Monthly Archives: July 2015

List Shortening

It seems pretty popular among single girls to have a “what he must be” list. Just today I saw an article with the traits a guy needs to have in order for a girl to marry him. While that’s all fine and good, I think sometimes we go overboard. Several years ago I had my own list going, and it was definitely overboard! Preferences accidentally slipped in as musts and the thing was something like two pages long.

In the last couple of years though, I’ve come to realize it’s not about a list. It doesn’t necessarily matter whether or not he likes sports or whether or not he was homeschooled. Why? Because even if he doesn’t care for sports (like me) and was homeschooled all the way through high school (I was), if his relationship with God is out of whack  or nonexistent, he’s still the wrong guy. You can check off all the little preferences and still have a gaping hole where the musts are, and while you might think you’re pretty lucky to not have any of your little pet peeves irritated because you got what you wanted, you’re in trouble because you missed what you needed.

What does a woman need the most in a husband? She needs a man more in love with Christ than he is with her even. If Christ is not first in his heart, then none of the other desirable qualities have a reason to be there – but if he seeks God with all his heart, they will follow naturally in time. What a Christian woman needs is a man who is actively growing closer to God.

On the flip side, the same goes for women. At risk of sounding presumptuous (since I’m not a guy), men need women who love Christ more than they love their husbands. While her interest or lack thereof in his hobbies might be important, her relationship with Christ matters still more. It’s her love for Christ that will inspire godly character in her and enable her to love and support him throughout the rest of their lives.

See, if Christ is honestly first in both their lives, a husband and wife will be able to handle their differences in a godly way, and God will change any preferences that weren’t in line with His. Meanwhile, the musts will fall into place if God comes first. So it’s not so much about a list as it is about a personal relationship…with God. And that’s why my list up and vanished – because the more I thought about it, the more I realized it didn’t matter half so much as I thought it did. So I don’t really have much of a list anymore. What I’ll be looking for (whenever a guy actually enters the picture) first and foremost is his relationship with his Maker. If God takes the place He should in his life, then I don’t much have to worry about the rest. It’ll fall into place.

Now, the question is, am I putting God first in my life? Am I that kind of woman that he will need someday? It’s become a sort of catchphrase for me – “I will love You first” – and now I’m passing the toe-stomper off to you. Do we – do I – do you – really seek to love Him first of all?

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Categories: Ponderizations | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Caught in the Past

Do you ever feel like the past controls you? Like it locks you into a cage of expectations that will never let you go? I’ve been there far more than I would ever like to admit. There are things about myself that I wish had never existed, and sometimes they trap me and suffocate who I want to be. The past is hard because it’s unchangeable. What I did I can’t undo, and I can’t un-be who I was. But when I dwell on my failings and the pieces of my past that haunt me, I let them stifle the present – and consequently, the future as well.

The past was never made to dictate the future. The past was never made to control you. When you hold onto it, it clings to you like someone who is drowning. And in the end, you both panic and drown.

God never meant for us to dwell on the past like that. He made the past to be a guidepost – a reference point now and again to remind us how far we’ve come. It should never chain us down and keep us from pressing onward in our walk with God and personal growth. I think of it like a rock wall. Every situation we encounter is a handhold in that wall.

Philippians 3:12-16 says:

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained.

In order to climb higher on a rock wall, you have to reach and grab a handhold – but once it has served its purpose, you must let go of it. Continue to cling to it and you will get nowhere. Once a handhold has served its purpose and you’ve moved higher, it would be ridiculous to climb back down the wall just to cling to it. Sometimes you lose your grip and you fall a little and have to grab it again, but it was never made to be something to cling to.This is how I’ve come to understand what it means to “forget what lies behind” – not that you really forget it; God wants us to remember the past and remember what He did then. When we wander a little, sometimes we need to remember the past and where we came from in order to get back on track. Grab that old handhold again to get back up. But rather, forgetting what lies behind means you let go of the past in order to embrace what God has for you next.

Strain forward to what lies ahead. Press on. Remember the past, but remember that it is only a reference point to show you how far you’ve come on your journey. “Hold true” to the height you’ve climbed to, and don’t go back down just to cling to an old handhold. Keep climbing!

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Musical Buses

My trip home from STEP was a huge reminder of God’s provision. Since we all need that reminder now and then, I thought I would share it with you all. 🙂

The day started off fairly like I planned. After teary goodbyes, two sisters dropped me off in the Longview bus station around 11-ish on their way home, and I got all checked in and stuff no problem. I sat around and waited for my 1:35 bus. And waited. And waited. Another bus came and went, and I thought for sure mine was right behind it. But no. The lady behind the counter told me my bus was running 40 minutes late. So I waited for another 40 minutes. A lady who was waiting for the same bus called someone she knew who was riding the bus and asked where they were. They were at least 20 minutes away still. So we waited some more.

I was getting concerned at this point, because I had an hour and a half layover between when I was supposed to get in to Dallas and when I was supposed to leave Dallas on the next bus. Even I can do the math to see that my layover was disappearing muy rapidamente. First lesson in not freaking out and worrying. I spent a lot of time trying to focus on God in the Longview bus station rather than on how late my bus was being, but I was sure antsy by the time it got there at 3 – a whole hour and a half late. The lady behind the counter had commented on how slow the bus driver was, and I thought to myself that she had better pick up her pace for the rest of the trip. It felt like forever before they finally loaded my stuff because someone who was getting off couldn’t find one of her bags.

Finally we got underway. The bus was pretty full, and I ended up having to sit way in the back. A middle-aged-ish guy wearing a camo vest got on at our next stop and sat next to me. For the next while he decided to tell me all about how he was going home and was going to grill all this food over the weekend and he was looking forward to partying and getting drunk and all that. That was *ahum* interesting. He had a gps program on his phone and was tracking the route the bus took, and he periodically updated me on where we were. So we were going along, and I was thinking this bus better hurry, and watching the road signs for any hint of Dallas, when we hit road construction. The bus slowed to a crawl and then to a stop. There was a huge amount of traffic, all trying to condense into a couple lanes to get through construction. We inched forward and stopped again, and so forth for what felt like an eternity. By 6:20, when my next bus was supposed to leave, we were still a ways out from Dallas. I started texting my dad back and forth trying to figure out what to do. He and Mom were looking online looking at alternate buses but we couldn’t make any plans until I got to Dallas.

During the Longview-to-Dallas stretch I had to fight frustration with the driver and anxiety about my next bus. But God loves me the best, and so He didn’t leave me to my human instincts. He reminded me about how I need to bless people I’m frustrated with. So I started praying for the bus driver and blessing her, and God gave me peace about the whole situation. When the anxiety and frustration tried to creep in again, I went back to blessing the driver.

We finally reached Dallas and wound up in the station at about 7:45. There were quite a few passengers who had missed their buses by this time, so we ended up in a long line to the front desk. I texted my dad that I was there and awaiting assistance, then just stood in line waiting. I was feeling frustrated again at this point (especially after a security guard yelled at us for lining up in the wrong place). While we waited, though, God poked me again. At some point in the last week or so He had given me the thought that whenever someone asked how I was and I didn’t feel like answering anything positive, I should just answer “I am so blessed to be here!” and then count the little blessings until I felt positive. So standing in that line in Dallas He reminded me of that. Whups. So I told myself I was blessed to be there, and blessed that we’d made it when we did, and that God was doing what was best. I’m going to have to make that a habitual response, because goodness that makes a huge difference in attitude!

By the time I got to the desk it was close to 8:15. I told the lady behind the desk where I was going and gave her my ticket for the bus that left without me. She typed on her computer for like half a second and exclaimed, “There’s a bus to Wichita leaving right now! Come with me!” She grabbed new tickets and whisked me out the door to the bus, pretty much shoving the tickets in my hand as she told me to get on. So I got on the bus and after a few minutes thought to actually look at the ticket and find out what my new schedule was. I sat there and squinted at it in the dim light. I was going to have a second transfer in Oklahoma City, and there would be a 40-minute layover between buses.

At 8:30 the bus driver finally got on and we pulled out. He apologized for leaving a half hour late (insert me calculating thirty minutes out of my layover) and explained that he’d had to get the A/C serviced. (The servicing must have been a success because it was plenty cool in there.) The funny thing is that if his bus hadn’t been getting serviced I would have missed it too! I would have been standing in line when it pulled out at 8, and would have probably had to wait a couple hours at least for a new bus. God provided a late bus just for me, and reminded me that ‘He loves me the best’. 😀

So we traveled along towards Oklahoma City. The thought that if things went well and this bus was prompt I would only have 10 minutes until my next bus left kind of tried to nag in the back of my brain, but for most of the trip I didn’t feel much worried because God had already provided this bus, and He could provide another one in Oklahoma. We were supposed to get into the station at 11:40, and leave for Wichita at 12:20. Well, at 11:40 the bus driver told me we were 45 minutes out from Oklahoma City, but that he’d get me there in time for my bus. Come 12:20 we had just reached Oklahoma City and were weaving through the streets about five minutes out from the station. As soon as we pulled in, the driver specifically pointed out the bus to Wichita to us all, and when I got off he said, “I told you I’d get you here in time!” They whisked our stuff on board and we left the station immediately (which is why I wonder if he’d specifically told them to wait for us), about ten minutes late. So God kept my third bus late for me too! I told you He loves me the best. 😀

The bus to Wichita made its way without incident, and get this – I got in at the exact time that I would have if I had not missed the 6:20 bus out of Dallas. My dad came and picked me up from the bus station at 3:45 in the morning, which was very sweet of him since that meant he got up at 1:30 am for me.

So, yeah. That’s my story of playing musical buses, and how God provided exceedingly abundantly more than I could ask or imagine yet again. We serve such an awesome God! Don’t you ever forget that, you hear?

“And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” ~ Philippians 4:19

Categories: Ponderizations | Tags: , | 1 Comment

There and Back Again

Yep, I’m finally home. God took me on a wonderful adventure in the last few weeks, and I’m not quite sure where to start to share it with you. I’m sure bits and pieces of it will come out in the next few months.DSC_5434 Going into the month the plan was for me to serve as a team leader for STEP Advanced, but God had other plans for me. He put me into a different role – Logistics. It wasn’t what I expected, but it was what I needed. God used the month to challenge me in so many ways I can’t even begin to count them, and I’m grateful for the lessons. Here’s just one of the neat snippets from the past month.

During the first week of STEP Advanced the girls got to maneuver through the Low Ropes Course on campus. It is a series of challenges, most of them composed of various cables and logs and ropes. After each challenge we had the girls come up with analogies for how it related to life. There was one particular challenge in which the girls had to cross a long tight cable strung between two trees as an entire team, with a rope hanging from a pulley on a cable above them as their only source of stability. To add to the fun, they weren’t allowed to use any personal pronouns (I, me, my) – and if they accidentally did, they lost their permission to speak for the rest of the challenge. Well, by the end of the challenge one of the teams had only two people left who were able to talk, and those two girls had to tell all the rest of them what to do.

When asked how they could relate that challenge to life, one of the girls shared a pretty neat analogy. She explained that when we’re focusing on ourselves (aka using personal pronouns) we cut off our ability to communicate well with others, and it ends up making it much harder to get the job done. How true! The same is also true when we’re just plain talking with people. When I’m worried about what I want to say and how I’m going to answer someone, the conversation ends up dying in a puddle of awkward silence. But when I really focus on the other person and try to learn about them and invest in their life rather than focus on what I can get from them, the conversation goes so much farther, and I end up coming away feeling much happier too.

So yep, there’s just a teeny snippet from my adventures this June. I’m sure I’ll post plenty of others over the next few months as I attempt to process it all myself. Now it’s your turn. What are some things God has been teaching you this past month? I’d love to hear about them in the comments! (I don’t bite, I promise! 🙂 )

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