Monthly Archives: July 2014

Extended Deployment

While I was at STEP Advanced (Sheesh, that place keeps coming up a lot, doesn’t it? Yeeeees, I think I already told you that it made a major impact on me, so what do you expect? [And by the way, you should definitely send all your girls through STEP. 😉 ]) we got sent on ‘deployment’ to do a service project. Some of the girls painted for a dear family who uses their home as a ministry, while the rest of us helped out at a faith-based theater (like, a theater for plays, not movies). We cleaned, organized, labeled, painted and organized some more. And it was interesting, how just knowing that we were helping people gave us (or at least me) that much more motivation to work hard and be helpful. That’s not to say I didn’t have my lazy moments. Laziness has been a problem of mine for many many years, so it’s not like it’s going to go away overnight.

So, this week we’ve been out tramping along the sides of roads picking sandhill plums for jam. And while we were doing that in the heat (my phrase for the day was “Sweating is good for you!” 😉 ) and the thorns and the stickers and the poison ivy (well, we tried to avoid the bushes that were totally enveloped in poison ivy), I had a thought. It went something like this:

I am a STEP girl.

I will always be a STEP girl.

I want to go back to STEP next year.

So, what if my home-time is actually just an eleven-month deployment?

What if I worked all the time as if I was on deployment?

Think it might change the way I worked any? Would I stop for breaks as often if I acted as though I was on deployment? Would I work quicker if I acted like I was on deployment? Would I put more effort into having a positive attitude all. the. time. in spite of unpleasant jobs or uncomfortable circumstances if I acted like I was on deployment?

And then I had another thought. It went something like this:

I am a Christian.

I will always be a Christian.

I want to see my Savior in heaven someday.

So, what if my time here on earth is just an extended deployment?

Would I live my life differently if I acted like a Christian on deployment? Would I waste as much time on worthless activities? Would I find ways to be more productive for Christ? Would I put more effort into glorifying Him and less into pleasing myself? Would I die to myself daily in order to serve those who need it, if I acted like I was on extended deployment?

We are on an extended deployment, and will be until the day we die. (Or get raptured. Whichever comes first.) We are Christ’s ambassadors, and, in the words of Pastor David Gibbs, our one job is to “make the Son of God look good”. So my question is, what are we going to do about it? If we are on extended deployment with the one mission to glorify God, then how are we going to live? How should I change my lifestyle to better serve my King? How should you?

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He *Is*

Have you ever felt like God was calling you to do something that was beyond your capabilities? I can relate to how Jeremiah must have felt in Jeremiah 1:4-6:

Now the word of the LORD came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” Then I said, “Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.”

Moses too made excuses to God about why he was inadequate for the job God called him to do, in Exodus 4:10:

But Moses said to the LORD, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.”

Sounds like me and my whiney excuses. I can really relate to Jeremiah and Moses. A lot of the time I fall into the thinking that I have to be something before God can use me. What happened to 1 Corinthians 1:27-29?

But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.

And 2 Corinthians 12:9?

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Our God, Yaweh, the Creator of the entire universe, loves to work with the meek of the earth. (He used a donkey once, for crying out loud. I’m pretty sure none of us can be that hopeless if He can use even a donkey.) He doesn’t expect us to be capable. He only asks that we be available. We don’t have to *be* anything special before He can use us, because “I AM” already *is* everything we could possibly need.

So, maybe we don’t feel capable of a task that God has asked us to do. But maybe that’s so that we will rely wholly on God. And maybe that’s the way He wants it to be. We shouldn’t be afraid to trust Him for the abilities we need in order to do something for Him. If He wants us to do something, He’ll give us exactly what we need in order to do it, and He will walk with us every step of the way.

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Warning: This post may or may not be a tad rabbit-trail-y. I apologize in advance if it’s a little all-over-the place. I had trouble figuring out a logical order for it to go in. *Laughs*

There’s this giant green book that sits on my sister’s shelf (of which I need to get my own copy so I don’t constantly borrow hers [and yes, if someone wanted to buy me a copy as a gift I would be overjoyed {and yes, that was a hint 😉 }]) that likes to suck me into its world of fascination. It’s called the American Dictionary of the English Language, and it was written by Noah Webster, published in 1828, if I’m remembering my numbers correctly. I like old Noah Webster. He gives me new perspectives on words I don’t normally give much thought to. Words like “cope”. Some of the definitions are rather weird when compared to how we use the word today. (Which makes it all the more intriguing, at least to my mind.) One of Webster’s definitions for “cope” took me by surprise. It said, “To embrace.” At first I found that rather amusing, simply because that’s so different from how we think of the word. After all, normally when I think of someone coping with a situation I come up with words along the lines of “surviving” or “tolerating” not “embracing.”

But then, I normally think of coping as dealing with negative things or situations. And yet one of Webster’s definitions for “cope” is “To encounter; to interchange kindness or sentiments.” Mind you, I’m still not entirely sure what that means, but it doesn’t sound like coping with something negative to me. It sounds like whoever is coping is coping with something good. Something pleasant. So then I had the thought… What if we’re coping with things all the time, both good and bad? And…if “coping” applies to all things, how does it differ in handling the bad things verses the good ones? Or should it differ at all? What if – what if – coping with hard situations actually involves embracing them?

Now for a couple of verses:

Job 1:20-21 – Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”

Job 2:9-10 – Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.” But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.

Okay, some things I notice. In the first passage, Job just received the news that he’s basically lost everything, including all his children – all in one day. Pretty major calamity right there. And yet – he worships God, and blesses His name! I find that pretty incredible that he was able to do that. To “receive evil” (or disaster, as the side-note in my Bible says) from God, as he put it in the second passage.

When I read that yesterday, something clicked and I dug in the giant green dictionary again to see what Webster had to say about the word “embrace”. Here is one of his definitions: “To seize eagerly; to lay hold on; to receive or take with willingness that which is offered.” [Italics mine.] Hey! Wait a minute! Do I spy a connection? The definition says nothing about the perceived quality of the thing being embraced or received or taken willingly. It just says it is. And isn’t that what Job just did in those passages up there? He took it willingly, and blessed God.

Now I have to take a brief side-track. See, for a while now I’ve had this (probably a little weird) belief that bad things don’t happen to good people. Two reasons: 1. We’re all fallen creatures. Thus, there are no “good people” on this earth for “bad things” to happen to. And 2. According to Romans 8:28, God causes all things to work together for good. Therefore, if all things ultimately work for our good, can any one of them really be bad? If God uses all things for good, that kind of puts them all on the same level with each other, rather than on the opposing “good” and “bad” shelves we like to use to categorize them. If God works all things for good, then ultimately everything that comes from God is good, because it’s for our good. Even the hard stuff that we wish we didn’t have to cope with. And if it’s for our good, then we’d be silly not to accept and embrace it.

You’d think. Apparently it’s a lot harder to remember that than it is to write about. (Actually, writing about it is a lot funner too, because I get to dig in huge dictionaries that are dear to my heart.) Me being the habitual stresser and worrier that I am (a bad habit that by God’s grace I am and will continue to break), it’s especially difficult for me to remember to accept what happens sometimes. So here’s a thought that I’ve been rolling around inside my head (hey, there’s too much empty space up there – I had to do something with it! 😉 ). Hang on, let me start a new paragraph so it stands out a little more.

God is in control of what happens to me. I am not. Therefore, if I am not in control of my circumstances, they are not my business. They are God’s business. If my circumstances are God’s business and not mine, then what is my business? My business is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. My business has nothing to do with whether or not I like my circumstances, because my circumstances are not my business. Therefore, I should be seeking to glorify God no matter what my circumstances are, and leave my circumstances up to Him.

So how should we cope with something? Well, as I’ve been learning recently, the easiest way to cope with something is to surrender it completely (and that’s the hard part, since I want so badly to help God control it) to God, and trust Him that He knows better than I do what to do with it. Because, after all, whatever happens to me is His business, not mine. And, after all, He sees the big picture and I don’t. And, after all, He works everything out for my good. So, the easiest way to cope with something really is “to embrace” it. Because whatever God gives us will ultimately be much better than anything we could have worked up for ourselves.

Sheesh Calista, you had to take that long to say all that? Well, yes. I suppose I could have taken less time and space to say it, but it wouldn’t have been half so fun without all the definitions and stuff. I love words and their meanings, okay? So cope with it. 😉

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Comfortable Mediocrity

Comfort zones. Oh, how easy it is to stay inside of them. Where it’s safe. Where it’s normal. Where it’s sane. Where I don’t have to do anything that scares me, or anything that’s the least bit more than I feel like doing at the moment. Where I can float along in cushy mediocrity and do my own thing. I like comfort zones. It’s nice to be safe, to have my little routines, to feel secure.


Apparently all of my goals are sitting on the other side of the borders of my comfort zone. And they’re waiting for me. This could be a problem. I want to write books that make a difference in people’s lives. I want to start an art business. I want to write and publish music. I want to reach out to the people around me. But it’s not comfortable! In fact, sometimes it’s downright scary. Like being on stage in front of a ton of people to give my testimony. Like striking up a conversation with a stranger. Like *gasp* sharing the deepest parts of me and putting them out where people can *sob* laugh at them.

But I haven’t found a single place in the Bible where God says that Christians are supposed to be comfortable. I’m pretty sure God wants His children to grow. And I’m pretty sure a cicada isn’t comfortable when it grows and bursts out of its old skin to reveal the new, so why do I expect it to be different for me?

One reason I really love going to STEP so much (Hey look, here’s some info on STEP Advanced! Clicky. You know you want to. *Grin*) is because it forces me out of my comfort zone constantly. This year it was stepping up (Haha, STEPping up. Sorry. It’s a common STEP joke….) and taking the lead more, sharing some personal stuff (or attempting to, as much as my blank brain would permit) in front of a video camera, giving a short testimony-thing in front of bunches of people at the graduation ceremony, co-leading a devotional… Actually, I’ll stop there, or we’ll be here all night. Anyhow. Let’s just say I had to get outside my comfort zone a great deal in June, shall we?

And you know what I found out? It’s not so very bad. There’s a thrill that comes from doing something new, from facing fears (no matter how petty). Getting outside my comfort zone can even feel pretty good. It’s just the fear leading up to the stepping out that is the hard part. Once I figured out I needed to place the fear in God’s hands and just do it, things turned out much better than I could have thought.

If I want to make an impact in this life, I can’t stay where I’m comfortable and secure, because nothing great ever happens there. (Trust me, I end up sitting around and reading and imagining what I could be doing instead of doing anything.) I’ve let my comfort zone be a place of confinement, of littleness, even…of mediocrity. And something that STEP encourages is to be bold and to reach out and escape that mediocrity. I don’t want to be too comfortable. I don’t want to get nothing done in my lifetime. I want to be bold. I want to dare to be daring. And I hope you do as well. There’s a joy that only comes from breaking out of the hum-de-da routine of life and doing something you’ve always been a little afraid of. Won’t you share that joy with me? Let’s get a little uncomfortable for once. There’s a world waiting to be reached. There’s a kingdom to be fought for. Let’s think daring thoughts, and go light our world!

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