Thursday, October 27, 2011

In one word...

I love dinners with my friends back home in Virginia. I love sitting around the table and enjoying a bottle of wine and plates of amazing food. Whenever I’m in town we all catch up for one night at my favorite restaurant and it has become a tradition I look forward to no matter what it is that’s bringing me home. A few weeks ago while we were dining, conversation turned to the guys I had dated in the past. If you ask my friends to sum up every guy I’ve dated in one word they all agree on “worthless”. Ouch. What does this say about my character if the men I’ve chosen to spend my time and energy on are all considered worthless to my friends? It’s not the first time I had heard that… it started in high school, but it’s astounding to me that years down the road I have many new friends that still have that same word in common when describing guys I’ve been interested in… worthless.

This past Sunday I was at Crossover and Pastor Tommy was speaking about Paul’s letters from jail. In Philippians 3:7-8 he tells everyone in Philippi “These things that I once considered valuable, I now consider worthless for Christ. It’s far more than that! I consider everything else worthless because I’m much better off knowing Christ Jesus my Lord! It’s because of him that I think of everything as worthless. I threw it all away in order to gain Christ.”

There it was again! Worthless! But in hearing this it occurred to me that I can’t be so hard on myself. Everything I ever strived for that wasn’t Christ-centered was, in fact, worthless! The money, the fame, the guys… worthless! So I really dove into the Bible and wanted to find out more about what was worthless so I could just avoid it from now on or even just how to pray for wisdom of what is worthless in my father’s eyes. This is what I found:
Turn my eyes away from worthless things. Give me a new life in your ways. –Psalm 119:37
The tongue of a righteous person is pure silver. The hearts of wicked people are worthless. –Proverbs 10:20
A worthless person plots trouble, and his speech is like a burning fire. –Proverbs 16:27  

As if all of this wasn’t enough, I found Job 15:31 – “He shouldn’t trust in worthless things and deceive himself because he will get worthless things in return.” – and it hit me like a brick! All these years I put all my effort into getting things or people that I thought would complete me or make me greater. Christ is the only one who can do that. With every little gift he has given me lately it just adds onto my recognition that everything else is so worthless. My friend, Megan, will be the first to tell you I’m still learning… but it’s all so worth it in the end.

Stop going after worthless worldly things. Just because everyone is saying it’s better for you to have something or be with someone doesn’t mean that’s true. Find the truth in the words written in red. Every job I ever took because it would make me lots of money: Worthless. Every outfit I ever bought to turn somebody’s head: Worthless. Every ambition I ever had that was solely focused on pride and vengeance: Worthless. Every guy I ever dated without seriously considering God’s will for me: Worthless. Knowing that I’m being obedient, walking with my father on a daily basis, and patiently waiting while I rest in faith that all things will work for his glory: Priceless.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

I knew you... I set you apart

            Lately I’ve been feeling overwhelmed. It’s like God gave me this vision but I feel like I’m so ill-equipped to carry it out. What do I know about a nonprofit? What do I know about foster kids? How much could I have really ever learned about construction for only working in the business less than a year?
          I’m not one to usually doubt myself and especially not God, but the last three weeks have really played into every insecurity I could possibly have. I keep telling God I can’t do this and He keeps sending others to affirm the vision. I even had a talk with my mom the other week to ask her to not question anything I was doing but to constantly encourage me and pray for me. I’m doubting myself enough and I don’t need anyone else to even hint at my insufficiencies. Why would God want me to start and run a nonprofit when the only business I’ve ever run was a nightclub? Maybe He was preparing me for the drama.
          I was reading the first chapter of Jeremiah this morning and I knew God was speaking to me. Jeremiah 1:5 says “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. Before you were born, I set you apart for my holy purpose. I appointed you to be a prophet to the nations.” As I read this it occurred to me how crazy it is that I’ve wanted to adopt kids since I was in preschool. What four year old do you know that even grasps the concept of adoption? God knew before I was born that He would show me this vision one day – God has already appointed me to this nonprofit.
          As I read Jeremiah 1:6-8 it became clearer, “I, Jeremiah, said, ‘Almighty Lord, I do not know how to speak. I am only a boy!’ But the Lord said to me, ‘Don’t say that you are only a boy. You will go wherever I send you. You will say whatever I command you to say. Don’t be afraid of people. I am with you, and I will rescue you,’ declares the Lord.” Here I was thinking the whole time that it was all self-doubt and I realized that my insecurity wasn’t the main problem! It was me worrying that other people would doubt and judge me along the way. People can say what they want about me not having experience or about me being the crazy girl with dreams, it’s never stopped me before and now that God is behind me why should it stop me this time?
          So I’m preparing myself. I’m putting on the full armor that God has given me and I’m not giving up. In fact, if I hadn’t had this vision I probably wouldn’t have ever thought that I could do this, but God showed me His promise and what it is that He wants me to work toward. He told me in Jeremiah 1:19, “They will fight you, but they will not defeat you. I am with you, and I will rescue you…” No matter what has you doubting yourself lately, and no matter the opposition that crosses your path, know that God will rescue you. He knows exactly where He’s taking you, and so what if people judge you or gossip about you or the enemy stands in your way… they will not defeat you.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

What's in a Ring?

I'm not the type to wear jewelry. Each piece of jewelry that I wear more often than not has a meaning. Usually you'll see me with my Easter cross necklace my mom gave me, my Alzheimer's necklace in support of Mema and Granddaddy, a bracelet from my mom that reads "The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams", my baptism ring, and two silly bands for my favorite college and pro football teams. Everything is pretty no frills.

A few months ago I decided I wanted a purity ring and found the perfect one for $10 on ShopSCAD. It was called "Waiting" and had a Mona Lisa-esque face on it with filigree on the sides. My mom got it for me and two weeks later it cracked in half. I was heartbroken. Yes it was cheap. Yes I only had it for a short time. But the significance behind the ring meant everything to me and to have it lying in the palm of my hand in two pieces gave me a distinct feeling of desolation. 
      des-o-la-tion (n): -a state of complete emptiness or destruction
                               -anguished misery or loneliness
      synonyms: devastation - havoc - ravage - destruction - solitude

I know! I know! I sound totally dramatic right now! How could a plastic ring breaking make me feel totally empty? Because it was more than plastic. It meant something. There was significance. There was a powerful reason I was wearing it and when the ring broke part of me felt like the reasoning was gone too. 

Up to that point I had never really felt like that about a piece of jewelry and I still didn't really understand why I was so emotional about it. But this past week I was thrown into the pit yet again by ANOTHER piece of bling. 

When my dad's side of the family started having kids it was boy after boy after beautiful baby boy. My nanny and my granny (my dad's grandmother and mother) set-up a deal... the first granddaughter would get both of their engagement rings. And guess who came along... my first word ended up being "pretty" because all I ever heard from any of them was "pretty girl".

Nanny died when I was around seven years old, and Granny continued to call me her first granddaughter rather than my name half the time. It was a badge I was happy to wear... even though she only ended up having two granddaughters. I've known about the ring deal practically my whole life and had a plan that if my granny passed away before I was engaged that I wanted the two diamonds to be included in my own engagement ring. When I heard that Granny passed away last week it occurred to me that I could use her ring as a substitute for the plastic purity ring that had broken not long before. What would be more perfect than wearing my granny's diamond in remembrance of her and as a promise to God? She would be proud, right?

One of the first things my dad said when we got to Virginia was "Granny didn't leave you her ring in the will. But here's this one." He handed me a sterling silver ring with a marquise cut jewel on it. It could be a diamond... but it's doubtful. And as the days passed, the resentment thickened. It seemed my granny had all but crossed me off the will, leaving me a box of quarters. My other female cousin got practically everything my granny had ever told me would be handed down to my daughters and me. I even found out the gold "Y" pin that my dad had given me as a consolation of sorts was actually supposed to go to my sister-in-law... so I handed it over.

As for the ring I got. Nobody knows the story behind it. It might be from some guy who Granny was engaged to before she eventually broke off the engagement and then he passed away. Or it could be from this other guy; a man that my dad and my aunts avoid talking about who was also engaged to Granny... a man that may or may not have intentionally burned down half of my granny's house many years ago. So I have this ring that I don't really know what it is or what it signifies, and the desolate feeling is back. Please don't misunderstand me. It wasn't about having something worth some amount of money - it was about having something that MEANT something to my granny. Something significant. Something with a reason behind it. It seems that every hypothesis of this ring I wear has a negative connotation. This is what I'm left with.

For some reason I can't take it off. I act like I don't want it. It hurts me so badly and there's a sting of rejection every time I twirl it on my finger, but I know there has to be some lesson in this. So for now I'll wear the "reject ring" and wonder what the story is behind it. Maybe I'll still wear it as my purity ring, a ring I'll be more than happy to trade in when the day comes. Genesis 41:51 says: Joseph named his firstborn Manasseh and said, “It is because God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household.” Maybe when I have a ring of my own, that will be my Manasseh... to forget the hurt, rejection, and desolation of the ring before it. Because even if my husband gives me a ring made of straw, I'll know I'm worth more to him than a box of quarters.