Saturday, May 30, 2009

An Attempt to Celebrate

This week is my last week of school. When I was a child, I never imagined that the teachers count down the days until the end of school even more so than the students do. I haven't written much about my job on this blog so far for a number of reasons... but here is my attempt to celebrate.

In an email I wrote to a friend, I explained to her that while
I'm plenty excited for school to be over, I wish I were feeling more accomplishment for getting through the months I have. I began my job in February and walked into directing a preschool program that had not had a director since September. I'm still patching up snafus left to me when I arrived, and I probably will continue to patch things until next March (a full year after I began the job).

I'm used to grad school, where I put my nose to the grindstone and crank out those last papers and they really demonstrate the knowledge and skill I've gained over the course of a semester. Now, I'm still on a school schedule, but I don't feel that same accomplishment or final demonstration of what I've learned. I feel like I'm just getting through the next five days to just get through them without much to be proud of in finishing the year. There is so much I want to do for next year, but this year I can only see what I haven't done, what was left undone in the preschool this year. I only see the battles I've avoided (because starting in February, I didn''t fight all the battles, I was very selective). I think a lot of it is because I don't have anything to compare the year to... I don't know what the preschool was like before I got there.

Several parents and colleagues have expressed to me the improvement they've noticed since I've arrived, how glad they are to have me... but I just don't feel it. I think this week I will pray this week that God would give me SOME sense of accomplishment in finishing this year. There has to be a reason to celebrate even though there is much improvement ahead.

Monday, May 18, 2009

What is Lost Living in Abundance?

"I must have a Bible of my own! I must have one, if I have to save up for it for ten years!"

The year was 1794. For as long as she could remember, little Mary Jones had yearned to hold a Bible in her hands so that she might read it for herself. For years, she had sat at night on her weaver father's lap and listened to him tell stories of Abraham, Joseph, David, and Daniel. But her family was far too poor to afford a Bible, even if one had been available, for Bibles could scarcely be found in all of Wales during those days.

Two years earlier, Mrs. Evans, the wife of a nearby farmer, having learned of Mary's longing to read the Bible, had promised the child that when she learned to read, she could come to their house and read their Bible. As soon as the first school opened in a neighboring village, Mary had eagerly set about learning to read.

Now, the ten-year-old girl had just walked two miles from the North Wales village of Llanfihangel to the Evanses' farm. The distance was no object to the eager child: "I'd walk farther than that for such a pleasure, ma'am!" she said to Mrs. Evans.

When once Mary finally was left alone in the room with the bible, she reverently lifted off the white napkin that covered and protected the cherished Book. Then, with trembling hands, she opened the Book to the fifth chapter of John where her eyes lit on the words, "Search and scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me" (John 5:39 KJV). Confident that God had spoken to her directly, she earnestly vowed to search His Word with all her heart.

Every Saturday from that point on she made the journey to the Evanses' farm, where she read, studied, and memorized entire chapters from the borrowed Bible. All the time, however, her heart ached, so great was her yearning to have a Bible of her own. She purposed that she must have a Bible, at any cost.

For the next six years, in addition to her studies at school and the many chores to be tended to at home, Mary used every available moment to do odd jobs for friends and neighbors. Every penny she earned was carefully laid aside, until at long last she had saved enough to buy a Bible of her own.

When she learned that the closest place a Bible could be purchased was the town of Bala, some twenty-five miles away, there was no question in her mind about what she must do. With hope in her heart, she started out early one morning, walking barefoot so as not to ruin her one pair of shoes. Before she reached her destination, her feet were blistered and cut from the stones in the road.

Physically weary, but barely able to contain her excitement that her lifelong goal should be so nearly realized, Mary finally arrived in Bala, where she poured out her story to the minister, Mr. Charles. When she had finished, Mr. Charles reluctantly informed her that the last of the Bibles available for purchase had already been sold and that the handful of remaining Bibles had been promised to others. Furthermore, the Society that had printed the small quantity of Welsh Bibles did not intend to print any more.

So great was Mary's disappointment that she began to sob uncontrollably. Touched by the intensity of her passion to have a Bible of her own, Mr. Charles decided that she must have one of the few Bibles left in his possession. Words cannot describe the ecstasy Mary felt as Mr. Charles placed into her hands the precious treasure for which she had prayed, wept, and hoarded all these years. Her heart sang as she walked the twenty-five miles back home, carrying her very own Bible, the Book that would remain her dearest friend and companion throughout her life.

Story from A Place of Quiet Rest by Nancy Leigh DeMoss (pp. 141-143), originally from Mary Jones and Her Bible, by M. E. R. (England: Gospel Standard Trust, 1996)

Friday, May 1, 2009

In the world of dogs, I LOVE my cat!

Colorado is truly the world of dogs. Everyone out here has a dog, and a dog is the only pet to have. I think this is great. Dogs are great, and Colorado is the perfect place to take dogs for walks or outside to play. I'm a huge fan of dogs (especially black labs) but today, on my sweet girl's birthday, I want to praise God for the amazing cat He sent into my life.

If you've given m
e the chance to tell you, I'm sure you've heard by now how I came to own my sweet Lexie... but get ready to hear it again:

I have ALWAYS wanted a cat of my own in the years before I got married. Even as a child, I would imagine myself, a grown woman, in an apartment, with a cat. Ariel had Flounder, Belle had Chip, Jasmine had Rajah... I pictured myself with a cat. Through most of college and graduate school, the dream for my cat remained just that, a dream. It simply wasn't the right time; a door God hadn't opened.

Almost a year ago, the end of May 2008, as I drove from Colorado back to Nashville after finishing a month-long internship in Denver, I finally had a landlord who would allow a cat... but I still believed it wasn't the right time to get one. With little money extra money at the end of graduation school and plan to move somewhere (I didn't know where) six months later, my dream of a kitten still seemed impractical at present. It was on this road trip from Denver to Nashville that I explained to God this cat/practicality situation and asked Him to help me forget about the idea of a cat for now, as this was certainly not the time for me to invest in one. I told Him I would not look for a cat, so please help me forget about the idea for six months until I had finished graduate school and moved.

God is good, and loves to bless His children, especially when they least expect it.

Not a week later, I was in Lexington, Virginia to attend Washington and Lee University's undergrad graduation. Washington and Lee (W&L) is my undergrad Alma mater, and I enjoyed attending the ceremony and celebrating the graduation of friends. My last night in Lexington, I stayed at my old sorority house, and heard the sound of an animal crying inside one of the sorority dorm rooms. After opening the door to find a tiny kitten crying inside, I asked questions of my sisters to learn that this cat had been found crying outside around the sorority house. The versions of the story vary from there - some sisters say they "rescued" the kitten, others say "caught" the kitten, others say "cornered" the kitten... but, nevertheless, they had somehow acquired this terrified, tiny kitten.

My sisters explained to me that they were all leaving for the summer and the local SPCA animal shelter was overrun with cats as it was. Even before they started listing cat euthanasia statics to me, I was thinking, "Lord, I just prayed about a cat, but I didn't really ask for one. Is this cat for me? Is this kitten from you, for me?" It didn't take long for me to recognize the "coincidence" of timing as an unexpected blessing from my heavenly Father - certainly not a coincidence.

I named the kitten Lexington (after the town where she was born; the same town where I did much growing in my faith) and called her "Lexie" for short. Only later did I learn that "Lexie" means "defender of mankind" and I believe she has more than lived up to the meaning of her name.

While she is not a "guard cat" like an angry dog defends his master, but God gave her to me during a year when He knew I would need a companion. Lexie's presence and companionship these past 11 months has defended me from lonely and hopeless thoughts when life has seemed lonely and hopeless.

Lexie loves me to bits, and the feeling is mutual. She's seriously a one-of-a-kind cat. If I've heard "I really don't like cats, but I like Lexie!" once, I've heard it twenty times. This beautiful creature sleeps with me every night with her head resting on her paws and her paws resting on my legs. When I come through the door from outside she runs to greet me. Might have been gone 10 hours, or 10 seconds to take the trash out, but she always runs to greet me. Even just now, she had been off doing her own thing, but as I've been typing this post, she hoped up on the bed and lay down next to me, watching intently has I typed. Maybe she knew I was writing about her...

Today, on Lexie's birthday, or rather, as close to her birthday as I can estimate, I praise God for knowing me better than I knew myself. He knew the perfect timing for a cat in my life, and He chose the perfect kitten for me. My defender and only earthly companion at present.

Ever since Lexie found me, I've prayed over her, "Let everything that has breath praise the Lord" and I choose to believe that she does. She was created by the same Father by Whom I was created, and I believe she was created just for me. She praises the Lord every day she fulfills her purpose in being herself - a content cat who loves her owner. She is a good reminder that I, like she does, can praise the Lord every day that I fulfill my purpose, however big or small it may seem. While Lexie is simply a cat, through the blessing and purpose of our mutual Creator, she adds more to my life than I ever imagined possible.