Sunday, March 28, 2010

Wrestling with Communion

I've been having a little wrestling match with God about Communion. Without spoiling the surprise, I did not have a Jacob moment. I didn't win.

I love participating in the Lord's Supper. It has always held a sense of awe for me even when I was a child and couldn't participate. I remember the first time I took Communion. I felt so grown up and excited. I think the bread and grape juice were especially amazing that first time! I've had various emotions through the years regarding this tradition. Some experiences have been filled with joy while others seem to weigh me down with the enormity of Christ's sacrifice. This time I was a basket case of determined feelings.

Yesterday I had asked my husband if we were going to participate in the whole Communion service. He said we were. I asked why. He said because. I was very confused because we had never stayed for the entire thing before. Let me explain, because I can tell you are also confused!

Of the many lovely denominations that I have attended before, I have never experienced a three-fold celebration of Communion. What this means is that not only is the bread and the cup shared, but also a full meal (think potluck) and footwashing. There are some within the denomination who feel there is a precise order to which all this should follow, but my fabulous pastor has shaken things up the last few times. Crazy, I know! He's like that! Anyway, the last time we celebrated Communion, we observed the bread and the cup at the end of the regular church service, and then those who wanted stayed for the meal and the footwashing. We chose to avoid the second two parts, but I was so grateful for the opportunity to take Communion in my familiar fashion as it had been years since I had participated due to the previous order of the ceremony.

I have never had my feet washed in a ceremonial fashion before and to be quite frank, it sounded weird to me. Oh, I know it has a beautiful symbolism, but I thought even that was lost on us culturally with our wool sock-covered, warm shoe laden feet. We don't often wear sandals around these parts (unless you are in high school which seems to warrant all kinds of strange apparel choices - oh I'm old). I was also quite positively in disagreement to the sense of absoluteness that the meal and the footwashing were part of what Jesus wanted us to commemorate. I was going with the majority rules argument on that one, along with my extensive Biblical training. (Sarcasm, in case you don't know me well!)

Our church often has what we call "carry-in dinners." This is what I used to call potluck! I had worked all day yesterday painting and hadn't fixed anything as of 9:30 last night. My husband, still positive that we were going to participate in all three parts of Communion, suggested I do a crock pot roast or stew that could just be thrown together and cooked overnight. Oh, fine.

This morning I woke up tired and a bit annoyed that I had to not only participate in this long, drawn out tradition, but I also had to get up early and be at church by 8:00 AM for my man to practice for music worship. I wish I could say I was more supportive, but I wasn't.

I began to read in Isaiah during the practice time while drinking my coffee. This was part of my off-and-on reading and I found myself in chapter 58 which has a subtitle, "True and False Worship." I'll share more on what God told me through that time later, but suffice it to say, I was beginning to feel myself being challenged.

I skipped Sunday School with the excuse that the usual teacher was gone, and I just didn't feel like "sharing." Instead I went to the closest grocery store, milled around, and came back to church in time for the fellowship time before service. By this time, I had looked up in Scripture more reasons to why I was right in my thoughts.

My plan was to participate in the first two aspects and wait in the car for Pat to finish the footwashing. I was sure the wrestling match was over. I was fighting for position hard on this one.

We began to sing one of the songs in the middle of worship and God spoke to me. I can't explain how He did it, but He very clearly said to me, If you won't even wash feet, why would you do anything that really required sacrifice?

I felt my position completely faltering.

If you won't do things that seem impractical, how can I show you my Supernatural?

I'm slipping.

I think you need to get over it.

I'm out. I'm tapping, but He's not done.

You know it's about me, not you. So, on the practical side, are you actively doing the practical things that serve others instead of the symbolic act of washing feet?"

I'm now wishing I could lay flat out in submission and humiliation.

Just at this moment, we began to sing the song, Heart of Worship, and I sang in all earnest, "It's all about you, Jesus."

My heart was so changed through that exchange, and I thoroughly enjoyed every part of our three-part celebration of Communion today. I did not have any momentous breakthrough regarding my feeling of awkwardness during the footwashing. I still think it's weird and uncomfortable! It may not be quite as awkward next time, though.

I also realized that there may be issues that I could possibly be right about, but God is asking me to do it anyway. How about that one. Will I participate in something that God wants me to do when I don't want to do it, and really, it's not a huge salvation issue? How high do I value obedience? I decided today that if God wants me to do something and He clearly states it to me, I will obey. Period. He wins!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Big Picture

This was us when we first entered Alaska; excited and without a clue! We had no agenda, no schedule, and no idea what we would do when we got here. Notice the truck behind us: it alone housed what we brought, along with the trailer and the clearly necessary canoe. We didn't need much then.

God has certainly brought us a long way from this moment 4 1/2 years ago. I think we have both matured in ways that would have only happened in this place. I know I have become much more self-sufficient (in good ways!) than I ever had been. Ironically, I have also become much more dependent than I would have ever believed.

My lack of appearances on this blog of late has been somewhat purposeful. I've been in avoidance mode. The blog-world has truly opened my eyes to the world and life beyond my comfortable places. I have been exposed to women who are fighting cancer, mom's dealing with unfathomable difficulties with their children, people who have dedicated their lives to loving the "least of these" in Africa, a woman who serves on a medical ship off the coast of Africa, and many others.

This exposure gives me a perspective on my own life that keeps me in check, if you will. When I have the correct view, I see my trials as minor in comparison. I don't discount them completely, but I don't give them the momentous focus. Well, lately I have been feeling very sorry for myself. Note the previous post! Yes, just moments after that entry was out, I blew up once again in a tirade of self-pity. I jokingly told myself I should read my own post again. Or maybe that was someOne else!

I have been feeling very alone lately. You see, we have no biological family up here, and I am very close to mine. We have had a lot of things happen this month in my family and it has hurt to be so far away missing in the joys and trials. I began to wallow in my aloneness. I would have moments of reality when friends would ask for prayer for situations much more dire than mine, but my mind would quickly relapse to my poor, poor self. In one of my pity parties, my oh-so-patient-husband challenged me to literally write down the blessings in my life. I told him I couldn't think of any that didn't conversely bring me pain. This is how deep I was sinking in my pit. I was sulking and refusing to look up.

Last week in our Bible study, Priscilla Shirer spoke about Moses. I could never do her justice, so please do her study, Discerning the Voice of God. We are in week 5. Moses had to wait 80 years to hear from God. He waited 40 of those in the desert. Not one of those individual days was wasted as God was using each moment to hone skills that Moses would need to lead God's people out of Egypt. I cannot imagine the level of patience Moses needed or the amount of self-control, wisdom, leadership, shepherding skills, desert information, determination, etc., that God worked into Moses's life to accomplish His will.

I have to admit, I'm afraid. I'm a little afraid that God will ask us to go further away from my family. Don't misunderstand, I would go in a heartbeat, but it would hurt. Sacrifices always do. I have no idea if anything like this would happen. I am being honed - dragged kicking and screaming, but nonetheless honed! I think my family would agree that obedience to Jesus far trumps family ties. Didn't He say something about that? Another post, perhaps!

I'm seeing a bit more clearly. I'm beginning to understand that whatever God purposes for me to do, I am being equipped right now. Not one day is being wasted. This day has a purpose for me, whether I see it or not. I doubt Moses saw the potential benefit in being able to lead a bunch of stupid sheep in the desert mountains. There is a bigger picture. I want to be part of it. I get to be part of it!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Pity Party

Have you ever prayed to hear God's voice, and then when He spoke to you, you didn't particularly care to hear it?

This morning I awoke alone, as my husband is across the inlet, to near white-out conditions outside. For all of you anticipating Spring's kiss of green, I give you my look of annoyance. I know some of you can picture it now! For it is far from Spring in the wild lands of Alaska. It's also far from Spring in the manicured lands of this piece of Alaska. We still have a solid month of winter and March is often the month of many snows. Apparently, this is one of those years. It has proceeded to snow about 8", give or take, since my handsome man left one week ago.

Thus my pity party.

I expressed a bit of my frustration to my manly man yesterday about the peculiar situation of having a double car garage with an extra lean-to, and no place to park my car out of the weather. I had seemingly mistaken our building with two garage doors as a garage, when it is in fact, a shop. Silly me. You can surely see where I got my misguided ideas.

I had lamented the lack of adequate cover when my husband simply suggested I move the project pieces that were placed in this area over and thus allowing my car to fit. Yes, simple. I went out this morning planning to move the car into the garage enabling me to get it out of the way to take the 4x4 truck, as it had just snowed another 4" and blew into our driveway creating a fascinating "U" shape. I knew the car stood no chance against snow that deep.

Let me back up. In case you don't see me on facebook, I took a bit of a spill on Friday night last. I slipped on a patch of ice that was cleverly hiding underneath the newly fallen 4" of snow as of that point. It was rather painful, but I landed pretty well considering and only managed to torque my shoulder pretty hard. Nothing broken, but very sore following. I worked on Saturday and on Sunday did not rest, but rather restacked our porch supply of firewood which is about 6 heaping wheelbarrow loads. Not exactly the best thing for my shoulder.

Back to today: I went out to find I needed to shovel the snow from around my car to first enable me to center it and drive it into the garage. It wasn't too bad for my shoulder, as I tried to use my left arm for the weight. Then I went into the garage for the simple task of moving the projects. I was able to move one project without much issue. Unfortunately, it was not to be with the second. I heaved and I heaved, but alas, the welding cart with the custom bumper atop, would only scoot so far under my limited power. I even used up my super-human anger power to no avail. It was then that I began to feel very sorry for myself. I had to go back outside, scoop more snow, & move the car back over as far from the truck and as close to the garage as possible. Did I mention I had to broom off the 4" of snow from the car, AND the truck? No? O.K., at least I'm not repeating myself. I then pulled the truck out into the driveway and made sure it would make it out. It did. I backed in, pulled out, backed in, pulled out in order to drive down the snow and make it easier for me to drive out if I decided to ever take the car out again.

You may ask if I could have used a snowblower? Why yes, we do own one, but no, I am not able to use it. I have not been given instructions, and even if I had, my shoulder would have prevented me from wielding the beast. Could I have called someone to plow the driveway? Perhaps, though I doubted they would get there in time for me to get to work, plus I couldn't remember who my husband said to call. Besides, there was a "sled-bed", a flatbed that sits on top of a truck bed that allows 2 snowmachines (snowmobiles) to sit atop it, sitting in the driveway as well. I don't think plow guys like things in their way.

Any-hoo, I was quite peeved by the time I got to work. I felt that this was all avoidable, had my husband just been home and done all the work for me. After all, isn't that his job? To take care of me? I thought so. In fact, I was so convinced of the injustice of my situation, that when he called (one of the 2 phone calls he gets to have with me per day) I let him know exactly how I felt. I was not going to budge in my analysis of the morning despite the so-called "solutions" he kept throwing out. He clearly did not understand. I was so frustrated that I cut the call short and told him I needed to get back to work. We hung up.

Then I heard HIM.

That wasn't necessary, was it? You know he hasn't chosen to be away from you, but is trying to provide for you. You already know he didn't leave the items in the garage in your way on purpose. Remember how quickly he was called out to leave? You never mentioned your desire to have those things moved. And why are you relying on him to meet all your needs? Why didn't you ask ME for help in any of those things? I may have had an idea or two. You do remember that when you have tons of rationalizations, that usually means you are wrong? If not wrong, then possibly overreacting. Is this really worth being this upset? By the way, I love you.

Oh shoot. All this happened almost instantly after I hung up the phone. I've been miserable ever since. Please do not console me. My lack of peace is certainly from the Holy Spirit! I cannot call my fabulous husband, so I am waiting for him to call me so I can apologize profusely. I was wrong. I was selfish. I was expecting things that he cannot give me. I saw a friend write today, "A successful marriage is the union between two great forgivers." I am fortunate that I have one. He makes me want to follow his lead and be one too. This was one party that I'm glad is over. Kinda wish I wouldn't have attended!

Monday, March 1, 2010


I'd like to introduce to you my new nephew, Sheperd Ryan! Isn't he beautiful?!
He was born today, and even though I am 3500 miles away, my heart is jumping up and down and wishing I could hold him and watch his older 3 sibling for his mommy and daddy.
That dashing young man is my youngest brother and the gorgeous woman is his beautiful wife and mother of his 4 children! Aren't they so good-looking?! I think so.
I have to admit, I'm not usually one to ooo and aahh over babies. I sort-of think they look like aliens. Especially with the whole growing inside thing. Yep, I'm not a momma! But look at this little guy! Isn't he perfect?! I must hand it to them, they make beautiful babies!
I'm rambling a bit, but I can't help it: I really wish I could have been there. I have never been near for any of their children's births. I have been lucky enough to be able to head to the hospital for all of my sisters 3 and for one SIL's twins. I've missed another SIL's 2, the first SIL's adopted cutie-pie's entrance, and all 4 of my brothers kiddo's. While this may not seem like a big thing to you, I have to say that I absolutely LOVE my siblings. ALL of them! I LOVE their spouses. I have come to realize that this is not a usual thing. Sad, because I LOVE it! The part I HATE is not being there to share these special moments. Even in just the background things.
Someday, I hope to have the ability to spend more time with my siblings and my N&N's! (that's part of the NEED LESS plan!)
Congratulations Adam and Becky! I love you more than you know and will be praying for you and your family!