Friday, September 10, 2010


Just a quickie that I had to share.  Plus a lighten up after my last post. :)

I have a new job.  Yay!  I do hearing screenings in a hospital.

On Wednesday, I was still training, so I was going with this other girl that works there and one of the babies kept spitting up during the test, so to prevent choking and calm him down, I wound up holding the baby, who spat up on me multiple times.  The girl that I work with kept saying that she was so sorry that it happened and poor me, etc.

To which I responded, no big deal, that's why we wear scrubs and I've had worse happen.  (Which I have, I've had projectile vomit and there were lots and lots of potty accidents my first year of teaching, which I have stepped in more than once.)  This was no big deal, but look on her face was pretty funny when I said that I've had worse.

But my mother, who keeps reminding me that not everyone appreciates the topic of lice at the dinner table, would be happy to note that I did not elaborate to this poor girl.

Big Sticks and the Church

I think that God must have a big stick with which He likes to smack me upside the head.  Not because He likes to beat people in the head with sticks, don't get me wrong.  Rather, it's because I am apparently extremely dense.

::Here we can likely insert my dad laughing and exclaiming, "He's just trying to teach you to open doors with your hand, not your head."  Dad's favorite expression.::

Well.  Thanks.

 I think that the story/expression "be careful what you wish for" ought to be changed.  Instead it should be, be careful what you pray for.

And here my smarter, more experienced friends laugh.

For example, I do not have a lot of patience.  Yes, it is a virtue.  No, it is not one that I naturally possess.  People and things aggravate me pretty clearly.  People who waste time in meetings asking questions that have already been answered.  The lady behind me in line who's kid just hit me with the cart for the third time.  The fan in the bathroom in our apartment that automatically comes on when you hit the lights.

This one confounds Josh.  Why do you hate the fan?  Because it's loud, I say.  In actuality, it's because I can't control it.  I like to be in control.  (Yes, that's one of the issues related to the stick.)  But why does the fan get to decide that it has to be on because the lights are?  Clearly I am a much more capable decision maker than the fan.  I digress...

But sometimes I don't turn the lights on just to spite that stupid fan.

So here we rewind to my first job as a retail associate at Ann Taylor Factory store.  Here is a place ripe with opportunities to practice patience.  People who are rude to sales associates.  The lady who comes in at the height of business on Saturday every week to return eighty items (this is not an exaggeration, this was a literal weekly occurrence).  What is my response?  "Dear God, please give me patience."


God has such a sense of humor, doesn't He?  His response?  Teach for America.  22 four-year-olds, alone, for eight hours a day.  Insane four-year-olds.  What a lesson.

And, yet, I am apparently a slow learner.

So here we are in 2010.  I finished teaching and Teach for America in May, got married and moved back to Virginia in June and am trying to decide what to do with my life.  I am blessed with the time, energy and supportive spouse to do it.  I should be happy.  And I am.  But I'm also fairly torn up from my school experiences.

It sounds silly, I know.  But I had a very hard time leaving them and their stories behind.  I think I experienced some culture shock, honestly.  All I can think about is the fact that I have abandoned these kids, that I feel and always felt powerless to help specific ones.  It's hard to explain how I felt and how I still feel.  What might explain it best is the worship song from Hillsong, "Hosanna," which makes me cry every time I hear it.

The chorus of the song goes like this,
"Heal my heart and make it clean,
Open up my eyes to the things unseen.
Show me how to love like You loved me.
Break my heart for what breaks Yours
Everything I am for Your Kingdom's cause.
As I walk from earth into eternity."

I love that song, but I don't need to sing that song.  God has already broken my heart.  The first time a child indicated to me that he was being abused and the system tied my hands.  The time I visited a student in the hospital because he almost died from injuries sustained after his mom's boyfriend had a fight with her and he hit her car with the kids inside in response.  When a child showed signs of sexual abuse and I reported it through the correct channels and nothing happened.

God bless Josh for putting up with me trying to repair myself.  I know it hasn't been easy and I love him for it.

So we have been looking for a church.  We finally found one, which I'm very excited about.  I'll discuss it in another post because this one, like all of my posts, is becoming very long.  But in the midst of looking for a church that shared our beliefs and had opportunities to serve God, we discovered some very disturbing things.

A.  Many churches are very insulated.  They minister to their members and that's about it.

Church should be a place where believers should be ministered to.  It should be a place where they can grow and develop spiritually.  This is not wrong.  But being only about your members is wrong.  Have they read their Bibles?  In Acts, Jesus specifically states, "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." (Acts 1:8 NIV)  Be witnesses.  That's pretty explicit.

B.  Many churches are not involved in the local community.

We were really blessed in Houston to be members of an amazing church that was changing the local community.  (  We didn't think that it was so rare, though.  When we visited new churches, we always attended the new visitors meeting afterward and we always asked the same question, "What do you do to invest in and minister to your local community?  How do you bring in nonbelievers or new believers?"

Some churches were doing really cool things.  McClean Bible Church has an amazing ministry dedicated to people with disabilities, which is an often under-reached (especially in terms of ministry) population.

Others, we were shocked, were completely surprised by our question.  "The local community?  I mean, we tell people to invite their neighbors.  But we give a lot of money to ministries in Africa."  Really?  Inviting your neighbors is great.  That is a good practice.  But that's it?  God commissioned us to serve.  As James said, "faith, by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead." (James 2:17 NIV)  And I'm not saying that giving to Africa and supporting international missions is wrong.  I'm not saying that at all.  If God called you to work internationally, then you should definitely follow that calling.

But what I am saying is that God has a heart for the WORLD and that includes the United States.  He charges us to be good stewards of our money and part of that involves using it to further His work.  But He also charges us to be good stewards of our gifts and that includes our time and talents.  We are so quick to look outside our borders for places to give aid, that we so often forget the suffering and hurt in our own backyard.  It might be crippling poverty, or abuse or death of a loved one.  It might be a struggling marriage or an inability to adequately care for children.  It could be disability or mental illness or homelessness.  It could be depression or substance abuse or incarceration.  The  United States needs God just as much as Africa does.

Even Mother Teresa who was called to the slums of India addressed this, "Around the world, not only in the poor countries, but I found the poverty of the West so much more difficult to remove. When I pick up a person from the street, hungry, I give him a plate of rice, a piece of bread, I have satisfied. I have removed that hunger. But a person that is shut out, that feels unwanted, unloved, terrified, the person who has been thrown out from society — that poverty is so hurtable and so much, and I find that very difficult.”  She also addressed the spiritual poverty so prevalent in the United States.  If she could see it after witnessing so much in India, why can't we?

Clearly, God has given me a heart and a calling to the United States.

A couple of weeks ago, my mom and I attended the Women of Faith conference in Washington, D.C.  My parents gave it to me as a gift because they thought it might be "healing."  And it really was.  It was so great.  Many of the speakers were very amusing (I thought that I might pee on myself from laughing so hard at Anita Renfroe) and also insightful and I have just felt so much better since.  Prayer and laughter are often the best medicines, aren't they?

But here comes the moment of the big stick.

Throughout the conference, I was reflecting on what God called these women to, their journeys and the way that they could reach so many people for Him.  Which, naturally, resulted in me thinking on what He could be calling me to.  And I prayed that suicidal prayer, "God I want to live my life for You and I want to accomplish the work that you have laid out for me."


What does He do?  Gives me an unblinkingly clear vision on a Metro ride back from seeing the Smithsonian with Josh.  And not an easy little project.  A ridiculous one that will take a lot of money and space and time and volunteers that I don't even know where to begin.  One that I'm not prepared to share yet and that I'm nervous didn't come from God.  But it was so clear that I'm not sure that it could have come from anywhere else.


And in my head and my heart I worry that I can't do what He has shown me.  So what happens?  A little voice in my head keeps telling me to read about Rahab in the Bible.  (Actually this started long before the vision, so maybe it was in preparation.)

Really?  Read the Bible?  I don't do that often enough.  I grew up in a tradition where it wasn't especially encouraged and, though I've tried repeatedly, I haven't yet been able to lodge it as a habit.  So, I ignore it for a few solid weeks until I finally break down and it leads me to the Book of Joshua about whom I know nothing.  My study Bible indicates that I should read up on his life in Exodus and Numbers, so I do and this is a basic rundown of what I learn:

Joshua basically becomes one of Moses' right hand guys when the Israelites are wandering through the desert.

Can I take a time-out for just a second?  I so appreciate that the Israelites are God's chosen people.  They were obviously not chosen for merit.  I mean, God frees them from slavery in Egypt and then when there isn't food, God makes bread rain down from Heaven.  Literally bread falls from the sky and all they have to do is pick it up from the ground.  So then they complain that there isn't enough of a variety of food and that they were better off as slaves in Egypt.  When Moses goes up to Mount Sinai for a couple of weeks, they decide that God has abandoned them and make a calf out of gold and worship it thanking it for freeing them from slavery.  They, who have seen bread fall from the sky, make a freaking calf out of gold and worship it and complain about not being slaves anymore.  Thank you, God, for choosing the Israelites because if You can make something out of them, then You can make something out of me.

Back to Joshua.  When Moses dies, God chooses Joshua to replace him.  Although the written conversation in Joshua chapter 1 is pretty one-sided, it seems to indicate that Joshua is rather hesitant about the job because God tells him, "Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it.  Then you will be prosperous and successful.  Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."  (Joshua 1:8-9)

Okay, fine.  I'm still not sure about this, but I definitely felt the stick on that one.

Maybe next time I should duck.