Thursday, April 21, 2005
A few weeks ago I worked a DiscipleNow weekend with a wonderful woman that I had just met for the first time. In the course of the weekend, she shared with me some things that the Lord laid on her heart to tell me after hearing how ultra-stressed I was feeling. Her humor-filled, loving, yet very pointed words really helped me to see how I needed to make some drastic changes if I expected to not just survive being a mommy, a wife, and a campus minister, but to thrive. She even enlisted the help of my very own students in holding me accountable to the things the Lord was asking me to do. And yes they have kept asking me if I have “done the things on my list.”
Now I’m not saying I’ve made all the changes God was asking me to make perfectly, but I have begun to make some significant changes in my life that have made a HUGE difference. Now this isn’t rocket science; these changes are simple things that need to be done to keep my body, mind, and spirit (in other words God’s temple) in good shape. I’ve begun exercising, making sure I have some daily quiet time with Jesus, drinking more water, and making sure I take time to be with my husband Tim and little boy Noah. Again, I’m not doing these things perfectly, but just the efforts that I have made have made a difference. My back doesn’t hurt anymore, I am less stressed, and I am generally happier.
It is amazing to me how in the business of life things can get so hugely crazy that the basic, “be a healthy person” things get completely edged out. It was like before I got hit in the head with the Jesus skillet I had forgotten that I had a life outside of my work. I really had thought that the sum total of my existence existed for the purpose of doing ministry. I had forgotten that there really was a person inside me who needed to live too.
I say all of this to encourage all of you who are so stressed out because of crunch time and impending finals. By all means, do the best you can, faithfully study, complete your work, but know this: Life exists beyond deadlines and final grades. First and foremost, you are a child of God. And God has plans for your life that are bigger than the next two weeks. In the midst of crunch time it is way too easy to abuse and misuse your body because there seems to be no time to take care of it. It is like everything else seems more important. This is the trap that I fell into. And not only did I suffer for it, I really believe my work suffered too. What I am learning, by the grace of God, is that honoring the temple God gave me (i.e. being nice to my body by giving it rest, food, water, and exercise), and finding balance between the ministry I’m called to while also being a regular person has made everything else better.
When I say Jesus loves you, I mean Jesus loves you, all of you, every last bit of you. It is not Jesus’ idea that you must sacrifice your well-being on the altar of perfection. Do your best. But don’t let it come at the price of your health and well-being. Take time in these next two weeks to eat a real meal at least once a day, to have several good belly laughs, to take a walk in the beautiful sunshine that is not on the way to class, to drink enough water so that you are refreshed, and to get plenty of rest when you need it. I promise that if you will make a good faith effort to do these things, then you will do better in your studying and test taking and project finishing because you will be giving from your full resources instead of from emptiness.
Gosh, if I could make it better for each of you I would. Just know that you can do it. Jesus is with you and will never leave nor forsake you. His promises are just as real during finals week as they are any other time of the year.
So just hang in there. And know that you are not alone.
Jesus loves you and so do I.
Friday, April 15, 2005
I want to write a prayer for you today, a little something to encourage you as you finish the semester:
I come before You in the precious name of Jesus. He is so wonderful and so sweet. And He is so beautiful as I see Him reflected in the faces of each of the students you have placed in my care. I praise You and thank You for them now, and I ask that You bless them mightily in the face of deep stresses that always come at the close of another year.
Lord please bless each one of them with confidence. You have placed so many good things in them: gifts and strengths that shine brilliantly. But Lord, when we are stressed out and feel overburdened, it is hard to appreciate, and sometimes even see, the good things about our selves. I pray that You would put someone in their paths that will just encourage them and show them how wonderful they are.
Lord give them Your peace. While so many things are making huge demands upon their time, their energy, their resources, their hearts, please give them the peace that passes understanding. Lord when You are in our lives we can have that kind of peace, even though to the natural mind there should be no earthly reason to feel peaceful. Give them Your peace that permeates all things, yet is not dependent upon circumstances.
Lord give them Your presence. Sometimes college can feel so lonely. Lord, it breaks my heart whenever I hear of the loneliness these students face. Lord, You came to live within us that we might never have to be swallowed up by loneliness again. I pray that the joy and peace of Your presence would be a reality for every person who reads this prayer.
Lord, give them Your joy. Fill their days with small treasures that surprise them with happy moments. Open their awareness to the wonders of Your creation (especially dogwoods and redbuds). In the midst of the business give them moments of laughter and good clean fun. Help them to not be overwhelmed by impending deadlines. Help them to not be paralyzed by the “got to’s.”
Lord, if I missed anything, please cover it. KEEP THEM SAFE!!!!! Please provide for their needs and love on them real good.
In Jesus name I pray,
Jesus loves you and so do I!
Friday, April 08, 2005
I have been on the phone with my Mom. She is making plans to travel here from Jacksonville to be present at Noah’s baptism on May 15th. This is such a special time for our family. When I think of how God has blessed us with this little boy, and when I remember how God saved his life when we had to take him to Vanderbilt Hospital a week after he was born, joy and thanksgiving fills my heart. We are going to make a really big deal out of this. It is just natural that we give Noah back into the Lord’s hands, and promise to raise him to know Jesus. After all, Noah is a true gift of God’s love to both Tim and I, and our extended family. We are so thankful for the opportunity to love him and take care of him and raise him.
Did you know that Jesus feels about you the way that we (Tim and I) feel about Noah? Sometimes we go into his room and just watch him sleep, amazed at how beautiful he is. This is how Jesus feels about you. You are His precious child, intricately created by Him in amazing ways. He is so proud of you, not for what you do, but because of who you are. You are a unique, creative expression of God’s love. And by giving you the breath of life, God has lavished His love through you on the world. Now this is true whether you know Jesus as your Lord and Savior or not. You are God’s precious creation.
Now just imagine what joy must fill God’s heart when you return His precious gift and creation, your life, into His care through baptism? The Bible says that all the angels in heaven rejoice when one lost soul is found, when one precious and unique expression of God’s life is returned to God’s care to prosper and fulfill its purpose. When you come to know Jesus as more than just a good man, as more than just a great teacher, as more than just a religious leader, when you come to know Jesus as Lord and Savior, something cosmic in the universe changes, shifts, and all heaven rejoices. It is like God rushes in to your heart to greet you with arms wide open, a perma-grin plastered across the Heavenly face, and love oozing out all over. God is crazy about you, and when you honor Him by returning your life into His hands, to allow Him to guide and love and protect His precious child in the way that only He knows how, He just bubbles over with excitement and joy. He probably even weeps. The way I do when I realize that this little boy of mine, who once was so sick, is healthy and happy and full of love to give us.
In the core of who you are, can you honestly say that you belong to Jesus, wholly and indefinitely? Are you still holding out for something better? Oh He loves you. He so wants your joy and fulfillment. He so wants to give you His very best. But these things can only happen in their fullness when you completely relinquish yourself into His care. And here is how you do it:
Talk to Him the way you would talk to someone on your cell phone, knowing He is there and listening even though you cannot see Him with your physical eyes. Tell Him you’re sorry for not realizing how great His love for you is and for not coming to Him sooner. Tell Him you no longer want to get in the way of His blessings by ruling over your own life. Tell Him you want to give Him the care and guidance of the beautiful creation He created when He made you. Tell Him you want Him to live in your heart, to love you and guide you and care for you forever. Tell Him you are ready to be found by His love. And then . . . . Thank Him for coming to you and making you completely His own.
Because this is what happens when you invite Him into your heart like that. And if you haven’t been baptized, go find your church pastor and tell him or her you are ready to be baptized. (If you don’t have a pastor to baptize you, call me at 842-2880, or email me back, and we will make sure you get baptized!) Because there is something so beautiful about having the water of baptism poured over your physical body as a sign of what the presence of Christ has already done in pouring Himself over and into your life. It represents that you are washed clean: everything about you is made new; all your sins are forgiven; and now you can live with the fullness of God’s creative power making you every part of the beautiful creation He made you to be. It is so beautiful. And every angel in heaven celebrates with you.
You are all so precious to me. I rejoice every time I see each of you. For those of you whom I have not met, I still know that you are special and precious, because I know my Savior, and He doesn’t make any junk! I so want for all of you all that Jesus has to offer. It is a beautiful thing when you let Him make you His own. I promise; He is everything He says He is and more; He will give you His very heart. Know that you are so special and blessed.