Saturday, April 27, 2013

the shaping and the waiting

Do you ever get that odd feeling that God is moving in a huge way, and you just don't understand how or why or what He's doing yet? I've felt like this for about a month now. He's been revealing a lot of little day-to-day changes that need to be made lately, that seem less "important" but are shaping me so much more than I realized.
For instance: I really like hulu and netflix. It's definitely a problem, because at least 5 days a week I spend an hour watching The Office or Bones or something equally addicting. I'm not saying TV or entertainment is bad, I'm saying it's bad when those things take up valuable time that could be spent more effectively. If I'm as serious about God and spreading His Gospel as I say and think I am, shouldn't I be spending that time digging into Him instead of laughing at mildly inappropriate jokes and getting scared out of my wits in the name of murder mystery?
Something is so wrong with this picture.
Aside from His gentle guidance in the "HOW BECCA SPENDS HER TIME" category, there are many other weird little things He's been doing lately.
I recently finished a book titled The Traveler's Gift by Andy Andrews. In this book, the main character is a middle aged father of one daughter and husband to one. He pours himself into his job trying to pursue the 'american dream' and one day finds himself contemplating suicide and purposefully driving off the road into a tree on his way home from work one day. He blacks out (obviously) and wakes up in the presidential quarters of Harry Truman during the closure of World War II. It turns out he's on this journey visiting seven historical figures who all know he is coming to 'visit' them and write him letters of advice and wisdom in advance. The people he meets and lessons he learns are as follows:
{Harry Truman- The buck stops here. I am responsible for my own future and must accept responsibility for ALL my actions. I will not let my history determine my destiny.}
{King Solomon- I will seek wisdom. Wisdom waits to be gathered, and I will seek her out. I will surround myself with positive influences who counsel me well.}
{Colonel Joshua Chamberlain - I am a person of action. When others run away because the odds are against them, I will fight for my cause.}
{Christopher Columbus - I have a decided heart. Other people may think I am crazy, but my heart is set on specific goals and I will continue hoping and being steadfast in my decisions. "Those who are critical of my goals and dreams simply do not understand the higher purpose to which I have been called."}
{Anne Frank- Today I will choose to be happy. Life may not be wonderful, but I can change my outcome by changing my perspective on it.}
{Abraham Lincoln- I will greet this day with a forgiving spirit. God rarely uses a person whose main concern is what others are thinking, therefore I must forgive myself and others so that my energy can be focused on what matters.}
{The angel Gabriel- I will persist without exception. There are too many things that never happen because people give up on attempting or praying or hoping. I will continue attempting and praying and hoping and not give up until I achieve what I am striving for.}

I'm not trying to be overdramatic or facetious when I say this book changed my life, because it did. Ultimately, my thought process has been drastically changed, and there is rarely a moment in any day now when I am NOT thinking about something I read in the book, whether it be one of the lessons or a story from one of the noteworthy figures. God used Mr. Andrews' book to remind me: I AM DIFFERENT FROM THOSE AROUND ME FOR A REASON. I have quirks and talents and strengths and weaknesses and such because somewhere along the line, God is going to use it. I am not your average 20-year-old college girl, consumed with fashion magazines and TV shows and dating around. I'd prefer to listen to classical music, make up words, whisper sonnets under my breath, and learn about other cultures. Sure, that makes me weird, but it is for a very specific reason that God has made me the weirdo that I am. The fact that I've reached this point of realization this early in my life compared to most of the world is a little bit stunning and such a God-thing I can't even begin to wrap my mind around it.
I'm beginning to see that there is something about the way God made ME that is completely unique from the rest of the world. I was not made to be normal or to do and like what every else does and likes.  I was made for a bigger purpose than that. God has a specific, life-changing, world-changing calling for ME and ME ALONE that is waiting to be sought after if I could just get my act together and be serious about my God's whispers of instruction.
I guess I went through all that to say, I am perched on my little tree branch and ready to take flight when He tells me about this huge thing He's doing. I will not sit stagnantly, I will move and work and serve while I wait, but I am seeking His instruction and being re-shaped my His masterful hand as we go.

Friday, April 05, 2013

Days of plenty

The one-month time difference in my last post and this one should tell you a lot about my life lately. As I'm sure I've mentioned before, school is absolutely NUTS this semester. They weren't kidding when they said this music major thing is hard. So here's what's going on: 10-12 hours of piano practice per week (not as much as it should be, but more than ever before, so hey), 18 credit hours, 30+ observation hours in JPSD and other musical places, my normal jobs of coaching and Ambassador-ing, KT chappy stuff, and normal social life things and campus activities. May not sound like a lot.... but it's a LOT. And I'm going to be completely honest, I have done absolutely NOTHING this semester. I would say I don't know how I've made it through so far with so few breakdowns and so little stress, but I do know how: JESUS. I resolved back in January to be intentional with friendships and people, and put school on the back burner. And my faithful God has totally provided for my weakness- it's such a cool example of how His power is made perfect in me. So, somehow, He's carried me through each day (not that it's been easy, there are multitudes of struggles every day, but He provides redemption and power to go on).
ALLLL of that to say: this semester is hard and crazzzyyyy busier than last semester, but worthwhile and growth-inducing. As all the best ones are.
Let me also take a minute to clue you in on how insanely adventurous my semester has been. That is, in comparison my typical MC semester where the most daring thing I do is go to Taco Bell at midnight or stargaze on the Trace at night. This semester, as you probably know if you've read earlier blogs, I went on my first Spontaneous New Orleans Trip (or SNOT, as I like to call them in my head). It was, of course, somewhat scary and rather glorious and the drive back watching the sun rise and listening to hipster music made it worth the lack of sleep.
Since then, I've done a few more thrilling things: drove to the end of HWY 80 and parked there. and got approached by a Sheriff's dept man and asked if we were doing drugs..."NO, WE'RE JUST THREE COLLEGE GIRLS OUT HERE TALKING ABOUT JESUS WORKING IN OUR LIVES, WE PROMISE!" bahahahaha. For real that happened. He seriously thought we were trying to buy dope from a nearby drug house. ridiculous.
Also, for spring break I went on a "camping" trip (and by "camping" I mean staying in my best friend's camper at a camper/trailer resort thingy) with just four college girls and zero "adults". not terribly daring, but the first time I've been on a vacation sort of thing with no adults, if you're not counting London semester excursions. So that was pretty cool.
Finally, my favorite adventures of the semester: The thursday climbing nights. It started two weeks ago when I was in my practice room, trying to be a good student, when a couple friends came in and distracted me (which I accepted warmly. practicing gets old quickly some nights) and invited me to climb onto the roofs of buildings on campus with them. So we headed out around 11 PM and I got back to my room a little after 1 AM. It was super fun, and I had like 8 billion adrenaline rushes from various climbing moments all in that night. Plus the friends I was with are really level-headed and God-loving people so there was nothing sketchy, we were just out seeking adventure and trying to avoid Security discovering us. :) hehe.
Then last night, we met up again and decided to be a little more brazen with our goals this time and climbed in/on some more 'dangerous' buildings- and by that I mean we were more likely to get caught last night than the first time. But we made it out alive, fully in tact, and without being discovered. So I count it as quite a success.
And, finally, the point of this entire blog post (yes, everything so far has just been catching up on major life events): MY DAY TODAY.
Today we had a service day involving all the clubs and tribes- we were all kinda mish-mashed around so I was in a group of 12 people from different tribes and clubs who all went to a nursing home and played Bingo and just talked and visited with the residents. I sat at a table with three golden women: Mrs Mary, Mrs Helen, and Mrs Betty. We played Bingo for a long while, and then finished a nice long game of that and cleared away all the boards and chips and whatnot and sat and talked. We talked about their children, passed-away husbands, grandchildren, previous jobs and places of living, favorite hymns, and why cats are better than dogs.
It made me remember just how much I love old people and their wisdom and old-fashioned sensibilities. Every time I visit a nursing home or assisted living, I'm reminded of how much I value their stories and feel their pain of having loved ones who never visit. I can't help but imagine myself at 92, confined to a wheelchair, with gloriously white hair, shrunken features, shriveled skin, and a failing memory.
It's a beautifully tragic picture.
I would tell people about what I've experienced in life and what's hurt me and Who's healed me and why I love life so much. I would tell people that patience is one of the most important things in life to learn and that an adventure should never be turned down (unless it is illegal... then it should be shrewdly considered before engaging). I would try to pour out just a little portion of the love that has been so comfortingly poured over me from God, through others.
And that is exactly what these ladies did. I heard about how Mrs. Betty's family never visits her and how she prefers diet drinks and wins Bingo a lot. Mrs. Helen told me she was the oldest of 12 kids, 4 of which are still alive; and the story of when she was 40 and her husband was 43 and he died driving his butane delivery truck and how lonely life has been for the 35 years that have followed, but her favorite hymn is Amazing Grace because it reminded her that God was still with her.
And my favorite of them all, Mrs. Mary, told me a LOT about her life. How her granddaughter worked a lot, but had a baby, and she was concerned the baby wouldn't develop well because her mom didn't keep her much. She talked of when she graduated from MC in the 1930's and moved to Indiana to become a schoolteacher and teach typing on manual type writers. Then when schools began to integrate, she was very leery and wasn't sure how it would go over, and the first semester of school she had two little black girls in her class who wanted to decorate her bulletin board, and she let them, and they created the most beautiful construction paper christmas tree, with little matchboxes covered in wrapping paper and glued under the tree as 'gifts' and their room won the best bulletin board design for the Christmas decoration competition. Then she knew that integration was a good thing and black people were just as able as white people to be intelligent and work hard and well at what they did. She said those two girls changed her whole outlook on segregation and integration, and I almost cried. She gave me so much hope for my future (I'm sure it was directly from God) and reminded me how beneficial teaching will be for me, my students, and our country. We also talked about how much she loved the song "In the Garden" (which was my grandmother's favorite) and would sing it every day before school in order to prepare herself for the day and remember that God was in control and would be beside her. She said she used to play piano a lot, and very well, and couldn't remember much and it depressed her. She said she's not sure if she's grateful to have lived to be 92 or if she's sad to have seen so much of life and be confined to a wheelchair now, seeing each day slip by and just living for nothing. "They tell me I'm here for a reason, but I can't seem to find it," she stated plainly.
I almost lost it right then and there.
She was so beautiful and having such a huge impact on me and I couldn't formulate the words for how grateful I was to have met her and the reason she was alive was to continue sharing her wisdom with people like me, who often lose faith and forget that life is beautiful and always will be. I told her that, much less eloquently, and tried to encourage her and convey the depth of my gratitude.
Then I told her about being a music major, and hoping to teach, and my semester in London and how I feel so called to live there forever, and how I didn't have a boyfriend but was just waiting on God, and of course she encouraged me in it all. She said I have a sweet spirit that will be good for teaching, and she hopes I can live in London and fulfill God's will for my life with a noble British man at my side.

Funny how much it means to you when you hear the whispers of your heart being iterated and confirmed by another's voice.
I hope I can always remember and treasure the experience I had today and everything that's gone on this semester. I hope that when I'm 92 I'll be sitting in my wheelchair encouraging college girls to chase their dreams and follow God. I hope I'll be telling them about my plentiful adventures and blessings that occurred throughout college. I hope I'll be reminding them just how much God can and will provide when you need a lot and tell Him a lot.
I hope I'll be cherishing these days of plenty and trusting Him for many more purposeful, plentiful days, even at the ripe old age of 92.

welcome to midnight.

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