Sunday, September 28, 2008

Three questions for a crazy week ahead...

1. What is the most important thing in life?

2. What kind of woman do I want to be one year from now? (And what choices can I make today to help me become that woman?)

3. How can I take today's stresses and turn them into thanks?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

From one unapologetically proud aunt

Aaron David Langley: noun, adorable baby boy who brings joy and delight to all who meet him; a small, irresistible male child; one who has the ability to wrap everyone around his little finger.

"I can do it." (And other myths that mess me up.)

Let's take, for example, my job.

I love my job more than ever. Actually, I can't believe I get paid to go to work. This year, I'm splitting my time 50/50 between teaching English and administrative-counseling duties. I work like a dog, but at the end of each long day, it's an unbelievably happy, fulfilling exhaustion. If ever I felt like God fitted me for a task, this would be it.

BUT the insidious danger lies in that very statement. I'm made for this. God has given me strengths and giftings to serve Him in this way. And all of a sudden, "Look! I can do it!"

During the last week, I've gotten to sit with brokenhearted teen girls, kick off my heels at lunch to play soccer with middle school boys, teach Shakespeare and linking verbs, write encouraging notes to students, plan our middle school play, and sit in a dunk tank for a school fundraiser.

And creeping, creeping stealthily in is this constant temptation to rely on self, to find pleasure in my own strength, to glory in my giftings.

Which are nothing really.

Aside from God's grace, I'm a lawsuit waiting to happen. Or a stupid comment away from being fired. Or just plain ol' ineffective in reaching some really needy kids.

"Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit..."

And so the Lord graciously allows needs and weaknesses and brokennesses in my life that run so deep, I can't find the end of them. Sometimes He lets His children be "so utterly burdened beyond our strength ... to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead" (2 Corinthians 1:8,9).

He must love it when I begin my morning something like, "Today is way beyond me. I can't do anything apart from You. Help me be fruitful and effective. Strengthen me to do what brings You glory!"

And if that's found in the midst of humiliation or failure, so be it. I've plenty of those stories too... but that's another blog.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I'm in love.

Four weeks ago yesterday...

My Sis-in-law constantly amazes and blesses me... She is a beautiful, radiant mommy.

David is such a phenomenal daddy... and Aaron looks SO much like him!

Yesterday I was singing "The Ugly Bug Ball" to Aaron, and this was the look I got... Actually it was more like a stare. Just not sure if he was staring in fascination or terror.

Friday, September 12, 2008

What thrills me most

I arrived on the edge of a hurricane. It was only fitting: my girls' weekend in Washington, D.C., with Karen and Carlynne begged a dramatic beginning. It was to be the weekend of a lifetime.

I spent the majority of last Saturday safe inside Carlynne's sweet home, playing with her little Caleb, and watching sheets of hot rain masquerade as a tropical storm.

Saturday night cleared up just in time for our outing to Wolf Trap to see my favorite musical, Les Mis. Then Sunday came, and I found myself standing three feet away from our President, Karen Hughes, and Rascal Flats on the Front Lawn of the White House.

Monday night was a dream-come-true Celine Dion concert, and Tuesday morning was a breathtaking breakfast in the West Wing of the White House.

I don't think I'll ever again experience anything like those four days. (All compliments of dear Karen. Unbelievable.) My head was spinning by the time I strapped myself in on Delta Flight 847 to return home Tuesday afternoon.

But as I sat in my blue-vinyl aisle seat with a complimentary bag of peanuts and my knees up to my chin, I was struck to realize that these thrills paled in comparison to the thrill I experience when I spend time in my Lord's presence. And I'm not being hyper-spiritual here. I constantly struggle to study the Word, to pray, to seek the Lord with all my heart. Why it's a struggle will always boggle me, though, for when I do spend time with God, my heart is softened, my mind is sharpened, and the innermost places of my soul are filled with peace, wisdom, faith, joy, hope, healing, and purpose.

West Wing breakfasts, political power, and divas who can bring down the Verizon Center a cappella, can't hold a candle to the King of kings--who alone prepares a feast that will never leave us hungry (John 6:35), gives us the power of His Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8), and whose voice strips the forests bare (Psalm 29).

If I was invited to have Saturday brunch with Celine in her home, I wouldn't miss it for the world. (Are you kidding me?!) But I am daily invited to so much more: to share all of life with the Creator of the world and the Savior of my soul.

Tonight let's accept the invitation, enter into the presence of Almighty God, and know the thrill of knowing Him more. He puts all other thrills to shame.

(In less noteworthy news, today my middle school counseling responsibilities included cleaning up a food fight involving a birthday cake and a bunch of hormonally imbalanced 13-year-olds. Last weekend already feels like such a distant memory.)

Monday, September 1, 2008

I hate when I hurt people.

And I hate letting people down, disappointing them, or knowing someone is angry with me.

I guess I just hate being a sinner. Falling so far short of perfect. Wrestling with weakness...

Rachel Tulloch poignantly confirms that "this is why God’s love is terrible. Think of what it includes: us, with our best and our worst, with our failed attempts and outright cruelty, with our wrong motives for right actions and our right motives for wrong actions... us, with the mess we have made of the world, with our brokenness and despair, with our rebellions and inadequacies. We are the ones included in and redeemed by the deep and wide love of God. Paul is astonished by this reality when he emphasizes that Christ died for us while we were still sinners! (Romans 5:8)."

God's infinitely perfect love is not simply a sweet, storybook love; it's a disturbing love: He loves me even when I inadvertently or willfully hurt someone else He loves. And He loves them when they hurt me.

His love forgives and forgets my sin. It's not sin swept under the rug; it's sin that was heaped on the body of Jesus. He didn't just cancel the debt; He paid it. As Tulloch explains, "The master takes the loss." And I walk away rich.

That's truly terrible love. And love that makes me love right back with all of my heart.