Archive for January, 2011
Are You there, God?Â It’s me…no, not Margaret.Â It’s not *that* kind of post.Â And anyway, that book’s already been written.
I ask that because…well…sometimes it seems as though You’re not.Â When Matt had cancer, I almost felt Your arms carrying me through the difficult days.Â There were times I could tangibly sense Your presence hovering over, around, and within me as I cried tears of uncertainty and confusion and frustration and hurt.Â When he was falsely accused, I was secure in Your strength, knowing beyond the shadow of a doubt that You would be his advocate, his judge, his vindication.
Even in those times when I have stepped out of Your will and allowed myself to be governed by my own fears and insecurities, You have been right there beside me, whispering in my ear.Â I have been unable to escape Your faithful, loving embrace, drawing me back to where I should have been all along.
So why do You seem so silent now?
I have so many questions.Â Over the past six months, I’ve asked and searched and pleaded and prayed and sought and bargained and cried out…and there have been many times I’ve felt as though my words were merely echoes in a vacant place.Â As though my prayers and petitions don’t have the power or strength to span the distance from my mouth to Your ears.Â As though my pleas and cries bounce back to resonate within my mind, awakening the demons of doubt and despair.
So I ask again, Are You there, God?Â Do You hear me?Â Are my cries getting through?
And out of the blue, You assure me…Yes, my daughter, I am here.Â I may not be speaking as often, I may not even be as visible to you, but never doubt the fact that I am here.Â I have promised, I will never leave you nor forsake you.Â You are my precious child, and I love you.Â Always remember that.
Almost as if to prove it, You send me a blessing.Â A little pick-me-up in the form of an encouraging word.Â A reminder in a message of hope and peace that I desperately needed to hear.Â A love note in the form of an unexpected – and undeserved – gift from an unlikely source.Â A ray of light in the form of an opportunity I couldn’t have seen coming.
So yes, God, You are there.Â In the midst of this famine of hearing Your voice, You are there.Â In the deafening silence, You are there.Â Waiting, patiently, for the fulness of the time.Â Waiting, knowingly, until that hunger and thirst borne of famine causes me to drink fully and completely from Your word, and be filled by You and You alone.Â Waiting, peacefully, until the exhaustion of striving and straining causes us to surrender.Â Waiting, providentially, until we are ready to receive Your blessing.
But now, God’s Message, the God who made you in the first place, Jacob,
the One who got you started, Israel: “Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you.
I’ve called your name. You’re mine. When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you.
When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down. When you’re between a rock and a hard place,
it won’t be a dead endâ€” Because I am God, your personal God,
The Holy of Israel, your Savior. I paid a huge price for you:
all of Egypt, with rich Cush and Seba thrown in! That’s how much you mean to me!
That’s how much I love you! I’d sell off the whole world to get you back,
trade the creation just for you.
Well, it’s finally happened.Â 2010 is over and we have now begun our second decade of the new millennium.Â Three hundred sixty-five days now lay spread out before us like an open road with few hints in sight of what lies ahead.Â There is no way to predict what we will meet around the next curve or bend.Â We can’t possibly know the detours and road bumps we will encounter, though we know from experience we’ll face them.Â Yet the refrain I’ve heard repeated again and again during the past week has been one of putting the year 2010 behind us and looking forward to starting over, a fresh beginning…doing a new thing.
I’m right there with you.
A wise yet silly warthog named Pumbaa once said, “You’ve got to put your past in your behind.”Â And while he was a little mixed up on the grammar, he got the sentiment right.Â I’ve made plenty of mistakes this past year.Â I’ve wallowed far too often in self-pity and depression.Â I’ve wasted days and hours that could have been better spent furthering God’s work and His kingdom…or at least accomplishing more of His purpose in my life.Â I’ve faced challenges and difficult moments.Â And while I wouldn’t choose to repeat any of those things, I know each one has a purpose.Â I can learn from my mistakes.Â I can appreciate the joy and wonder of grace more deeply.Â I can refocus my energies and gain an awareness of opportunities God gives me to serve Him daily.Â I can strengthen my faith as I see God work through my circumstances.
So it is with that sense of optimism – that spirit of new beginnings, that freshness of doing a new thing – that I share with you my goals for the year ahead.
Doing a new thing…with my time.
When I returned from Uganda in August, I struggled for several weeks with issues related to re-entry.Â And while some of that is normal for anyone returning from such a life-changing cross-cultural experience, there were days I felt absolutely paralyzed.Â Overwhelmed.Â Unable to reconcile the “here and now” with the “there and then.”Â It was eye-opening for me to realize how much of my time is dictated by “stuff.”Â And while I’ve tried gallantly to fill my schedule with meaningful activism and personal enrichment, I was frankly too busy.Â So this year begins with a new commitment to evaluate my schedule, to pare down the number of activities I’m involved with so that I can be the kind of wife, mother, friend and servant God designed me to be.
*Â Stay involved in our Life Group
* Be part of a women’s Bible study during at least two of the sessions this year
*Â Spend no more than 1 hour/day on Facebook (including time spent playing games), even on weekends
*Â Limit my volunteer activities to 1 hour per day, total (including planning), with no “rollover minutes”
*Â Allow myself 1 hour per day of “personal” time for hobbies such as reading, scrapbooking, or blogging
*Â Structure my daily routine to include time for focused prayer, Bible reading, Bible study, and exercise
Doing a new thing…with my health.
Oh, how the mighty have fallen!Â After reaching a near trifecta of healthy eating, regular exercise and acceptable weight management in September, these past few months have seen a near collapse.Â And although it might seem impossible to manage healthy eating on our shoestring food budget, I’m determined to give it my best shot.Â So beginning Monday, I will be back on the Beach, enduring the induction phase of the South Beach lifestyle.Â This also means a return to regular exercise, including cardio, flexibility, and strength training.Â To complete the trifecta, I will reach my original (as of October 2008) weight-loss goal.Â This year, I plan to make family exercise even more of a priority with regular family bike rides, runs, and outdoor play.
*Â Restart South Beach, and complete my personal South Beach resource notebook complete with menu plans, shopping lists,Â and recipes
* Lose enough weight to reach my original target weight set in August, 2008.Â The official weigh-in will be on Monday, so specific goals will be posted then.Â Then, lose 10 more lbs.
*Â Run 500 miles.
*Â Bike 1,000 miles.
*Â Run a 10K at Run for Cover (April) and Believe (November).Â Continue to run the Heroes for Children 5K (September), Crape Myrtle Trails 5K (October), and Allen Rudolph Run 5K (December) but with a time of 30 minutes or less.
Doing a new thing…with my talents.
Ministry.Â Work.Â God definitely has something up His sleeve in this area, but the time has not been right for Him to reveal that plan to me.Â This is one area where I think I’m going to have to trust Him a little more and follow Him a little harder.Â What I can say at this point is that He has given me the opportunity to take charge in children’s worship, and that my response is to give it my all.Â This will mean taking time to connect with leaders who can provide direction in specific areas, coordinating efforts at various levels, recruiting youth and adults to fill holes, and researching ideas and materials that will inspire children to worship our awesome God.Â It’s a big task, but the God who entrusted me with it is even bigger.Â He is able, He is equipped, and He has already begun the good work He is calling me to do.Â At the same time, He has provided me with wonderful students in my piano studio.Â I must continue to find ways to motivate, encourage, and guide them on their musical journeys.Â It is a job He has called me to do, and one that I must continually seek to improve and grow both as a musician and as an educator.
*Â Establish worship teams for every Sunday in all areas of Promiseland, from Pre-K through 5th grade.
*Â Maintain an enrollment of at least 20 students in Music by DESign in the spring and fall semesters.
It’s a new day.Â It’s a new year.Â With God’s help, I’ll be doing a new thing.
And I’m feeling good.