felt like our car was less of a vehicle and more of a ping pong ball, just getting tossed from angel to angel. Perfectly safe, but not in control.

Yesterday an emergency run to the store was needed just as a storm hit. Elizabeth, the kiddos, and myself had just returned home from the doctor and we needed Pedialyte. When you need Pedialyte, you need Pedialyte, so I headed out a few minutes after the snow started. It took me almost 40 minutes to get to Target (whoa!) but I made it there and back and had fun doing it. You haven't experienced Midwest driving until you've started to fishtail in slush as an oncoming car gets closer and closer. You straighten out (hehe, get straightened out by that angel who is concerning you), and breathe thankfulness as your tires finally grip something. Then you (well, at least I) smile.

A while ago, someone gave me an encouragement from the Lord that He was going to take me into an understanding of and affection for the part of His heart that loves adventure. At the time, I had no idea what it meant. I mean, no idea. Adventure? Fun, Lord! I guess that's, um, cool. But did you see? I have all these other pressing questions -- honestly my heart wondered why, of all things, He chose adventure to speak to.

I've thought about it since moving to Tacoma, though. Adventure. It's like the word itself is made of mountains. Adventure! God loves adventure; He made adventure; He made me to love adventure. (Are you allowed to put 3 semi-colons in a sentence?) Moving to Tacoma is the biggest, newest, boldest, hardest thing I've ever done. Guess what it's full of? Adventure. It is one big adventure.

I've come to learn that adventure throws off all the fetters of control. When you climb a mountain, there's a point where it's doubtful whether or not you can even make your legs move or your lungs breathe, much less prevent an avalanche. When you go on an adventure with God, you learn that everything goes wrong if you try to take charge. When you decide that you're willing to put everything on the line to obey Him, you find the eye of the storm. Perfectly safe, but not in control.

So whether I'm driving in the snow or finding my footing in a new city, adventure is the name of the game. I'm glad that God has much higher visibility than I do. I don't have to know anything, because He knows everything. Trust me, if you're willing to give everything of you to obey Jesus, you are going to be on some pretty grand adventures. If you find yourself slip-sliding around in a car but an ear-to-ear smile on your face, I think you're seeing that part of you that's made in God's image, loving adventure right along with Him. Sit in peace and enjoy the ride.

***
If you actually ever do find yourself fishtailing and don't know what to do, turn your steering wheel (gently) in the direction your back tires are skidding. If you're like me, your driver's ed teacher told you "steer in the direction of the skid" but never gave you a definition of what that meant. Now you know. :)

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

This poem brought to you by mom, who hauled my files of old "stuff" to Kansas City.

I don't write poems.

I don't read poems.

I am, in general, not a big fan of poems. (Unless they're canonized) I want to write songs, but that is a whole different story.

That being said, I have written two poems in my lifetime which I deemed successful. I would like to introduce you to one of them.

Distress came to a maid of Tyreame,
But she had a beau who answered her scream.
It was caused by a mouse
Who was loose in her house,
And he gave it a whack with a beam.

Now that I have shared this with you from the deep recesses of my heart, oh wait...I forgot the picture.
Where was I? Now that you have read this expression of the deepest parts of my soul, don't you feel like you know me better?

Yes, I thought so.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Thoughts on all things Wedding-Planning from the Sisters

Dora: "No matter how hard you try, you cannot de-stress your wedding. There is no de-stressing."

Dora: "Next time I get married, there will be NO centerpieces at my wedding. Unless Jesus says 'No, we are having centerpieces.' 'Okay, Jesus, we can have centerpieces.'"

Suz: "No, there will be NO WAL-MART in heaven! Eternal fire forever."
Dorth: "What about Target? They're way more evil than Wal-Mart!"