>A new work

>I have no idea what there is in my future, but the Lord is doing a new work in me. There is a heightened awareness of Him, an increased desire to learn from the Bible, and when I don’t spend time in prayer and study, I can so tell! Not that I couldn’t tell before, but when one day you receive a word and an immeasurable peace, and the next you don’t spend time in prayer, you can tell. Without Him I’m restless, anxious, a worrywart, insecure. I’m sure others can tell, too.

Another week is gone, and who knows how many more weeks I’ll blog to you from Illinois. Thus far, my greatest fears have realized. When we got orders for Texas initially, I was disappointed it wasn’t overseas, but then realized I wouldn’t have to do all the darned paperwork. It’s not enough that we got Korea, then paperwork sitting on someone’s desk for six weeks, then put on a waitlist, then to move up the list to be 11 out of 202. Eleven. Then for the list to stop. Then for Aaron having a hard time getting a meeting with the one person who can approve us to live off-post so we can get housing allowance. Still waiting on that.

Waiting, waiting, waiting.

My worst fear out of all of this, worst case scenario, is that I live here until June when Aaron is done with his one year in Korea (with me there on orders it would have been longer).

It would not be the most desirable situation. But he’s been there for almost five months. What’s seven more months in the span of life? In the span of the time we’ve been apart so far?

I know that there is a plan either way. And  like Chip Ingram said in his podcast for October 27, it’s not Plan B or C. It’s Plan A. On the good side, I’d be able to put my apartment back together, sign a six-month lease since I’m on a month-to-month right now and have been since June. Is it sad that I’ve already looked into doing the Illinois Marathon with Gabriela on May 1?

I think we get comfort in our human brains of making plans when a pathway doesn’t even exist yet, at least one that we can see.

Mundane details aside, there is a new work being done in me. I am moving into a new season of belief, trust and obedience.

It’s interesting: with both running and knowing the Lord, there has been an incredible breakthrough. Gabriela and I ran last night and we were chatting about running a marathon. I mentioned how silly it would be for me to build this base of 9-10 miles at a decent pace (between 10:30-11 min/mile) and then waste it. To stop running by falling off the wagon somehow.

It’s the same with my walk with the Lord. I don’t want to be comfortable because I know that I will backtrack on the progress He’s made in me. It’s so crazy how He does give us the desires of our hearts, and He gives us knew desires to ask for. Years ago I never would have thought I’d be here, asking, sometimes pleading, to never be comfortable. I know my potential and I have a mind to never waste it.

That’s my motivation in life. I know who I am in Christ and have a confidence that is not my own. I no longer compare myself to others (those who do will be without understanding [II Cor. 10]). I can truthfully say that I don’t care to see myself through the world’s eyes.

“We, however, will not boast beyond proper limits, but will confine our boasting to the field God has assigned to us… For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.” II Cor. 10:13, 18

I boast in the Lord, in what He’s done for me and the incredible change He’s brought about in my life. I am not perfect, I have not yet attained everything of what He has for me, but I choose daily to do my best to walk blameless in His sight.

I know what my ministry is right now, whether it’s Korea or Illinois.

Chip Ingram said, paraphrased, “By His wisdom, He will produce the best possible results in you by the best possible means.”

A.W. Tozer: “Wisdom, among other things, is the ability to devise perfect ends and to achieve those ends by the most perfect means. It sees the end from the beginning, so there can be no need to guess or conjecture. Wisdom sees everything in focus, each in proper relation to all, and is thus able to work toward predestined goals with flawless precision.”

Hmm. That’s some food for thought.

>The sin of unbelief

>I think this one is overlooked. With all the blatant egregious sin in the world, unbelief can be chalked up to doubt, or questioning. Or an attitude of “I’m just not sure…” Baloney. We are called to believe. It’s an action verb.

Psalm 37 has a lot of those. This morning I wrote down a list, though not comprehensive, of “commands” David writes in this psalm, from the NASB.

v. 3 trust, dwell
v. 4 delight
v. 5 trust, commit
v. 7 rest, wait, do not fret
v. 8 do not fret
v. 34 wait

If that’s all the psalm was, it’d be sufficient. Those are all action verbs. When we do those things, we believe that God can do what He says He can do.

Why do we worry? Become anxious? Try to figure everything out? Plan out every hour of our day like I do? Because we’re not believing.

The Bible says in countless places that the Lord is good. His mercy endures forever. He will hold no good thing back from those who walk blameless (Psalm 84). He will give us joy, peace, patience, etc etc etc.

It’s all there, written in black and white for us to see in any version or language you want. Why do we have such a time willing ourselves to believe that those words are true?

If you’re going through a tough time, tell God how you feel. He’s not going to be afraid of what you have to say or shun you. He won’t get on your case and tell you to just “get over it”. He will listen. Pouring out an honest heart is worth so much more to Him than pretending that everything is okay.

I started my journey from unbelief to belief by doing just that. “Lord, it’s not fair. Why is this happening? What’s the point?”

And He will be faithful to give you all you ask for in His name. He will reveal Himself to you through your prayer time and through His Word. As you grow to know Him more, you will trust Him more. Just like a friend. You’re not going to tell a stranger your deepest darkest secrets. So start out small and remember that it’s a two-way street.

He may not answer all your prayers like you want them answered. He has a reason and time for everything. But He will for sure hold nothing good back from you if you are walking blameless in His sight. Try it and see if you’re not impressed with the nearness and goodness of our God.

But if you continue in your unbelief, your heart will be hardened. We just talked last night in Bible study about not being offended on account of God.

I have every reason to be offended about my situation, and with people. It’s a daily choice I have to make, to not let myself say those things like, “I quit my job for this?!” or “Must be nice that she has her husband home every night.” The Lord has been faithful to give me new thoughts towards my situation.

Don’t let the enemy steal your passion and fervor for doing the Lord’s work. Every step you take away from God is one more inch of ground you’re giving to the other side. There is a greater work to be done in your life, bigger than you can even imagine.

>Falling head over heels…

>…in love with my Savior.

It is a possibility that Aaron will not get approved to live off post. When I realized the weight of this, that I would possibly have to stay here for eight more months, my heart just sunk. It was of course, this morning, while having coffee and getting ready for work.

I thought though, that I would rather do God’s will for one day and be continually challenged than step outside of it and be comfortable for a very long time. I believe that He can get us through anything. He has a much greater plan in store for us than we could ever dream up for ourselves. I know that everything we go through is to refine and prepare us. And He blesses us in the process.

This morning in the midst of my sadness I turned hastily to Psalm 84, where it talks about spending one day in His courts rather than a thousand elsewhere. Then I read the whole psalm, just for the heck of it…

1 How lovely is your dwelling place,
       O LORD Almighty!

 2 My soul yearns, even faints,
       for the courts of the LORD;
       my heart and my flesh cry out
       for the living God.

 3 Even the sparrow has found a home,
       and the swallow a nest for herself,
       where she may have her young—
       a place near your altar,
       O LORD Almighty, my King and my God.

 4 Blessed are those who dwell in your house;
       they are ever praising you.
       Selah

 5 Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
       who have set their hearts on pilgrimage.

 6 As they pass through the Valley of Baca,
       they make it a place of springs;
       the autumn rains also cover it with pools. [b]

 7 They go from strength to strength,
       till each appears before God in Zion.

 8 Hear my prayer, O LORD God Almighty;
       listen to me, O God of Jacob.
       Selah

 9 Look upon our shield, [c] O God;
       look with favor on your anointed one.

 10 Better is one day in your courts
       than a thousand elsewhere;
       I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
       than dwell in the tents of the wicked.

 11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield;
       the LORD bestows favor and honor;
       no good thing does he withhold
       from those whose walk is blameless.

 12 O LORD Almighty,
       blessed is the man who trusts in you.

Verse 11 jumped out at me. I had just read that yesterday or the day before in my George Muller autobiography. He outlived several children and made the funeral speeches of his first and second wives. He endured hardship but was also obedient to the calling on his life and ended up caring for thousands of orphans only asking God for the finances and needs.

I am so glad He doesn’t listen to our whining when we want things. Back in June, I was really hoping I was pregnant. We aren’t trying, and don’t plan to try for quite awhile, but silly me was still hoping. I am so glad I’m not, because I couldn’t imagine going through a pregnancy right now without him and not knowing when we’d be together next, or if he’d be able to be there for the birth.

There really is a reason for everything, and I’m not about to mess up what God wants to do in order to fulfill my temporal (Muller used this word a lot) desires. Difficulty does not always come as a result of disobedience (I heard that from a speaker on 88.5 and then from Beth Moore’s lesson for tonight’s Bible study). If we live by the Spirit, we will desire the things of the Spirit (Romans 8:5). I don’t know about you, but this world has nothing for me. I would rather live by the Spirit!

>Let me pencil you in

>Seriously. When someone asks to hang out, or I ask someone, I am constantly consulting my Holy Grail of scheduling – the calendar on my iPod. I tell you, if it ever dies or I lose data on my calendar, I will be a lost cause.

I understand that people are busy, and I’m busy. But I’m too busy for my own good. I think 97% of America is. I finally took the step today for no more than 25-30 hours rather than 35ish hours. Next week I have only 26 because of asking off next Friday and Saturday for the race, and I am so looking forward to it.

I really need to embrace this time in my life where it’s not necessary for me to keep a lucrative full-time job (teaching is lucrative compared to this one!). Hopefully soon I will be working on preparations for moving and I will need time to do that. Whenever I work full-time again, I will have to prune back the groups I’m involved in and things I do for people to make sure I’m not too busy.

I have my typical day planned out from about 7AM to 1AM every day. Get up, get ready for work, go to work, meeting/church group/practice, running, talking to Aaron, sleep.

My #1 priority has to be prayer/study. There is no close second. There is no substitute. If I don’t have this time, how can I expect to grow and change? How can I expect to effectively affect the lives of others? The idea of rest and not feeling guilty about it is my next big challenge to overcome.

For literally years now I’ve been under the conviction to get my lazy butt out of bed in the morning and do my prayer/study time. With coffee, of course. But I don’t want it to be hurried (i.e. reading my daily devotional while holding a spoon for my cereal in my hand, while of course simultaneously tying my shoes). I don’t want it to feel like a chore.

And now this evening, things have worked out that I am home hours before I thought I would be. I got off work at 7:30 after a rough close. It was too late to go to a group in the next town over as it got over around 8ish. Regina and I needed to do a long run, but the weather has not cooperated. So I came home. It was weird.

Sometimes when I get home I just want to crawl right into bed. I am in bed now, with my water and laptop and Bible and notebook. Just like when I lived with my parents and had no other good place to do my Bible study. (My bedroom was small and I liked being cozy. It worked out well.)

I still have a couple hours before I talk to Aaron. So now I’ll spend this time praying, studying, and probably sleeping a little bit. I need to have more unstructured time like this so I can hear from the Lord. Crazy busy days should be a rare thing. And when I do have them, I know I will be given the strength to get through it with grace.

And just before I hit the “publish post” button and catapult my erratic thoughts into cyber space, I looked at my devotion for October 24. Confirmation if I ever saw it…

“Lie down in green pastures of Peace. Learn to unwind whenever possible, resting in the Presence of your Shepherd. This electronic age keeps My children “wired” much of the time, too tense to find Me in the midst of their moments. I built into your very being the need for rest. How twisted the world has become when people feel guilty about meeting this basic need! How much time and energy they waste by being always on the go, rather than taking time to seek My direction for their lives.

I have called you to walk with Me down paths of peace. I want you to blaze a trail for others who desire to live in My peaceful Presence. I have chosen you less for your strengths than for your weaknesses, which amplify your need for Me. Depend on Me more and more and I will shower Peace on all your paths.” [emphasis mine]

>Trust and obey; for there’s no other way

>God is so good. For those of you reading who do not know the Lord as your Savior, maybe you’re annoyed at my constant mentions of God. And Jesus. And the ethereal “Him” or “He”. I am telling you, there is no other reason that I am healthy emotionally, physically and spiritually except for His healing power.

The past two weeks have been a rough patch for me. Maybe for Aaron, too. We’re weary. We’re tired of waiting. Tonight for a few hours I felt immobile, unable to feel a whole lot or express much. Have you ever been depressed? That’s what depression does to you. It’s almost a physical cloud that hovers above you, keeping you from feeling, doing, acting. It’s strange. You would think, Well, why don’t you just snap out of it?! For a lot of people, with therapy they’re able to. Some are even able to self-talk themselves out of it. For others, the feeling drives them to literal insanity.

For just those few hours I remembered what I had been through. The pit I was in, an indescribable pit of loneliness and self-pity. Getting cozy in a bean bag of self-pity can actually be soothing [for the moment], as crazy as it sounds. All your attention is focused on you and how horrible you feel. If you’re lucky, people feel sorry for you and are therefore paying attention to you.

This is no way to live. For seven years I dealt with “dysthymia”, or chronic mild depression. This isn’t really the bad bad kind, where I was suicidal. But I remember being very emo sometimes, writing a lot of poetry that was albeit good but sad. I was always looking for how a song or story related to my life. Although I was depressed, I was high-functioning and came up with some great coping mechanisms. My main antidote was my success in school, which is how it became an idol and never brought true satisfaction. Being depressed is a very selfish state of being, but unless you’ve been there yourself or by association, don’t judge.

I did go to therapy and was also on medication for about two years. Biology was involved in my diagnosis. Gotta love the genetics. But God can heal even genetics. I mean, of course He can; He’s the one who created it! He can change our family trees. I pray even now that our children will be free of mental illness.

My tattoo on my back says “Jehovah Raphe” and “God is my healer”. Same meaning, different languages. God brought me out of the pit of depression. He reached out His perfect hand to my imperfect body and healed me.

I think sometimes He allows me to feel a little of what I used to feel most of the time, just so I am reminded of what He’s done for me. I think it’s also so I can be moved to feel compassion for those living in that state. Even though I’ve been there, I find myself quick to judge just like the rest of the world. Well, if that person would just eat better, or exercise, or go to therapy. But it’s not that easy.

Anyone who has known me for several years (including my darling husband, going on eight years together) could attest to my codependency, neediness, and clingy-ness. I looked for redemption in everything but the right thing. I was saved, but I was still struggling because of that stronghold. I’ve now been off of medication and therapy for over two years.

“Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.”

Just a note: I am in no way suggesting that therapy and/or medication are not good or should be avoided. I believe there is a reason God has equipped people today with the tools needed to help other people.

>Do you want some cheese with that whine?

>There are two main negative emotions that come from being separated from your spouse, at least in my understanding. Let me say that 95% of the time, I don’t feel either of these. Tonight is an exception, one of those “Life just isn’t fair” evenings.

Jealousy. I get jealous of seeing couples happy together, holding hands, kissing, even just legs touching. Jealous of people who get to go home to their spouse, or who just found out they’re pregnant. Not of the pregnant, but of the sharing of the happiness at the same time and in the same, well, country. Jealous of date nights, movie dates and even just going to the grocery store. Jealous that wives have their husbands to take out the trash, or even kill a bug. Getting to see each other on wedding anniversaries and birthdays. I took all these things for granted.

Loneliness. This goes hand-in-hand with jealousy. I still sleep on my side of the bed. His side ends up being filled with blankets, pillows and this laptop on the portable desk. I am so sick of having this computer on 24/7. I love being able to talk to my husband but dang. When I get to Korea I will not have this silly thing attached to my fingers. Sometimes it’s just too quiet in here. I miss even when he’d sit in the living room while I make dinner. We don’t have to talk. I just miss his company. What is it even like to live with someone? You forget after awhile, and I’d get territorial when he did come home on leave. My bathroom, my bedroom, my clothes on the floor. My dishes, my mess. No one to blame it on but myself. My books, my slippers, my lunch that needs to be made. I just want it to be “our” again.

One thing I got over really fast was sitting in church by myself. That was easy. He used to help with kids’ church so I got used to sitting through service alone. Something else that was easy was getting to sleep and not feeling scared to live alone. I never have trouble falling asleep. There have been times when I’ve had a dream about him and woken up to hug him and realize he’s not there. That really sucks. Or when I wake up cold in the middle of the night and have to turn the heat up instead of curling up with him.

Our lives will definitely go through adjustment after we’re reunited. I know this was a really whiny post. But I’m just really missing him tonight, and lately. Maybe it’s a sign that this is almost over. It’s counter-intuitive but I always get like this right before we get to see each other.

I know that the Lord doesn’t give us anything we can’t handle, and that His strength is made perfect in our weakness.

And that’s all.

>Work. Run. Aaron. Sleep. Repeat.

>I’ve been able to relax and go to bed at a decent time two nights in a row. Aaron’s been on weird hours.. he just worked a 24-hour CQ shift, gotta love those. Right now he’s sleeping so I’ll be going to bed soon.

It’s funny.. anyone reading that first little bit without knowing my situation would think that we live together. It’s only natural, right? Last week was a good week because I feel like soon this will be over. Like we’re almost to the finish line.

Saturday when I was at work, for no reason at all, all of a sudden I missed him so much, like almost a physical pain. Melodramatic, I know. But that’s how it felt.

A few weeks ago we learned that command sponsorship had been suspended. Now I guess it’s going, just very very slowly. They’re making some changes with the whole policy and process across the board, to include all branches of the armed forces.

We are waiting on God and we know that He directs our steps. He’s bigger than both of us, and surely bigger than the Army. Hooah.

In the meantime, I’ve been training pretty hard for the Hot Chocolate 15K in Chi-town in less than three weeks! That’s 9.3 miles, folks. I ran a total of 20.46 miles last week. After having run 11-15 miles in a given week (usually towards the lower end), I was a little nervous about upping my mileage. But it went well.

Regina and I ran a great eight-miler the other night that took us 1:28:45. That’s about an 11-minute mile. I know many people would tell us we’re barely running, even jogging, but it felt like running to us! Most of the time we weren’t talking and just focusing on our breathing. Normally I have headphones in, so it was a good experience to not use them for that long of a run. We only have to tack on 1.3 miles for the race! I’m so excited.

We’re (me, Regina, and her friend Karen) taking the train up the day before, maybe doing some shopping, and definitely having a delicious meal of some sort. It will be a nice getaway. I love Chicago.

Work is going well, thanks for asking. I’m still working about 35 hours a week, which definitely keeps me busy. I usually work days, which is a blessing because then I’m able to run in the evenings, or do church things. Next week I have only 32 hours. I know three or four hours on paper isn’t a big difference, but my shifts will be shorter. Bank account, meet bigger numbers.

Thanks for reading this mundane entry.. hopefully I’ll have some really good news soon about Korea. Keep praying; I know I am!