tornadoes sirens and lightening strikes

Ok first, that title is somewhat misleading because I will probably only mention the tornado siren that went off tonight twice (including this) in this post but I’ve never heard one outside of a test so I was excited (yes, about potential death and destruction) about it happening.

In case you’re not from the US and stumbled upon this, or just didn’t look outside tonight and were oblivious to the sounds of thunder and lightening  (lightening doesn’t have a sound, Kait…) thunder and rain, this is what the whole middle of America looked like tonight.

Yes, that is just central Texas, but the storm stretched from Nebraska down to CTX so it was straight down the US.

I was sitting in Taco Cabana with the wonderful girl I’m going to live with next year and a plate full of fajitas, and was prepared to knock out some homework. The clouds were this beautiful, expectant, rain-heavy, dark-periwinkle blue color that was so wonderful I almost (almost, because I was starving post-workout) stopped to take a picture of them. But as we got our food, it took less than five minutes for the clouds to go from that beautiful blue shade to such a dark green-grey that it almost looked like midnight at 8 in the evening (which was sunset tonight; so it should’ve been pink, not black). We hightailed it back to campus, and right as we were near my building the tornado siren around the corner started wailing.

I love storms. SO much. I think they’re ridiculously beautiful and they ALWAYS put me in a worshipful mood (because hello look how majestic and powerful and wonderful they are and how much bigger and better  is God than some storm).

So of course, being me, I was like “dur hur, time to write a cheesy post about storms and strong towers and foundations, because duh” …ok and because I felt the Spirit nudging me to look storm verses up. As if I’d really make that connection on my own. I’m an oblivious idiot most of the time so He has to nudge (punch?) me hard when I need do do something.

And I started reading about how He’s our stronghold (in Isaiah but obviously a recurring theme). And I started reading a few psalms about dealing with tempests (because David was a poet so why not use a fun word like tempest). And of course the parable about building on the rock foundation.

I was reading these verses about how God protects us not just from the physical storms around us but from the spiritual tempests we weather too, and I was listening to the thunder’s drum-beat and the rain’s steady patter against my window and watching the lightening paint purple and blue streaks across the dark clouds, and simply marveling… When God told me to call a family member. And I knew her family was dealing with their own storm. And I knew that it was a storm I had faced before, and I knew the the images and emotions in that storm’s winds and waves. Because I’ve faced the waves that are tossed higher than my head by rape. I’ve felt the power of the wind blown by eating disorders that will bowl you over. I’ve seen the burning power of the lightening strike that is the electrifying decision to finally end my life. This storm is a familiar one. The scars that line my arms and body may be from my own hands and a razor blade, but they are really from the feelers that lightening bolt sent down before its big strike.

And all the little pieces of my testimony, that at the time were soul-crushing and all encompassing… I made it through. I would never wish most of my story on anyone else. And I wouldn’t say that I’m glad it happened how it did, but I am thankful that it happened, because now I do have that testimony. Because God can use it for incredible things. Because my past pain means that I can understand others’ pain, and help them find the healing I have. Because my twisted testimony can bring so much glory to God.

My twisted testimony can flash out just as bright and just as hot as those electric streaks that danced through the dark tonight. I get the privilege to dance through the dark every day, and touch those people that have been burned by the same terrible lightening I have. But now, instead of that pain, I can be a conductor for the spark that can shock their hearts into beating again.

But I have to be grounded to be able to conduct that life-lightening. I have to be grounded in the Rock, and have that firm foundation, or else the storm that I’m always in will blow me away and drown me again, and then I won’t be able to breathe myself, much less pass on a spark that I can’t find anymore. I have to build my life on the Rock to be able to paint the dark like I watched that lightening do tonight. I want to shine like that.

even if he does not

Don’t worry, I’ll be back to my usual black and white pictures soon. But this little piece of Daniel 3:18 that I painted tonight looked better in color.

Daniel 3:17-18 – “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if He does not, we want you to know, your majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

Even if He does not… we will be faithful.

Even if He does not…

  • make following my calling simple
  • make paying for SAGU easy
  • heal my father’s heart toward my mother
  • choose to heal my depression
  • make all the steps of my path clear
  • make it clear how to escape my sin habits
  • give me a rainy season
  • show me the way out of the desert

HE IS STILL GOOD.

Even if He never does another thing that makes sense to me or makes my life any “better” by my standards, He is still GOOD. He works ALL things for the good of those who love Him. My furnaces, whether I am delivered smoke-free or killed, will glorify Him.

He can deliver me from my battles and my personal furnaces. I believe that with all of my heart. He is bigger and better and stronger than anything I will ever face. He can deliver me. But even if He does not, I still will follow, and I still will praise Him.

the pause button

I’m eating Spaghetti-O’s for lunch at work right now, because sometimes you need to feel little again, and kid-food is a wonderful way to do that.

This post isn’t going to be tied into my food like the last one; I just wanted to share my Spaghetti-O joy.

Do you ever hit pause with God? I find myself doing that all the time.

Let me explain, if you don’t know what I mean. Sometimes, I take a mini-break from God. (It’s entirely unintentional, but it makes complete sense because to live for Christ, you have to live completely intentional.) Sometimes, I forget to carve out time with Him. I forget to pray continually. I don’t share a cup of coffee or tea with Him; I don’t pause and take a moment to be in awe of His creation when I see a raindrop or a leaf or a bird. I don’t take time to be grateful. I don’t take time to seek the Spirit and put on my armor.

It’s not that I don’t want it! It’s just that life gets crazy and busy and there are 5000 distractions hurtling themselves at my brain always. But if I don’t live intentionally, I end up subconsciously hitting “pause” on my relationship with God.

It’s always harder to go back to the gym after the holidays than it is to go back 24-48 hours after your last workout. That’s where I’m at. I paused over the Christmas week (dumb right? Christmas! It’s about Him!) and now I’m trying to hit play again but my muscles are stiff and weaker than they were. Stretching hurts more; I’m not as flexible as I was before my pause. And flexibility is a huge thing in my relationship with God. He’s not going to stop molding me, ever the wonderful Potter, but if I’m not flexible with His ways and His guiding and His molding, that continual changing and shaping are going to be a lot more painful than they have to be.

And I need that molding. I don’t like me. I don’t want to be like me. I’m awkward and kinda crazy (not in the fun way) and really really bad at inter-personal relationships. I don’t want to be me. I want to be like Him. I don’t want to be the lumpy finger pot with cracks all over that I am right now; I want to be a pretty, useful vessel for Him. That’s what the molding is for.

I don’t want to be like Zephaniah 3:2, that says, “She obeys no one, she accepts no correction. She does not trust in the LORD, she does not draw near to her God.” (It’s talking about Jerusalem in context.) She doesn’t obey authority, she can’t accept correction, and she doesn’t have trust in God….all because “she does not draw near to her God.” That’s not a pretty picture, especially for someone (me) realizing that she’s neglected to draw near to God. I want to have an obedient heart for authority (it makes life a lot easier) and I want to be able to accept correction from a mentor or concerned friend without getting angry or something, and I desperately need to trust God. Life is crazy on it’s own, and based on the fact that some big changes are coming my way and I’m also going to school to be in the ministry, trusting God is HUGE.

If you hit pause like me, don’t worry. Whether it was for a week or month or even if it may have been so long and so unconscious that you have no idea when it happened… don’t worry.

The Bible is full of encouragement for us pause-ers.

James 4:8 says, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you….”

Zechariah 1:3 says, “Therefore tell the people: This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Return to me,’ declares the Lord Almighty, ‘and I will return to you,’ says the Lord Almighty.”

Jeremiah 3:22 says, “‘Return, faithless people; I will cure you of backsliding.’ ‘Yes, we will come to you, for you are the Lord our God.'”

Psalm 145:18 says, “The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.”

So if you think you’ve paused… It’s okay. It’s never to late to hit your play button.

on printing and prayer

I rented one of my text books this semester, and I got an email this morning that I have to ship it back by tomorrow or I’ll get charged extra. I’ve known for a couple of weeks that it was due, but – procrastinator that I am – I’ve been ignoring those emails. But, with one more day to ship, I said “okay, let me print that right quick before my quiet time! Two minutes.” Note that I was already about 8 minutes late in starting my quiet time, because I decided to change outfits three times – typical girl stuff.
My computer and printer like to not get along, and when it’s online for every one else’s computer, it will be offline on mine. Lately (yesterday…only yesterday.) it’s been easier to connect though. I tried for 20 minutes to print my shipping label before I finally gave up and went “okay, I’ll do it later. I guess I’ll go in to work at 9 instead of 8:30 so I can spend this time with you, God…”
I pulled my french press over to my desk from where my coffee had been brewing (steeping? It feels different in a french press…) and grabbed a big owl mug for God and a little pig mug for myself. The second I poured our cups of coffee, my shipping label printed. God has a sense of humor…and I got the message. Have you laughed with God lately? ‘Cause it’s the best thing. There’s normal laughter with friends, and then there’s laughter with the One who made you and knitted together all the little special places in your heart, and knows exactly what little irony will flood you with joy on a drizzly morning. And that’s exactly what it did – my wet and cold December morning turned warm and lovely, and I’m still giggling about the printer/coffee incident hours later as I write this during my afternoon lull.

I love being reminded that God isn’t some displeased and distant being watching as we stumble and demanding that we tick off a to-do list on how to be a good Christian. I get that twisted up in my brain kind of often. He’s the dearest friend we’ll ever know, and loves to play little jokes to remind us that He’s both funny and should come before printing something, and He enjoys sharing coffee out of animal shaped mugs with us in our dorm rooms just as much as He enjoys our worship on Sunday mornings.