Thursday, January 25, 2007

Run Girl, Run

There is a song, "My Redeemer Lives," that begins with phrases such as "Who spun the planets into orbit?" and asks other similar questions and ends with the singer's proclamation that she knows that her Redeemer lives.

There is a story in the Bible when Peter had been up all night trying to get a catch of fish but caught nothing. Jesus, the "man" trained in carpentry told Peter to put down his net for a catch of fish. Peter, the trained fisherman, said that he had been up all night and that the fish are just not biting, "but at your bidding, I will let down the net." Because the Son of God asked, he would humble himself and let down the net. There was such a catch of fish that the nets nearly broke, the boat nearly sank. Peter was amazed. He fell down like a dead man and exclaimed, "Go away from me, for I am a sinful man!"

I am a worker/achiever in this world. I achieve in the area of well-done work in the work place and achieving when it comes to some level of book learning. I am not a scientist or a genius. I am not a musician achiever. I am not an athletic achiever. I am not a singer, an evangelist, a minister to the elderly or to those stuck in shelters. I am (not yet) a mother to adopted children but I have four wonderful and amazing children who are natural achievers in this world also.

When I was a brand new babe in Christ, when I was 21 years old, the Lord found me and saved me at a time when I desired to be a doctor. I whole-heartedly gave that desire to God. Then He enabled me to become a doctor and has shown me over the years in many times and places that He is the One in charge of this area of my life, and He has called me to be a doctor and a psychiatrist.

Over the years, more than twenty, the Lord has carried me on a journey. It is the journey called, "This, I have called you to do."

When I was a home-schooling mother, I continued to do some doctoring on the side, but not very much. I guess a part of me thought that I was holier because I was not working that much. Don't get me wrong, in that time and place, that was the right and best thing for me to do that God allowed me to do and it was wonderful and I am so happy for it and I would do it again in an absolute second if the Lord would allow me to. But He hasn't allowed me to. It was for that time, not this time, and that is fine. No, perhaps better, that that is not for now.

He has said, "Let down your net for a catch."

To which I have replied (not literally, this is a figurative conversation), "I have tried to do my very best works for You Lord, and You are holy, and I don't think that if I "just" work as a psychiatrist that You will be pleased or honored in that. I think that You would be more glorified if I cooked more for my family, and I am sorry that I don't, I think. I think that You would be more glorified if I adopted a child and helped to raise him on my own, even giving up my work if necessary. Besides, in what way would You, a holy God of Gods, be glorified or ministered to if I just work well in a psychiatric hospital? No God. I will not serve You that way, because that is not the kind of God You are."

(And Peter said when God said to him in the vision to take of the creeping and crawling things to eat, "far be it from me to eat! I never eat anything unclean," and God replied not to call unclean what He has called clean.)

And over the mountains and through the sea, His river runs with love for me (line from a song) and God has prompted me to work harder and more involved at the psychiatric hospital, getting another degree to be a bigger and better leader, it would seem. And it came to a point in time that God said, figuratively, to let down my net for a catch.

“I have labored as hard as I know to serve You and I have not caught spiritual fish. I have not entered in to the usefulness that You have created me for. But because You are God, and know best, because You bid me so, I will let down my net. I will work hard at the hospital, I will do what comes just natural to me, I will begin the process of getting the MBA at what I believe to be Your leading. To me, it seems an odd way to serve You. But because You tell me, I will do it.”

So I let down the net in obedience. I run the race that is marked out in advance before me. I let the rivers of living water flow out of my inner most being. I look at the cross and run. I run and run and run and find that I was created to run and God created me to run. He did not create me to excel in all areas, just certain areas. Like the people that He created that were to use specific skill and talent to create the wood architecture and carvings in the Temple; they were created to do that. That was for them to do, that wood project. They were not to be a Levite and carry the ark on poles or to sacrifice the rams. They were not to be a Moses and lead the people. They were made to perform a skill and performing that skill is (one reason) why they were made. They would not have been happier doing other things, even if they were trying to please God doing other things because there didn’t seem to be that much holiness sitting around and working on wood projects all day.

As I was praying this morning with my friend Marilyn, I brought to God my inner turmoil within myself of the conflict that had been a force but now is more like a residue, and asked that God remove it as I prayed to Him about my work and my inner conflict that I was not serving Him if I am a successful doctor and leader in this world. How I know now that it is not true that if I am a successful doctor that I am not serving Him. I know it is true that God is glorified in my being a successful doctor and this is a race that He has marked out before me, whether or not anyone understands or accepts it that I am worshipping God in this fashion.

So I prayed to Him with these ideas in mind and I found myself speaking for Him and I said to myself in the prayer, “You said that, ‘I created you to run and why do you find it hard to believe that I created you to run and you can just run,?” and I stopped in mid-sentence and tears rolled down my face. I felt ashamed in my vulnerability and thought if I breathed I would gasp so I sat there. My friend went on and prayed about something else, not realizing the moment that was occurring between me and my Lord. I pulled the phone away from my ear because I didn’t want the distraction away to take me away from that which my Redeemer was doing to me in my life right then. I could hear her pray about a woman at church with great needs and I silently lifted those up to the Lord without hearing all of the details, all the while I was trying to hang on to the reality of what just is transpiring between me and God.

That I can run. That I was made to run. That I have skills and a desire to run. That running IS glorifying God because He wants me to run, made me to run, told me to run. And running for me is not trying to do stuff for God. Not trying to be holy. Not trying to do a certain pre-prescribed thing but to rest in His pleasure. For me it is to let myself be a great and knowledgeable doctor and leader at the hospital and beyond the hospital without apologies, without doubt or “I’m sorry’s” to no one in particular. It isn’t saying in gesture or attitude, “I’m sorry that I am successful.” It is just being successful even all the while knowing and continue to hold the position and the reality that being successful in the world isn’t the most important thing – in fact it is unimportant. Doing what God created me to do is important. Running His race for me without distraction from the world. It is walking with the knowledge that “This is who I am.”

“By the grace of God I am who I am, and His grace to me was not without effect, no I labored harder that all the other apostles, yet not I but the grace of God in me (Paul in 1 Corinthians).”

posted by An Ordinary Christian | 8:09 AM | 11 comments

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Up to date

Today I will develop a blog based upon the comments that I have received in my last blog. Loved the feedback, by the way.

After I wrote that blog that day, when I wrote that blog that is (see last blog), I asked my husband if he thought that I was intense. I told him what Pat the hairdresser said and a bit about how the entire question developed. He said the same thing that many of you said on the comments section of the last blog. That is, namely, that Pat did not understand the definition of the word “intense.” My husband said that I was intense, but that did not imply that I was impatient or not easy going. So y’all are right. About everything – poll the audience, you know? And you’re right. I am intense and that does not imply that I am impatient or rude.

That night when I was asking my husband about this, my thoughts were racing and I was feeling all jumpy and saying to myself, “you’re intense, you know that you are. That is why you are lying here on this bed with your husband (that’s where I was at the time) and you’re mind is racing and you are feeling all jumpy.” And that was that and life moved on. My mind does not race every night, just sometimes.

How did I get my hair done? The way that I always get it done. Let me back up. In the early 1990’s I would just get my hair cut at, like, Supercuts. Then when I was pregnant with my third child I noticed that my hair was changing from its regular blond color to like a brown, a dirty brownish blaa. So I asked my girlfriend about getting my hair highlighted and she recommended a hair place. So then I started to get my hair highlighted/streaked. Overtime, however, pretty much the entire hair was “getting work done,” that is, falling under the influence of the hairdresser’s direct influence of one sort of dye or another.

Over the years the hair situation developed such that I go to a new hairdresser because the original place was like an hour from my home, and additionally, now I get my hair “weaved” about every 9 weeks and get my roots done every 3 weeks. I get my hair weaved with three different colors – a light brown, a blond and a lighter blond. My roots are done in the neutral beige paint (no, just a blond color). I have the streaks done thinly, rather than wide bands of hair that are streaked, so to look more natural. I do everything, including getting the roots done every three weeks with the end in mind of being more “natural.” I get the roots done every three weeks because over the past several years my hair has become more and more gray.

I do talk abut getting my hair dyed, from time to time as the subject comes up. For example, my relatives were over and we were talking about how my brother-in-law was getting quite gray. I said, “I don’t have a gray hair on my head – they’re all dyed!”

So, who is watching American Idol? I don’t watch regular TV but our family has been watching American Idol for several years and really enjoy it. I also watch a show by Kay Arthur called, “Precepts for Life,” which I would highly recommend.

Other odds and ends – the past week I have been focused on getting out about 500 flyers inviting others to a Women’s Bible Study. My friend and I invited people in our neighborhood. I hope that others come. I am surprised that others don’t really seem that invested in studying the Bible. The Bible Study will be in my home and starts next Monday night. We will be studying Precepts II Samuel. If any of you want to study with us from afar, we can figure out how to make it happen!

You know what is the hard part about being an intense 44 year old woman? My husband is not. He is laid back. That is a good thing, because how could a family function with two of us with the same personality? However, being married for 23 years with someone who is not intense has helped to actually give me patience (that, and having four children), but it isn’t easy, but what marriage is? (But it certainly is not boring!)

Today I don’t feel intense. I guess I got my fill at work and at home. There are things I am worrying about and struggling with but I keep try to look up to God and remember that the work of being a Christian is to believe and that is not always easy. Sometimes it is hard to trust and wait on God. I am learning a lot in my morning Bible Study with the Lord. Remember, “For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory (Deuteronomy 20:4).

posted by An Ordinary Christian | 6:48 PM | 8 comments

Monday, January 08, 2007

Why my reaction?

Question to readers: Please read the last two posts, along with comments and tell me your opinion regarding this question: "Why the intensity of my reaction to the suggestion of my being intense?" If you have the time to complete this assignment, I'd be interested in your views.

I'm at my hair dressers now. I'll ask her a related question. "Do you think I am an intense person?"

"No. Why did someone tell you that? No, you're pretty easy going and you have a pretty good sense of humor. Pretty motivated to get done what you've got to get done, but I wouldn't say intense, more easy going."

"Thank you."

"No, I have a couple of clients who are intense and you're not like that. It seems like you have a lot of patience too. My intense clients don't - no patience at all."

"Thanks Pat."

I feel better now.

posted by An Ordinary Christian | 3:10 PM | 11 comments

Sunday, January 07, 2007

INTENSE? Why yes, thank you

Me, INTENSE????? Why yes, I am. I PRAISE GOD too! This morning I loved in church when we sang (as I love in church when we sing this and I give my whole self to God as I exclaim out) "Reign in me, over all my dreams, You are the Lord of all I am, so won't You reign in me again?" “Reign in Your power, in my darkest hour…”

I also LOVE the song, "Enough" (not sure if that is the name of the song) that sings about how God is enough for all that I am and that He meets all the needs and cravings that I have and that He alone is enough for all that is in me.

Do I sit back and praise God? Well, I think so....but what does that have to do with being intense? I sit up and praise God more than sit back and praise Him, but does it matter if I sit up or sit back?

“By the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace to me was not without effect, no I labored more than all the other apostles, yet not I but the grace of God in me.” (Paul)

Paul was intense. I don’t get extra bonus points for being intense, because my sufficiency is found in Christ alone and I can do nothing of myself of any good, so being intense or not being intense is not really relevant, only a new creature.

Yes, I am intense. God made me special for Himself. I have three children with ADHD and we are an intense family. We are a special family. UNIQUE. It is fantastic to be intense because it is fun. Just imagine all of the heightened emotions I get to experience, all without anxiety (is the goal, because we are NOT to be anxious for anything).

Okay, back to the subject at hand.....

(I'm hurrying to get to do my exercise DVD before I get to bed by about 8:30 (not going to make that time guideline, but will shoot for slightly later) so I can get up at 5:00 AM and read my Bible and praise God while I pray before getting the kids off to school at 7 AM.) I love to sleep and usually crash exhausted and that is wonderful to feel like I have made a lot of every opportunity (not just by being active but meeting every opportunity is a spiritual quest and spiritual quests require energy and focus and is draining).

Oh, the inspiration for the INTENSE focus and theme on this here blog is from my wonderful and fantastic comments that I was blessed to read from y'all. I have the best blog buddies.

Okay, subject at hand. Well, I have two subjects that I want to address actually.

First, I got accepted into the MBA program for health care and so now I have something FUN for me to do while I become a hot-shot doctor. Not that I want to necessarily be a hot-shot doctor. I would rather go a on a cruise around the world for 4 months and write a book, or go to church and be a "professional minister" type person, but God has not called me to do that. If God has called you to do either of those things, then I am a little envious of you. God, appears to have called me to be this doctor who does her job well, so I have been focused on doing my job well. And it has been FUN and blessed.

Speaking of just relaxing and sitting back and praising the LORD, ("Oh, were we just talking about that? I don't recall....”) sometimes I look at little children while they sit there quietly looking into space, such at a doctor's appointment or in a restaurant and it fascinates me how they can sit there and be so still and motionless. My children were the type of kids who could not be still at all...some vivid examples are flooding my memories and filling my mind with accompanying associated emotions, but I won’t follow that tangent right now. But it feeds back to the THEME of being INTENSE. It kind of runs in the genes, praise God. He made me just right for Himself. Just like He made my son just right for Himself, the most hyperactive (and sweet) kid you would ever meet in your life. He is so hyperactive that he kicks the top mattress off his bed and winds upside down, has full length sentences and conversations in his sleep and keeps sleeping. He is hyper even in his sleep. Our children are so hyperactive, that two of them are going to boarding school, because three teenagers in this house (will become four) is impossible because WE ARE ALL SO INTENSE. But my kids are probably going to be famous - heck they are in their schools already! They are brilliant.

Me, Defensive? YES. It took me a lot of years to understand and accept myself, especially since I was adopted and no one understood me and thought I was ... well, had problems. Which I did. Oh well. Praise God. He works everything in my life together for good!!

Back to the subject as hand ("what subject at hand?") (BTW, this blog is so fun, so do not be offended or worried that I am offended that I went off on this theme of INTENSITY, thanks.)

The second thing I wanted to comment, or elaborate on (in addition to the MBA news) is the way I think that the LORD encouraged me through His word yesterday! It was GREAT!!! It makes trials WORTH IT BECAUSE I can listen for and hear His voice more and the seed goes down deeper and more of a righteous crop will spring forth for the glory and praise of Jesus who receives and is worthy of all glory!

I have had a really hard couple of months (20 years!). Many days lately I have asked God to deeply encourage me because I needed Him to encourage me. Yesterday and the day before was similar and asked God to really encourage me. I was sitting there in my car feeling really broken and also sold out to the Lord and asked God to please show me encouragement in His word.

I opened to Zechariah chapter 8 and it talked about how God was going to save His people. It talked about the fact that He just needed them to work with strong hands and to realize that He was going to bring them into a time that was different than before, different from the times of fasting. He decided that He is going to bring them into a time of cheerful and joyful blessing, so much so that the heathen to which they had been a curse, that they would be a blessing to them instead, and many people from various nations would follow them because they could see the joy that the Lord was bringing to them.

You may think I am crazy, but I think that the Lord gave me that passage. He wants me to be encouraged and to work with strong hands and to look up, that things were going to get better. A whole lot better. A time when the plant grows up and when the rains give their dew, etc. That is exactly what I needed to hear, because I wanted to work with strong hands, I wanted to look up, I wanted to move forward.

Oh, one more thing that I want to share with you about news. (This is specific item news number three for anyone keeping track (not counting the digressions and extraneous comments about INTENSITY.) My husband may have this new international opportunity that he is really excited about and he planning on applying for. Previously, the Lord has allowed him to become discouraged to humble him, I think. Anyway, I pray that the Lord would sustain his encouragement in the application of this new opportunity and that it would bear much fruit!

Normally I wouldn't want my husband to go on this international opportunity with a secular organization because I would be worried about his falling into sin, or forgetting about me, or whatever. However, in recently weeks I have come to realize that I need to give up my husband to "the people" of the Lord's leading because it is clear to me, it seems to me, that he is gifted to be amongst people as a coach and guide because he is gifted that way and I need to release him to what God wants to do in his life, to fulfill his potential, in his "old age." Also, my husband is walking with the Lord now, and these days are not like days of before. There is a new thing coming.

Oh! A fourth thing! Just the other day I was thinking about how our family doesn’t really have many upcoming trips planned and was a little let-down about that, and then this international potential opportunity has arisen for my husband, and I am going to take two of my kids to a Precepts Ministries Teen conference in Tennessee and I am applying to be a chaperone. Suddenly we are busy and moving around again.

Thanks y'all! I love you! And keep the comments coming! I love them (for a much more BORING time, check out my other blog!

And I hope God brings the bright skies, like, tomorrow (as far as circumstances that constrain me)!

posted by An Ordinary Christian | 7:35 PM | 0 comments

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Valley of Humiliation

Sometimes I get an idea to write something in my blog and I think to myself, "I can't write that. What will people think?" Then I think to myself, "It's anonymous, and only a couple of people know who you are and you need to be true to your writing inclinations and why you wanted the blog in the first place."

Today I was reading in Oswald Chambers "My Utmost for His Highest" about the "Valley of Humiliation" that God takes us to and through in our training. I feel like I am there. I feel like part of the problem of the past several months regarding the trials that my husband and I have been going through really have been partly my fault, although I didn't see it before. I only saw his error - my husband's big fat error and I want him to fix his part and in fact if he did fix his part perfectly, then we wouldn't even have a recognizable problem. That is, except for the fact that God wants to take me through the Valley of Humiliation and God actually wants me to take a hard left - "No, Go That Way!" I hate that when He does that, except I don't hate it because He loves me and it is great to be disciplined by God's mighty hand, for everything He does is best.

For me the Valley of Humiliation is the fact that God wants me, I believe, to be more involved in my job. I hate that. Long ago, I wanted to be a doctor and the Lord let me be a doctor. Let me correct that. Long ago, I thought that it was my idea that I wanted to be a doctor, but it was actually God who planned it long ago that I would be a doctor and He put that desire into my heart. Then I begged and pleaded and He guided and led and I became a doctor.

I wear my doctoring hat around myself like an ornament. It is an attractive piece of jewelry. I don't want to make too much money. I don't want to work too many hours. I don't actually want to become that powerful a doctor, too good at it or too great a leader. I want to be somewhat of a leader, enough of one that I am comfortable with. I don't want to get out of my comfort zone.

I think that God has other ideas for me. I think that He has put in His investment, so to speak, and now He wants what He wants of me. He wants me to be busy and work as what it seems to be like a dog, like a well trained sledding/running dog. "Mush, Mush!" I don't even want to be a big shot (or do I?). But I think that I am going to get accepted into the Medical MBA program. ("So why did you apply for that if you didn't want to do it? Well, I kind-of, sort-of wanted to do it, but not really, but I think God is leading me to do it.")

The Valley of Humiliation comes when I need to work and make more money to actually pay for four children's private education and college preparation stuff, my two week vacation to complete the 50 State venture with my daughter, the trip to Austria for my daughter, the European trip for my other daughter and summer classes to the University this summer for my son. ("Why are you doing those things?" "I think that the Lord has allowed these opportunities for us to do because my husband has led us into these things but I wanted them also.") ("Can you really afford those things?" "We can afford them if I work from like 8:30 to like 5 PM Monday through Friday and sometimes on weekends. My husband is willing and able to fill in with kidly duties, and in fact, me being "tied up" allows and provides for him to be with the children in a very comprehensive way.)

This just seems all so out-of-the-box, atypical that I feel embarrassed and ashamed. I feel like I should be the wife driving the kids around and hanging out with them and not my husband. My husband is in charge of organizing all of our business dealings, which in medicine are complicated and extensive. I think I would be better at that and he would be better at being the doctor.

We have been married 23 and a half years. Long ago, I thought that my husband would be as materially successful as I am, but that has not been the case. He does not have the inclination, nor perhaps the gifts (now that I look at it) that I have. God has truly gifted me in my work. God has truly gifted my husband to be a father and a supporter of all that I am and the children are to be. This is just difficult for me to handle, so much so that I resisted it all of these years. Just been wearing the ornament. Pretty, but it sort of smells. Like stagnant water.

Don't you find (well, I do) that serious pain and problems in the form of difficult trials come when God is trying to alter our thinking and change who we are. This trial probably has changed my husband, and I want him to correct every error that he has. Wishful thinking.

My problem is that I idolize my husband and I want him to meet my impossible emotional needs and he is never going to be able to do that and it is wrong for me to expect that. I want him to be a perfect provider in all ways and he isn't able to do that. God is my Perfect Provider, the All-Sufficient One, the Great I AM.

The Valley of Humiliation is actually being the indentured servant.

By the way, I am comforted by my role model Kay Arthur and others who work very hard as a calling of God. They are working because they want to get something for themselves. They are working because God is using them. Look at the way Paul the Apostle worked.

I think that God wants me to get out there and work in my field of psychiatry (also) because He is doing something in the realm of things that I can not see – in administrations of principalities and powers, in the administration of His running of this world, that is He wants to run like a red thread through this world because He wants to do things that I don’t understand.

I feel like no one really understands me in this specific trial, and it makes me feel ashamed that I have to “come through” as the hero, and yet a part of me wants to be the hero, I know. The bottom line is this:

“The life I live is Christ and to die is gain.”
“I consider everything loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things and consider them but dung….”

posted by An Ordinary Christian | 4:53 PM | 8 comments