Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Listen, Dear Friend

Lost = Adventure

Listen and read

Story first....

Once, when we were 11 years old my two cousins and I went out into the Colorado woods with the sole intention of getting lost on purpose. Why? Because that day the word "lost" translated into "adventure" and we were bored. After accidentally finding our way back to the cabin the first time we set out again, this time deeper into the forest, meeting with excellent success. We were out for hours and realized the reality of our situation as dusk was setting into darkness rather quickly (as it usually does in the woods). I remember genuine worry and fear made the feeling of adventure disappear for me, knowing that it would only be by God's grace to get us back because when we were really trying to get home we couldn't find it, and we wanted to. Matt shared in my concern as Pj began to build a makeshift shelter under a tree while we still had daylight (typical Pj). We weren't ready to resign to the fact that we were really that lost yet (we were that lost). But thanks to God's grace for 3 stupid kids we did eventually come upon Aunt Mary who was searching for us just a few yards from the cabin with the sun setting behind.
Why do I tell this story? Partly to showcase my family, who I find hilarious. But mostly because I feel like that kid again. I've got myself good and lost and it's God who has to get me out of the woods before it gets dark despite my stupid decisions fueled by boredom. Lost, this time, has to translate into adventure, dramatic feelings and all. What other option do I have?

Nursing school:
After two years (4 semesters and 3 summers) of waiting, of "just kidding"s, and feeling like I had been abandoned and wondering for way too long, I got a call. The nursing school had called my name, the wait was over, my real education was finally going to begin and I would fulfill my life's calling starting in only a couple weeks for fall semester. I really needed this. I really wanted this. I was overjoyed. I was dancing. I was in tears. Until...
"Yes, your name has been called. Congratulations! Buuuut, it looks like there's a bit of an issue. Has your fingerprint clearance card come in yet?"
Of course it hadn't.
"Yes it looks like we got your application on July 3rd so another 5 to 8 weeks to process before a card can be issued." I couldn't accept this spot without the card. After asking her if she could expedite that into a 2 day process I got laughed at and transferred to her supervisor (with her chuckling the entire time). That day was spent calling any counselor and/or supervisor that could possibly aid me in my desperate plight of expediting my clearance card application so I could accept the nursing school spot. All met me with rehearsed sympathy and slight annoyance since they dealt with this every semester and made sure to let me know that they had all heard it before. Mine was no special case, though I'm sure I could claim to be the only one that tried to bribe them with baked pies.
Long story short my dreams did not come true. The card could not be expedited and I had given up my spot to hope for spring semester instead (and add semester 5 to the count of waiting). Yes, my relationship with the community colleges would not be the same without them pulling the rug out from under me again. Oh nursing school, you wretched tease you.
Yes. I am good and lost and a lot of it is my fault.

Story second...

In 2007 I was in Berlin with some of the best friends I had ever made. The word "adventure" took on real meaning after meeting these girls and in true spirit of that we wondered the night streets, a little lost. In our wonderings we accidentally arrived at the Berlin Zoo. Since we loved zoos it was hard to stay on the outside when we had found a way to sneak in but decided against it at the thought of being in a foreign prison. Instead we climbed all over the entrance sculptures and found we could feign looking like we were in Asia. Willingness, flexibility and imagination will take you anywhere.
Why do I tell THIS story?
Because at the end of October of this year 2012, God willing (as nursing school has taught me to hold with an open hand) I will no longer have to feign. The one good thing about having to defer to spring semester, a possible good thing about being foolishly lost, is that I can go to India for a little while. It's a medical missions trip for a week to minister to the Jewish remnants of the lost tribes of Israel at the entire opposite end of the country that I wanted to go to. It's only a week, it's not exactly where I wanted to go, and I can't contribute hardly anything since I am so lacking in medical education (thanks Maricopa)... but it's India. It's my India dream. And I hope God will let me. It's a whirlwind of a tale to explain how it happened, and even more of a whirlwind to explain that I'm also going to Thailand right after, but there it stands. My optimistic wish to hopefully take a picture with a real elephant :) and see the adventure and God's sovereignty in being lost.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

In the Desert but On Top of the World

Ah life. Who the heck are you.
For the past 5 years I've taken encouragement during this whole nursing school waiting list process in the fact that I had substantial amounts of time to enjoy things like home, family and familiar when I knew they wouldn't last for forever. But now I am so sick of familiar. In the words of Jo March, "I love our home but I can't stand being here!" 
I've become acutely aware of my inability to be gracious to myself by fighting God's grace whilst I'm nit picking at my flaws. I couldn't find anything better to do. To be honest? I can't stand myself. I can't stand my lack of progress as an adult or my inability to override my circumstances to the excessive extent that I want to. I give up way too easy under the shadow of my ominous goal. Yet I will fight with God for my pride and the position of being right before Him. It's a way of trying to beat Him to the punch by correcting myself in every thing before He can and still be comfortable in my bubble of "familiar". But then I'm overwhelmed with the responsibility of my redemptive process, which was never my burden to bear, and am angry when I haven't attained the blessing I was going for in my self purifying plan. Thankfully, and very painfully, God is not letting me have it. Meaning I'm forced to feel my sin, my immaturity and handicaps so that I can feel His grace after I've failed at saving myself. 
"By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that's not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God's grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise. There's more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we're hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we're never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can't round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!
Christ arrives right on time to make this happen. He didn't, and doesn't, wait for us to get ready. He presented himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready. And even if we hadn't been so weak, we wouldn't have known what to do anyway. We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him. Now that we are set right with God by means of this sacrificial death, the consummate blood sacrifice, there is no longer a question of being at odds with God in any way. If, when we were at our worst, we were put on friendly terms with God by the sacrificial death of his Son, now that we're at our best, just think of how our lives will expand and deepen by means of his resurrection life! Now that we have actually received this amazing friendship with God, we are no longer content to simply say it in plodding prose. We sing and shout our praises to God through Jesus, the Messiah!"
-Romans 5
Developing Patience 

Now, that I'm seeing it's His mercy that allows my world to be worth anything, I can move forward, away from the old familiar, even if I have no idea what that kind of future looks like or that I am so incapable of it. Right now I'm not waiting to sing for joy when I've arrived at my purpose in life (because I'm suspicious it's going to take years, thanks to the community colleges). But with God's grace (because I forget instantly), I'm learning to sing right now, in the midst of the frustration of life and my excessive failures. 
Take THAT nursing school!!