Tuesday, August 31, 2004

What a nice guy

I live in an interesting neighborhood. It is in a part of town that was once the prime neighborhood of doctors, lawyers and the upper echelon of society. These days, it is the dividing line between the last section of our city that is considered upper class and the ghetto. Literally. I live on a main street - which is always busy - and if you go over a couple of streets in one direction, you can find any type of drug, prostitue and den of iniquity you can imagine. A couple of streets over in the other direction, you'll find some people from the artsy segment of our local society as well as a few doctors, lawyers, young couples just starting out and a rather substantial homosexual population. As I said, it is an interesting neighborhood and I love being a part of it!

So tonight, I went to the grocery store in the center of this neighborhood to pick up a few things. This store is an interesting establishment in itself. Located in the strip next to it is an old-time drug store (that still sells milkshakes in the tall soda glass), an antique store and a novelty store that sells decorative items. I think there may be one other store, but I can't remember for sure. Needless to say, the people who shop at this grocery store tend to be regular visitors - not because the store is modern or offers a wide selection of items - but because it is in a central location. Very convenient. Anyway, because of the neighborhood (remember the rough section of the hood?) every night there is an officer from the Sherrif's department standing guard. The guy is huge! He must be about 6'10", african-american, looks to be in good shape, and is obviously not someone you would want to tie up with. In spite of his appearance, he is the most awesome guy! Every time I go into that store, I've seen him go way beyond his duty as an officer and pitch in and help bag groceries, direct store traffic or tell folks where to find things. Tonight I went in there and the store was way short in staff, so the line began to build up. The man jumped right in there directing those people with just a few items over to the Information Desk to get checked out and was helping to bag people's groceries. I watched him as he talked with several people as he did his thing. There was this old couple in there who he apparantly knew and he yelled out to gentleman, "Hey, Pop!!" It was so cool! What was even more awesome was to see how the other people waiting in line began to smile at each other and went out of their way to be courteous in the difficult circumstances. It was almost like a scene right out of a Norman Rockwell painting! How cool is that?

I'm almost positive the man knows Christ. You don't see people going out of their way like that unless they have a knowledge of true love...the knowledge of a Man who died to save us all. As I was walking out of the store, this officer had resumed his position at the door, so I stopped to tell him how much I appreciated his willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty. What a blessing he was to me because of his actions. I can only hope that I would inspire someone else in the same way.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

This could get interesting...

I don't know what God is doing, but He's up to something! I know He's been working in my life, but today our pastor shared that he felt God was telling him we (our congregation) should get ready.

"Ready for what?"

*crickets chirping in the background*

I've also sensed this in my own life. We've been seeing some incredible growth that can only be attributed to a move of God. I mean, we haven't done anything special - except of course, be available to be used by God.

As I mentioned in my last post, I'm in a new place in my walk with God, but today I sensed that I've only scratched the surface. I was driving home, contemplating all the things that have been happening, and reflecting on how I feel like I am in a place of brokenness, when the thought ran through my head - you've only just begun. Yikes! What do you mean?!?!? There's more? Does that mean it will get worse before it gets better? Oh Lord, you've got to be kidding!!!

*no answer*

I know what He's telling me. I guess I should be glad that at least He's given me a "heads up" of sorts. All I can do - or want to do - is cling tightly to Him during this time. Like I said, this could get interesting.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Another first...

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart; lean not on your own understanding. In everything you do, acknowledge him and he will direct your path." Proverbs 3:5-6

For the first time in my life, I am actually able to live this verse. It is a wonderful place to be. I've always tried to trust God and felt like I was giving everything to Him, but I was kidding myself. This past week - I have done it.

I guess it is because I have finally surrendered everything to Him. My heart and mind are now together in understanding my need to depend on God. Does that mean I still don't have moments where I struggle with emotions or my own desires? No, not at all. But now, I have learned to deal with those emotions and desires and place them at the foot of the Cross, and yes - leave them there.

I must have Jesus. I can no longer try to live things my way. I hope I will stay in this place of brokenness. Unfortunately, I know me, and I'm sure I will have to sacrifice myself again, but for now, I am so at peace with my Lord. I know He is taking care of me and I know that I will receive His best blessings in my life.

How awesome it is to be in this place. God is so faithful and true.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

One other thing...

I know my posts have been few and far between here lately, but I'm going to be better at keeping up. It's weird how not blogging leaves an empty place, but honestly, I haven't wanted to blog very much. Perhaps I just needed a break from the blogosphere, too!

God is so good

I just wanted to say that I love God more than anything. He has, once again, proven Himself to be so faithful and He has given me everything I need - just when I need it. How can I ever complain??

All praise goes to Him!

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Vacation's over.

Well, it's time to go back to work. I wish I didn't have to. I could use another week off!!!! Unfortunately, our schedule at work doesn't allow for that. However, I think I'll be taking some days as soon as I can. I've got some people I need to go visit, so I won't be letting my days get wasted this year!

Anyway, it was good to be off, but I didn't get done hardly any of the things I had planned to do. I've got staff training I have to finish by next Tuesday (the 31st) and I had planned on working on that while I was off. Of course, I didn't even look at it! At this point, I don't even care. I wish I didn't have to do it at all!!! I almost don't even care that I'd get a letter in my personnel file for not getting it done. Almost. So what that means is I'll be working on it every night this week. I think I'll be able to get it finished. In fact, a couple of my staff are supposed to come to the office so I can help them get theirs done. I'll be working right alongside them! Maybe I can get most of it done at work - then my nights will be my own!!

*Sigh* So much to do, and so little time to do it!

There is some good news in my life - the youth group has taken off and seems to be exploding! I had 4 kids last Saturday, and then this weekend I had 10!!! That has to be a record somewhere! :) I am truly excited by what's taking place. It is God's work, I'm just awed that He is letting me go along for the ride! I'll try to post more on "my kids" this week.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

I'm so excited!!!

I'm actually on "vacation"! Woohoo! The only bad news is that I'm not on a beach somewhere, listening to the crash of the waves on the shore. :( Nevertheless, it was sooo nice to be able to sleep in today. I won't do that again, but it was nice for once.

I need to get better at taking all of my vacation days. Alas, I will lose several days because I didn't get them in by August 31. However, this next year I will be better. Since I'm the new youth minister for my church, I will have more reasons to need days off....for things like camp, youth trips, etc. I hope we have an exciting year!

Speaking of my youth group - I love them! I see so much potential - for good and bad - and have been praying over them a lot! If I can make a difference in just one of their lives I will be SO happy! They seem to be really excited by what we have going on and I hope it will continue to be exciting for them. At our first meeting, I told them that we weren't meeting just to have something to do. I want them to learn God's purpose for their lives and be able to impact others. Needless to say, it is going to be an interesting year. I believe it!

Well, let me get back to enjoying my "vacation"!

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Stop the world, I want to get off!!!

It seems like everything is speeding up! I don't know where all my time goes.

Well, the steroids and antibiotics seems to have worked - as far as stopping the stabbing pain that was going through my left temple. My doctor thinks I probably do have trigeminal neuralgia, but we won't know for sure until I have another spell. (Oh goodness, that sounds so..."old"!) Anyway, I'm disposed to think I do have it, so I can only hope that I don't experience that pain again for a LONG time! It really hurt!

So anyway - in spite of taking antibiotics for 10 days, I now have a head cold and possibly an ear infection! I mentioned it to my doctor when I saw her on Tuesday, and she said that probably means what I have is viral - and there's no treatment. I just have to wait it out. Good grief! I refuse to give in, so I've been going on about my days as usual, but by the end of the day, I'm beat!

Well, let me get back to work. I've got to do some work on my plans for the youth group AND I have about 60-70 hours worth of Staff Training I have to get in before September 1st. It's my own fault - we've had this stuff for over a year now but I never made it a priority - until now - and then only because I'll get a letter put in my personnel file. Eeck! Fortunately, I've got some days off next week. I know what I'll be doing for some of that time!

Saturday, August 07, 2004

What a night!

Well, my first youth event is in the bag! It was a ton of fun and I would say a complete success. I accomplished what I set out to do - get acquainted with the young people in my youth group. I feel like I connected in some way with most of them and hope to begin the process of getting to know them better - even those who may not be a "regular" in our group but who will visit with us from time to time. Overall, I am very pleased, but I can see the long road ahead.

More than before, I was made very aware of how much I am going to have to depend on God. Over the past few weeks, I've been going over tons of things in my head - from nailing down our purpose statement (which I think I may have after tonight) all the way to the logisitics of actually ministering to and meeting with these kids and what that will look like. But when we all came together as a group, I realized that I had been making my plans on my understanding of the way things are - of the spiritual depth of each of these kids, of their personalities, of God's plan for their lives, of my response to them...

All of it, of course, was wrong. How could I ever think my understanding would be right? After all, the only thing I knew about most of these kids was what I'd seen of them at church. Duh. With the exception of a couple of the kids, I don't really know anything about their home life, their experience with God or the church, and I certainly don't know what they like or dislike - all of these things (and more) have made them who they are. Only God knows their hearts and His will for their lives.

So all the scenarios and plans I'd been mulling over in my mind have been trashed or at the very least are up for a serious re-examination. I am truly going to have to be open at all times to what God is speaking to me. I may experience something in my day that God wants me to use to reach these kids or that will give me insight into what's happening in their lives. I don't know what it is they need, but He does.

In spite of my discovery, I'm still very excited! I can't wait to see God use these young people to impact others.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

What's the deal?

Is it just me or has this been an unusually strange week for everyone? I don't know if it's the drugs I'm taking or just plain being tired, but I can't figure it out. I'm having a hard time even putting my thoughts together about it all.

My mother has two brothers in the hospital with serious health conditions, and we just found out my dad's brother died tonight. This opens up a whole new area of my life I don't really want to deal with yet. My uncle was a diabetic but died from a heart attack. This year had been really tough for him. How does this directly affect me? My dad is also a diabetic, and it is getting more obvious, at least to me and my mom, that his health is slowly dwindling. It is not something we really want to deal with or think about.

I guess it's just another aspect of life, but here in America, we don't really talk about it, do we? With all the advancements in technology and science, we've learned how to extend our lives so that we don't die until we're much older. Unlike other countries, where death is a fact of daily life - either because of poor living/health conditions or war - death in America, for most people, only happens every now and then.

The one thing that comforts me is knowing that my father has given his life to Christ and will be in heaven when he dies. Same thing is true for my mom. I don't know how people without faith in God deal with death. I cannot imagine it. Wouldn't want to imagine it, really.

It's funny, just a little earlier tonight, before I found out about my uncle, I was thinking through this very issue of eternal life and the security I have in knowing Christ. In my mind, while I was eating dinner, I was having a conversation with an unbeliever. It was kind of strange - I wasn't trying to convince the person that I was right or that they were wrong. I was simply telling them that I knew what was in my future and hoped they were sure about their choice. I guess, when it comes down to it, we don't have to convince people of the truth of God's word (since they wouldn't understand it anyway without God revealing it to them.) I just have to be ready to give an answer for the hope I have within me. If I'm living my life to know Christ and His spirit is within me, others will know there is something different about me and be curious as to the cause. I wonder how many people would be "won to the Lord" if more Christians simply lived a life of confidence in their Savior. I've often been challenged by the Holy Spirit as to whether or not I'm going to live like I truly believe God's word - that means even in the small stuff...especially in the small stuff.

Well, it's a lot to ponder and I'm tired. Just wanted to share those thoughts. Be sure to take full advantage of the time you have with those you love. We truly are not guaranteed tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Illness was not in my vocabulary, until now

You know how you hear stories of people suffering from one ailment or another and you think, "Awww, that's too bad! I'm glad it's not me!" Well, this time it's me...maybe.

Over the past year, every once in a while, I have experienced a sharp pain shooting along the left side of my head. It would scare me, but I'd wait to see if it would do it again, and when it didn't happen, I'd go on about my day. Well, this weekend, it happened, once....twice....three times....I really began to be concerned. On top of that, I had a headache which lasted all weekend. So I decided I'd better get it checked out.

I went to see my physician - actually she's a nurse practitioner, but I really like her. Anyway, I go see my healthcare provider, tell her my symptoms and she lays a new medical term on me I'd not ever heard before. She tells me I might have trigeminal neuralgia. It is a disorder which affects the trigeminal nerve of the cranium. In plain english, the largest nerve on the side of my head is being irritated for some reason. To be accurate, I haven't been officially diagnosed as having the disorder, but the more I read about it and the more time that goes by causes me to believe she could be right. Currently, I'm taking steroids (which have left me feeling sick to my stomach until tonight) and antibiotics (which she prescribed today as a result of my labwork - my white blood count is elevated a little.)

Come to find out, my mother's aunt had this problem, also known as tic douloureaux, and had to have the nerve in her face cut to keep from being in pain. Evidently, her episodes would happen over several days and would lay her low for at least a week. According to my healthcare provider, it is something that is hereditary. Great.

Uggh! Did I mention I hate being ill? I am not a good patient and I don't like people, in general, when I don't feel well. I'm just glad most of the guys were out of the office today. :)

So my biggest frustration right now is just not knowing for sure what's wrong. I've had the shooting pains several times over the past couple of days and if they continue, I'll be going back to the doctor tomorrow. I'm praying that it's nothing and is just some freak thing, but even if it is trigeminal neuralgia, I hope that God will heal me of it. If not, I'm going to have to learn how to deal with it and learn how to be nice to people when I'm suffering. ;)