Surrender

I’m not sure when it started, but I haven’t been writing with any regularity. That’s not to say that there aren’t exciting things happening in life, or that I’m not still as introspective as usual. I just haven’t been struck with an AWESOME IDEA for this AWESOME BLOG that everyone wants to read.. (has that ever happened?!). So, I don’t know, this is a smattering of my current thoughts that may or may not be coherent.

I would say I’ve “settled” into living with my husband again on a regular basis, though he’s taken three soon to be four trips in the past six months. I would say I’ve “settled” into my classes and work. I would say I’ve “settled” into a workout routine. Ha. Hahahahaha. Ish.

But I don’t think I’m settling. Because God is the way He is and wants me to be as much like Christ as possible, He doesn’t let me settle but for a minute, which I think is a result of the fact that I’m doing better with surrendering recently. Maybe it’s that I’m getting older and approaching my 26 1/2 birthday (OMG! October 22!)…

I think it may have to do with that, getting older. And the fact that I realize we have one life to live. That’s it. Then we become dust, less our souls. Eternity has to be at the forefront of our minds, and we need to live life as if it’s our last day. Ugh. So so so cliche, but… I want all my experiences to be rich, all my relationships to be fruitful, all my time to be well spent. And I think I’ve been doing better with that recently than maybe in my whole life.

Surrendering is painful but compulsory for life with Christ. It means that I don’t dictate every aspect of my time, money, resources, friendships, conversation, habits. It means that I listen and wait… and listen, and wait…. and when I can discern what the Lord wants me to do, I act on it in obedience.

One caveat to surrender: it seems a little ridiculous at first, giving up all this control. It’s my life; I should take responsibility! What if this and this and THIS don’t get done?? But, after the initial withdrawl (possibly ridden with side-effects) is where we find freedom.

The Lord has revealed to me one of the last things that I need to surrender. Well, He revealed this years ago but I’ve never acted on it.. my own desires and excuses have gotten in the way. Yesterday morning I woke up when my husband did, since he leaves earlier than me every day. I should have just stayed up, because I felt like I needed to pray… about people in my life, about my own life, about our future… and I didn’t. I went back to sleep, only to wake up a hour and a half later to a dog licking my face and feeling much more groggy than if I’d just gotten up in the first place.

God won’t ask us to do things if we don’t truly want to do them. I really want to start devoting a couple hours in the morning to work out and pray and read my Bible, a tithe of my time if you will. I really want to. So, I pray for a desire, for something to jolt me out of my complacency.. and I believe as I keep praying that prayer, the Lord will continue to nudge me, or maybe just rip off all the covers and kick me out of bed. I’m thinking the latter would be more effective in my case.

The battle over anything is ultimately won in prayer, in the spiritual realm. We can try as we might to accomplish something for good, but our works don’t get us anywhere without the Holy Spirit… we’re just a clanging gong or resounding cymbal (I Cor. 13:1).

Time is short. God is raising up missionaries to reach the last frontiers of His people who still have never heard the Gospel. If I am to be part of that, I need to get with it and surrender everything. While it seems daunting, I know in the end I’ll be the most free I can be to fulfill the purpose for my life.

A life fulfilled.

This morning was great! We ran our first race together, in the same zip code, in the same country! It was the Ft. Bliss Holiday 8K Run on post.

We don’t have official times yet, but Aaron ran around a 40:40 (8:05 mile! SO PROUD) and I ran around a 48:30. My goal for this first race in Texas was 51:00… pretty conservative considering my last 8K was a 46:18. I guess I just didn’t want to be disappointed.

The gun went off. It had the feel of a small hometown race, with about 200 participants. It was cool outside with a crisp breeze. However, when the sun comes out in Texas, it warms things UP! I could have run in shorts and a t-shirt and been fine.

I always try to save energy at the beginning. I looked at my watch and was starting out at a 9:00 mile… WAY too fast. So I ran between a 10:00 and 10:20ish mile throughout until the last mile, and I kicked it into gear. I ended up passing several people I was contending with the whole time; always feels good to do that towards the end of a race! It was a silly fear, but I was worried I’d be towards the end. My slowest split (I have the Garmin set to .5 mi) was at 10:16 pace… sweet!

Aaron met me at the finish line… that was great to see him! So many times I’ve had to call him and give him a report. We recouped for a second, then grabbed Starbucks and headed back to the gym for the awards. I was disappointed that the age groups were so large… there was no way I was gonna get an award when the group is 20-29. Maybe someday….

I feel elated, like I usually do after a great run, an appreciation and an attitude of I. Love. Life.

Despite not having a ton of extra money…

Despite unexpected bills…

Despite not going all-out for Christmas…

Despite not being with family for the holidays…

My life is fulfilled. If you’ve been reading my blog for two seconds you probably know that I’m Christian. Thank you for continuing to read even when you don’t agree with my views or how I got there. I never want to sound preachy; my goal is just to tell the good things God has done and let you take it from there.

I just want to tell you that these past couple months of trusting God for our needs have been some of the most rewarding. We’re seeing things happen, opportunities for relationships arise, and of course, all of our needs met. We are committed to giving sacrificially to missions. I was listening to KLOVE radio the other day (not generally a huge fan of “Christian” radio…) but I heard a song by Matthew West with a line that goes like this:

“I throw a twenty in the plate but never give till it hurts.”

Wow. When I heard that, I didn’t feel conviction but confirmation. We are giving sacrificially, even when it looks like we can’t afford it. Even a lot of Christians will say it’s foolish to do this… what about the bills? Food? Gas? Saving? What about retirement? Saving for kids’ weddings and college tuition?

And I counter that by saying… Have we ever gone without? Have we ever run out of gas? Food? Nope. As far as savings and retirement, we’ll get there.

So… trusting, living to the end of ourselves (physically, financially and spiritually), looking ahead to the future with unbridled anticipation… these are the things that make my life fulfilled.

Work with what ya got.

Have you ever looked back in life to realize how much your past has led you to where you are now? It’s pretty cool, how things work out.

When I look back, I think of God as Jehovah Jireh. Don’t worry; it’s not a creepy name for God used by cultists, I promise. It’s the Hebrew name for “God the provider”. As I go into the next few weeks, I will see more hours on my paystub, more money in the bank, and just another manifested promise of God’s provision in our life (mine and Aaron’s).

I started teaching piano lessons when I was 14 because my current teacher was leaving, I was one of her best students, and they had no one else to teach. So there I was, teaching all ages and couldn’t even have my own bank account yet. I taught for six years, and taught all ages, from four to fifty-something. I also taught, unknowingly, the wife of my future youth pastor. Pretty cool! I also got experience teaching special needs because I had an autistic boy who couldn’t communicate, but he learned.

Six years later, I quit my job teaching piano because I needed something more stable. I was in college, working my way through and taking loans out the wazoo. I found an internship at a tutoring center. In addition to teaching piano, I tutored lots of students, including other college students at my university. I learned a lot about pretty much everything that there is in that position, and after graduation I worked as a teacher there for a little bit.

I started teaching full-time three Augusts ago (wow, that long already?!) and felt very prepared for working with different kinds of kids, needs, and even parents. When you do freelance tutoring, you talk a lot with the parents. They want to see results, or they’ll “fire” you. Then your “business” is hurt because you don’t have a good reputation by word-of-mouth.

Anyway. After working for a few months in retail last fall, my connections at a district, and my teaching certificate got me my aide job in first grade. Enter preconceived notions!! I never thought in a million years I’d enjoy working in a self-contained classroom with 26 whiny six and seven-year-olds. However, I loved it. I learned so much from the teacher about teaching phonics, spelling and reading, and how to relate to kids who haven’t hit puberty yet.

And wha-bam! Here I am in Texas, no teaching jobs are available, and I have about $350 and a few tests standing in between me and my Texas certificate. I felt really discouraged at first. I’d applied to about a dozen aide or clerical positions with no luck.

However, my previous experience at the tutoring center and being certified (my Illinois one is still valid) led me to the job I have now at a franchise of the same tutoring center! In the past couple weeks, we’ve gone through a lot of transition with one of the directors leaving, and I was slated for the position along with a couple other teachers. In a few weeks, I’ll be filling this position and working close to full-time hours (and getting a raise!). In a place where it’s hard for people to find a job, much less military spouses, I feel incredibly blessed.

The cool thing is that this was an answer to our prayer that God would give me favor with my boss. I believe excellence and integrity honor God, and then in turn, God honors excellence and integrity. I’ve had this inclination that I wouldn’t have to do anything extra to obtain a job in my field here in Texas, like throw down a few Benjamins for certification tests.

This is how God works: mysteriously. You don’t really know how things will work out, but you should continue to be faithful. These are the principles Aaron and I follow: Tithe. Be a good steward of what you have. Live within your means.

On several occasions in the past year or so, I’ve seen a rainbow at the perfect times. Once last summer, I was driving across the Illinois River and I was so mad and discouraged about not being in Korea and not knowing what would happen. But I tried my darnedest to pray and trust. That was hard. I saw a double rainbow here in El Paso shortly after we arrived, when again I was feeling hopeless and discouraged about my job situation. And yesterday, I saw yet another rainbow as I came out of the grocery store, picking something up on my way home from work.

This is what I’m not saying…

  • If you don’t have faith, you’ll be poor.
  • If you do have faith, you’ll be rich.
  • If you pray, things will always be easy.
  • If you don’t pray, things will always be hard.

Sometimes life just happens. However, we can be confident that God’s promises stand, and He provides everything we need. We just need to be faithful, obey, and trust. We may not always have excess. Lord knows we don’t right now! But we have what we need at the moment, and that’s all that matters.

One of the members of our small group mentioned that when he worked at an orphanage in rural Mexico, they had three rules about prayer:

  • Believe that you will receive.
  • Be thankful for everything you receive, even if it’s not exactly what you wanted. (Um.. ’96 Honda with 215K miles and no A/C and ’97 Toyota with 165K miles and paint rubbing off? Hey, they’re paid off and get us places!)
  • Be generous and give away something each time you receive.

I’ll end this post with a story he told about “El milagro de los pavos”.
In this orphanage off the beaten path in rural Chihuahua, they were approaching the winter season with very low food supplies for the orphans and staff. In their prayer time with all the children, a three-year-old boy wanted to pray for turkeys. Every week, he wanted to pray for turkeys. (In Mexico, it’s tradition that turkey is served on Christmas.) So, they prayed for turkeys. It seemed a little silly, but they prayed every week. They told God that if they got three turkeys, they’d eat two and give one away. Christmas Eve, people rolled in with turkey after turkey, never hearing that that’s what the orphanage was praying for. They received a total of forty-six turkeys!

Malachi 3:10 says, “‘Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and see if I will not open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be enough room to store it.'”