Thursday, August 31, 2006

Ordinary under His wing

I love you all my blogger friends - seen and unseen. You are in my morning prayers. You are scheduled for Sunday and one other morning of the week. I am always so encouraged when I haven't found time to cruise other blogs and I come back to write a little more in my journal here on line and I see faithful people, who are more faithful than I am to them and their blogs, and it is always a wonderful blessing. I remember the feeling when the blog was brand new and I had no visitors, and then one day Dana ("Sweeter than ever") came to visit and that was so cool.

My other blog - the one about diet and exercise, I'd encourage you to cruise over there for the latest entry because it meaningful to me in many ways, particularly about the faithfulness of God.

I feel like a woman singularly rowing across the Atlantic Ocean in a small row boat. I am not alone however, nor do I really feel alone, except sometimes. I'm alone in the boat, but there are helicopters above and swimmers next to me and birds in the air and dolphins jumping for glee. There is a big ship to the left and another up ahead. But I row and row and row and feel all alone sometimes, just until I look around and see a lot of supporters supporting me.

I do feel like I am on a mission. I do feel that it is important to number my days. The Bible says there is a book of remembrance (Malachi and Psalm) and I hope that God is getting everything down in His book and I want it to be good.

I feel that God has a course marked out for me, a race. I want to finish my course. I feel that I influence a lot of people around me but in a very, very subtle way, kind of like a food group (what made me think of a food analogy?) that nobody thinks about unless it were to be gone. But this food group isn't gone, so no one really thinks about it, that much, it terms of the influence.

I have a whole lot of extended relatives, none of whom know the Lord (except my grandma but she is kind of confused in her rudimentary faith) and I think that me and my family are on display for them to see. To see how Christ works in a family. To see how Christ works when one really believes. I feel that God blesses all of the people that I pray for.

I row and I row and I row and sometimes I do not know what else to do. Sometimes I can't get my mind to shut off. Well, actually, except when I fall asleep, I don't think my mind does shut off. But sometimes I think that other people's minds do shut off, or at least slow down, but mine doesn’t so much. My mood remains stable and calm, however, and thankfully, I am not mentally ill, unlike my patients.

I go. I mark out what I do and when I do it. I pray about as much as I can think of because I know that God marks out a course for us and He guides the steps of the righteous.

Okay. I guess that is enough for the spiritual update. .

There are a number of specific things that are happening in my life which are:

My hospital work as a psychiatrist is taking on greater importance as my children are growing up and as God is pushing me through that WIDE OPEN door that He has sprung WIDE OPEN for me. In a few weeks I will go to a program to learn ECT - shock treatments for patients. The Clinical Trials program in my hospital is slowly building. Our outpatient program is busy. As far as my practice outside of the hospital, I do forensic type evaluations and that is busy. I am expanding to see youth offenders in my private office because I have a heart for these broken people who could break me. But God protects and I don't have any false hopes of actually changing anyone.

Marriage is building. We just celebrated 23 years and my husband's card to me and mine to him were really sweet. We exchanged perfumes. There is a depth of love there from having survived the war together. We have hopes and dreams and meet every week to discuss them in our business meeting. Sometimes it feels like he speaks French and I speak Latin and we communicate by sign language that no one understands. I see a mess before me and ahead a fanciful dream that I have and he shares and step by baby step we move forward as God is laying down a plan. “Step here.”

My kids are being sent out as little reluctant missionaries for God. They want to go to their little Christian prep school and say their little Christian prayers when it is convenient and God wants to send them to Africa, so to speak. Everything is so comfortable for them with Mom and Dad who tends (tends?) to spoil them and coddle their every whim. Being comfortable and a normal can-be-lazy teen is a very dangerous place to be. Apathy runs through our house, our neighborhood and our nation. I pray for them and where God wants them to go and how He wants me not to be afraid or to stand in the way for what He is going to do in their lives. I am too afraid not to follow each thing that I feel that God is telling me to do in their lives. They are thriving. They are flailing. They are lifted up when they fall. God will work mightily in their lives. They all know Him. He has their hand on each one of them. My husband is trusting God for each of their lives. He is growing in faith bit by bit.

“My” Bible Study is set to begin September 11, 2006. Please pray that the right people would come, that everything would go well and God would meet us. I hope there is 6 - 8 women besides myself, and they are the right women God would choose and that they would do their homework and come each week and be faithful in that. And God would open up the time of 7-9 PM each Monday for ten weeks and bless us with the company of Himself and we would worship Him and see Him in our fellowship and in our individual prayer and study times before Him each week!

Meanwhile, I think that God is leading me to do a two year program to get an MBA degree (beginning Sept 2007) and develop more into a leader at work and in the healthcare industry. I want to do that too and am simply moving ahead because all lights say “GO!” so who am I too argue? I don’t want to be like Moses (“But I don’t know how to speak.) I want to be like Hannah (“Give me a son and I will dedicate him to You.”) The weakest part of who I am God is choosing to become strong in Him so that HE can be strong in me and do something for Himself. I want to obey and abide in that but I feel scared. But also really excited.

I am also exercising, but getting tired of it. However, it is truly a blessing to be able to exercise. I am not crippled or lame. Glory to God.

Blessings to you. Hope there was something in this for those who stuck it though to actually read it.

I love you!

Andrea - Ordinary under His wing -

Remember, we are sheep - not burden bearing animals. Do not carry that weight. Take Jesus' yoke upon you, for His yoke is easy and His labor is light and you will find rest for your souls. Don't go on in your own strength! Know the power of the risen Christ. Be found in Him, not having a righteousness of your own that comes form "the law" (doing things out of your own strength), but be found in Christ - casting all of your cares upon Him and trusting Him to carry you. Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord God, the One who does not slumber or sleep, that He is FOR YOU! He is not against you! There is no, that's right NO CONDEMNATION for those who are in Christ Jesus! So trust in Him and give up your own life. Jump in - the water is fine! And out of your being will come rivers of living water - the Holy Spirit in you!

posted by An Ordinary Christian | 9:49 AM | 9 comments

Saturday, August 26, 2006

I haven't had opportunity

It is 4:50 AM and I am not scheduled to get up until 5:00 AM, but I couldn't not stand being away from y'all any longer!

I used to be able to fill in the gaps during the times that I was not able to get in on my big computer, by using my "blackberry" style phone to log in while I was on the go. However, the blogger people changed something and I'm not able to get in without a "Google" account. I'll try again later when I am in my spin class.

Let me just say that I have been fine and all is well.

My friend that I've known since childhood is coming over today and we are going rafting. Before that I am going to pray and read the Bible, go to the hospital to see two patients, go to my spin/bike class, shower. She should be over at 9:45. I sure hope that she doesn't mind when I go to bed by 8:30 PM!

Life is really different when one applies herself to a fairly intense level of personal Bible study and prayer. There is so much that I wish I had opportunity to talk about, but I have to go now. I am hoping for an opportunity for an hour or two to write and communicate. Love to you. Andrea

posted by An Ordinary Christian | 4:56 AM | 5 comments

Saturday, August 12, 2006

"Do you ever feel you are on a mission from God?"

Plod, plod, push. Life is hard. But I will press on. Who can hold back a person with a vision? Who can hold back a person who believes that she is possessed with a purpose higher and more significant than merely her own sights? Who can hold back the enthusiasm of one who believes that God is continuing to bring everything together for her good? Who can thwart a woman who thinks she hears God tell her that He is with her? That she can run for Him? That she can know Him? That she can work for an eternal purpose?

Yet, life is hard. The irritating fly keeps pestering. Why does he keep bothering me? People criticize. People don't share your vision. People test your mettle. People want to see what you are made of. People tend to hate your God and love their sin and feel threatened, so I keep things a bit undercover - never-to-be-threatening, so I can keep on my mission. My mission from God. God has called me to be a light in a dark place, so I am. I try to shine in the way He has called me. We all have a calling. Listen to Him for yours.

posted by An Ordinary Christian | 7:39 AM | 9 comments

Friday, August 04, 2006

On Becoming a Woman

I used to want to write a book. I have written two half-books, or nearly half. Anyway, the first half-book I wrote is called, "Heart of the Lioness." The name is derived, well, I don't feel like getting into all that because I woke up at 3:30 this morning and couldn't fall back to sleep and I was scheduled to get up at 5:00, which I did, but now I am sleepy.

The story behind the name, "Heart of the Lioness" is a great one, actually. But you can kind of figure out a little bit what it means, just by the name and by knowing what the book is about. I mean half-book.

The book is about being a woman - a Proverbs 31 woman, from the Bible. Okay! I'll tell you more about the name. The first line of Proverbs 31:10 talks about a capable wife. But various versions translate the word, "capable" into "excellent," "noble," "virtous," and goofy words like that. Everywhere else in the Bible that where at same word is used, (except when describing Ruth) words like, "valiant," and "mighty" are used instead.

I found a definition of that Hebrew word right in the Bible, from around the same period of time when Proverbs was written. In the book of Samuel the description of "valiant" was elaborated upon. In that context, it spoke of one being "valiant" as who having a "heart like a lion," or one being "like a bear robbed of her cubs." Well, that is what an excellent wife is like.

Ten years ago when I uncovered that meaning of an "excellent" wife (or, "valiant,") it was thrilling and validating for me, because that is the personality trait that I have always wanted and tried to assume. I want to be valiant for God, for my household, my family, my husband, for pursuing after righteousness and Christ.

However, there is another side to being a woman. That is to be a receiver, to be protected, to be provided for and to be loved. Those are qualities that God decided that I needed to learn, so He has been on a mission to teach me some of those womanly traits, whether I felt like I needed to learn them or not.

Earlier today, as well as a few days ago, a funny thing happened. I remembered how I felt when I was falling in love with my husband, and like when I had that airy (or is it air-head), floaty feeling. I didn't merely "remember" how I felt, I like, felt it. For a second or two.

It was like when you smell a flower that you hadn't smelled since you were a kid, and suddenly there you were, in your mind running past the neighbor's house with that bush that smelled that same way a whole lot of years ago.

So too, I was carried back when I unexpectedly felt those flutters of first love again as I was just sitting there thinking about him. "Anyway, but I love him" I caught myself saying as I overlooked something I was ticked off about and there it came. A flush of that gooey lovie-dovie feeling in a real old-fashioned way.

It seems that all these years all I have been trying to do is contain the rage - my rage that is. From time to time while going about life, my husband would think sometimes that I was angry and I wasn't. But really I was, somewhere deep inside. Simmering. Well, it was more like a blazing furnace far, but not so far away.

The fire was with the little wounded girl. The one still there and pissed off as all get-out that you did not and do not rescue her - and YOU COULD IF YOU WERE JUST THE PERFECT HUSBAND AND YOU KNOW THAT YOU COULD BE IF YOU ONLY TRIED BUT YOU DON'T TRY BECAUSE YOU ONLY CARE ABOUT YOURSELF! What good are you anyway? Yeah, that rage.

And so instead of fuming, I'd smile, serve the food and think and pray to myself, "Love must be sincere," and I'd feel God's love flow through me. And so it went on for a whole lot of years, and goes on.

It goes on because of the anxiety and fear which is the gasoline stirring the flames. And you would be anxious too. It is normal for the wounded little girl to be afraid because she had no protector and because of what was stolen. And who was looking out for her now? Was her husband there? How about Superman? Spiderman swinging down from a tall building? A mind-reader perhaps? How about a perfect human being. No, I would have settled for a perfect husband but he never came home nor left in the morning for work. My husband came home instead. He went off to work instead. A regular sort of guy. And I got used to that. Until I felt the feeling, and had the memory and realized that he has attributes that I can receive and enjoy.

I guess I forgot about the fluffy kind of airy feeling that makes you overlook in the first place - overlook all those "little" red flags blowing in the breeze like gigantic "GOING OUT OF BUSINESS" signs waving in the air that are visible two miles down the freeway road. Twenty years later and its like, "Hugh? How could I not see that?"

"Smile Andrea, smile," I said to myself and day after day after year after year the calendar pages rolled away like in movie film that marks off time for the audience. I did things to make it better. I prayed a whole lot. I went on. I endured. I just felt afraid anyway, and now as I looked back over these 23 years together, nothing really bad happened. (Oh, but part of me says, "it could have been a whole lot better and look at the problems you still have now.) God has been so good to us and we are so thankful, so blessed, so rich.

A turning point for me was going on the Alaskan cruise in June. I was so glad that my husband thought that the cruise was fun and that he loved looking out into the Pacific Ocean. I liked it that there was peace and quiet and time to get away and hide into a little room and get all sorts of stuff done. I liked it that there was plenty of things my husband could do about the ship with all of the continuous activites. And no cooking or cleaning! Good food and an exercise gym with work-out classes and a salon/spa!

"Wonderful!" I said to myself and also to him (that is the order of things you know - what I think and want for my own interests and how he lines up to my perspective of the way I want anything that I may want at that moment). Since he liked looking out into the Pacific Ocean, then he can look at it for three and a half months when he takes me on an around-the-world cruise sometime before I die. 2014 is the anticipated - hoped for - year.

Then it hit me. I would only want to go on the cruise with him. I wouldn't want to go alone. I wouldn't want to go with somebody else (unless it was him and also another couple, for example). Humm. I only wanted to go with him.

I realized that I liked his companionship. I liked his companionship. I liked being with him. I'd rather spend time with him. Oh yeah, that is why I used to like him, because I enjoy his company. I'd rather be with him.

It is sometimes easy to forget that I enjoy his companionship for like, all the years between diapers and grown children. Enjoying his company was not actually much of a priority for A LONG TIME.

I still have to schedule my "fun time" with my husband. Seriously, I'm not that much fun. I'm intense and I enjoy that instead. I'm like President Bush, except I only think that I am running the free world. I'm getting into exercising because I found out that it is something I can sort of get intense at. I am trying to become the "ideal" body shape and it sort of pisses me off that it is really a difficult thing to do, but I haven't given up and am getting pretty close. I am frustrated that I consume NutraSweet because I see it as a weakness. "Why can't I be satisfied with pure, healthy spring water (alone) instead?" I am thrilled about the possibility about joining an MBA program for health care executives. WOW! That would be SO COOL! It would be such an intense RUSH to hang out all weekend and take marathon classes one weekend per month. Intense. Got it?

My husband likes it that I'm intense. He likes listening to me at least half of the time, as long as I am not nagging. If I'm talking about one of my planned exploits he has a little boyish grin on his face, as he listens to me with one ear and follows the TV game with the other. I asked him what he thinks about the MBA program, and he thinks that if I want to do it then I can and should. If I want to. He is very relaxed.

I realized recently, that he knows how to bring out the best of me because he is wonderfully encouraging in a quiet and completely accepting way. He is not personally motivated like I am. He enjoys socializing and being spontaneous.

As a grown woman of 44 years that has been married almost 23 years, I realized some things that I have put into order in my mind. Here is the list:

-God is Individually and fully responsible for providing for all of my needs. It is the Father's responsibility to provide for the needs of the children.

I had other stuff written here. But nothing else seemed to matter.

God took care of me years ago when I thought that I had no protector, when the anxiety and the rage came, but God was there because He ultimately did protect me and perserve me and He is making me whole. Additionally, He has woven into my personality attributes that I would not otherwise have. Presently, He is making me whole. He is working everything together for good, because I love God and I am called according to His purpose.

One of the things that He has given me that I wouldn't have otherwise is the ability to know the pain of God, to sympathize with other's pain and to know the pain that God feels over His people. I may not fully know the pain of God, but I can enter into the fellowship of His sufferings and that place is a blessing, believe it or not (Phil 3:7 - 3:14).

"Thank you Father for helping me to enjoy my husband and for teaching me to become a woman in Christ. Thank you for giving me a little hope today that worries about things that I have had for all the years that I've been married, may actually change, because You are the God of hope. Thank You that You have sustained us and I can say like Samuel, 'Thus far the hold has helped us.'" Help me become the woman You made. Help me to enjoy intensity but help me reflect the grace of vulnerability and beauty of resting quietly and calmly in someone else's arms in trust. Lord, You know there are disappointments that I have, but help me to show mercy and not blame. Thank you that You are the God of romantic love. Renew our love as we are approaching our 23rd anniversary this month. Thank You that You bring opposites together so they can wear off on each other a little bit. Show my husband Who You are through me, but may that be only a secondary way of learning for him, because He would seek You for Himself. Reveal Your hope to him, that You are the God of all hope. Show him how he can be all that You meant for him to be, still at this time in his life. Restore the years the locusts stole. Glorify Yourself through our love, through our lives, for Jesus' sake, Amen!"

posted by An Ordinary Christian | 7:33 PM | 4 comments