Odds and Ends

December 24, 2009

1: Never ever take a nap from 4:30 pm to 6:30 pm. I don’t care how tired you think you are, it’s a bad idea. Let me and the fact that I am still awake enough to post a blog at 2:30 am be a cautionary tale to you.

2: My baby brother turns 18 today. Weird. I feel like I just turned 18, but apparently that was five years ago. Anyway- Happy Birthday, Andrew! I am thankful for your friendship and the amazingly humble, talented man of God you are becoming. You bless and challenge me constantly.

3: An update to my last post: these past 48 hours have been amazingly encouraging! Psalms 22: 24 is so true- “For he has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.” (Thanks to Ashley for sending me this amazing chapter/verse. I’m thankful for you!) God is so faithful, and as soon as I woke up the next morning, the encouragement and the answers started rolling in. Some matters are still a little unsettled, but Tyler and I have peace and confidence in our next steps, and we are amazed and humbled at the provision of God!

Right now, our immediate planes look like this:

Christmas Eve/Christmas– still packing, but a bit of a break for time with friends, driving around to see Christmas lights, etc.

Dec. 26-30– My family comes into town to help us finish packing, clean the entire townhouse from the floor boards to the ceiling fans, and pack-up the truck.

Dec. 31– Tyler, along with our moving truck and my car (being towed behind the truck), will set out for Bakersfield, CA. we anticipate it taking him four and a half days to get there. Cambria (le chat) and I will go with my family back to Ohio for 13 days. Why, you ask? well, it’s a long story, but the reader’s digest version is this- I have two classes that I’ll be taking long-distance this semester in order to graduate in May, and one of them requires that I be at school on the first day of class, which is January 14th. We considered several options on the best way to deal with this obstacle, and finally decided that it was best if I spent some time with my family instead of making the trip to CA, back to SC and then back to CA again, or staying for two weeks with friends, which could get awkward since I will literally have nothing I must do for two weeks. (I am both excited and terrified at this prospect. I haven’t had such an empty schedule since….since….I can’t remember ever having an empty schedule. Maybe sometime my sophomore year of high school?) Anyway- Tyler and will be apart for about two and a half weeks, the longest we’ve ever been apart, which is a con, but there are pros too! I haven’t had a long, relaxing visit with my family since we got married over two years ago, and Tyler would rather drive alone anyways because he can a: go farther each day without me and the cat and b: go farther between stops without me and the cat. (Poor little Cammy – her daddy doesn’t want her and at my parents house she’ll have to share space with a-gasp-dog! The mortal enemy with our queen cat in the same house? Say it ain’t so! Will she survive? Will she teach that scoundrel a lesson and scratch his nose? Will they become friends? Stay tuned.)

Jan. 13– My dad and I will head down to good ol’ Greenville.

Jan 14th– I’ll attend my one class, buy my one book, and get my financial aid package taken care of.

Jan 15th– Dad and I head out for Bakersfield! We hope to arrive on the 19th to find Tyler employed and anxiously awaiting our arrival in an unpacked apartment. That’s the hope; we’ll see how reality turns out.

Right now, our main prayer request is that God will continue to provide financially. It takes a surprisingly large amount of money to do just about everything we need to do. (It cost us $32. 80 to Fed-Ex our apartment application overnight. I almost stroked as I wrote out the check. Apparently my stress was visible because the woman behind the counter asked if I was alright. I wanted to reply, “Really? I just paid $33 to send four pieces of paper to California and your common sense does not tell you that I am not alright? That nothing about these ridiculous prices is alright?” But I did not. I remembered my manners and smiled and said, “Yes, thank you. I’ll be fine.”) He has already provided in ways we did not expect this week, we know He will continue to do so. Even if He does not provide the way we expect (or with the timing we expect), we will still trust! we’ve been meditating Habakkuk 3: 17-19a, and it’s just so powerful that I had to share it!

“Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the LORD,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.
The Sovereign LORD is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to go on the heights.”

Mmmhmmm…Amen. I love obscure Old Testament books of prophesy, they have some amazing gems hidden amongst their gloom and odd names:)

4: Today, Dec 24th, marks the four year anniversary of…the first time I journaled that I thought I was in love with Tyler. I know in the grand scheme of things its inconsequential, but I am a sentimental woman, so I wanted to honor it anyway. I considered typing a portion of that journal entry, but that’s one of those memories I’d like to keep to cherish in the secret parts of my heart, so instead I’m going to share a poem that I wrote this autumn…

I wear your arms about me as a dress,
a cloak of solidarity.
The curve of my hips will be pockets for when you are cold,
the knobs of my spine are your instruments
so that when we are too poor for comfort
we can stand on street corners and earn a meal.
You smell right to me,
like soap and clean air,
like fresh mown grass and the dirt of summer.
There is a tree on the corner,
old and knotted from exposure to the elements of many years.
When storms come,
he sways without fuss and stands because he has always stood.
Let us put our roots down deeper than mere soil,
and when the rages come we too will stand because we have always stood,
twisted and twined together as though we did not spring from separate beds
but have always been of one bark and one leaf.
There are four grey whiskers in your beard,
I counted them last night when I could not sleep.
We have not been one for very long, my darling,
but we are growing older.
Sing me a beautiful melody now, and when your beard is all grey
with four brown whiskers,
I will sing it back to you
and our pitch will still be perfect.

5: I am (finally!) sleepy. My husband is snoring and my cat has been asleep on my lap so long my foot is falling asleep- I think its time for me to join them. Goodnight, friends! May today and Friday be days filled with blessings, joy, and the peace of our Savior!

Wretch

December 22, 2009

“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”  2 Corinthians 4: 8-9

I feel emotionally shredded, mashed, and smashed, like a thumb being repeatedly crushed under a hammer. For the last year, it has seemed that at every new page, just when we thought we were getting ahead or finally being afforded a little rest, some new struggle reared its ugly head. I know we are to be anxious for nothing. I know God is in control.

More than a thumb, tonight I feel like a wretch, grasping at the hem of Christ’s garment, begging to feel his arms around me, begging for direction and wisdom and peace. I am weary, and I would like my green pastures and still waters now. I would like, just once, for something other than giving up to be easy. I would like Him to be back on earth with me tonight, rocking me to sleep, whispering his truth to me.

I am writing tonight to ask for your prayers. We are in a volatile place right now. More specifically, I am in a volatile place.  I feel, in this very hour, in this very room, as I write this, that I am in the midst of deep spiritual warfare. I know we are being called to something so far greater than ourselves, and Satan must know it too because he is trying to throw roadblocks up all over the place as we prepare for our move to California. Please pray with me tonight, and in the coming days- I need you, Church.

Above all, please pray with us that we would remain open to God’s guidance. This last year had brought me to a place where I have had to lay down my preconceived notions of what my life should be, what my husband and marriage should be like, and what our ministry should look like. I still fail often (daily, even hourly), but God has finally brought me to a place where I realize that I am not moving to California for any reason beyond the fact that I am called to lay down my life daily, being always bound to the Holy Spirit, going where he leads. California use to be about adventure, about starting a new life, hopefully a new career, about being young and going now while we can, because we can. If those things happen now, that’s great, but they are no longer my motivations. I’m going because of Christ. If he calls us there for six weeks and then calls us somewhere else, so be it. If he calls us there for six years and we are dirt poor the whole time and he never provides a career for either of us but we are in his will, so be it. If I die in the slums of LA witnessing to the least of these 60 years from now or six days from now because that is His plan, so be it. I don’t want adventure or financial security or the suburban house, white picket fence and 2.5 kids. I want the will of God in my life. I want it today, tomorrow, this minute, and every minute I am granted. I want it with my family and friends, but I will walk the narrow road alone if none will go with me. I am still, day by day, hour by hour, struggling to lay my hopes and dreams at the feet of Jesus and pick up his cross instead, but, because he is making me a new creature, bearing his cross on my back is my greatest desire. I want his portion to be my portion. I want to stop talking about faith and actually know what it means. I want to get dirty in the grittiness of truth. I’m tired of easy Christianity. I want Christ.

We, however, battle not against flesh and blood but unseen principalities and powers, and they make life so foggy. They bring doubt, depression, discouragement, worry, feelings of isolation and the ever dangerous self-sufficiency and pride. I sense these monsters lurking in our shadows, simmering around the edges waiting to pounce when we are weak. Pray with me as I pray against them. I know that as we battle, we also entertain angels- pray that we would be ever aware of Gods presence and provision in our lives, and that we will always be thankful and never take him for granted. Pray that we would be granted wisdom to discern his perfect will for our family. Pray that we will be strong in Christ and both bold and child-like in faith. Pray that all doubt and anxiety would be replaced with peace and joy. Pray that we will be humble and pure at heart. Pray that His will is done no matter the cost.

Pray that we see Christ.

The Adventure Begins…

December 10, 2009

We leave the familiar South for the strange West coast in 22 days…

As Sheryl Crow once penned, “Everyday is a winding road/I get a little bit closer/Everyday is a faded sign/I get a little bit closer…” (I know, I know, Sheryl Crow isn’t exactly cool these days, but the 90’s are hard to get out of your system. Common- you know you have embarrassing 1990’s music still in your collection too.)

Our journey to California is a winding road, a grand adventure. I will probably take time in the future to share with you just how we got to this point, but for now I’ll just share the ins and outs of our daily preparations and tell you that it is daunting.

Yes, I believe that is just the right word. The prospect of this huge, 3,000 mile move is daunting. Is it ever not daunting to pack-up and drive four days across the country to a place you’ve been once and know only 2…5…12 people total? I strongly doubt it. But I am excited and as prepared for this as I can be.  Our house and bank account on the other hand are in for a bit of a shock. In fact, the next three weeks will be consumed mostly by a) spending as little money as possible and b) packing up everything we own so it will fit in a 16 foot moving truck. This may sound odd, but I almost feel bad packing our things away because I feel like I’m somehow stealing away their freedom if I put them into dark, airless boxes. I know, I know- I’m being ridiculous. Inanimate objects don’t have freedom, they don’t even have life. They will not know that they are in the dark and the lack of air will not harm them. But that rocker over there has been in my family for a hundred years, and these books have spoken truth to me, and those towels have been used in every aspect of our lives from drying the paws of wet little kitty cats to whipping away frustrated tears. It isn’t so much that I imagine these things have life, but that they have bared witness to our lives- to the life we’ve built together over these last two and a half years. When we pack them away, it will officially symbolize that everything is changing. We are about to tumble into a brand new chapter with nothing written in it yet, and while I know that God is the one doing the writing, I’m still a mix of emotions- scared, nervous, excited- you name it, between Tyler and me we have probably feel it.  I have never been one to invite the unknown into my life. but we go anyway because it is right and because we have learned that the only place true happiness (read: joy) can be found is where God has called you to be. Earlier this fall, I heard a sermon about how we are bound to the Holy Spirit and only when we follow his directions are we content. I know this is true, I have experienced it on a daily basis, in the little things. ( You know the drill- we miss our tithe, I act in an unloving manner towards my husband, I selfishly decide to read instead of cleaning the kitchen [who me? I would never…ooops…I did. Tuesday.], I sleep a little longer instead of getting up to spend time in the word, etc, and everything is off. But even in the midst of bad circumstances, when I am right with God, the world is right with me.) Thus I believe that daunting as this move is, only by going will our family be right with God. And right with God is the best place to be.

Okay, enough emotional blather. I’m feeling sentimental when I should be feeling industrious-cleaning and packing, packing and cleaning- like the good little housewife I am:) I will be back shortly, however, to post some pictures of this last week, as soon as I can figure out how to post pictures larger than a saltine cracker.

Love,

Amanda