Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Grace Is Not Proportional

Is it summer? Is it fall? Is it monsoon season?

We've had quite the change in weather the last few weeks. Don't get me wrong, I love a good hot summer day...but you know, I don't need to be sweating all day long to enjoy a day. These faux-fall days have been so refreshing. I'm not ready for fall just yet, but not being stuck in an oppressive sweat box (aka my apartment) has been really nice.

I'm still working on the Job stuff for you guys, but until I get there, I finally finished the book of Numbers! I never thought I'd be excited to say that. And it's not just because I'm glad to be done with it! It was tedious and long; it was also the first book I picked up a commentary for. And can I make a suggestion? Grab a commentary when you need one! Even if you don't agree with everything or even if you don't read the commentary entirely, it is super helpful to have another set of eyes when you are going over a confusing passage.

The more I read the Old Testament, the more I learn about God. I heard a Village pastor say that we need to change our approach if our main reason for reading the Bible isn't to meet God. That is why the Bible exists: to teach us about God. I am struck by the grace of God, even when Israel is disobedient. The entire book of Numbers up until Chapter 14 is about the Israelite's traveling to the land that God had promised them. We see rebellion and obedience, sometimes in the space of a chapter. And then, there they are! The edge of the promise land. The spies go into the land and bring back a report: "The land is rich, yes. But the people are powerful and huge. We look like grasshoppers to them! We can't attack them!"  Ten of the twelve explorers forgot that God delivered them from slavery and helped them cross the sea floor (while the Egyptians, their former masters, were thrown into the same sea to drown). They forgot that God fed them from nothing in the desert and gave them water from a rock. Their powerful God has provided for them time after time, but even when God tells them that he will give them the land, they get the heebie jeebies and run away scared.

God gives this rant about them, but nestled in Numbers 14 there is this beautiful verse: The Lord is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished.

Even in their disobedience, of which the consequence is not being able to enter the promise land, God wants to tell them that he is slow to anger and abounding in love. He could have wiped them out then and there, but he didn't. He could have wiped them out countless times before and after this event. One of the reasons he didn't? Moses prayed for them. It is shocking to me how many times Moses prays for his people, the people who complained non-stop through the desert, the people who complained that they would rather be back in Egypt as slaves than be stuck here in the desert "starving." He prays to God for those people. For those stiff necked disobedient people.
The other shocker? God actually listens.

There is still a consequence for their sin, but God let them live. They had feasts; they sacrificed at the Tent of Meeting. They got married, had babies. God continued to provide for them in the desert. He protected them when the elders of Moab and Midian sought out Balaam the seer to curse all of Israel. He made them successful when they went to war against the Midianites. The Israelites lived. For as long as they lived, they saw the faithfulness of God. How's that for a legacy? Their children learned from an early age that God was faithful and forgiving, but also very serious about obedience. Walter Riggans, the author of the commentary I read, put it this way: At heart [God] is gracious, but he is not to be played with.

God is faithful even when we are not. I almost want to say "especially when we are not." I think sometimes when we drop the ball or mess up, we expect others to treat us a certain way based on our failure. But God doesn't make proportional responses to our failure. He is faithful to his people because he made a covenant long before Moses was born. He is a God of his word, trustworthy in all things. His faithfulness has nothing to do with our failure but everything to do with his character.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The facts were these...


Did January the last few months absolutely drain anyone else? I have been working on this post since mid to late February. Clearly, I did a great job with it.

This semester started off kinda rough. Lots of students forgot lots of things. Like how to use a library. It was a bit of an adventure helping students back on the straight and narrow, but I think we got there eventually. Semester ended last week, so things are starting to calm down a little bit. A handful of "my kids" graduated last weekend, including a two of my student workers. It was such a great moment for me to see them walk across that stage after four (or five) years of hard work. 

Life slowly returns to normal, whatever that is anymore. 

The end of January brought some emotional upheaval for me. Things are getting better every day, but man. It has been hard. (And yes, this one is still true almost four months later. Healing is a process.)

So, of course, I started reading the book of Job. 

I had a dear friend joke about how "uplifting" the book is and, lovingly, poke fun at my choice. I was afraid she was going to be right, but still, I pressed on. It was next, chronologically, in my reading plan anyway. Might as well just carry on.  

I think we all probably know the story of Job. Dude with seemingly the worst luck in the universe loses his family, his house, his possessions--eventually even his health-- all in the course of a single day. He and his friends sit around for like, 30 plus chapters, talking about all the terrible things that had happened, how God would only punish a sinner, not a righteous man like Job. Not the friends I would want with me during a terrible time in my life. Finally, and miraculously, God steps in and has a dialog with Job. Because of a lot of things, (Job's righteousness and love and devotion to God being part of it), God restores Job's fortune to him, double what he had at the beginning of the story.  

To be honest, I don't think I've ever read this book in its entirety. Sure, you grab the beginning and the end. That's where the meat of the story is if you are going to teach it in a classroom. But the stuff in between? Honestly, y'all, it blew my mind.

I hope to share some of that with you in the months to come. I've since worked my way through Exodus and Leviticus, and Habakkuk. It has been slow going, but in all of it, I still see God providing for his people, in all things. And through the semester and personal ups and downs of life, that has been an altogether encouraging thing to read. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Happy *cough* New Year! (Achooo!)

Happy New Year friends! 
At the risk of sounding ancient, the more years I see, the faster they seem to roll by me. It seems impossible that it is 2017. Anyone else? 

Of course, I started the new year with a bang: sinus cold! I've been fighting something ugly for the past two weeks now and I have to say, I'm ready for it all to be over. I'm finally on the uptick I think. I hope. My house is a sea of tissues and half empty water glasses. My almost two weeks of vacation was spent putting a Laura-sized divot in the couch and finishing a few TV shows. Not all bad, but now that I'm finally starting to feel better, it is time to join the land of the living...and get to cleaning up the house. (And eventually back to running? I mean UGH but also, do I miss it? Mostly no. But a little yes, too.)

Christmas holidays weren't all bad of course, just intensely busy. Little and Big Sister (husbands and kids) were all able to come home for Christmas. It was loud, it was crazy, it was hilarious and I wish we could have had more time together. 

Guys. I finished that sweater that I've been working on for almost two years! I've already gifted it but I'll see if I can snag some pictures of it and share them with you. Without a big project like that in the background, I'm feeling a little ... sad? But it won't last for long because I'm working with a friend to make a blanket for her living room sofa. It involves a lot of math (that she does mostly. Thankfully.) and counting rows and such (that's mine). The exciting thing about it, though, is that it is something she and I designed together. The first time I'm truly working a large project with a self-designed pattern. I'm nervous but excited to see how it will turn out. I finished a bunch of other projects for Christmas presents and such, so I'm a little in-between knitting adventures. With the freezing weather we've been having lately, I have been in the mood to knit a warm hat for myself. I'm also halfway through a fingerless glove pattern, which besides the blanket, is my only current work in progress. It is a challenge with cables, so I'm in love. The biggest challenge is going to be adding thumbs to it. And well, I've never done that before and it is incredibly daunting. 

I keep track of my reading over at Scattered Wits, but if you were following, I didn't meet my reading goal last year. And I'm honestly doing okay with that. Yes, I was bummed. (Maybe more like a lot.) But one of the reasons I didn't finish was because the larger reading project I had going was reading through the New Testament in a year. That one? Yeah, that one I finished. It has taught me so much about Jesus and the way he asks his followers to live that it felt like I was learning about him for the first time. And Paul's letters have to be some of my favorite books in the New Testament. So this year, I reduced my reading challenge by half and will try to make it through the Old Testament. So that's my biggest challenge this year. I mean, besides the thumbs. 

We've had two snows so far this year. If I hadn't been sick and partially unable to breathe, I was seriously considering a snow walk. I've always wanted to do one of those. We had a light dusting today and there is a call for freezing rain tonight. The weather continues to be frightful, but it is off to work for me. (In the whole "being sick for two weeks," I haven't been cooking too much. Dinner tonight will be very interesting...)

A brand new year with so many new things to come. Some of them are planned. Most of them? Probably not. This year feels like a good year to be extra hopeful, to keep my eyes open and heart ready for whatever happens. New adventures. New friends. More old friends. More life. More joy. 

Once more onto the breach, dear friends, once more. 

Thursday, December 1, 2016

The word of the day is SLEEP

Magically, I got up only a few minutes before my alarm this morning. I mean it probably had something to do with the fact that I was up until 3 AM but, you know, whatever. I didn't get a ton of work done but I did get to have lunch with my dear friend Heidi. For about the last two and a half years, I've been spending Wednesday mornings with her and her littlest. At the beginning, I was holding a sleeping baby so she could get some work done. Now, we eat, talk, make tea and generally talk about what is going on in our lives and hearts while Little Man runs around and plays. So while my house didn't get cleaned, my heart got so much refreshment. 

We are just about halfway through this whole extended hours thing for finals. Which means between tomorrow and the beginning of next week, no one will be getting much sleep. Actually, a lot of my students haven't been getting much sleep all week. I try not to come off too much like a mom because hey, I remember those days. I do.  I remember making coffee at 10 pm after the family had long gone to bed and I was tired of looking at the cursor blink on my screen at the top of an empty page. I was (and still am) a salty snack girl and would eat my weight in salsa and chips. I even remember lying to my mom about how much sleep I got. (Mom, I'm really really sorry. Those papers had to come before my mental and physical health.) "Wow," she would say at 6am, "you got up really early today. What time is class?" Oh um, well...Yeah I didn't shower last night because of the paper and so...I'm showering before class...oh hey I have to go now...."


But anyway, I try to gently remind them that sleep is important. I sometimes even need to remind them to eat and drink water. But then I ask them about what they have going on tomorrow, the presentations and papers that might be due. And they share the things that are going on in their life. I get phone calls with emergency questions and last minute study room reservations. I try to send them off with another gentle reminder about the sleep thing and encouragement for the all the things that they have to do for the next day. 

You know I love it. I really do. But sometimes, it is exhausting. The days run together and my fridge somehow gets empty without me realizing it. I haven't done laundry since last week and the almost empty laundry basket in my room is now overflowing with stuff I have to put away or wash. And I think I was just so exhausted and stressed and ...

And I walked out of the office tonight, took off my heels and threw them in the garbage can. 

Suddenly, things didn't seem too terrible. Because, after all, life is too short for shoes that hurt your feet. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Pre-Final Week Stress

Today is the first day of late nights at the office and I'm already beat. Ever since the clocks changed, I have been getting up a few hours before my alarm. I've been trying to take advantage of the extra knitting/reading/coffee/whatever time and today I'm regretting it. An all day cleaning extravaganza right into working late...I'm so tired. 
And why am I feeling MORE stressed than the students? 
I say it every year, and I promise I mean it, but I'll say it again: I love this time of year. I love talking to the students I see all semester long and even ones who only find the library in the last two weeks of semester. I love giving them a break from studying, letting them know someone actually does care if they get sleep or get the grade they wanted on that exam. But this year...I don't know. This year feels different. Maybe it is the stress coming right off of the Thanksgiving holiday straight into final crunch time. Maybe it is working every Saturday for the last seven weeks and knowing that I have at least 4 more to go before Christmas...and hey, it is almost Christmas. How did that happen?

And then to top off the day, a student at Ohio State ran over students with a car and then ran around campus with a knife. I had that sitting in my heart all day. Watching kids come and go, thankful that we weren't stuck inside, hiding from all the windows under our desks. What is happening to our world? My heart weeps for the students that are processing through this difficult situation. 

My head is spinning and I'm falling asleep at the computer. Maybe tomorrow will feel better. 

Monday, August 15, 2016

The Most Excellent Way

Summer is winding down and boy, do I feel it. Don't get me wrong, I am loving the heat (it is better than snow...), but I am thrilled that I'll be able to start wearing jeans again without worrying about passing out halfway through my day. Boots and scarves, sweaters and hats. Man. I love me some fall. 

But summer is Project Time at the office and I'm running out of time to finish all the things that need to get done before all the kids come back. And then there's the running that I've just kind of gotten back in the habit of and with my schedule change this week, I keep wondering how I'm going to keep that going strong. 
That's how life has been these last few months for me: busy. I'm trying to crush it all in and sometimes it works. Sometimes I get laundry and the dishes done, clean up the house and even have time to get together with some friends. And then there are days when I'm stopping for my first cup of coffee on my way to work. Exhaustion. Frazzled nerves. I don't know how I can keep it together. 

And then I was reading 1 Corinthians 13 today. Wow. Talk about a shot to the heart. Paul says that even if you are the smartest person in the room, have incredible faith or give to the poor--if it is done without love IT DOESN'T MATTER. 

I'm over here trying to do it all, be super single woman, but I think I've forgotten love. Paul goes on to say that love is not rude, it doesn't envy, and it is not self seeking. Rather, love is patient and kind. It keeps no records of wrong, and delights in the truth. Love is the only thing that will last in the end. 

In the busy of trying to get it all done, sometimes I forget that there are people on the other side of my demands. That should affect the way I behave, shouldn't it? 
Around us we see others use people as step stools to their own greatness, not worrying about the people they hurt in the process. But if we are kind, doesn't that make us doormats? Meek and submissive? 

Maybe? Is that always such a bad thing? Like I've said before, I don't have all the answers. But I was reminded that even if I have everything in order, all parts of my life (including my faith) in order but don't have love, it doesn't matter. Living without love seems to be a waste, then. And who wants to live a wasted life? 

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:13

Friday, July 29, 2016

Times of Refreshing

Good gracious. Can ya'll believe this heat wave? I've been saying special thank you prayers for the air conditioners at work and in my car.

Believe it or not, even in this heat, I've picked up my knitting needles early. All of a sudden, the thought of waiting until fall to start crafting was too much to handle. I finished 1.5 hats in the last month or so. They are so easy to work up and finish, so it's a real boost to my crafting confidence. (The fact that I'm making them for a ministry at church also helps. It is difficult for me to get involved in church things because of my schedule, so being able to help out this way is very refreshing.)

I'm also tantalizingly close to finishing my first sweater. When I started the project, I had every intention and hope to finish it in the winter months. However, obviously this is now July and I'm still not finished. I will confess, the smaller the ball of yarn gets, the more nervous I become. Will I have enough? With any luck, I can finish before the cooler weather gets here. Possibly my first and last sweater, but never say die.

Last weekend, I was able to take a little time off and join my family for vacation. It has been at least five years since I was able to join them at our usual vacation spot. I forgot how peaceful it was. I took my camera along with every intention of taking a long walk and lots of pictures. Instead, I'm sharing two shots with you and they were taken by my three year old niece. I was just fooling around, taking a few pictures of her brother trying to steal bacon from my dad's breakfast plate (which was the cutest thing in the world, by the way). She wanted to try and so I showed her what to do. She took one of me and my mom and one of my dad. Of course, she insisted on seeing them right away. The glories of digital cameras. I'm not thrilled with how I look, but my precious, precocious, darling girl took them and well, I'm pretty impressed with her.

The vacation didn't last too long (for me anyway) and it was back to work the next day. However, due to lack of cream for my coffee and ready food in my fridge, I found myself up very early on Tuesday morning, armed with a cup of black coffee, heading to the grocery store. I went to my parent's house to do a few things for them and then sat down with my coffee on the back porch and pretended I was on vacation still. I sat on the of the porch, with a few bright rays of sunshine warning my feet. For almost a moment, I forgot I had to go to work in a few hours time. It was wonderful.

I try to capture that feeling on my dinner breaks at work now. I grab my food and bag (with either my book, my bible or my knitting) and trek across campus to a brick patio that tends to be pretty abandoned this time of year. There's a small fountain that helps block out some of the extra noise. It feels like work sometimes, to get everything ready and then move it all and then move it all back when my hour is up, but I tell myself that it's like a mini vacation -- from work, from my day, whatever I might need. And usually, that time away from the desk is exactly what I need.

I will confess that the running has taken a bit of a back burner. Of course I'm blaming the heat. It couldn't be at all that I hate running or sweating. Ahem. Anyway. With any luck, the heat will back off and I'll be back at it soon. (Though, if the heat wants to stay, that's okay too.)

It's Friday so that means my day is packed with both refreshing and non-refreshing things. It's the day I try to run all my important errands (grocery store, library, things I've been meaning to do for a long time but just haven't been able to find the time...) and then take care of boring things (laundry, cooking, dishes, general cleaning...). Friday is my one night for sure free through the week so I try to pack it full of friends and relaxing. Which sometimes makes the day feel long and exhausting, but you know,  in the best possible way.