Saturday, December 22, 2012

Christmas Expectations

It’s the time of year when all eyes should be on God, but like always Christmas time is no different than any other. We say every year, “it doesn’t feel like Christmas.” What is this feeling that we’re anticipating? Excitement? Extra joy? Some strange cool electricity in the air? What exactly do we expect from this season? I expect and I need to meet with a Holy God, because let me tell you how I really feel in this particular season—loneliness, loss, confusion, restlessness. And if I do not meet face to face with the Almighty God than the weariness that I feel in my soul may begin to ooze out of my finger tips, my eyes, and my heart.

Isn’t that what the Christmas season is about? Expectation. The expectation that God will move, mankind holding its breath and waiting to see the Lord of the universe will intersect and redeem the loneliness, loss, confusion, restlessness that the separation from Him create daily. How good God is to meet our expectations as we least expect and truly need. I am trusting for that and remembering quietly that “the hopes and fears of all the years are met in Thee tonight.”

Saturday, May 12, 2012

This was the worst week I can remember in a long time. School was hard, home was hard, and Friday night I totaled my car.

I have been emotional all week. I think I cry more as an adult than I ever did as a kid. And yet, I have been cognizant and reminded of God's grace.

Things are going to be okay, and I can only trust that God will use these bumps to make me more like him.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Today I was having a conversation with a student in the hall. He made a comment about white people, and then after a moment followed it up with "oh sorry Ms. Jackson-- I forgot you were white."

He wasn't kidding or being rude. I was doing nothing out of the norm. Simply greeting my students as they came through my door or passed me in the hallway. I think it was a kingdom moment. A moment where, while J. is Hispanic and I am white, it didn't matter. He didn't notice. While he was making a comment about race, for a split second he simultaneously forgot about mine.

I look forward to Heaven, where we won't remember what our races are because we will all be worshipers of Jesus Christ and that will be the only thing that matters.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

He sleeps next to me like this every night. Funny as it sounds, and with the risk of being called a "cat lady", I am really lucky.

"You'll All Have Chins"

This is a terrible quality youtube video of my favorite moment in 30 Rock Liz Lemon history. Turn up the volume, and you're welcome!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Oh yeah. "Ms. Jackson got tatted!"

On Clinging to My Rights With Tight Fists

Today I had a breakdown on the phone with my mother.

It began by me telling her that I started googling YWAM DTS, and the peace corps this morning. It ended with me telling her that I was going to be 40 and never have done anything in life that I wanted to do. It was my fear of failure and of being alone all rolled into hysterics. I told her I always did the responsible thing.

I chose the gas efficient, cheap to maintain car.

I didn't go on a DTS between high school and college.

I didn't study abroad.

I didn't go teach abroad when I graduated college in 2009 so that I could pay off my loans.

I didn't apply for grad school in a new town, but instead applied to UNCG so I could (responsibly) work and go to school at the same time.

I am 25, not dating anyone and there are no prospects so I will never have a husband and a family like I had always dreamed.

Here's my list of things to do before I die:

Things I want to do before I die:

Have foster children
Have my own children
Teach in another country
Write a book
Go back to Mexico
Learn another language
Lead someone to Christ
Make straight As for a semester [done]
Memorize a book of the Bible
Fall in love and learn to live it out for 70 some years
Learn to be not easily angered, full of love in every manner
Go backpacking
Go on a road trip through the Western part of the country
Grow a tree
Be in a play
Go to Africa and work with orphans [done]
See NYC skyline
Go to graduate school

This morning I became terrified of being trapped. That some day I would be 50 and I would still be waking up every Saturday morning, making eggs and watching Dr. Quinn while doing laundry. I panicked and it all resulted in babbling and blubbering.

Then Mom told me that I chose a profession in which I made very little money. A profession that I love and do gladly. I need some perspective. I normally am very level-headed...and responsible.

I had a similar moment on Wednesday evening, at a birthday party. I was talking to a friend about how Emily (my roommate) was going to Uganda for the summer. I am overwhelmed with jealousy and simultaneously with sadness over the fact that my friend is leaving me for the summer and as I was sharing these feelings, my friend said, "Well, it's not like you own her." And I snapped. "That's the problem! I have no one to call my own." My ugly fears surfaced and I saw that I was letting my emotions of feeling left behind and being unaccomplished sneak in.

I confess to giving into my weaknesses. I was reading this morning and I came upon this:

"Something that keeps us from falling to the ground like a seed is the fact that there are so many things we believe we are entitled to. We hold a fistful of hopes and dreams and desires and wants. I don't mean material things, although it is certainly possible. But those things are easier to recognize. Rather, it is the things we believe we are owed to us.

Brokenness is evident when you no longer react to with your previous flesh patterns when the following rights are challenged:
Your right to a good reputation.
Your right to have acceptance.
Your right to be successful.
Your right to have pleasant circumstances.
Your right to beauty or strength.
Your right to have friends.
Your right to be heard.
Your right to take offense.
Your right to avoid reaping what you sow.
Your right to be right.
Your right to see results.
Your right to be loved by others.

These rights are the breeding ground for my masks. They are like seeds planted in the soil of my soul. If I continue to care for them and feed them and give them time to grow, then their roots travel deep..."

When I cling with a tight fist to these things I become emotional, jealous, and frustrated.

Oh Lord, let me be like Jesus-- who had every right to claim his rights, yet humbled himself even to death. Let me listen to you well so I can follow you closely and not get distracted with where I think I should be or what I think I should be doing. Let me be and do what you would have me.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Not the Triumph

This week has been so long.

Meetings about a suicidal student, meetings about a student who has been in a fight, meetings about a bipolar student. Reports to the Student Resource Officer, Proctoring the ACT for five hours, Checking up on a student who has been kicked out of his parent's home.

No one showed up for FCA this week, and the leaders didn't communicate with me...So I sat in my empty classroom at 7:30 at night.

Sometimes it's all so overwhelming. I knew it was a chance to pray for my kids. I read a devotional for a little while, but I couldn't focus. I wrote a quiz and went to the grocery store.

I am a missionary, I have to remind myself. I am there to love, and I feel like so often I am not even effective. My worries overtake me, and I feel spent. This week too, I have been on the brink of sickness.

Two more days in this week.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Wise words and a Craft

"I've got shackles on, my words are tied
Fear can make you compromise
Fasten up, it's hard to hide
Sometimes I want to disappear"

Monday, February 6, 2012

I have to remember this.

"You can survive on your own. You can grow strong on your own. You can even prevail on your own. But you cannot become human on your own." - Buechner

Sunday, January 29, 2012

I need a bigger pocket.

"We need enormous pockets, pockets big enough for our families, & friends, & even the people who aren't on our lists, people we've never met but still want to protect. We need pockets for boroughs & for cities, a pocket that could hold the universe." [Extremely Close and Incredibly Loud]

Monday, January 16, 2012

Reflections on the Light of Christmas: in January.

It's January now. The thrill of winter has long since worn off. I love the month of December. There are Christmas movies being played, parades, festivals, advent, my birthday, etc. All of that causes me to feel so much joy and excitement. Now I start to feel the call of the beach with it's waves, the desire to take my bike for a ride through Greensboro's shaded streets, to sit in the yard just soaking up the sunshine and yet I find that I cannot participate in any of these activities because it is so cold. A friend once said, "Since it got cold I haven't seen you take your coat off or smile." This is an accurate way to describe my relationship with winter.

The other night I finally went to snap a picture of the sweet Moravian church across the street from us. It was decorated so beautifully for Christmas and all of December, I had thought to myself that I should take a picture of it. Fortunately, I took a picture when I did because the next day the decorations were gone.

I wanted to remember how the light looked shining in the darkness. And suddenly I realized that when Jesus came into our world that is exactly how it seemed: God had not communicated with his people in 400 years. They are called "the silent years", because of the waiting without any word. Jesus comes and it is like a burst of light in the darkness of the world and like a yell into the silence that God had not forgotten his promise.

This year, all the Christmas lights meant a little something different. They reminded me that Jesus was the light to us, and they made me think of the joy people should feel when they experience that light. They also reminded me that we are to be a light to those around us. Light can be offensive when you've been in the dark for a long time, but it can also be a welcome experience.

I want to treasure the light as this dark, cold winter goes on, just as Mary held all the things concerning Jesus' birth in her heart and pondered them.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Cat Theology

I took Italics to the vet last week. I was filled with apprehension and I'd put it off a long time, but I knew that it was (obviously) what needed to be done to keep my cat boy healthy. I knew it wasn't going to be pleasant because he is all tiger.

I warned the nurse as she took him out of his carrier. She thanked me and told me many cats were like that. I thought, "lady, you have no idea..." He was calmish though being weighed and getting his temperature taken, but I could see that he was simply getting pushed to the edge- I was anticipating meltdown while the unsuspecting nurse assumed all was fine.

Italics began to hiss and fight, and since he wouldn't calm down the nurse decided to bring in the big guns: a man-woman with a pair of hawking gloves.

Between nurses,Italics scrambled to get to me for safety, but the nurse took him back to the table. They didn't stay on the table for long, and they ended up wrestling on the floor so the vet could give T- cat his shots. Tally screamed and struggled, causing my stomach to be tied in knots. When I got in the car, I confess that I cried a little.

As I'd put Italics in the car, I thought to myself, "This must be a bit how God feels-- though I know Italics will hate this trip, I know it's for his good." How often do we go through something hard that we must endure, but that God doesn't delight in putting us through? How often does his heart grieve for us as we endure? In the car, I was moved to tears because watching Tally struggle had been so hard. His trip could have been much easier, but instead of trusting that I hadn't brought him there to be attacked he struggled. Maybe God weeps when he sees us struggle and fight against something that will ultimately bring us good. Often I think that God is withholding or causing my struggles and I become resentful. What if it's not so much that God is causing my pain but allowing it? I've "known" this, but today I feel like I experienced the other side of it.