Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Vacation Servitude

 I recently got back from an amazing vacation.
 After being gone to California for a month for work, my husband decided we needed to go on a cruise to celebrate our upcoming 10th Anniversary and reconnect.  We went to the Caribbean on Norwegian and loved it all!  We ate delicious food;
 We enjoyed a variety of wonderful shows;
 And we got to dress up in summer clothes!  That may seem like a silly thing, but to me, this was huge!
 During our time of planning and then enjoying this amazing blessing, I was conflicted off and on.  Was this the right thing to do with our money?  Especially since we are trying to do with less.  Does this make us hypocritical?
I never really resolved these questions entirely, but I have a clear conscious.  Mostly because it's done and I can't change that part.  One thing that we could do on this trip was to make sure we were full of grace throughout.  It was an amazing thing to feel how entitled we felt once we entered this land of luxury.  Any small inconvenience was initially felt as a huge affront to us personally.  I am so glad that Pat took the lead to use these moments to extend grace to others.  It made the trip so much more enjoyable for us, but it also gave us perspective through the trip.  We found ourselves reaching out and wanting to connect with those who were meant to serve us.  We talked as extensively as we could with our Maitre 'D, Assistant Maitre 'D, our waiters, the guest services people, our shore excursion directors, etc.  We learned how difficult it was for them to be away from family, how they met their spouses on the ship, and how they had plans for when they would be done with their contracts!  I left realizing that my goal had been to let them know that I thought they were people and valuable.  I wanted to let them know I cared about them.
I don't know if God wants us to forgo all things that are beyond the necessary, but I do believe we can share His love in everything we do.  This was one place where we felt the push to feel superior to those who were serving us, and we had the opportunity to lift them up.  I am so thankful for a husband who can see how to serve others even in the midst of a vacation!  I can't wait to see how God molds us in the next decade!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Kisses From Katie ~ Book Review

I had pre-ordered this book when I first heard that I could.  In fact, I accidentally ordered 2!  Interestingly, it has taken me a long time to actually pick it up and read it.  I knew that it would convict me of all the things I like to complain about through the winter.  I knew that it would show me how to see Jesus in the people that I wasn't sure I wanted to be near.  I knew it would break my heart.

I guess I didn't feel like being broken.  I thought that if I held myself together with my list of complaints and rationalizations, it would feel better.  Maybe it would have, but only if you are willing to be broken can you experience healing.

I just finished this book and it was everything I had thought it would be.  Katie's story is really pretty simple:  she said "yes" to Jesus.  It's not an easy story, parts of it are excruciating, hilarious, disgusting, and beautiful.  It is a real and honest look at the costs and joy of following Jesus for one particular person.

Not everyone's journey of following Jesus will look like Katie Davis', but reading about her story and how her realizations of how American materialism takes the need for Jesus away struck a chord.  We live in a time and place where if we need something, we go get it.  I am especially guilty of this.  When the Autumn season arrives, my husband and I have to consciously stop buying things we want for the sole purpose of leaving something for gifts.   I haven't ever had to rely on Jesus to provide my needs, though He does.  I know we rationalize our feelings here by saying that God gave us our jobs and we do them well, and that is how He provides.  Yes, that's true, but that scenario relies heavily on my own power.  I've never been in a place where Jesus was the only option.  There is a part of me that desires that level of closeness with Jesus, then honestly, there is the selfish part of me (a way bigger and stronger part) that sees the costs and wonders if its worth it.  Then I remember how dissatisfied I am with my cushy life and wonder if its worth it not to follow Jesus with complete and utter abandon.

I read Katie's story, and it has given me an even greater sense of anticipation of what God has for us next.  I do sense that God will move us.  I don't know where or when, or really even for sure.  I now have more assurance that it will be hard, excruciating even, hilarious, disgusting, and beautiful.  It will be worth it.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Water, Water Everwhere

There is nothing that could make you feel more inadequate than luxuriously filling up a tub with hot, clean water, eating a Cadbury egg (one of my weaknesses), and then relaxing while reading about Katie Davis and the beginning of her adventures in Uganda.  I'd like to try and defend my ludicrous waste of water by stating that after my adjustment yesterday, my back is extremely sore and I feel a cold coming on.  You know I just can't have a cold before I go on our Caribbean cruise!  Even using my new razor made me feel guilty.  It's one that has the bar of moisturizing cream all around the razor and actually works really well!  (Notice how I  just skimmed over that cruise part.)

And just so you know, that is a random picture above.  I would never show you my bathroom with the peeling caulk and beyond-ability-to-clean-shower grout.  And I would sooner show you my bathroom than me in the tub.  I digress...

The last two years we have been trying to sell our house and live more simply for the ultimate goal of giving more of our income to others.  That sounds so good!  We thought so.  We actually still do.  We haven't sold said house yet, but we have begun the process of giving more to others.  It has made us feel really good.  It has been good.  But I don't think that will be the end of it.

As good as all the good things are that we can do, they are never enough.  I'm feeling as though I can't "check the box" here.  I like to do that.  Check boxes, I mean.  Sometimes I like to do good things, and honestly, sometimes I don't.  Giving up my time/resources is a tough thing for me.  I guess that's why it's called sacrifice.  The continuing realization that people are not just suffering, but dying from a lack of things that I take for granted (like a tub full of clean water at the turn of a knob), is continually gnawing at me.  There are also opportunities to help at a more local level.  You might be surprised how much help people need in our own communities.  "The ends of the earth" includes both near and far, not one or the other.

So basically, if I want to be super comfy and shallow, I will quit reading about others giving up everything for others to show God's love.  Wait, that's pretty much Jesus' story.  Instead I guess I will continue to navigate this uncomfortable balance of seeing all the injustice in the world and doing my drop in the bucket while feeling like I'm drinking my big glass full.