Friday, January 30, 2009

Will there be peace in the valley?

There always seems to be a lack of peace in the world, watch any good news cast and you can find a heartbreaking story somewhere. Right now the peace most Americans were hoping would dawn with the new president has disappointed, the economy worsens daily, and the cover of the San Francisco Chronicle reports the worst draught ever is expected for California. This does not include the perpetual wars in central Africa, the corruption in Latin America, the poverty in Asia etc etc etc. I usually can't spend much time thinking about these kinds of concerns because they depress me a great deal and I have no control over them. I just find myself calling out to God, "Father, when will You return?"

I am able to function in this peaceless world if there is peace in my family. But since the world has become so chaotic and troubled, it has started to bleed into my little world and affect my family. I don't like it. Money worries, fears over the political process, and a general heaviness of heart has invaded my family. And I wonder, where is my peace? Is it found in the company of congenial family and friends? Because if it is, I'm in trouble right now.

My peace should be found in Jesus, found in the knowledge that God is in control and that everything that is happening is in compliance with His plan. But it isn't, my peace is found in my circumstances. My faith is often so weak that I panic and freak out at the slightest thing. Am I capable of changing this? No. Never have been. No matter what happens in my life I pretty much react the same way I always have. Hence the "hollymakesfourleftturns" in my blog address.

The good news is that sometimes I manage to shut up long enough for the Holy Spirit to work through me. That's what I'm trying to do today. To ignore that my mom is fighting with my brother-in-law, that my father is facing divorce or relocating far away from me, that my sister is often stuck between her family and her husband, that I do not have enough money to pay for the car repairs needed asap, that I don't have the money to pay for my ONE class I'm taking at seminary this semester, that my parents will likely pay for both of these expenses even though they are worried about money too, that my mother is facing losing her job, that my sister is looking at a pay cut, and that my brother-in-law is likely to get a IOU today instead of a paycheck from the State of California. The song on the radio is "Homeward Bound" by Simon and Garfunkel and it makes me want to cry. Because that's how I feel today, homesick for my place in heaven, for my home where there is no sin.

I did some research on the word 'peace' in the Strong's Concordance and I noticed an interesting pattern. (see chart below-the bold type was added by me)

Result of search for "peace":
1514. eireneuo i-rane-yoo'-o from 1515; to be (act) peaceful:--be at (have, live in) peace, live peaceably.
1515. eirene i-ray'-nay probably from a primary verb eiro (to join); peace (literally or figuratively); by implication, prosperity:--one, peace, quietness, rest, + set at one again.
1517. eirenopoieo i-ray-nop-oy-eh'-o from 1518; to be a peace-maker, i.e. (figuratively) to harmonize:--make peace.
2270. hesuchazo hay-soo-khad'-zo from the same as 2272; to keep still (intransitively), i.e. refrain from labor, meddlesomeness or speech:--cease, hold peace, be quiet, rest.
4601. sigao see-gah'-o from 4602; to keep silent (transitively or intransitively):--keep close (secret, silence), hold peace.
4623. siopao see-o-pah'-o from siope (silence, i.e. a hush; properly, muteness, i.e. involuntary stillness, or inability to speak; and thus differing from 4602, which is rather a voluntary refusal or indisposition to speak, although the terms are often used synonymously); to be dumb (but not deaf also, like 2974 properly); figuratively, to be calm (as quiet water):--dumb, (hold) peace.

I was surprised by two things; how often it describes peace as meaning that I am to do nothing, to stop, and be quiet. But also that so much of the language is what I am responsible for: to be, to keep, to refrain. These are things I am to do, regardless of the circumstances that caused the situation.

Now the radio is playing Johnny Cash's "There Will Be Peace in the Valley." God is so good to me.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

God's perspective?

I bought a Veggie Tale's book of bible stories to read with my nieces when I baby-sit them, and today was the first day I tried to read them with Amelia. She had never seen the book so she was curious and flipped from page to page, never settling on any story or page for long. She also kept asking, "What's that?" I'd tell her and she'd ask again, "What's that?" "Whose that?" It was starting to drive me a little nuts! Then it occurred to me that I do the same thing, I ask God the same questions over and over again, "Why me?" "Why not now?" "When?" "When?" "When?" Unlike me, God does not lose patience. He keeps answering over and over again. He continues to say to me, "Because I'm God" "Because I'm God" "Because I'm God."

As Amelia stopped on pages and I answered her questions, she'd start to piece together parts of the stories. She got some names of characters, "That's baby Moses" "That's King David as a little kid." Occasionally she'd ask about places in the pictures like Jericho and Bethlehem but she didn't understand the elements of the stories, the way they fit together, the way they made up a greater narrative about how much God loves His children. I'm no different. God has shown me occasional glimpses of His plans, just small bits of the total story. But I don't understand enough to fill in the gaps. That's OK though because...I know how the story ends.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Little Christ

Lord, I want to be like Jesus,
In my heart, in my heart…Lord,
I want to be like Jesus,
In my heart.

Today I am hanging out with my two and a half year old niece Amelia. She picked up something fragile and I had to restrain myself from overreacting. I said "Please hand that to me Miss Priss." Now I have never called her Miss Priss before. She handed me the object and said to me, "Here you go Miss Priss." I laughed at her quick wit but then I began to feel kind of...panicked. I thought what would she have said back to me if I hadn't controlled myself? This reminded me that I am the closest thing she has to Jesus right now.

Everytime I see her I am reminded how incredible my Creator is. He created this amazing girl and placed her in my life to heal some deep wounds. Her wet kisses and zealous hugs rejuvenated me like few things can. And she adores me. I feel arrogant even writing that, but it's true. If I tell her something is yummy she'll eat it, if I say a toy is too noisy she thinks so too. So, the question is, what am I going to do with this opportunity?

I pray that the LORD will give me the self control I need to be as like Jesus in front of her (well, all the time would be nice..) as I possibly can. That through my influence she and her sister will learn to love Jesus as their Savior, and to live their lives consumed with love for Him-not to be like so many Christians who claim to be saved yet aren't in love with their Savior. I pray that I will follow through with my plan to use my two days a week baby sitting her and Maureen to teacher them about Jesus. After all, I will tell them the ABCs, why wouldn't I tell them about Jesus?

Oh my gosh, now she is disco-dancing to "Stayin' Alive"...

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Reflections on Romans 1

I recently started copying the book of Romans by hand. This exercise was suggested to me by a dear friend as a way to really get to know a book. Since Romans is so useful for evangelism, I thought it was a good place to start, especially if it proves so hard I never do it again!

Chapter one is completed and I have already learned a lot. The book begins with greeting from Paul to the Christian Romans then begins to describe the rest of the world, the Gentile world as he calls it, the unbelieving world. I realized as I'm copying down words like, "They are full of envy, murder, disputes, deceit, and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, arrogant, proud, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents (I noticed here he wasn't talking to children but adults! That means me too!), undiscerning (I recently had a problem because of this...), untrustworthy, unloving, and unmerciful." (Romans 1:29-31) I know Paul is writing about the unbelievers in Rome, but he was describing me. Few people are so awful that they act like this all the time, but most of us do these things on a daily basis, first amongst them is me. I could write about how I committed many of these sinful acts just today and I have only been awake for...four hours!

Please LORD use this exercise to show me my sin and then to teach me to have a greater confidence in sharing your gospel with a sinful world that You love so willingly despite it's flaws.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Lord showed up at the grocery store today.

I was at the grocery store today with my sister and her girls. Amelia, who is being pottytrained, was on her first outing wearing underpants instead of a diaper. Although she went to the bathroom before we left the house, she peed her pants in the produce isle. I offered to take Amelia to the bathroom since my sister had a basket full of food and a second kid to watch. My sister said, "Amelia you have to stay with Holly." Amelia reached up and took my little finger in her hand.

Obviously, it is important that a parent be able to hold their kid's hand while walking, not to mention a joy, and I have often wondered/worried how I am going to hold my own kids hand's when I need to be able to move. The Lord used my niece to relieve some of the anxiety I have about (someday) being a parent with limited mobility. She just held my finger with her death grip while I pushed myself. It was kind of jerky and we couldn't go too fast, but she just laughed and got into it. Even after we finished with the bathroom she wanted to hold my hand because it had become a fun game. I was so overwhelmed with love for my God who knows the scope of my fears about being a parent while being in a wheelchair. I was so grateful that He gave me this opportunity. I had trouble not crying in the store and had to keep stopping to pick up Amelia and cover her with kisses.

God truly is so good to His children, even in the small things.

What no eye has seen and no ear has heard, and what has never come into man's heart, is what God has prepared for those who love Him. ~1 Corinthians 2:9

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Addendum to previous blog

As I was feeding Amelia and Maureen lunch today I was singing praise songs to them and it reminded me of that scripture were God is described as singing over us in joy and I was moved to tears. The joy I felt about singing to them helped me catch a glimpse of the joy God must feel singing over His children.

The Lord your God is with you,
He is Mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
He will quiet you with his love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.
~Zephaniah 3:17

Bloggin' during nap time

Today is my first day watching my sister's girls as their nanny. I have been feeling apprehensive, concerned that I wouldn't be able to keep up with them or that I'd lose my patient and yell at them, but so far so good.

After getting them both up and changing diapers, I fed Maureen(Momo) a bottle while Amelia tried to comb my hair. This hurt a great deal and Momo was fussy so I could easily could have gotten frustrated, but instead...I was able to sing "Jesus Loves Me" to them through it all. That means I was able to praise God even though things were getting hard. Small victory for some, big victory for me!

Maureen has been asleep for the last two hours, unusual apparently. I keep checking to make sure she's breathing. Amelia has been good too, except when I told her it was nap time. Then she cried and yelled at me. But once she saw her bed she started to settle down. This didn't last long though. After reading the three books required for a nap, she tried to insist on another one. Tough auntie that I am, said "Nope, I love you, sleep well!" She is currently singing to herself and thumping around her room. That's fine with her mom, so it's fine with me. But I'll tell ya, I'm in trouble if she figures out how to work the doorknob!

Thank you Jesus for giving me the opportunity to be with these precious girls and learn how to parent from them. After nap time and lunch, I think we'll sing "Jesus Loves Me" together!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


While driving from my friend's house to my sister's today I made a list in my head of things I was grateful for and thought I should write them down so I can remember them later when things aren't so good.

-gut instincts
-the Holy Spirits ability and willingness to enter our dreams.
-good friends that offer "cities" of refuge with their warm beds and even warmer hearts.
-the internal combustion engine that allows me so much freedom.
-mp3 players that enable me to worship wherever I am.
-sunny days that lift my spirit.
-early wildflowers, yellow fields of mustard.
-little girl squeals of joy.
-solitary time with my Savior.
-Christ's unending love and grace, allowing me to start over again every day.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Facebook rant

I was recently shammed into creating a Facebook page and I am learning a lot from the experience. Not that the world is actually a small place, or that we all have similarities, or that a decade after high school we suddenly forget why we didn't like each other. But instead I have discovered that in fact we're all posers, fakers, just like in high school. The quality of who we are is summed up in the few words found under "education" and "employment." Kind of like "cheerleader" and "debate team."

If you thought that the number of friends you had in high school was important, imagine having a tally float over your head every day. You see in Facebook-land my value is assessed based on the number of "friends" I have. With 15 friends I have less value than Joe Blow with 500. But the good news is I have more value than Jane Dow who is a sad girl with only two (it's her parents-shh!). In inviting people to be friends I thought it would be polite to drop a note along saying hi, but people accepted my "friendship" without reply. They add me to their tally and keep collecting! The people I really respect are the ones who ignored my invites, those are the people who are really cool. Of course those were the people I wanted to talk to most...

You are also valued by the number of exciting things posted to your page, like books and music. You can't say you only read books recommended by Oprah, even if it's true. The farther from Oprah the better in this post-modern-indie-rock-hipster world. So find books by authors who are dead, originally had a very small printing, are now out of print, and were considered total hacks when they were alive and you may have found the coolest books to put on your virtual bookshelf. Right now I'm going with Dawn Powell-who I ripped off from Gilmore Girls. By the way, that show was a hot bed of super cool post-modern-indie-rocker-hipster references. Even if someone who would describe themselves that way would never admit to watching it or plagiarizing from it. You know who you are!

It is important to have the right photo as well. No standard pic from last Christmas, you gotta be hanging from a vine during your last trip to the Amazon baby!, or some shot of you in front of Big Ben. That's only if you want people to recognize you, otherwise you go with pictures of quirky objects, like a high school friend who has a robot for his picture. I keep vacillating between a cool picture I took of a Mayan ruin in the Yucatan and a artsy pic taken of my one time when I was a little drunk. Perfect Facebook pictures! Proof that I've traveled outside of the US and proof that I can have a good time. Joy. Sorry to say though, the lamest pictures are the ones people post of them with their kids, it's a coolness killer.

Speaking of traveling, unless you are a diplomat or independently wealthy, don't do the "Where have I been?" application, it will only depress you. I spent three hours of my life plotting the places I've been in the world. And I've been pretty lucky, I've been to Germany, Mexico and Canada and a good amount of the US (save for the Mid-West, but you understand). After all that work, the map said I'd been to 1% of the world. I checked and it can't go lower than 1%. You are born in city x, never leave city x and die in city x? 1%.

To make up for all of this Facebook angst, I did what any self respecting post-modern-indie-rocker-hipster would do, I blogged about it. It was a good day!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The waiting place

*It is important to know right off the bat that my b key sticks. So when I don't make sense, insert the letter b and see if it clarifies things.

The reality is I'm starting a blog because I'm bored and need to start something new. 'Tis the season for new starts, with New Year's day right around the corner, right?I've spent the day in my pjs on the couch eating Christmas cookies/candies watching a season and a half of Gilmore Girls and have gotten so bored I want to either stick a fork in my eye or remake my entire life. Since I have never looked good in an eye patch, I am forced to consider the second option. Like most people, my life is pretty middle of the road. I'm better off than say 3.35 billion people and worse off than the other 3.35 billion. I have clean drinking water and three meals a day, so I'm aware that whining about my life is a luxury. I also have several really meaningful relationships with family and friends. So why do I feel so unfulfilled? Because I'm stuck in the "waiting place." People all around me are doing things with their lives, and I? I'm growing moss. Those of you who know me might think, but didn't she just start seminary? That's right and I should feel a sense of adventure because of that but instead I feel blah. All around me friends are getting married, moving to foreign countries, having babies, trying to bust into show business. A friend of mine from high school who married her tattoo artist named Lucky had a baby! And me? I still living in the town I grew up in, live in the same apartment for four years with my two cats. Yeah that's right TWO cats. I don't even really like cats but it came with the old-spinster-kit and I couldn't say no. And the worst thing is, I feel pretty far away from God. How did this happen? We were so tight over the summer. I often feel like I have no idea what He wants from me, where He wants me to be and I'm always looking for that burning bush. I thought I'd feel different after starting seminary. I've never been around that many Christians before after all, surely that can only help? My relationship with Jesus is really all I've got when it comes down to it. It's like in that song from Sister Act, "I will follow you, follow you wherever you may go..." That's how I feel most of the time and yet...I feel like I'm in the same place as when I started.