Thursday, March 24, 2011

Searching the Heart

Four or so years ago, I was struggling. I was happy, content, joyful... but struggling.

You see, there was a corner of my heart that I'd set aside for our "someday" children...

... and "someday" would not come.

Tears and questions and searching and wondering were there, and sometimes in abundance, but I wouldn't call them my travelling companions down that road. No, my faithful companion was God's patient grace. His comfort, His truth spoken in love, and the way He gently unfolded corners of my heart that needed examining on that journey.

You see, adoption was a grand hope of ours, regardless of whether or not we would have biological children, too. It was never a "plan B" for us; it was an exciting hope... and yet that door seemed closed to us, too, at the time. I spent hours upon hours over the years investigating adoption: domestic and foreign, open and closed, agency and private, but I was missing an important point. I should have been investigating my heart, too.

One night, I was reading 1 Samuel chapter 1, and Hannah's plea for a child. I probably read it through tears, as I related so much to her "plight." One thing stood out to me: she prayed for a son and promised to give that child back into the Lord's service. I don't think she was bartering here, though this is just my speculation; I think she had it on her heart to pray for this child, and God placed the desire there to pray specifically for a child who would live his life for Him.

The heart-searching unfolded a bit more. Why did I want a child? I do believe the Lord had placed the desire on my heart, but I think I was pursuing that desire less for the fact that HE'D placed it there, and more for the reasons that I wanted it, it seemed the natural thing that should happen next in life, and it's what I'd always pictured.

The word "motive" comes from the Old French word motif, meaning "brought forward." My motives lay before me, raw and ready for examination. They'd been brought forth to be not only weighed, but covered in grace and amended.

I had embraced and pursued that desire for ME, not for Him. Hannah seems to have prayed for a child because her hope in that moment was the ministry God had laid before her.

Things began to change for me after that. We attended an adoption seminar whose message was largely that adoption is just that: a ministry. A ministry to the birth parents, the baby, the social workers...whoever may cross your path during the journey. I've never given birth myself, but I would imagine that pregnancy is a similar road of ministry to doctors, nurses, friends, and others who cross your path on that journey.

Suddenly, I found my heart so full of an excitement to serve HIM on that road, wherever it led. I felt called into that mission field. I relished praying for our possible "someday" child and praying for the comfort, peace and direction for his or her birth mother.

I felt like Hannah- the desire that was initially there to be a mother, now grounded in a calling. The fears and unknowns of the adoption road now rested in His hands, and we knew that as long as we sought Him every step of the way, there was no "failing," even if the adoption did "fail" (more on this here).

And then the doors began to open... and stayed open... and when they hung on the precarious hinges of "will it work out?" we clung to the knowledge that He'd called us and led us there, regardless of what happened. We found refuge in the knowledge that he would comfort and heal if the road forked that way, and he would rejoice and give wisdom in parenting if the road forked the other way.

And, dear reader, that's the way the road did wind:



...we do not know what the Lord holds for our family in the area of future children, but we are so thankful for the ability to look back and see His faithfulness on this road, and to know the God of what's past in this story is the same God who holds our future in the palm of His hands.

Monday, March 21, 2011

On Driving Buses


      I've been reading The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. It's written as satire, in the form of, yes, letters from Screwtape (a high-ranking minion in the underworld) to his nephew Wormwood, on the subject of how best to exploit human nature and deter man from the purpose of his loving Creator (referred to in the book as "the Enemy".)
     Let me tell ya, this tiny volume is not light reading! For example, in Chapter 21, "Screwtape" addresses the common misconception of man that his time is his own, something that really hit home with me.

"My Dear Wormwood,
...Now you will notice that nothing throws him [man] into a passion so easily as to find a tract of time which he reckoned on having at his own disposal unexpectedly taken from him. It is the unexpected visitor (when he looked forward to a quiet evening), or the friend's talkative wife (turning up when he looked forward to a tête-à-tête with the friend), that throw him out of gear...
...They anger him because he regards his time as his own and feels that it is being stolen. You must therefore zealously guard in his mind the curious assumption 'My time is my own'. Let him have the feeling that he starts each day as the lawful possessor of twenty-four hours.
...The assumption which you want him to go on making is so absurd... The man can neither make, nor retain, one moment of time; it all comes to him by pure gift; he might as well regard the sun and the moon as his chattels.
...The sense of ownership in general is always to be encouraged."
I've been dwelling on this idea for days now. Well, years, actually, since the concept first convicted me at a women's retreat: during a break-out session, one of the speakers presented the idea of "being submissive with your time" when God brings the unexpected to your plate.
 Submissive with MY time? I so often recoil when my plans are intruded upon.
 No, He gently reminds me, submissive with the time I've given you.
Last night, my mind refused to sleep as I pondered these things. I finally gave up trying, and at midnight found myself pondering further at the kitchen counter over a plate of nachos (the food of deep-things-pondering).

What He graciously gave me was an illustration to further help me wrap my mind around this. It's as though I'm a taxi driver. Going about my business, navigating the dance of the freeway, taking on passengers. Someone calls a cab. Do I roll my eyes in exasperation and finally, reluctantly, decide to answer the call and pull over to take on these passengers? Or do I rejoice in the fact that my mission is to take on passengers throughout the day, and that I now have the opportunity to be about that very business I set out for at the beginning of the day?
When those hypothetical cab calls come, will my answers be

"...well... I suppose if that's where you want to go I can take you there... (prolonged sigh)... with this vehicle that's not mine to begin with...with this time intended for this purpose...but really it is an inconvenience, you know..."

or

"Sure!" (while inwardly thinking "Why, oh, Why? Why now?!")

or will my answers be the stuff of "Yes!" and "Amen!"
"Yes! This is what I was created for! To serve you in this moment, and to serve HIM in doing so!"

Even better is the illustration of a bus driver. Did you know that the word "bus" comes from the word "omnibus," which comes from the Latin phrase meaning "for all"? For all. My time is not just mine, it is for whatever purpose God sets before me in that moment.

Today,
...whether
things go exactly as expected and planned,
plans entirely fall through,
plans get nudged this way or that,
or plans are overrided by the unexpected,
may my answer be "Yes!" and "Amen."

Oh, and hear this. I bought this Caedmon's Call CD back in High School, and although I LOVED (and still love) the album, this was one of my least favorite songs on it. I don't think I understood it until last night's nachos. Have a listen?


                                                         
2 Corinthians 1:17-22
"When I planned this, did I do it lightly? Or do I make my plans in a worldly manner so that in the same breath I say, 'Yes, yes' and 'No, no'?  But as surely as God is faithful, our message to you is not 'Yes' and 'No.' For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by me and Silas and Timothy, was not 'Yes' and 'No,' but in him it has always been 'Yes.' For no matter how many promises God has made, they are 'Yes' in Christ. And so through him the 'Amen' is spoken by us to the glory of God.  Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come."



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Friday, March 18, 2011

Captivated Cap

I've been mulling over "cap" for a few days.


Don't ask me how these things pop into my head; it's a rare occasion that I remember what sparks the word waltz in my brain. Anyhow, I've circled the dance floor with the root-word "cap," and here is the result.

 Approximate Transcript of my Mental Exchange with Myself.

Me (picture me sitting straight up in bed with one finger raised in "Eureka!" fashion in the middle of the night):

"Cap" means "head"!
Surely it means head.
A captain is the head of a ship.
A pen cap sits atop that miraculous invention.
Capital, baseball cap, decapitate (sorry to throw the macabre in there, but it did make an appearance in the thought process)...
yes, "cap" means "head."

(...sometime later...)
Wait! I wonder if that's where "Captivate" and "Capture" come from!
(pause for momentary mind-blown awe)
...because if that IS the root of those words, I need to explore the spiritual significance here.

Really! What captivates us, or captures us, is defined by what we choose to do with our head (i.e. mind. Or cap.).

(pause for the mad clickety-clacking of the keyboard as I later scour the etymological corners of the internet for answers.)

Woe is me! I was wrong.
...maybe I can re-write history to salvage my spirtual conclusions.
...maybe I can ignore the fact that "capit" and "capt" ARE Latin roots for "head,"
while "-Cept," -"cip" and "-cap" (as in "capture" and "captivate," go figure...) mean "to take, to receive."

Oh, well. At least I was halfway right. "Cap" does mean head, but not always. Sometimes it's from an entirely different root word, meaning "to take."

...wait a second. Just because they don't share the same root, doesn't mean that the truth here is any less true. Wake up, Amanda! It seems the Lord is impressing something on your heart here.

What IS captivating your cap? What DO you allow to capture your mind? ...and how does this end up leading your heart?

Every moment is a choice. What will I allow to captivate (literally "take") my focus?

May it be Him, every time.

"Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. " Colossians 3:2  (in context here)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Intended Purpose and Kitsch.

I scored something cool and kitschy at the thrift store this weekend:


Like it?

At first, I just grabbed it off of the shelf because it reminded me of a neat one we had when I was growing up. Then, I put it in my basket because
(a) it was half price day ($2!),
(b) I decided it would be a fun prop for some future photo shoot, and
(c) my daughter had grabbed the receiver and was busily engaged in a chattery (though incoherent beyond "hewwo?") conversation.

I brought it home, plunked it on the counter, and cleaned it up. Then, I left it there for a few days... and as I walked by it repeatedly, an idea sprouted in my mind.  The unplugged phone called out to me (metaphorically. Not in a literal Twilight-Zoney way) with a lesson.

Care to listen in?

OK. First, the phone was just sitting there, NOT ringing, because it has no cords. None connecting the receiver to the body, none connecting the body to the wall.

Second, because of the absence of cords, this phone is useless for its intended purpose. I therefore snagged it with the intention of using it for something completely different than its intended purpose.

Third, I am sometimes like this phone. When I fail to "plug in" to God through prayer and thoughtful meditation on His word, I become a little silly. A little directionless. A bit like a phone, whose intended purpose WAS to connect people in meaningful ways across the miles, now relegated to the role of a prop.

(...and/or chew toy):

Above: "Puroined Purposeless Phone," 2011. All Rights Reserved (<-- joke. Our dog is sneaky. And fast. Hence the blurry photo.)


When I fail to do what I am called to do (draw near to Him), I drift into roles that are less-than-meaningful. Roles I wasn't intended for... roles like "casual spectator," "waster of time," or "aloof observer." I miss out on the depth of life that He'd prepared for me in that moment, and settle for a shallow and unplugged existence- even if only momentarily.

Fortunately, He provides gentle wake-up calls,
beckoning me to return to the purpose for which He intended me,
beckoning me to draw near to Him,
beckoning me to be filled with His truth, His love, His joy.

Inviting me to trade in my self-induced kitsch status, for His "you-are-my-treasure" role.

...Calling me into the land of so-much-more.

Glad I got that phone.

Post script: If you muddled through all of the choppy sentence-fragmented mess of this post, here's a reward for you:
When I looked up "kitsch" to see if I was spelling it right (which I wasn't-- kitch = kitSch), I was met by this preface to the definition: "Not to be confused with Quiche." Ha!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Lum.

No, not a typo...
-lum: from the Latin "lux," meaning light.

  Luminous. Illuminate.  Luminescence. Luminary.          ...Etcetera.



I was thinking about lights just now... how we're called to "Let [our] light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:16).

Here's the glorious thing: lights must be ignited. Candles must be lit. On their own, they simply sit.

"Let your light so shine...." My light? I'm just a wick!

...so was John:

"(6) There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. (7) This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. (8) He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. (9) That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world."
John 1:6-9
"Let your light so shine...." My light? Oh....you mean....Him! My light! He whose word is the light unto my path!

Silly self, trying so often to kindle your own light, and ending up only with pitiful smoke, when the light of the world was waiting to fill you, to shine through you, to illuminate.


"If my fire is not large it is yet real, and there may be those who can light their candle at its flame." -A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God

"...it is yet real..."   
Luminosity is Him in us, Him through us. Beautiful light.
         Real light.
                    Let's shine.




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Sunday, March 6, 2011

New Series: Word Musings

Yup, catching up. As in, I've been slacking in the blog-writing department.

So here's the haps: the "Lessons from the Road" series is at an end; thus begins the "Word Musings" series.

I love words. You might say I'm a word nerd. It's ok, I've come to terms with this- I even own a book by that name. I frequent websites such as "Word Detective." There was even a time that I considered extending my schooling indefinitely to pursue a degree in something that sounds like a pasta dish (Linguistics. Am I not right? Pasta!).
                
I find it delightful and just plain awesome that...
(a) language is a major way that God provided to communicate his truth to us, and
(b) nearly every word is like unearthing a story. Where they've been, where they've gone, how they've changed, what they mean... amazing.

Join me for who-knows-how-long (notice the absence of a specific month name in the banner for this series) to revel in God's creation of language, a provision for speaking, learning, and living truth.

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