June 25, 2012

Life Update

Posted in Watermarks in Progress tagged , , , , , , , at 11:29 pm by Tamara

It may be hard to tell from the last few posts, but my life really isn’t a book (or a review of a book).  So I guess I should give a life update before I write the next two book reviews I have planned….

You’ve probably already guessed it, but we aren’t going to be going overseas this fall.  As I mentioned here, once we started the application process a bunch of reasons not to go suddenly popped up, and we were left trying to discern whether that was God speaking or just life being life or the enemy being the enemy.  We were concerned about the timing for several reasons, such as our desire to have more kids sometime in the next few years (and the possibility that I’d have to come back to the states if I needed another c-section), and the fact that we’d have to raise all our support in the summer, which is when I also needed to complete my internship for my degree.

Also, right when we were turning in our applications we found out that Adam’s mom’s cancer had started progressing faster than expected.  She was diagnosed with chronic lymphatic leukemia a while back, but told it would be ten years or so before she would feel any symptoms or need treatment.  Unfortunately, her check up showed it was progressing faster than they expected, and they said she would probably need to start chemo within the year.  I promised Mom I wouldn’t be dramatic when I wrote about this, but you can imagine how difficult it was for all of us to hear that!  She very much stressed to us that she wanted us to follow God wherever he was leading us, but it was definitely a new factor in our decision process.

So, we did a lot of praying and talking with people we trusted, and finally decided that we should wait at least a year before trying to go overseas.  Ironically, a few days after we decided that, the organization got back with us and told us that they didn’t think they had quite the right placement for us.  So that closed that door!

I had very mixed feelings about that.  My first reaction was to be very thankful that God had clearly closed the door and confirmed our decision to wait.  Unfortunately, other emotions followed quickly on my thankfulness’ heels!  Chief among them was a deep feeling of rejection.  “Why didn’t they want us?  What’s wrong with us?”  And that quickly transitioned into “Why doesn’t GOD want us?”  It’s baffling to me that God clearly calls us to “Go into all the world” and says “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few,” but then when we say “Here am I!  Send me!” he says…”No.”  What do you do with that?

So I had to take a few weeks to really wrestle with some things I believe in my head but had to come to grips with in my heart.  A big one was that God’s love for me has nothing to do with my usefulness to Him.  And that closing one door doesn’t mean He’s given up on me and doesn’t want me anymore.  That He loves me fiercely and unconditionally and considers me as valuable as His own Son, and that will never change.

Once I had some peace in my heart about that whole mess of emotions and lies and truth, it was pretty much back to my old reaction: “Alright, Lord, thank you for clearly closing that door.  But, now, where is your open door?  I’m very thankful for clear ‘No’s,’ but where is your ‘Yes?’”

And…you’ll have to wait for a future blog post about that, because we’re not exactly sure about the answer yet!  We are sure, though, that God doesn’t have us here for no reason.  We don’t want to just be here because we aren’t “there” (wherever there is); we believe God has a reason why we are HERE, NOW.  So we’re trying to be faithful with what’s on our plates right now and keep our eyes open for what God wants to do in and through us right now.  There are a couple things on our radar screens, but this is getting long, so I’ll save them for later.

Mom has had a couple of doctor’s appointments since then, and we’re very thankful that she’s found some fantastic doctors.  They are still thinking she’ll need to start chemo sometime before the end of the year, but say there are some positives about where her condition stands now, such as that she’s still considered stage one.  So we’re waiting, praying, and trusting God.  I’d really appreciate your prayers!!

Thanks for reading, caring, and praying for us!  I can tell you are.  : )

March 15, 2012

Vision and Questions for the Future

Posted in Watermarks in Progress tagged , , , , , , , at 8:54 pm by Tamara

“Let me explain–  No, there is too much.  Let me sum up.”  (Name that movie!)

It’s a long story that I’ve shared bits and pieces of, but the summary is that Adam and I have been seriously praying about the possibility of going overseas for two years to do ministry.  We’ve sent in our applications so that we can talk with the organization, find out more about the opportunity, and go from there.  (Incidentally, the application is part of the reason for the lack of block posts lately: too much other writing for the application and school!)

Ever since we started the application process we’ve been blindsided by a bunch of reasons NOT to go.  We’re still processing them, trying to discern if any of them are God saying “Wait” or if they’re just life being life, or the enemy being the enemy, or what.  It’s exhausting and discouraging, but also a good lesson in trust and learning to listen to the Father.  We’re really in limbo so I can’t say what’s going to happen, but if I don’t at least mention it now and we do decide to go, you’ll all think it came out of thin air, so I’m mentioning it!

At any rate, that’s not the real point of this post, just the background.  Here’s the point: I get prayer updates from someone doing ministry in a dangerous part of the world, and they recently had some people visit the region to see about maybe coming to minister there.  This was in a recent update from my friend, and it just about made me cry, because I can so relate!  I can’t share my friend’s name, but they gave me permission to post this.  If you’re in the same boat, I hope it’s encouraging to you, too!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Some call them vision trips. Others say they’re survey trips. Whatever the name, it’s all about breathing the air, walking the ground, and wondering if you could do it. Could you make this move? Could you live here, in this stranger than you’ve ever imagined place? It’s about putting your real self and your shimmering dreams before others you may have met only through email, if at all. It’s about listening to what’s said and what’s left unsaid. Its about pushing back the doubts and fears and straining to hear our Father’s voice.

“I am always awed at the courage of vision-trippers. It’s a journey of pure faith; flying face-forward into the abyss. It’s knowing that you’re called but wondering who, if anyone, will receive you. And if they do receive you, will they be glad for it? Will you find a home with the little band, the team you’ve agreed to join? Will you make good decisions? Do you really know who you are? Are you ready? And if you do come, will anyone back home support you? Will people really pray? Will they give? Will they remember you? Will it be enough? And who said you could do this, anyway? Who said you had anything to give? Why don’t you just stay home? Isn’t there enough work to be done there? And how could you take our grandchildren so far away? What about your career and your retirement – and a hundred other challenges?

“This is why I’m always awed at the faith of vision-trippers. These are folks who’ve started the journey. Who’ve stood up and bravely said; ‘I want to go.’  They have some partners who’ve said; ‘I believe in you.’ Who pray and give – who invest in the brave dream that’s not yet been fulfilled. They’ve completed applications and joined an organization. They’ve prayed their hearts out and started counting the cost. They’ve stepped headlong into a spiritual battle the likes of which they’ve never experienced before. The enemy rises up in rage. “Who do you think you are!?!” With weapons of doubt and fear, he would stop us in our tracks if God were not with us. This is why I love vision-trippers. I love their sheer courage and trembling faith. The next steps are clear; join a field-team, raise support and go. If you know any such people, cheer them on. Celebrate their journey. Enjoy the overflow of their faith.”

November 14, 2011

Beautiful Things Out of Dust (A-la-carte life update)

Posted in Watermarks in Progress tagged , , , , , , , , at 3:28 am by Tamara

For those of you wondering if we fell off the face of the earth, the answer is yes.  Thankfully, (after a stop in Wisconsin) we landed in Colorado.  Whoo hoo!  I’m pretty sure my stress level was supposed to decrease after the move was over, but that has not been the case.  I’m not sure if it’s really exploded or if it’s just cumulative stress of the past six months, but I’m kind of freaking out about life.

We haven’t found an apartment yet, mostly because we’re trying to figure out exactly what our income is going to be.  Adam’s looking for a second job, and possibly a different first job.  We’re also, believe it or not, considering the possibility of (gulp) taking the leap into full time ministry, which would (gulp) require raising support.  Anyway, I feel kind of suspended in the air with no place to land.  I’ve heard husbands freak out without a job; I think wives freak out without a home.

School wise, I’m taking a rather difficult philosophy course right now.  I’m pretty sure that times in life where one is emotionally and mentally depleted are NOT good times to take challenging, thought-provoking philosophy courses.   It is definitely adding to my stress level.

As for NaNoWriMo…sigh.  I’ve managed to keep at it so far, in spite of great adversity (the day it began was the day we started driving to Colorado, so I wrote the day’s word quota that night in a dark hotel room with a husband, two dogs, and a crying baby in the background, in spite of a dead computer, a broken desk chair, and a semi-truck rumbling outside the window.  That’s dedication).  Unfortunately, I feel like I’m drowning in life right now, and the stress is brutally draining the life blood out of my creativity.  I’m not sure if I’m going to make it this year or not.  We’ll see.

The upside of life right now is wonderful, adorable Bear.  He just turned seven months old.  I can’t believe it!  Where has the time gone?  He has been an absolute angel through all the chaos of the past month.  He had his first cold while we were visiting Wisconsin (so traumatizing!  He didn’t like it much, either), and just got his first tooth a week ago (my baby is growing up too fast!!)  I can’t believe how sweet he was during the trip in spite of a cold, cutting a tooth, meeting a ton of new people, and having his entire life turned upside down.  He’s really been amazing.  He’s getting much more comfortable and confident meeting new people and being in new situations.  We LOVED getting to see family and friends in Wisconsin on the way here, and finally introducing them to Little Bear.

So, all that to say…I don’t know.  Adam and Bear are my parachutes in life right now.  I feel like I’m just hanging onto them as we fall through the air to land…who knows where.  But, as long as they’re wherever we end up, I’m sure it will be okay.  God has always come through for us in the past; I think maybe all this stress and uncertainty is a chance to put into practice what we’ve learned about Him in the past when He’s come through in fast, glorious ways that far exceeded our expectations.  Things don’t seem to be falling into place very well right now, but the story’s not over, and God hasn’t changed.  I have two mantras lately.  1) “Stress is pressure incorrectly handled,” and 2) this song:

September 22, 2011

Ignoring Conventional Wisdom on Having Kids=Best Decision We’ve Ever Made

Posted in Watermarks in Progress tagged , , , , , , , , at 11:57 pm by Tamara

Bear, Five Months Old

I’ve been thinking tonight about what an incredible proof Bear is that God knows what He’s talking about and wants good things for us.  When we decided to try to get pregnant, there were plenty of reasons people could have said we were nuts.  The common “wisdom” on starting a family is that you need to a) be finished with school, established in your career(s), and financially secure, and b) have done everything fun that you want to do, because kids are going to tie you down and could destroy your dreams.  We decided to say bah humbug to conventional wisdom, mostly because the Bible is so chock full of statements about how kids are a blessing and a joy.

For example: Psalm 127:3-5 Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, the fruit of the womb is a reward!  Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth.  How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them!  Psalm 128:1-4  How blessed is everyone who fears the LORD, who walks in His ways…your wife shall be like a fruitful vine within your house, your children like olive plants around your table.  Behold, for this is how the man who fears the LORD will be blessed!

If God, the one who created all the incredible things that make me happy (like chocolate, colors, the ocean, back rubs, my husband!) says something is a blessing, then I would like to experience it!  We also trusted that if God instructs us to raise godly children, He’ll give us the financial and emotional resources to do so.

Zooming Around on Daddy’s Shoulders

Tonight I was doing homework and my husband put Bear in his PJs and then was jogging around the living room with Bear on his shoulders.  The sight of our little baby in footy teddy bear pajamas, grinning from ear to ear as he clutched fistfuls of Adam’s hair and “drove” his daddy around the room was too adorable for words.  They stopped by the table where I was working and Bear gave me a squeal and a huge smile before they zoomed off again.  My heart just melted.  I can’t even begin to describe how happy I am with our little family.  My husband and Bear have brought me so much joy—infinitely more than I can ever imagine getting from the things we gave up to have him.

Certainly, it’s hard too.  And there’s no guarantee that parenting won’t involve heartbreak (in fact, it probably will at some point).  I have friends who have experienced terrible heartache, whether in raising their kids or in trying to have kids.  My heart bleeds for them, and I don’t understand the unfairness of it.  I don’t understand why good parents have children who rebel, or why evil people harm their children while wonderful couples have no children.  Amazingly, most of my friends who have experienced this have still told me that God has brought good things even out of their pain.  In fact, witnessing firsthand the pain of our friends who wanted kids and were struggling to have them really drove home to my husband and I that kids are a blessing we shouldn’t take lightly or make a low priority.

Melts My Heart!

When I look at Bear, there just aren’t words to describe how fiercely I love him, or how fulfilled and joyful he makes me.  And tonight it hit me again: God is right.  He is really, really, right.  He knows what He’s talking about.  Bear will always be a great reminder to trust God when I’m faced with things that God says but I don’t think make sense.  I SO wanted to have a baby, but it was still a leap of faith for us, one we made because we trusted (and still trust) that God knows what’s best for us, knows how to give us REAL blessings, and will take care of us.  God has provided for and blessed us more than I could ever have imagined, and He always will.   I am SO thankful, and so blessed!!

July 13, 2010

Bandwagon of My Own Uncertainty

Posted in Watermarks in Progress tagged , , , , at 11:53 pm by Tamara

This video cracks me up, and it’s so true!

I know I’m very afraid of offending people, particularly over what I believe about Jesus.  Sometimes the easiest way to avoid the embarrassment of someone getting mad at me is to speak with a shrug of the shoulders and an “I could be wrong…” attitude.

I really believe, deep in my soul, that God is worth going out on a limb for.  But I have a very hard time going out on the limb of “They might be offended.”  I want to talk with grace and humility, but I think too often what I call “humility” is just speaking with doubt.  It is not humble to be wishy washy about what the God of the universe has said, yet, somehow in the church we’ve become proud of our doubt.  Proud to say, “Look how humble and honest I am!  I’m not really sure about this God stuff, either!”  Rather than crying, “I do believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24), we’ve become quite satisfied with our doubt.

I’ve been reading a book which talks about this:

We are so afraid of sounding overly certain and confident in our beliefs that it has almost become…an unwritten dogma that it is actually more godly for us as Christians to be unassuming in our expectations of God.  It’s now more spiritual to be uncertain of how He will perform on our behalf than to confidently proclaim what both we, and a dying world, can expect from the God of the Bible (Eric Ludy, The Bravehearted Gospel, p. 146).

It was doubt that kept the Israelites from moving into the land God had promised to give them, and Hebrews doesn’t mince words about what God thought about it:

Who provoked Him when they had heard?  Didn’t all those who came out of Egypt led by Moses?  And who was He angry with for forty years? Wasn’t it with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness?  And who did He swear wouldn’t enter His rest, but those who were disobedient?  So we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief!  (Hebrews 3:16-19, emphasis mine).

God certainly doesn’t get warm-fuzzies about our “honest doubt.”  My favorite line in the video is when Mali says we talk as though, “I have nothing personally invested in my own opinions; I’m just, like, inviting you to join me on the bandwagon of my own uncertainty!”

Why would anyone want to jump on that bandwagon?  I’d like to say, loudly and with conviction, that I DO have “something invested” in what I believe.  In fact, I have everything invested in it.  And it’s not just my own opinions (that would be arrogant)—it’s what GOD HAS SAID.

The newborn church in Acts turned the world upside down with the Gospel in just a few years, and Acts is peppered with the word “boldly.”  They weren’t afraid to tell people about Jesus because they knew, without doubt, who He was.  Peter and John were threatened with their lives if they didn’t stop talking about Jesus, and they responded “we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20).  Paul asked the church in Ephesians to pray “that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel…pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should!” (Ephesians 6:19-20).

I want to talk about Christ in a way that is gracious, honest, and open–but I want to talk with conviction and power.  Because the story IS powerful!  God-forbid that I make it sound any less earth-shaking than it is.

July 1, 2010

The Journey

Posted in Watermarks in Progress tagged , , , , , at 11:55 pm by Tamara

I sat in a far corner of the bustling terminal, dressed in pants and a long cotton coat in spite of the stifling heat.  The most amazing thing, however, was the scarf covering my hair and wrapped around my shoulders.  I’d been waiting long months, months full of endless preparations, worry, details, communication, and tears.  Now, at long last, I had arrived in the airport in Dubai, pulled that scarf out of my suitcase and carefully placed it on my head.  It was like becoming someone else.

The exhausted knot of worry in my stomach was accompanied by a leaden feeling that seemed to slug through my veins.  I was terrified.  Through the entire lonely trip I’d felt distant and removed, like I was watching myself in a movie.  I found myself repeating an inner monologue as though I was commenting on my life from outside.

What am I doing?  I’m not brave!  Why am I here?  What was I thinking?  I can’t do this.  I’m not…brave.

It was like I’d had delusions of grandeur and suddenly realized they’d gotten me in way over my head.  Was I really here, and really about to go there?  It almost seemed hilarious to me, like a farce.  What EVER made me think I could do this?

But, like a robot, I had packed my suitcases, walked though airport security, boarded one plane, then another, then another, until suddenly I found myself on the other side of the world, with burqa-clad women bustling around me, listening numbly as the swirling tones of Arabic carried through the humid air, staring up at spiraling mosque turrets and quickly lowering my gaze from the prying eyes of dark-skinned, turbaned men.

One more plane, and the long, exhausting hours of sitting and rumbling would be over.  One more plane to board, and I’d be there.  The place I’d prayed over, agonized over, longed for.  Afghanistan.  I was going.

What was I thinking?

Before I knew it I was staring out the plane window as we took off.  It was final now—terrified or not, I was being hurtled towards Afghanistan.  Where was the excitement?  How many years had I ached to be right where I was now, about to step onto Muslim land?  But all I felt was numb inadequacy.

Hello, Lord, I said, reaching for that connection, desperate to know I wasn’t alone.  It was like grabbing for a rope and pulling, trying to get closer to my anchor, wanting to feel the tension on the line that meant God was on the other end of it.

After an hour that felt like minutes we started our decent, and I reached up to make sure my headcovering was in place.  It was going to take a while to get used to this.  I pulled my camera out and held it at arms-length, forcing a brave smile.  Click, and it was real.  Me, in a headcovering, flying into Afghanistan.  Exhausted, grimy, unsure, but going.

I looked out the window.  The clouds were beginning to wisp away, letting green smudges melt through.  The smudges became more clear, rising up to form gray-green mountain ranges, then sinking down into flat, bright green fields.  This was it: my first sight of a place I’d prayed for for so long.  Tiny, weather-beaten houses began to dot the landscape, and I felt a quiver go through me, like a spark of light in a dark room.  The land continued to take shape; I could see fields, houses, people, roads.  The flicker began to spread, sending warmth gently from my heart down to my fingertips.

Afghanistan.  It was here.  I was here.

Suddenly the fear seemed to be dripping and mingling with the slowly pulsing beat of excitement.  I grasped that excitement with amazement.  At last, there it was!  Suddenly I felt again what I’d felt for years—a longing, broken-hearted desire to touch this place, to step onto the ground with light and truth.  To see the darkness shattered.  In that moment my heart broke with the overwhelming feeling that I was loved and not alone.  I could feel his hands around my heart, infusing the broken pieces with love and strength and momentum.  Cradling my heart above this place I’d ached for so long, ready to let the pieces fall like seeds in the desert.

The plane landed, and I gathered my things, checked my head covering and walked to the door.  I stepped outside, walked down the steps, and put my foot on the ground.

I was here.  Afghanistan.

April 2, 2010

Pebbles on the Track

Posted in Watermarks in Progress tagged , , , at 10:54 pm by Tamara

There are some days when I really wish I could push a “Stop” button and have them end, like turning off a bad movie.  Presto!  Over.  Yesterday was one of those days.  It wasn’t a cataclysmic day, just a bunch of little failures and inadequacies.  One of my bosses, who tends to make me feel like I’m about to lose my job, was pushing me most of the night on why I haven’t been able to meet a certain sales goal lately, and by the time I was driving home I felt guilty, inadequate, discouraged, and defensive.  I have a tendency when I feel that way to re-live everything that happened, mentally beating myself for my failure and thinking of what I should have done, said, not done, or whatever.  I just wanted to stamp a huge red “FAIL” on myself, end the day, and wipe it off my memory bank.

I was trying to think about how Jesus sees me, and how completely insignificant my failures for the day were in His opinion.  I know when He looks at me He couldn’t care less if I failed to make a sales goal.  I could almost hear him scoffing, “You think THAT changes my opinion of you??”  Then suddenly, through the cloud of guilt, I remembered a conversation I’d had with a friend earlier.  It was an incredible conversation–I’ve been praying for openings to share the gospel with this person, and out of nowhere they said that they feel a spiritual void in their life.  And I have to admit, this was one person who I expected to be, at best, apathetic toward religion, and at worst hostile.  It blew me away–it was like God had plunked down a lighted billboard saying “Attention!  Fertile Ground Here!”

So, as I was driving home feeling like a worthless failure, it suddenly struck me like a blow: Satan wants me to forget all about that conversation.  He wants me wallowing in guilt and inadequacy, convinced of my failure when I just had a day that should put me on a fired-up spiritual high.  He is such a THIEF.  He desperately wants me to judge myself by a few temporal, worldly failures so I forget all about the spiritual marathon God is coaching me through.

I want to work hard at my job.  I want to glorify God by working with all my might like I’m working directly for Him.  But I do not want to define myself by whether I do well or poorly at it.  It’s not, after all, my real job.  God is placing spiritual hurdles before me every step of this marathon called life, and I know He and the angels cheer madly every time I clear one.  It’s a spiritual marathon, and there are some things that will only have an impact until I die (if that), and other things that will impact the rest of forever, for me and others.  That’s what He’s concentrating on, and what I want to concentrate on too.  All the other things are just little pebbles on the track.

March 17, 2010

The Fifth Gospel

Posted in Watermarks in Progress tagged , , , at 8:59 pm by Tamara

Today I felt a little palpitation of panic for no good reason.  I’d left my book in clear sight on the breakroom table, with “Christian” loudly printed on its cover for all to see.  I had to deliberately resist an urge to flip it over as I headed for the microwave.  My workplace is not exactly a haven of Christianity, in fact it seems to draw the loudly liberal.  There’s one regular customer who’s particularly hostile and has told me repeatedly that he hates—yes, hates—Christians and Republicans (“You know why Republican ends in ‘N’?” he asked me,  “It’s for Republica-nazi.”)

All I could think as I sat down with my lunch and flipped open my book so you couldn’t see the cover was Romans 1:16, “I am not ashamed of the gospel.”  I could almost hear those words spinning around and around in my head, accompanied by a sad, sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach.  I’d never say I’m ashamed of the gospel, per se, but openly reading a book with “Christian” stamped boldly across the cover?  I felt like a scared, fleeing disciple, running away from my Savior in the night.

Where has the power of the gospel gone—how does it so easily slip out of my sight?  The next half of the verse is “for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.”  Really, power?  Yes, I believe—I believe it!  There is power in the gospel.  So why don’t I feel secure?

I think sometimes it’s not that I’m ashamed of the gospel, but that I’m afraid of my stuttering, ineloquent delivery.  If someone called me on the carpet for why I’m studying to be a Christian counselor, could I answer them?  Could I answer with the joy and security that I feel when it’s just me and my wonderful Redeemer, alone in worship?  Could I tell them why I KNOW that Jesus is the only balm that will heal those deep, deep wounds?  And why am I so afraid of the reaction—so afraid that my poor witness will be the thing that turns them away from Jesus instead of to Him?  What a delicious trick of the Enemy—make me so scared stiff of turning them away from the Gospel that I won’t even share it.

Ironically, the chapter I was reading opened with a quote: “There are five gospels of Jesus Christ—Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and you, the Christian.  Many people will never read the first four” (Gipsy Smith).  I see my hostile customer several times a week, and I’m always glad to see him.  Let’s call him Mr. New York Times.  I know his name, I know which paper he always wants, I greet him with a big smile and—almost inevitably—listen to the story he’s about to read in the paper: one more professing Christian (usually a politician) who just got caught in a sickening affair.  He points to that story and says that’s the Gospel.  I pray I can show him otherwise.

Please pray for Mr. NYT!  Pray for me to cling bravely to the power of the Gospel, and send those seeds out wherever they land, believing in their power to divide soul and spirit.

I am not ashamed—Lord help my shame!

October 30, 2009

A GPS and a Cliff…Dun Dun Dun!

Posted in Watermarks in Progress tagged , , , , at 12:14 am by Tamara

CliffHard to believe, but our move is just over two months away. Or, should I say, our Fling-Ourselves-Over-A-Cliff-Into-The-Great-Unknown-And-Un-Paid-For adventure is just over two months away. I’ve been pondering the multitude of things that we’ll need to have once we move, like another car (so we can both work and do school), a laptop for Adam’s classes, high speed internet required for my classes…. And, yeah, I have no idea how we’re going to pay for them.

Before I started pondering all the necessities, I had been thinking about how nice it would be to have a GPS once we move. I vividly remember my (now hilarious, then not so much) adventure trying to find food the first night I arrived in Wisconsin. How nice it would have been to plug “grocery” into a GPS and NOT eat a dinner of beef jerky and gummy peachy rings that I finally found at the only open store I thought might have some semblance of food. But, I pretty much despaired of buying a GPS once I thought of all the other things we’ll actually NEED.

You may remember the episode of the couch God gave us. I was freaking out about whether or not we’d have a couch when we moved (rather than freaking out about, say, how we’d be able to buy groceries). So, God dropped a couch in our laps, which has been sitting in the basement for a year. It seemed like He was telling me, “Calm down, Tamara. I know what you need, and I’ll take care of it. And just to drive it home a little more thoroughly, here’s a couch. Which you don’t even need yet. Just so you remember I’ve got it under control.”

Well, last week, right about the time that I was resisting the temptation to mildly hyperventilate about all the things we’ll need and can’t afford, I randomly got into a conversation with a coworker about technology and fun toys…and GPS systems…which led to her saying they had a GPS they never use (which, incidentally, was the kind I wanted)…did we want to buy it…for a fraction of its original price…etc, etc. So, yes. We now have a GPS system. And I will be able to find grocery stores in our new city!

So, if God can provide a way for me to FIND the food, I’m supposing He can provide a way for us to DRIVE to the food, and BUY the food, and I think I shouldn’t worry. It kind of amuses me how BLATANT He is. He hasn’t provided the necessities for us yet, He’s provided the things we don’t really need and asked us to keep trusting Him and step off the cliff anyway, because we know the One who will catch us.

A quote from the couch episode:
“How does He know—and choose—such personal and detailed ways to show me He loves me? It’s absolutely the dumbest detail to take care of right now, and that’s part of why it speaks so sweetly to me. I’m sure what He’s telling me is that not only will He take care of everything, but that He cares even about the things that I think are too dumb for Him to bother with. He LOVES blessing me. Loves it.

“His provision isn’t a begrudging, give-you-the-bare-minimum-because-I-have-to sort, it’s lavish and joyful and personal…. It’s like one last little flourish on His extravagance. ‘See, Tamara? I’ve got it all taken care of, and I get a kick out of doing it. I’m so far ahead of you…you can chill a little. In fact, why don’t you come curl up on the couch for a while?’ ”

Maybe I’ll use our GPS to find a good spot to chill with God for a while.

August 18, 2009

Death By Rearview Mirror

Posted in Watermarks in Progress tagged , , , , at 5:25 pm by Tamara

It must have been a rather contradictory sight: me, in my black stiletto heels, wide-leg slacks, and chunky jewelry, stepping out of a hunter green S10 pickup with a camouflage steering wheel cover. But when you gotta get to an interview, you gotta get to an interview. (Much thanks to Nate for graciously loaning me Kermit, his “hick truck,” by the way!) What’s wrong with my car, you ask? Just one tiny detail: the rearview mirror fell off and is swinging dejectedly from its wire, face down.

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Should I go into detail about our three-and-counting attempts to fix it? I think the thing has lost its will to live, or at least its will to be attached to the windshield. Interestingly enough, this happened to me with my last car, too. It has gotten me thinking about perspective, though. How would you drive if you couldn’t look backwards? I’ve spent a lot of time this summer looking backwards and inwards. Both can be good things, but I’ve gotten almost obsessive about it as I’ve tried to figure out my weird life circumstances and how I am (or am not) dealing with them.

Corrie Ten Boom said “If you look at the world you will be distressed; if you look within you will be depressed; if you look at Christ you will be at rest.” I’ve experienced all three of those realities lately. My unemployment and the uncertainty of our future has definitely been distressing, and as I’ve desperately tried to figure out how to answer the constant question, “How are you doing?” I’ve felt almost depressed at times. I feel like God has been quietly calling me again and again to stop worrying about everything else and pay attention to Him. It’s a constant mental battle to bounce my thoughts off my worries and say, “Oh, hi, God. How are You doing? Fine? Oh, okay, I guess everything must be fine with my life, too. You haven’t freaked out yet.” It’s almost like how when you’re fasting, hunger pangs remind you to keep praying. I’m trying to train myself to use my pangs of introspection, worry, or whatever as reminders to acknowledge God’s presence and sovereignty and interest in my life. As reminders to REST. Some days my thoughts seem like a ping-pong ball bouncing between the two extremes.

Another interesting fact about the dangling mirror is that, were I to drive with it swinging there, there’s a good chance it would bash me in the face. I’m pretty sure that a wrong perspective has about the same effect.

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