Monday, February 23, 2009

Well, I heard back from him....

Read it for yourself? (it's been a really great day!!!)

Holly~ Jesus is my Lord and Savior. It's through His sacrafice, and my faith in His promise by which I am saved. You obviously don't know me. I leave you to your ill judgements, and grudges. But yes... I'm accepted by Jesus Christ because I've accepted Him. Your ill-will is amazing considering you've been saved. I pray for you still, and wish you happiness. I guess we were friends all those years because you didn't feel safe...? I can't even justify that thought. I will leave you now in peace. Thank you for our good times... even if YOU choose not to remember. May Christ melt your heart and make it whole, its a wonderful feeling!!!

Confess your sins to one another?

If you'll recall I had an email from an ex-friend that I've been pondering how to respond to for a few weeks now. (see earlier post) I don't mean to sound dramatic, but ever since I received his email I have been feeling gross, angry, irrational, and even questioning my faith. I don't think it was because of him really, just perhaps a symptom based on my reaction. I really don't know yet.

Along with being available on stupid facebook to the likes of him (ugh!), I have been able to talk with old friends. Friends that knew me when I was the farthest away from God. Totally unexpectedly, it has really shaken my center. Not because they are bad people, they are in fact really good people (who are non-Christians). They always treated me really well, even when I was a dumb young girl who didn't know what trouble she could have gotten herself into. Especially the guys, they always looked out for me like a little sister. So it has been nice to talk with them again. They can see from my page that I am a Christian now but none of them seem to find it off-putting. It's kind of been like old times... including my behaviour. Despite no pressure from any of them to do so, I slid right back into my old habits! I keep thinking "...I don't understand what I am doing, because I do not do what I want to do, but I do what I hate." (Rom 7:15)

The reality is this....being a Christian is (often) hard for me. Curbing my behaviour, not doing things I want, giving up things I feel certain I need to trust that God knows better than I do. It can be so hard. At least it has been for me lately. Frankly, I have fun talking and joking with them online to replace the loneliness that I feel sitting around waiting for God to show me what He has planned for me. I don't feel like I can do that anymore.

I want to be married. I want to raise children to honor God. I want my husband to cherish me and pray over our children when he goes to work everyday. And yet....this has not happened. This is probably THE major stumbling block for me. For some reason I've been reading a lot of different blogs by several women (most of whom I have never even meet) who seem to be doing just what I want. Blogging merrily about their lives with their Christ-like husbands and posting pictures of their babies who will (God willing) grow up into men and women of Christ. If you think I am referring to you and your blog, please don't take offense. I love your blogs and have gotten a tremendous amount from them. If anything, they help me visualize what can actually be in a Christian marriage. It is hard however always being a fly on the wall instead of a participant.

In that vein, I accepted the offer of a date with one on these old friends. He's smart and funny and charming and was really kind to my sister and I when we were young and our grandfather died. He's a good guy. He's also an agnostic. Seriously. Sexual sin is not something I struggle with often, thanks to the grace of God. But when I do struggle with it, it becomes all consuming. I want the closeness that comes from that kind of a relationship. With this guy, there is the possibility of fulfilling that, even if for only a while. On the date I was looking at him and thinking, "I don't want to give up Jesus for this guy!" Yet given opportunities to end it, I have not. Honestly, I like the attention and I'm not sure I want to let it go yet.

Hmmm, what else it there to say? I emailed that ex-friend today with a brief explanation and reminder that I did not want to be friends again. I gave him no opportunity to think I would be willing to hear from him. I did however tell him a little about my faith and then pasted in an article from Vernon McGee about the real way to heaven. At least I don't have to worry about responding to him anymore.

Well there you have it. Holly in all her honesty, nearly as naked as the day she was born. The good news? God already knows how this is going to end and promises that it too will be to His glory. I just wish I knew how...

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Status update

I have a paper due tomorrow, which is the primary reason I've blogged three times today. I am nearly convinced that God wants me in seminary; why else would I freak out so much, if it wasn't important? But every single paper I have to write results in a panic attack. Well, not a full attack, I don't pass out, but my heart races, I get sweaty and I look for absolutely anything to avoid doing what I have to do. The part of the paper due tomorrow morning isn't really even hard but none-the-less, I'm panicked. There is no rational reason. I decided to take a break, after only achieving reading the assignment description through a few times. I ran to Target. Here's a list of what I bought. See is you can spot the madness.

1. cat litter (which I needed or I wasn't going to be able to go into my bathroom anymore.)

2. a new pair of slouchy comfy pj bottoms. (which I did not need, especially since I was wearing a pair of slouchy comfy pj bottoms at the time.)

3. a box of Hotpockets Pepperoni pizza (this was to be my dinner.)

4. garbage bags (nothing odd here, I did need them.)

5. a box of Weightwatchers Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Sundaes (which is thawing as we speak, although I will eat it (read: both) frozen if the panic gets bad enough.) Note: apparently they were supposed to be frozen, they are not now. I guess the word sundae should have given me a clue.

To top it all off I ran to the Starbucks for the ultimate comfort, a gigantic mocha with whip cream, darn it! It took me a while to order though because I couldn't speak, I kept saying "I want a venti mocha cappuccino." The barista and I both just stood there looking very puzzled, because we knew there is no such thing.

The long and short of it...I need your prays. I can't stay in school if I'm gonna do this on a bi-weekly basis.

Number 27-43 Random Things about Me (Because I am a narcissist)

27. I was in-love with Madonna as a little kid. I used to run around the house singing "Like a Virgin" with absolutely no idea what I was talking about. I owned three "Madonna" skirts (fav was mustard yellow), ya know the kind that was a long tube and rolled over at the top so your belly showed. There is a photo that exists out there somewhere of me dressed as Madonna. Gobs of bangles, trashy make-up, my Madonna skirt,l posing in our garage window for our record cover. It had just started to drizzle, it was pretty rockin'. Heather if you still have it, I would love to see it! Post it on Facebook, I have no pride.

28. I know how to weld, drive a backhoe and want to learn how to drive a scissorlift.

29. I learned to drive with hand controls and kind of miss them because I could drive with my legs crossed, which I was told was kind of sassy!

30. I regret selling my first car. It was a crap, grey, 1982 dodge van with no real backseat. I would pack loads of people in there and drive to Ashkenaz's in Berkeley to go dancing, pick up hitchhikers, and went on more trips to the ocean in that van. Of course I ran out of gas more times in that stupid van too...I still haven't lived that down in my family.

31. I once slept in the Soda Hole parking lot in my van.

32. I dropped acid at my sister's Christmas party at 15 and got caught by my mother. I know. But I am glad it happened, I learned my limits.

33. I could tell you the name of every boy I've crushed on since kindergarten including a self deprecating story to go with each.

34. My favorite sound in the world right now is the squeal my niece Amelia makes when she greets me. Then I do it back. Then we hug. I hope she never grows out of that.

35. I was obsessed with marine mammals as a kid. I went to the Steinhart Aquarium at 5 and saw the dolphins. It was like a spiritual experience for me. From then on I was obsessed and planned on being a marine biologist when I grew up. I can still identify nearly all whale species and most dolphin by sight. If a friend was mad at me she would tease me and say she was going whaling and I would cry.

36. I am proud to say that the first tape I ever bought was Joshua Tree I really need to tell you? I bought it at the Rainbow Records in Napa, remember that place? However...if I'm being really honest here, the first record I ever bought was the Cabbage Patch Kids Sing-Along Album. I bought it at Mervyn's. There was a significant gap of time between purchases.

37. My first cigarette was with Sarra Brooks (Loew) in her parent's backyard.

38. I will say virtually anything self deprecating for a laugh. (see #33)

39. I do not recommend dating an Englishman. I do not recommend dating any buskers. I do not recommend dating any English buskers. (see #38)

40. I have a phobia of certain paper noises. I hate the sound of cardboard edges rubbing against each other. I hate the sound of cardboard being cut. I do not like to touch newspaper. (This is what ended my budding career in journalism, until the advent of the internet-but sadly then I was too old.) I do not like the sound of fingernails touching paper. I consider it grounds for ending a friendship if a person does any of these things on purpose to mock me. Consider this your warning.

41. I have reoccurring nightmares about orca whales (killer whales). The dream always involves being in a body of water and they are swimming below me and I'm scared. (weird considering #35)

42. The song Hotel California will always have a special place in my heart, no matter what you say.

43. I am a groupie. *sigh*

A Varsha-Rachel Update

I've gotten several chances to hang out with my friend Martina's new daughter Varsha-Rachel since they got home and have been having lots of fun! I thought today I would tell you about it since I haven't been blogging much lately and because I'll do just about anything to avoid writing a paper for my class. (You want to write it for me? It's on Song of Songs 5-have at it!)

I expected that when I meet Varsha for the first time, well..I expected to cry like a baby. I really did. I expected to freak her out because "This new lady is weeping on me!" I had watched my friends struggle for nearly one year to get to this point and joined them in praying earnestly for her physical, spiritual, and mental health. And every time I would read their blog from India I would cry! So, the odds were pretty good I was gonna cry a river. So I planned it out in my head, I would be dignified-no slobbering! It did not go as planned.

I was sick with a cold but determined to get to meet her that day so after skipping church to rest up (I'm awful no?) and after taking more than the prescribed amount of aspirin I drove to the nursing home where I knew I could catch up with them. My timing, as it were, could not have been more perfect. I was parking as they were coming out! I had envisioned being able to come up to her and introduce myself, likely with tears in my eyes. Instead, after I opened my car door Martina saw me and pointed me out to Varsha, who then ran at me (I'm still in my car!) with a gigantic grin on her face, talking really fast in Marathi. I did not cry, I did not have the time! She was climbing around my car, showing me her teddy bear, pointing out her parents and our friends Marlow and Geneva, who she calls grandpa and grandma. She was so cute and such a whirlwind that it was all I could do to keep up.

Since then I have had the honor of teaching her some English words (push the button on, push the button off), discovering some of her hidden English knowledge (knows the numbers 1-10) and introducing her to playdough. It is universal, every kid tries to eat it the first time!

I ended up sleeping over at their house Friday night and got to watch her nighttime routine. Bath time, story time, things like that. But as Martina was reading the next story out of her children's bible to Varsha, the tears showed up. You see the story was taken mostly from Genesis 15 and 18, the Abrahamic covenant and the fulfillment of the promise to give Sarah a child. As they sat on the floor and read about how God promised that He would give Abraham so many children that he wouldn't be able to count them I realized that God was talking about Varsha. Thousands and thousands of years ago, God knew that while He was promising children to one Hebrew man and his wife, He was also promising that this little Indian girl would be adopted into this American family and be told of His love for her. I couldn't help but cry when I felt how good He is, how big He is, how complex He is, and how everything He does (including what might appear to be misfortune-a child likely being abandoned by her impoverished mother) is ultimately for good, for the glorification of HIM. What could possibly be better than Him, and how can we not just fall at His feet in worship? She eventually noticed my tears and explained to her mom in Marathi, that I was crying. I can't wait to explain to her in English why.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

In the name of full disclosure...

I've been thinking a lot about the Crucifixion lately, trying to change my heart toward that former friend I blogged about last week. I had no compassion for him or the fact that he is likely to be going to hell when he dies. How can I be so callus? I wanted to remember that I too am a sinner, that I am no better then he. That he and I both nailed Jesus to a cross.

So I focused on how I was one of the people who sat in a field and listened to Him preach. How I followed behind Him as He left Jericho full of excitement that the political atmosphere might change. Waving a palm branch as He entered Jerusalem for Passover, heard the children cry out "Hosanna to the Son of David!" How scared I felt when I heard Him criticise the leadership I relyed upon and realized how much I would have to change to follow Him. How I hide in the corner to see Him brought out, chained. How I eagerly chanted "Barabbas!" when they asked us who should go free. How I excited I was to shout "Crucify HIM!" with the mob. How early I got to the parade route so I could see Him walk by dragging His cross, covered in His own blood. How I stood in the safety of the crowd to watch His mother cry for Him, how I could smell His body fail Him as they put the nails in his hands and feet.

But then He reminded me of something else...He reminded me that when He was preaching in the fields He was preaching to me. That He was rejoicing with me as we entered Jerusalem. That when He was explaining how to enter the Kingdom of Heaven to the Pharisees, He was explaining it to me. How when He was in the garden praying before arrest, He was praying for me. How He heard my voice in the crowd but didn't dispare because He knew I would come to love Him. How He saw me in the crowd as He passed by but didn't hate me as He should. And how He chose to be utterly humiliated on a cross so that when I felt humiliated I could think about how He felt the same and understood my pain. And how when He asked His Father to forgive us, He meant me.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Status update.

I had a really bad day. I think God might have picked a fight with me just to get my attention. I may blog about it tomorrow, but for now...I'm exhausted.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

25 Random Things You Should Know About Me

Since I have been blog-stalking several of you and you might be wondering just who I am, I thought I would share with you an exercise I recently did on Facebook. The latest trend on Facebook is the create a list of 25 random tid-bits of info about you. The point is to do it fast, I however took 6 days.

1. I was hoping no one would tag me (meaning sent me theirs so that I am obligated to do mine-a sort of virtual chain letter), but now my (former favorite) cousin Megan has gone and done it. Blast!
2. Like Megan I can suffer from "Impostor Syndrome". All through college I felt like a big-fat-faker. Grad school (including the trial by fire in Dr. Arbino's class) has really helped with this. Thanks God!
3. If I could go back and be a Freshman in college again, I'd totally do it, and do it ALL differently. Does anyone know the rules for going back in time? Do I get to keep the knowledge I've gained since?
4. I hated high school so much I graduated two years early. I have a reoccurring nightmare that the high school contacts me to tell me there's been some sort of mistake and I have to go back. Awful!
5. I've always wanted to try being a professional writer (please don't take the quality of this note (or my blog) as proof or disproof of any talent). I've also always wanted to learn how to paint with acrylics.
6. I'm sick of my hometown! I've lived here for 6 years since college and feel like it's time to move on for awhile. I want to move to somewhere fun and urban, but I feel stuck. Mostly because of money. (pout) I'd love to move to some little colonial Mexican town in the jungle. Um...maybe not forever, I've seen what it's done to some people. I think they call it jungle fever.
7. I regularly read the gossip page on MSN, then feel really gross afterwards. My favorite is when they have the worst dressed list. I don't think Jesus would read it, ya get me?
8. I recently started a blog of out total boredom. I'm generally too embarrassed to share it with anyone, but I did give the link to a few people who I thought would be encouraging.
9. I learned to knit about three years ago. I do mostly kids stuff, not because they're so cute but because I have a short attention span. I don't do anything in pairs for the same reason.
10. The closest thing to "action" I've gotten in 6 months was being called a saucy tart by a gay friend and kind of being stalked by a creepy neighbor. I chose to chalk this up to the ethical behaviour form I signed for grad school. No?
11. I love Christmas. I think it should start on November 1st (I totally stole this idea from you! You know who you are.) and end after the first week of January. That's when my Spring fever kicks in like a Kung Fu Master. place still has some decorations up and I hate it. In my defense the items are above my reach and I am waiting for a volunteer. Any one? Please don't make me ask the creepy neighbor, cause I know he'd do it.
12. I love opera but have never seen one in person. La Traviata is SO beautiful. I bought a book called Opera 101 because I know nothing about it, but when tried to read it I couldn't, it was way too boring. Maybe it isn't true love.
13. The thing I am most afraid of is waking up alone at 50, with 7 cats, wearing the same sweater I've worn for 15 years with the compulsory holes in the elbows, craft projects covering my apartment, having grown wider than I am tall.
14. Every time I go on a big trip I make a travel journal, but have never, ever filled one up, no matter how hard I try. So I have like 6 half full travel journals. (Oh, who am I kidding? I never fill up any journal but I sure do love buying them.)
15. If I find a household appliance that I think is really great; like my grandma's upright Kitchen Aid mixer or my super-fab yellow vacuum, I name it Gloria.
16. I am currently watching Dirty Jobs and trying not to pee my pants laughing. He's at a factory where they clean ducks and he ripped it's head right off! Too funny.
17. I don't like watching football because I hate the macho-beer-gut-cheerleader-crap that (I believe) American football is today. However...I secretly sometimes turn a game on and let it play in the background when I'm lonely in my apartment. Sounds like childhood and home. (And yes, I do realize this comment drastically improves my chances of ending up like #12 but what can ya do?) I did however enjoy watching the end of the Superbowl, are there pigs flying? Check for me?
18. No matter how exhausted I am, I must read before bed. I have found that a good book will keep me up too long, a simply written book will get me to sleep pretty fast and non-fiction is the fastest. (ok, my bible is the fastest fastest, that's why I read it in the day time, duh!) Right now I am reading good-for-me-non-fiction-books. I've been getting plenty of sleep but am making no progress in the book.
19. I hate putting clean laundry away. I love when it has been put away, but loathe doing it. I thought I was being really clever and just left my clothes in a pile on my kitchen table near my laundry room. Very convenient! Until I watched an episode of "Wife Swap" out of total desperation. This awful awful woman did the same thing! I stopped doing this immediately!!!!!!
20. Every birthday my maternal Grandmother gives me $10 and has since I was a kid. This was the exact amount of money needed to buy a new Barbie at K-mart. To this day my sister and I call a ten dollar bill Barbie money.
21. The best camping trip I ever went on was when I was 18 with Gina A. I lost count of the number of ways we could have died. That was the best trip ever. I remember being thirsty the whole time, and drinking the koolaid with cinnamon and sugar in it, and the wild boar, and the rancid cheese, and the heat stroke. Ah, good times.
22. The code word for adventure is "pudding." It's from the 1950's movie Annie Get Your Gun. You see these two guys go on a big city adventure...ah, ya just got to see it.
23. At 18 I moved by myself to Seattle and went to culinary school. It was fun but I wasn't a very good cook-just didn't have the palate. I can, however, follow most complicated recipes and do still love to cook. I usually only cook on holidays though. My favorite memory from Seattle is riding the bus (which we called the shame train) home from Swedish Hospital with a fever (my car had run out of gas in the hospital parking garage), and seeing these two guys talk ecstatically to each other in Spanish about having just bought Michael Jackson's Thriller album. It was 1994! 94! Not 1984! When I eventually got my car out of the garage, I had to write a check for the $1 fee and the check bounced. This was pretty typical for my surreal days in the Emerald city.
24. I would die for either of my nieces.
25. I know it isn't popular but I totally love Jesus. This love has strained several of my relationships with family and friends. But he has changed my life, he's the reason I can get out of bed everyday. You could say I'm in love with him. Crazy, I know! I believe he is the son of God, was born to a virgin, lived a life never doing anything wrong, died on a cross, raised from the dead three days later and is still alive today. I know many people would rather me just keep this to myself, but think about this...if you read a great book or go to a fab new restaurant, you want to tell people about it, right? That's how I feel, I want to tell people about it.
After reading my friend Annie's blog today I decided that instead of writing about "Pray for your enemies" from Matthew 5:44 as I intended, I would be honest. I don't want to pray for my enemies. Don't misunderstand me, I know I should and am praying for that desire. But I think it is important for Christians to be honest and acknowledge that they sometimes struggle to comply with God's will. It's not all "happy Christians" and roses, right?

So, to my 'enemy.' I was recently contacted via Facebook by someone who I considered a friend at one low point in my life. (Stupid Facebook!) I had managed to avoid him for many years and was quite happy that way. Then a few weeks after I signed up with Facebook he invited me to be his 'friend.' It was a no-brainer, I clicked deny right away.

It doesn't really matter what he did, he was just someone who didn't treat me with much respect. Even though I wasn't walking with the Lord at the time, I always had a feeling of deep distrust for him. For a couple of years I ignored my gut instinct, that told me something was not right with this person. I did this because it was to my benefit to hangout with him, he had a car and I didn't. That choice is my responsibility. After I chose to end our friendship, he would take pleasure in making me uncomfortable when he saw me. Looking back, as a maturing(one can hope?) Christian, it looks like bit like demonic influence it me. ( I feel nuts just typing that, but...)

My sister, some distant cousins, and friends did not deny his Facebook invitations and so he has been able to see who I have contact with. Stupid Facebook! Through my sister I learned that he is seriously ill; his kidneys are failing probably from a combination of poorly managed type 1 diabetes and drug use. He's been given 2-3 years to live on dialysis. This news did give me pause; was I too harsh to deny him contact with me? I did feel like a jerk, but when I thought about the poisonous influence he had on me, I didn't want to invite that back in.

Yesterday I get this email from him on Facebook and I was mad! Stupid Facebook! Assuming he hasn't fundamentally changed in 15 years, I think the email was full of the same melodrama and attempts to manipulate. He talked about how he was trying to contact old friends since he was "going home soon" and how I had been so important to him, and how he loved me. He said he understood that I might not want to talk with him again, but that we'd see each other later "on the streets of gold." You might get excited and think oh, maybe he's a believer now. Maybe. But knowing him as I did and seeing the things he says about himself on his Facebook page; well I see no evidence. I certainly could be wrong.

My sister patiently listened to me rant about him yesterday on the phone and said somethings that got me thinking. Primarily that I should consider writing him back, if only to make my peace with it. I mulled this over while driving to her place and I think God gave me a solution. I will write him back but I will not give him a list of ancient grievances, after all what will that solve? It might make me feel better for an instant, but it certainly wouldn't draw him closer to God, whom I assume he (still) desperately needs. What I will do is give him the gospel. I will tell him that if he has questions about Christ, I'm available. If he wants to go to church, I'm available. (groan) If he asks for prayer, I'm available.

So please pray for me, that I put aside my bitterness, that I write the words God knows he needs to hear, and that I allow the Holy Spirit to speak through me. Please also pray that his heart is open to the truth that could literally save his life.

I checked Matthew 5:44 again and it still says:

But I tell you,
love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
so that you may be the sons of your Father in heaven.

***Why don't babies understand that you can't feed them when they have their thumb in their mouths? Maureen, your sister wasn't nearly as messy an eater. I'm just saying...

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Varsha-Rachel's Day!

My dear friends Martina and Tom are right now taking a taxi across Pune, India to meet their new adopted daughter! They have waited so patiently for nearly a year for this blessed day and I know they are praising their Lord as I am right now. I pray she is not scared to leave the home she has known her entire short life, that the language barrier will not make her more uncomfortable, that the courts will move fast, that they will be home on time, but primarily I pray that Varsha-Rachel will grow up a girl devoted to the God who gave her a new loving home and embrace His Son as her Savior.