Monthly Archives: April 2008

Just Another Manic Monday

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So, my day begins.  I’m still a little bitter about the fact that I woke up in amidst a hot flash a few hours prior and immediately stormed the house in a sweaty panic looking for an extra fan to cool my hot self back to sleep.  Thank you, sister, for your prompt attention to this matter.

On the other hand, I am pretty satisfied with my night’s sleep because it was one of those that erroneously seemed to last much longer than it truly was.  Then I kinda got startled as I opened my bedroom door and noted that the TV was still blasting and realized our windows were wide open with the blinds pulled back revealing everything to the world.  I then realized my sister’s friend had opted to crash in the middle of our family room as my sister’s room resembled more of a hot sauna or steambath than comfortable sleeeping accommodations.

As I rushed and got ready for work, I was feeling pretty proud of my 12 minute timing and was ready to head out the door with my lunch, dinner, and snacks packed for the day along with a bag to go to the gym right after tutoring.  Totally on it for a Monday, if I do say so myself.  I jumped in RegEnDev ready for the week which includes building a bike for my upcoming triathlon, having my mom visit during work Wednesday,  two days of sub coverage to get stuff done for the impending testing that’s right around the corner, and a weekend FCA reunion in Santa Barbara.  So, really, a pretty stellar week up ahead.  You know you’re jealous.

So, I continue along my merry way.  I remember seeing several of the same students I see everyday at the bus stop and wonder if they’re beginning to recognize me as well…or if I’m too sporadic in my departure times to really even be noted.  I go through one stop sign, then another.  And that’s when I hear it.  We all know the dreaded sound.  Sirens.  And not just any sirens.  Sirens that are clearly after you.  So I obligingly pull over and here’s the conversation that followed after I manually rolled down Reg’s window (thankfully the sticky sticker has given way enough that this is a possibility; not so a few days ago):

Officer: “So, do you know why I pulled you over?”   

Me:  “Yeah, I just ran a stop sign”

Officer: “Two actually.  And the second one I was right behind you.”

Me: “Oh, yeah.  Oops.”  Must have been when I was looking for my make up brush to scoop up some of the make up that spilled on my middle console and that I still use daily for the sake of saving money.  Don’t think this interaction is gonna help any in the save money department.

Officer: “Are you in a hurry to go to work?  Where do you work?”

Me: “Yeah, I guess.  I’m a teacher at Gompers Middle School in Watts.”  Yeah, I admit it…trying to get mercy points here.  I mean something’s gotta give, right?!  It’s Monday morning!

Officer: “Woah, that might be more dangerous than my job…license and registration?”

Me: Actually, after the recent news and local street closings due to your fellow officers being shot and the shooters subsequently found hiding in my neighbor’s jacuzzi, I find it hard to believe you really think my job is more dangerous. “Actually, I just bought my car and interestingly enough, my registration got in the mail Saturday and I didn’t bring it with me.  I do have my license.  Although, the address is wrong.  I did go to the DMV and tell them about the address change” Too much information, I know.  What I didn’t say was that I updated my address two years ago at my previous address change, in which they never sent me a new license.  Really doesn’t seem like my problem though.  Disorganization serves noone good.

So, that’s how it got started.  But, the big revelation came next.  As he was writing my ticket, I found myself enjoying my time just sitting.  I had the opportunity to apply makeup without having to worry about driving at the same time, which I found to be much safer, less stressful, and led to a more even application.  I also was able to sing along to Matt Redman and really started thanking God for the reminder to just sit and savor time with him.  And that’s subsequently when I realized I am absolutely too busy.  To be praising God for a traffic violation solely for the opportunity to sit is pretty sick.  I need a change of life pace.  And soon.  All of this peace lasted about three to five minutes until I realized I was blocking a driveway in which two cars were waiting to leave.  I tried moving to let them out…but, you guessed it…cops aren’t too fond of that.  He loudly proclaimed they could wait and I sat where I was.  Embarrassing.

But, he did apologize for yelling at me afterwards and “just gave me a citation for running the one stop sign since that’s what he was put there to do since they’re having problems with it lately”.  Well, no wonder.  It’s a pointless stop sign.  And I probably run it three times daily.  So, really, I can’t be too mad.  The nice officer “just advised me on the second stop sign” rather than citing me twice for the same violation one block apart from each other.  What a saint!

Any other interesting citations amongst my blogging friends?

                                                                              

 

 

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Dynamic and deliberate

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As of late, I have been encouraged, inspired, and reminded of God’s faithfulness. And the reality that a relationship with Him is just like any other in the respect that it is constantly evolving and changing and growing. How astounding that the Creator of the Universe desires to have an intimate relationship with me. I am thankful for my mom’s request to hear how I became a Christian now almost nine years ago….crazy to not have shared that! I am grateful for my dad’s confliction over Sunday’s sermon and the questions and conversations it prompted. All of it reminds me that God desires to have each one of us constantly be striving to know Him more and be more aware of His presence.

The past few months, I have been taking a course at the Bible College offered through my church on Galatians and Ephesians. I have thoroughly enjoyed the consistency this brought to my spiritual life and the fire it lit to learn more and grow more. Through the people in my class, my professor, and ultimately the Holy Spirit, I have been challenged to dig deeper. Although I am sad tonight was our last class, I will be taking a course on Prayer next semester starting May 14th. I feel like I got a little sneak peak tonight in class. John mentioned the fact that a majority of (if not all) the prayers in the New Testament are commands (i.e. in the storm, Jesus commands “Be still”. The Lord’s Prayer “Thy will be done, Thy Kingdom come”) and they are approached in a positive light (“Be healed”, “Be cleansed” rather than “Do not be in pain any longer”, “Do not be dirty anymore”). This really shed a light onto my prayer life. So often, I find myself requesting selfish prayers such as “take my anxiety away…help me stop worrying” rather than declaring the promises I have in Jesus “Give me peace. Calm my heart.” etc. A slight shift of semantics, really, but with powerful implications!

Also on my heart lately has been the importance of ‘community’ (one of the Christian buzz words, I know…but still!) and accountability. Sometimes I worry that I get too caught up in this…but really, in being created in His image, we are relational beings so it’s only natural that I would desire these relationships in my life. And I am thankful for the people He has placed in my life to bring stability, accountability, and encouragement! He is a good God who loves us well.

Good Reads?

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In anticipation for the upcoming summer break (okay, I know we still have nine weeks) I am starting to compile a reading list! Through books mentioned in Bible College, books people have written about in blogs, books friends have suggested, ones I’ve seen while meandering through the bookstore, etc. I have started a list. Of course, I know it is a little overly ambitious…but I’d like to get some feedback to narrow it down! Let me know if you’ve read any, heard of any, suggest that I not read some, etc. Or, of course, if you have some other suggestions, I’ll take those as well!

-“A New Kind of Urban Christian” by Tim Keller
-“What’s So Amazing About Grace?” by Phillip Yancey
-“Invitation to Solitude and Silence” by Ruth Barton
-“The Cross on the Switchblade” by David Wilkerson
-“I Dared to Call Him Father” by Bilquis Sheikh
-“In His Steps” by Charles Sheldon
-“They Shall Expel Demons” by Derek Prince
-“The Cross in the New Testament” by Leon Morris
-“Bone of His Bone” by F. J. Huegel
-“Why We’re Not Emergent: by Two Guys who Should Be” by K. DeYoung and T. Kluck
-“Serve God, Save the Planet” by Matthew Sleeth
-“The Irresistable Revolution” by Shane Claiborne
-“Living Beyond Yourself” by Beth Moore
-“A Heart for the City” by John Fuder
-“Now How Shall We Live” by Charles Colson
-“Total Truth” by Nancy Pearcey

Bye, Bye Bare Minerals

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So, this morning on my way to work while applying my make-up (yes, on my way to work. I know. I am a very unsafe driver. Consider this your warning, if you have not yet taken a ride with me! However, I do like to claim that my passengers, if they were to have their eyes closed, would never realize I was applying make up, eating oatmeal, texting, and/or steering with my knees. As I try to de-stress and simplify my life though, these are some of the multi-tasking habits that have gone first…so do not fret, dear readers of mine! Safety is my number one concern), my whole container of Bare Minerals make up (if you don’t know what this is, it’s all powder…I’m sure you know where this is going…and you should really try it out if you haven’t) spilt over the passenger side of my car, my armrest, the thing where you move from drive to park (what is that called?), and the floor. I momentarily got a little frustrated, but quickly realized it was salvageable. Now, of course, I couldn’t sweep it all up back into the container or much gets lost in the process. And we all know how seriously I am taking this getting out of debt mission I am on…trying not to waste a dime (although that oreo shake last night would probably be considered a “waste”, particularly right after my workout, but it tasted oh-so-good and was well worth the change I dug out from the bottom of my purse and in Reg’s cup holders) so, I just took my little applicator brush, swept it right across one of the piles and continued applying my make up at that red light. This will be the method I use until Friday, when I think it will be all used up. Unfortunately, spilling the make up definitely means I’ll have to make a stop to purchase some more before my flight home on Friday evening, because I just can’t rationalize dust-busting up the remains to put them back in a container able to travel home with me. We used to have rabbits and that’s primarily what the dustbuster was used for. And that’s just gross.

I really can’t believe I just blogged about this, particularly with much more useful things to blog about. I was just amused on my way to work and as I have students silently testing in my room (thank you, Testing Coordinator who can’t really speak Spanish confidently, much less read it, and I have a student in here who moved from Mexico yesterday. God bless her. Welcome to the USA, home of the standardized tests and dehumanizing of students. I mean really. Gotta love NCLB.), I decided what better time to blog away then these few spare moments I have here. It really was not enough time to get deep enough into the Rest & Renewal experiences…but those will shortly follow. As soon as I process through more of it.

FUNNY INTERACTION WITH STUDENT:
I was showing a student, Joshua Cubie (yes, Cubie is his last name), the video of when I did the Zipline at Rest & Renewal. It is essentially just me screaming as you see the landscape pass by me below. He asked why I was scared and my response was, “Well, I was really high”. It was only after I verbalized this that I realized what I had said. But, his response was simple, “oh”. And he really thought I was speaking about a marijuana-type high. After giggling a little from the shock, I had to clarify that I was high in the air, not high on drugs. He was just like, “oh, I thought you meant you were really high and was going all crazy and stuff.” From a student’s perspective, wouldn’t you find it strange that a teacher would be talking to him about being high?!?

In His Hands…

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That time has come again.  Today marks the fourth year since Kisha passed away.  Today is what would have been her 25th birthday.  I think back on my 25th year that has just recently concluded; it was one of my favorite and I can’t help but be sad she isn’t able to experience it for herself.  However, there is a part of me as I learn more about Heaven and eternity; that is also a little panged with jealousy in knowing where she is. 

 

It is interesting that oftentimes when we go through trials, we are unable to understand why things are going on.  Although I do not fully comprehend His entire purpose in her death, hindsight has given me the ability to see the good that He has promised would come out of things like this.  During her last week at the hospital, I promised her that I would share her story….His story through her….often.  Of course, as time has passed, I haven’t shared it as much as I would have liked to believe I was going to.  Many of you know this story, some of you do not.  I will probably do it a disservice in trying to convey it in a written format, but I hope you will be able to see His sovereignty through it all.

 

Kisha and I became friends my sophomore year (her freshman) at the University of North Texas.  She was a track athlete and was often around our dorm.  We instantly hit it off and became practically inseparable.  Of course, with anybody you spend that much time with, feelings were hurt and there are a lot of things I regret about our relationship.  The main one is how much I turned her off to God, prompting her even once to tell me that I made her hate God.  What terrible words to hear.  Particularly when they ring true.

 

In March of 2004, I attended a service at Fellowship that convicted me about my relationship with Kisha.  They were encouraging us to think about what we had in our lives that we were not surrendering to God.  I wanted so much to have Kisha fall in love with Jesus, I had taken it into my own hands and ruined it (thankfully God is much bigger than my mistakes!).  I instantly turned it over to the Lord, cried about it, and apologized to her for all I had done wrong.  And it was a lot.  It was interesting watching her in the last month of her life.  She expressed to me doubts about some things that were going on in her life (that, in looking back, shows me God totally moving in her heart).  She let me know she was just waiting for things to be perfect (to which I replied, you know they’re never going to be until we’re in Heaven).  And, she knew in her last week that she would be dying in a car accident.  Unfortunately, I kinda scoffed at this idea although many of our last conversations revolved around this.  She said she wasn’t afraid, that she had become closer to God during that week because rather than turning to me she would turn straight to Him, and I found out later she had even been talking to another Christian friend at night asking questions about salvation and Heaven.  Her mom remembers seeing her a few weeks prior and it struck her how much she looked like an angel.  God was definitely leading her life.

 

Our last interaction was something I will hold in my heart forever.  She was going to go on a motorcycle ride with a friend and we were supposed to go to her Aunt’s later that day.  That morning, her mom called, she called her brothers, and she even heard from her dad.  We were watching Venus and Serena.  Her friend called to let her know he was outside waiting.  When she got to the door, she turned back and told me she loved me.  And reminded me that it would probably be the last time she would tell me that in person.  I asked if there was anything she wanted me to tell to anybody and she told me to “just let them know that I love them”.  She came back to give me a hug and I said, “Just make sure you have Jesus in your heart and I’ll see you when I get to Heaven.”   It is very evident the Holy Spirit was guiding this conversation because, really, who has a conversation like this when your best friend tells you she’s going to die?!  She came back in a few minutes later with her helmet on to say a quick “Hey, girl” (those of you that know her can hear her saying this) and headed back out.  A few hours later, she called to let me know that she would just meet me at Monica’s.  Little did I know that would be the last time I would hear her voice.

 

I got to Monica’s and instantly knew something was wrong.  Kisha was not there yet.  I got a picture in my head of myself working the next year and sharing about how I had lost my best friend the year before.  I called her right away and left a voice mail wondering where she was.  Literally, two minutes later, the phone rang.  Tay answered it and started screaming and handed me the phone.  It was their grandma letting us know Kisha had been in a motorcycle accident and was at the hospital.

 

The next six days were surreal.  I can’t even completely remember all that went on.  But it was a lot.  Her pastor referred to it as the Harris Methodist Revival (the hospital she was at).  My mom flew in town, close to 30 people were in and out each day, and we formed new friendships.  It was a roller coaster ride of not knowing if she would make it, being convinced that she would, and hearing in my mind all of our conversations from the week before.  She was ready to go Home.  Her biggest fear in dying young was that her mom would be devastated.

 

On Good Friday, April 9th, Kisha’s 21st birthday, her mom came in and let us know the Lord had awoken her that morning to tell her He needed to take Kisha home.  After singing Happy Birthday and saying good-bye, her mom let her know that she would be okay and God would give her strength, and we would all make it.  She died within 20 minutes.  About 50 of us shared in celebrating her life that day.  And began to mourn her death.

 

Although many of the details come and go, and I’m sure that each of us involved has a different perspective, it is impossible to try to claim that God was not involved in all of this.  At her funeral, I watched hundreds of people touched by His story of her life.  At the hospital, on airplanes, at my job….I listened to people who were impacted because of all of this.  I watched her brother stand up in a congregation and share words from 1 Peter: “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.  These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold…may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed”.  Why do we question Him?  His love, His care, His patience, and long-suffering nature.  He works in mysterious ways that continually point back to the Truth that has gotten me this far. 

 

I am grateful for the short time I got to have Kisha in my life.  For her family that has been so supportive and loving.  For my better understanding of the Lord because of our friendship.  And, even for the pain of her death that has drawn me closer to Him.  Although there are few days that pass that I do not think about her, I am comforted in knowing Someone much bigger than all of this has it all under control.  And I wait patiently for the day I will be up there too, praying I make the most of the limited time I am given here.