Saturday, April 28, 2007

preparing for us an eternal weight of glory...

Has it really been a year? Just over a year since I wrote about my diagnosis? This semester has gone by so quickly, I had not given myself time to pause and realize that my annual MRI and trip to the Tuberous Sclerosis Clinic are just around the corner. The MRI is scheduled for May 9th, and I will be heading to Cincinnati in June for my annual appointment at the clinic. I was just reading in my journal last night, flipping backwards to some of the things I wrote this past year, and I was reminded of the night my dermatologist called and told me what the results of my CT scan were. I remember the exact spot where I sat on my couch - sitting there with no noise from the TV, just myself in the quiet watches of the night. I remember the sweet presence of the Lord in the room that night, words of assurance and comfort like water washing over my soul. How near He is when we find ourselves in a valley.
This year is somewhat different from last year. Not only am I just having an MRI (rather than that in addition to CT scans), but I know what to expect now. I was nervous during that MRI since it was my first, and because I knew that such a test was ordered because the CT scan had confirmed that there was something in my brain. Yes, this year is different. The tests last year confirmed that there is something to keep watch on, and this year's test will determine if that tuber has grown. As somewhat of a preparation for the weeks ahead, I picked up a book which, unfortunately, was neglected for the better part of this semester. Last night before bed, I came across a rather comforting statement, one that rings true in particular seasons such as this:
"These griefs have been God's gifts. For only by such
severe suffering has my loving Father broken me free of some of my deeper
idolatries. In the nights' watches, while others sleep, my wakeful heart
must find rest in Him or it will find no rest at all. . . . 'When I am
afraid I put my trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust;
I shall not be afraid'
(Ps. 56)." ~M.R. Talbot

Thursday, April 26, 2007

"Thunder's Pretty!"

You haven't officially lived in Louisville until you've attended Thunder. Some may disagree, but I have now been twice and can attest that it truly is a must see. People come out of the woodwork, flooding Waterfront Park (and any other nooks and crannys where they can find a spot), and pulling out the sunblock, blankets and cameras. The month of April is all about the Kentucky Derby, and Thunder Over Louisville always comes the weekend before Derby Day. My boyfriend is absolutely giddy over fireworks, and I am now much more a fan than I thought I was! The day also would not have been complete without a turkey leg and funnel cake. We didn't arrive until much later last year, and it took two hours to get home from downtown. This year was more enjoyable since we got there in time for the air show, and also managed to bring some fellow Texans along for SUCH a fun day.

We had THE best spot on the Riverfront!! It was worth it after all to spend 45 minutes wading through the mass of people. (Me, Bob, and Gina who was visiting from Dallas)

There is an INCREDIBLE airshow leading up to the official countdown to Thunder. This is a glimpse of just how perfect of a day it really was, complete with a beautiful sunset.

The 3rd Street Bridge


Friday, April 20, 2007

the art of MADLIBS

Once upon a time there was
a level toenail named Zimbabwe.

She walked out to the allowance one morning and saw a temperature
jumping around in the acorn.

She threw up her
hands and yelled Yowsers!!!

Mr. UPS heard her
and came to rescue her from sure cavity.

When he came to her, she looked at his Christmas cactus and said Idiot!

He erased and said Sup?

He whisked her away to the notepad and as they were leaving on his
she exclaimed what?!?!

(MADLIB by me - words by Amber)

There once was a puppy who always wanted to be
named Sassafras and to forge with an unbelievable family. One day, a squirrely boy took him home and gave him yummy food to grovel and all attention his heart could desire! The boy
even gave him a name: Humperdink, but he usually just called
him, “Hey, sneezy Yarn!”

When the postal
service brought the nacho cheese, the puppy learned to blast at the mailman. When a storm would come, the boy
would whisper dandelions in the puppy’s ears. When the
boy would eat dinner, he would wobble a bit of wiggleworm to the puppy. This was the life only a kooky puppy could dream of!

(MADLIB by Amber - words by me)

Evidence of how exciting my Friday afternoon has been. Amber and I (don't know what I'd do without her on afternoons like this!) decided to give each other our own, made up MADLIBS. I remembered a time when I was visiting her in Louisiana, back in the days of our childhood, and we spent HOURS doing MADLIBS together. So, here's to a silly Friday afternoon at work and yes, you can call me the dork that I am!

Monday, April 16, 2007

The Year of the Quarter

(satisfied and full after a wonderful dinner at P.F. Chang's)
...century that is. Yes, for those of
you who haven't known me since I was a scrawny, loud (still am), spastic afro
puff, yesterday was my 25th birthday. I had every intention of posting an entry
yesterday, but by the time I sat down at the computer, it was my bedtime.
PandaMom asked
me last night if it was weird as I was considering the fact that SHE was 25
when we met. She was 25 and I was 14...yes, weird. It seems like just yesterday,
too, that I posted
my thoughts from my 24th birthday last
as the Fall 2006
semester of school was approaching.

(Bob didn't want a picture on his birthday, April 10, so I took one for him)

Last year came with the realization that
I was no longer a college student; my perspectives were drastically changing and
the Lord was opening my eyes to things I had not previously considered.
This year has come with the realization that I really am an adult. Some of
you may snicker at the statement, but I am going to guess that I am not the only
one who has spent time reflecting on such a reality. I really am an adult
now. Some aspects from the past seem as though I just lived them
yesterday, and others seem more like distant dreams of which I have rather faint
and less frequent recollections. I struggle to write out a thorough
summation of the thoughts that have gone through my mind since yesterday
morning, but there is one thing I have neither difficulty nor hesitation
pointing out--

(how completely undeserving, overwhelmed, and thankful I am)

The Lord is good and He is
faithful. I have realized all the more this year how my life, and how He
has worked therein, is so much more evidence of His grace than I ever give Him
credit for. I think of my imperfect being, my imperfect family, my
imperfect friends, and cannot help but cry out thanks for how He so intricately
works in the lives of His people. How often I miss His continuous work and
steadfast love for us who are at His mercy--and He IS merciful! I am
wicked, and I can see the many ways in which I have failed to honor my parents
and miserably fallen short of being a good friend to those who know me
best. But in spite of my sin, He called ME, the sinful person I am, into
His marvelous light. I did not choose to walk out of the darkness and into
His light--a dead person can't make himself alive. But God, through the
blood of Jesus Christ, has called me His own. He has given me a new name,
a new heart, and new life. This is the one thing I am sure of and where I
find rest. All secondary issues in this life pale in comparison to the
realization that He has given me the very breath that keeps me going.
Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. . . . My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me. ~Psalm 63:3,8

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Need of Jesus

I was a stranger, an outcast, a slave, a rebel,

but thy cross has brought me near,

  • has softened my heart,

has made me thy Father’s child,

has admitted me to thy family,

has made me joint-heir with thyself.

O that I may love thee as thou lovest me,

that I may walk worthy of thee, my Lord,

that I may reflect the image of heaven’s first-born.

May I always see thy beauty with the clear eye of faith,

and feel the power of thy Spirit in my heart,

for unless he move mightily in me

no inward fire will be kindled.

~Valley of Vision, "Need of Jesus"


I have several books sitting on my nightstand with the intention of serving as rich, devotional reads either as I am waking up in the morning or just about to close my eyes before falling asleep. Just how good are my best intentions when I am not following through day after day after day? Countless mornings and evenings seem spent with the same passing thought, "I should definitely read that tonight." A fellow book-lover and friend gave me the gift of Valley of Vision awhile ago, and I have opened the pages to a specific prayer on occasional nights. There are divisions in the book, directing the reader to a specific topics and correlating prayers. I climbed into bed this past Friday night and happened upon "Need of Jesus." After days and weeks of kicking myself in the pants, this Puritan prayer resonated deep within my spirit. I am an undisciplined, doubtful, untrusting, hesitant, feeble woman who regularly acknowledges these things about myself, but I fail to regularly turn to the One who has redeemed me and called me His Bride. He is the One who gives repentance and turns my affections toward Himself, and He loves me! How can I love Him and love others when I hesitate to receive His love for me?? This Puritan prayer speaks the words of my own heart, words I utter much less eloquently.

Friday, April 06, 2007

kindred spirits reunite

Anne Shirley of Green Gables frequently referred to her bosom friend, Diana Berry, as her kindred spirit. While they were from two completely different walks of life, not only prior to meeting but also during the course of their friendship, their hearts connected from the moment they met. Kindred spirit...well, neither the dictionary nor Wikipedia do the term justice, so when I want to be reminded of what the endearing title encapsulates, I simply pull one of my treasured, tattered Anne books from the shelf.

The Lord graciously provided the means for my own kindred spirit to pay a brief visit this past week. Amber Shae and I have been friends since the age of five, and only attended school together for one year. Not that we are identical to the Misses Anne Shirley and Diana Berry (i.e. I'm not an orphan, and Amber doesn't have money out the wazzoo), but I am still reminded of some sweet parallels in our friendship. We do come from completely different backgrounds with completely different family situations, life-happenings, and we are currently in different seasons of life. I occasionally look ahead, wondering when I will ever be finished with school (don't get me wrong - I love it!), while Amber's husband is graduating in a matter of months just days after their first baby is expected to arrive. Amber has always been slow to speak, gracious and courteous in her approach and hospitality toward others, and seems to illustrate that which the New Testament refers to as a "gentle and quiet spirit." I, on the other hand, well... I'm still learning.

Amber and her husband took a whirlwind trip to Louisiana this past weekend for back-to-back baby showers with family and friends. Upon returning home, they stayed one night with me before driving the additional miles. We ate dinner together, then woke up the next morning to a breathtaking scene of sunshine, light breeze, flowers blossoming, and birds chirping. I took them up to the seminary for a tour and lunch in the cafe'. We didn't leave before stopping by and introducing Amber to Gretchen, as she had been curious about this friend I have met and grown to love in recent months. Amber and Greg left soon after lunch, and I was honestly a little saddened as they pulled away. Long-distance friendships can be somewhat bittersweet. While Amber and I literally talk everyday (thanks to the makers of Yahoo Messenger!), there is something to receiving a warm hug from a friend you haven't seen in over four years. Who knows when I will see this kindred spirit in person again, but one thing I know for sure -- the Lord has been gracious in keeping our friendship over these years, and while we have never lived in close proximity to one another, He has ordained our lives in such a way that our bond has remained. Thank You, Father, for such sweet gifts~

Thursday, April 05, 2007

An exhortation I needed to read...

...and one that was of great encouragement. Every believer, whether honest with others or not, struggles with besetting sin(s).
During a recent browse of the blogs, I came across an entry written by Carolyn McCulley which compelled me to stop everything I was doing and reflect on the "shadow-boxing" I tend to exhaust myself with on a regular basis when it comes to familiar, recurring sins. McCulley's reflection is very appropriately entitled "Shadow Boxing with Sin and Laziness," and I hope you are just as encouraged (and maybe even put in your place, if necessary) as I have been...

Every accountability group has one--that person who is always bringing up
the same issue time and time again without much progress. In my small group, I'm
that person. But I bet if you asked a few other people in that same group, they
would say they are that person.
We all are, in fact. Change is not easy.
Some patterns in our lives are seemingly corrected overnight. Others have deep
roots, which appear to be connected to far more issues than we would have
initially discerned. So we dig, to see if we can get at those roots. Or maybe we
are just digging ourselves deeper into familiar ruts of sin and temptation.
Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference. Last week, in my caregroup's
women's meeting, we talked about those areas of chronic defeat.
We could have
come up with another "plan for success" drawn on human wisdom, but instead we
looked at how we fell short of asking God for help. Each of us realized that
with some of these long-standing temptations, we weren't even pausing to do
battle. We would see or experience the temptation and just fall down. We
wouldn't even try to resist.
Oh, sure, in the past we had sought counsel or
enrolled in courses or read the leading books on whatever we wanted to change,
but right now we weren't availing ourselves of the mightest weapon in our
arsenal: the grace of God. Whether the temptation was another cookie, another
hour of watching TV, or another angry response, we were giving in and finding
ourselves deeper in the well-worn ruts. So we decided that for the next two
weeks, we would simply concentrate on resisting temptation by asking God to help
us to change. . .

"Do you not know that in a race
all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may
obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to
receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly;
I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under
control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified" (1
Corin 9:24ff). . .

What this looks like can vary a bit from person to
person, but this passage teaches us three important things: 1) We must live
purposefully, 2) We must live humbly ("
Humility demands we examine the idol
feasts in our lives.
"), 3) We must live dependently.

He promises to give
grace, to give an avenue of escape, and to give the power to endure so that the
temptation will not overwhelm us.
If we don't depend on His faithfulness in these
areas, we will give up
. . . This passage provides such sweet hope to us
shadow-boxers, doesn't it? For all those areas in our lives where we are only
making half-hearted efforts to grow and change, where we are beating the air and
running aimlessly, there is a way of escape and the power to truly change!