Thursday, March 6, 2014

He is like a tree

"...but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers." - Psalm 1:2-3

I struggle sometimes.

I like being in control, and knowing what's ahead of me. I like to have a plan for what comes next. And a plan for after that. And a plan for after that.

Funny, then, that God doesn't always see fit to indulge me.

With the help of three amazing friends (whom I've dubbed my "Wonder Women"), and the guidance of a phenomenal booked called Restless, by Jennie Allen (check it out here), I've slowly been discovering my gifts and abilities, and how God plans to use them through me.

The emphasis there, though, is slowly. See, I was telling them just last night, I have this less than stellar habit of taking an idea and running with it, before it's really ready to be run with. More often than not, it does more harm than good.

God, with his perfect timing, is giving me bits and pieces of his plan for me. Last night, I used the analogy of E.T. following the Reese's Pieces trail. God is luring me out of my plans with snippets of his plans for me, but he knows better than to give me enough to take off with.

Some people have always known what God's plan for their life is. For others, God reveals his plan suddenly, and in completion.

I'm not going to fall into either of those categories. My discovery of his plan for me is a more lengthy process. And that's fine. That's what he wants for me, and that's what I need, and I get that.

But some days, like today, I struggle with that. Because, since I don't have the whole picture, I don't know what's coming next. I don't know what my purpose is, yet. And some days, the bits and pieces I do have get lost in the tangled mess that is my mind, and I forget.

I get discouraged.

Tonight, I was working on a passage of scripture I'm trying to memorize, and something about it struck me.

"He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its seasons, and its leaf does not wither."

He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its seasons.

I don't know a lot about plants, but I do live in Oregon, so I know all about buying seasonally. A lot of the plants we eat are designed to have seasons of production, and seasons where they do not produce.

Tonight, it occurred to me that we are likely the same.

We are going to have seasons of yielding fruit. We are also going to have seasons of not yielding fruit.

I'm just beginning to understand God's plan for me.

When you first plant a tree, you don't get fruit the next day. You care for it. You nurture it. You give it what it needs to grow.

You wait.

Sometimes years, you wait.

And then, eventually, you get fruit.

If you planted a peach tree and you just have to have a peach right this moment and your tree is not ready to bear fruit and it's the dead of winter, you can go to the store and buy a peach, right?

If I'm waiting for God to reveal his plan to me, waiting for my tree to bear fruit, in the meantime, I am completely capable of taking it upon myself to make some things happen. I have that ability. I can strive after what I think is supposed to come next.

And it will probably be fine. But it will probably also cost me. Exhaust me. Maybe even taste a little sour.

Peaches aren't cheap in the middle of winter in Oregon. And they're fine. They're alright.

But let me tell you something. There's a farm near my home that sells peaches in the summer. And those peaches, ripe and fresh off of those trees that are in their season are nothing short of heavenly.

God is growing us. He's caring for us, and nurturing us, and giving us what we need to grow. And we have to trust that when we're ready, when it's our season, we will bear the fruit he has planned.

And when that time comes, may we be peaches straight off the tree in August. Ripe, ready, and bursting with the flavor of God.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Be Still.

Psalm 46:10 - "Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!"

Be still.

How many hundreds of times have I heard/read/been reminded of that verse?

Be still.

However many times I've come across it, you know what I focus on? "...and know that I am God."

And that's important. So very, very important. But you know what else is important?

Be still.

Be still.

Be still.

At the direction of a very wise friend, I took some time this weekend to be still. To "stop striving", as she put it. To "stop analyzing". To just be.

I organized the documents on my computer, because I do things like that, and happened across some old poetry I wrote that's good. Good. And I don't say that about myself often. I did some writing - some real writing, creating from the depths of my soul, which I haven't done in eons. I did some drawing. I used to draw all the time. I had a sketchbook full of drawings. I was never great, but I was good, and I enjoyed it, and I literally cannot remember the last time I drew something.

I took a nap. And I didn't feel the least bit guilty about it.

Be still.

You know what I didn't do? I didn't think about how much I needed to do. How busy I was.

See, I have this theory.

I'm 24 years old. I work 30 hours a week. I am married, but have no children (yet). I (or my husband, or both of us) generally have something going on most nights of the week. I generally feel busy.

How many times have people asked how I am and I've responded, "Busy, but good," or something similar. How many times have I texted a friend after not talking for awhile and prefaced it by saying, "Sorry, things have been crazy around here."

But then I look around and the other people in my life who are busy. Who, on top of their own commitments, have kids, and whose kids have commitments. Who, like my sister, are taking a thousand credits this semester at school and also running a newspaper.

I don't think I'm busy.

I'm turbulent.

Be still.

See, even when I have down time, even when I'm sitting on my sofa and don't have to be anywhere for three hours, you know what I'm doing in my head?

Running around in circles.

Because that's what I've grown used to.

For me, business isn't a situational occurrence. It's an attitude.

Be still.

We live in a fast paced, bustling busy culture. And I'm fully aware that some of you are really busy. But what if we lived like we weren't?

Be still.

What if we lived like each moment we have is perfect and precious and enough, and that we will get to the other stuff when it comes?

What if we were still? Despite what is or is not going on in our lives, what if we stop? If we slow down. Take a deep breath. Open our eyes to where we are and just be.

You know what I think?

I think that's where God moves.

Be still, and know that I am God.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Running My Race

I haven't touched this blog in almost four months.

I started my Bible copying project, posted on here four times, and then completely abandoned this blog.

In case any of you are still wondering, I have not completely abandoned my copying project. I'm still working faithfully on that. I was maybe a little foolish to think I would do it in a year, because I very clearly will not, but I will finish it at some point. And, in the mean time, I'm learning about my God in a way I never have before.

And the Bible project is only a part of that learning.

So, rather than keep this blog all about my Bible project, I'm going to use it to talk about all of the things God is doing in my life. The crazy, still-unexplained things, which I don't even fully understand yet. I'm also going to aim to post at least once a week. I figure Saturdays are a good day for me, so we'll start there. I'll still talk about scripture that moves me as I copy it, but that's not all anymore.

Which brings me to this post.

Thanks to modern technology, I've spent the last 24 hours participating in a conference that was happening in Austin, Texas, with some of the women from my church in someone's living room. It was called IF: Gathering, and if you're a woman, you should look it up now, because it kind of seems like it's going to become a big deal.

But, essentially, it was a bunch of women who have embraced God's calling for their lives, and are trying to help a generation of women rise up and do the same. It was powerful. It was convicting. It was emotional. And it was freeing.

The woman who started this whole thing is named Jennie Allen, and if you haven't read any of her books, I suggest you do so immediately. (But be prepared to have your life ruined a little bit. But in the best way possible.) Her latest book is called Restless. I'm in the process of working through it right now, and I feel like it really goes hand in hand with what was discussed at the conference.

A lot of us have big dreams. My mom calls it the "B-HAG", or "big, hairy, audacious goal". And so a lot of what was talked about at the conference, and a lot of Restless, is about figuring out what those big dreams are, and how they fit into what God's calling for our lives is. It's about embracing the things in our lives (she calls them threads) that point us to God's purpose for us. Our passions. Our people. Where we are. The needs we see. It's all about realizing what God wants to do, owning it, and surrendering to the Holy Spirit so that he can move through us.

I'm there now. I've surrendered. I'm embracing whatever he has planned for me, regardless of what I think I can or cannot do, and I'm just going to let him do it. Getting there was not easy, though. At least, not for me. Maybe it is for some people. I had some stuff to work through first. Some things to let go of.

But tonight, I've let go. I've surrendered. I've embraced it. And I'm running free.