Monday, December 27, 2010

Hebrews Past and Present (and future)

We're done with yet another Advent season of Hebrews! :) I really like going through it. Last year, I had to cling to the promises of Jesus being ultimate and my example in perseverance a lot because I was going through a pretty rough patch with finding work and my mom freaking out about me not having a steady job. I was also still dealing with my past because the current dynamics of my family were bringing it up. 

This year, I was surprised to find that the only real terrible distraction from the true meaning of Christmas was all the preparations: getting stuff for the casserole, picking my aunt up so she could help make the casserole, being ready to go over to my cousin's house, etc. It wasn't a terrible distraction relatively speaking :D Though, I was thinking about it when I was up in the middle of the night & that's why it took me longer to get back to sleep. I think Mom's fretting about all that - starting on Christmas Eve was a factor. When she was worried about it Christmas day, I kindly told her that I knew the plans, and she probably shouldn't freak out so much that she misses Christmas altogether. I had to remind myself of that. Was my righteousness in how well I helped my aunt make the casserole or in Christ? Was our holiday success wrapped up in getting out of the grocery store on time and to my cousin's house on time or was its success in gaining a deeper understanding and appreciation for why Christ came to earth as a baby? 

No matter if I deal with a really intense family crisis like I had with a relative dying around Christmas 2007, or whether it's just the mundane things, I always have to remember who is supreme and handle the rest of Christmas through that lens. This way, no matter what happens, I can always find hope and joy. 

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Faith is concrete!!!!!!!

I've been bouncing the idea around of faith being concrete for a while to answer the question: How can God reveal Himself to people who rely primarily on the concrete world rather than on abstract concepts? Today when I read Hebrews 11 it hit me. Verse one says, "Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things unseen." Light-bulbs DEFINITELY went on in my head!!!!!! 

I was listening to OC Supertones' song Faith of a Child. Suddenly, I realized that kids do have faith, and they don't wait until they can grasp abstract thinking. They get it when they are still in the sensorimotor & concrete operations stages of life (Thanks Piaget!) in other words, infancy to middle childhood. Their faith is first expressed in their parents when they form some sort of attachment relationship. Children realize that they have one primary caregiver who feeds them, spends time with them, and cares for them. Children get stranger-anxiety around six months of age when they are held by anyone other than their primary caregiver because they realize, "Hey, you're not the person who cares for me on a daily basis!!!" They experience this attachment relationship in sensory ways by looking at, making sounds to, and reaching for their caregivers. Elementary school children know their parents are there to pick them up from school, help with homework, and attend their activities. They ask their parents for advice and rely on their parents to teach them different skills. This attachment relationship continues. 

Attachment to God is a little different because we can't physically see Him. Yet we can see evidences of Him. One of the most comforting things that got me through the deaths of two family members in undergrad was my biochemistry class. Yes, that sounds weird, but when I looked at the complexity of the cell, biochemical pathways, and cellular machines in the cell, these were all evidences of a Creator who was an engineer at the micro-level. He was telling me, "I exist." Even when I didn't understand why these losses happened or why He allowed them in His plan, but being reminded that He exists was the beginning of how He comforted me. Some people have said that they see something like the Big Dipper or a butterfly and are reminded about a particular aspect of God's character, often when circumstances would lead them to believe that God is not good. The more sensory things we experience and know about: God's influence in changing someone's behavior patterns, His hand in Creation, personal encounters with God such as answered prayer, hearing a certain song, etc. the more secure our attachment is to God. As this grows, we can withstand adversity without wavering in our faith as much. Psalm 1:1-3 verifies that as well as the lives of Biblical figures like Job, Moses, Peter, David, Ruth, Daniel, Joseph, Paul, and the list could go on. 

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible...And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.  Hebrews 11:1-3, 6


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Celebrated but lacking; Worshiping and whole

I was listening to Chris Tomlin's "Glory in the Highest" Christmas CD. Worship songs sound more epic (to me) when they are live. This CD is recorded live, and thus sounds EPIC!!!!!!!!!!!! One of my favorite things is when Chris or whoever the singer is goes a capella and it's just him and the crowd singing to their Creator!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :) :) :) :) Yes that kinda makes me eek a little bit :) 

While I was listening to this CD I found myself praying for Dr. Grandin. Suddenly I remembered when I went and saw her lecture with a dear sister in Christ who was willing to be nerdy with me :) :D :D When she came onstage after the Poudre Library staff made their introductory speech, clapping and cheering erupted through the packed-out auditorium in the UCA. People were cheering (I eeked) and shouting her name. People cheered and clapped for her at the very very end after the Q & A as she left to go to the book-signing table. This is sorta her life: lecture as a professor where it's more normal, research, and then lecture at special functions like that where other nerds sort of give her the rock-star treatment. There's a reason I have dubbed her as Super-Nerd (with the Superman theme-song playing in my head after I say/think that). 

I wanted to be like that. Waaaaaaaaaay back in my premed days, I wanted to be a doctor and at some point open an International Adoption clinic and go around speaking about attachment and adoption as well as medical issues adoptees face. I wanted to tell the world my own story to show that I've overcome so that other kids wouldn't have to suffer as badly as I did. In my head, I did sort-of want to be a rock star super-nerd. Yet as I achieved each academic milestone: getting into CSU, graduating 17th in my class out of 320, doing well in my first round of college classes, etc. I felt that something was missing. Until I really started to let Christ into my life, I felt like even though I was achieving stuff, I was always striving to prove myself. I was always wondering if I was good enough. I was always wondering if each accomplishment would somehow redeem my past. 

I don't know if Dr. Grandin still feels the need to strive. If she still wonders if her life is worth it, even when she's standing on stage in a packed-out lecture hall with everyone cheering for her. If she doesn't have Christ, she really is incomplete standing up there. 

In contrast, one of the places where I felt complete was surrounded by my Summitview people singing and worshiping God. Travis would wrap up a song and we would cheer, but we're not celebrating Travis because he is cheering for someone else: the Maker of music, the Giver of life, the reason for all of our joy (Thanks Steele Crosswhite). I  didn't have to strive or achieve to prove myself. In Christ, I found my worth. He imputed worth onto me on the Cross. Who cares if I didn't have the most glamorous job or if I didn't make it into medical school. I had Christ and that will resonate into eternity. 

In my head, I pictured Dr. Grandin among a crowd singing and worshiping God. Maybe even at a Chris Tomlin concert - or maybe at Summitview - where she's just singing with everyone else in the background being led by a worship leader. Out of the limelight. Off-stage. Maybe among a group of people that have never heard her lectures or read her books. But yet, I picture her complete because she found her Creator and Savior. With those contrasting images in my head, I pray that one day, this image will one day - by God's grace and power alone - become reality! 

Monday, December 13, 2010

Working hard to rest - or letting someone else do it!

I feel like I sorta started a trend with opening Mr. Bloggy to the world with this Hebrews for Advent thing. Well, since it's apparently encouraging to others, I guess I'll keep it going!

Hebrews 4 is all about entering into God's rest. We do this by believing and holding fast to the Word of God. Well, none of us does this perfectly. We all have this goal of entering into God's rest, but we never really truly get there. Even when I look back at my own life before I became Christian, I sort of started to understand more of who God is, but honestly reading the Bible was like reading a foreign language. I remember my small group leader asking me to read a passage that made absolutely no sense to me as I was reading it. I remember finishing and saying, "Ok, I read it, what does that mean?" There was also this striving to do better, to not sin as much to make God happy. 

Even as a Christian, I could fall into the trap of not being good enough. This was really difficult when I was called out on social-graces type stuff. Here I was - a Human Development and Family Studies student who struggled to interact with her peers. Ironic in a painful way. I wasn't a leader, though I was super-old for being in the college group. So many other girls were doing 'better' than me by officially discipling (mentoring) other girls and achieving developmental milestones like full-time jobs and getting married etc. I wasn't finding rest because I wanted to do better to do more for God. I wondered if God was really pleased with me. 

Hebrews 4:14 - 5:10 talks about Jesus as the High Priest. He is the mediator between God and I. He brought me into God's family so I could finally have a true relationship with my Creator instead of sitting there wondering if anyone was really truly out there. He atoned and became a propitiation (thanks for big words, Mitch) for my sins and so I no longer was condemned for my sins :) :) :) Something I learned last year was that I didn't have to strive as hard to please God. This doesn't mean that I could just sit there and sin and let myself atrophy. But it meant that I didn't have to compare myself to others. God started the work in me, He will complete it. Forward progress is made just by growing closer to God and obeying. If I fall down, I don't have to beat myself up and say, "Bad girl, bad girl!" If I fall down, Jesus bends down and picks me up again so we can keep walking. Because I don't have to strive, I can look at others in my life and truly love them and encourage them instead of secretly comparing myself to them :) :) That is true rest indeed :D 

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Resting in God this year

Hebrews 4 is all about entering into God's rest. This verse confused me A LOT when I first read it waay back when. The lights came on in my head last Christmas when Summitview went through Hebrews during Advent and I heard, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen. God rest ye merry gentlemen / let nothing you dismay / remember Christ our Savior was born on Christmas day. Suddenly I began to get it. I was like, "Oh my gosh!!!! This is the answer to Hebrews 4!!!!! I felt like a super-nerd having an, "I GET IT THEOLOGICALLY" moment when I think I heard that song when Mom and I were shopping at the mall. I was sorta zoned out for a few minutes thinking about it.

Anyway, going through Hebrews again, I got to think about it even MORE!! Rest means not striving, not struggling, peaceful. Kinda like my stuffed animals here in the picture hehe :D Just chillin'. When can we be just chill in every circumstance? WITH JESUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :) No really! This doesn't mean that we go through life all zoned out and totally not caring about anything. We still have the normal range of emotions, but with Jesus we don't completely meltdown in a crisis situation. Of course, we as believers living on earth aren't ever completely sanctified on earth, so of course we're going to melt-down at points and never be perfect. That's why the author of Hebrews is like, "ENCOURAGE EACH OTHER!!!!" so we stay as focused on Jesus as we can & thus can spend more of our lives resting in Him :)

So, personal appy: In what circumstances has God helped me rest in Him this year?????????

1. Definitely definitely the finding-a-job circumstance. That was hard. I cried. A lot. I got mad at God. A lot. I had several meltdowns. My friends and even Mitch encouraged me greatly during this time reminding me that God is good, He is provider, He knows my needs, He will reward me for seeking His kingdom first and trusting Him with the rest. I did find more and more rest in that, and I was more confident in sharing that rest & trust I had in God's goodness with Mom so she could see that God is real!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

me as a giant teardrop
2. In dealing with my past. This is an ongoing thing, but God hammered into it this year. That was and still is hard. I do cry. A lot. I'm a giant teardrop at times. I rested in Isaiah 52, 61, 54, 40 - ok, I just rested in the promises in the book of Isaiah :D The Breaking Free study helped a lot. My 'Summitview Moms' helped a lot!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! My friends helped a lot!! Team Fun encouraged me with Truth when I would cry. I rested in the fact that God allowed my past for His reasons and He showed me often how much He has healed me already. When I would read something in the HDFS literature, sometimes He would remind me how He did that particular intervention. For example, I had a broken self-concept for a long time and that's a giant hindrance to development. He showed me that finding my identity in Him progressively fixes that particular area :)

3. Closely related to to dealing with my past was getting my ASD diagnosis. Talk about my world just caving in and blowing up in my FACE..... That hurt. A lot. I cried. A lot. I had insomn1ia. A lot. I spent many hours (in between doing what I normally do) under a specific tree on the CSU Monfort Quadrangle journaling about it and crying. And praying. My rest was John 9:3, 2 Cor 4:7-9 and 12:1-10. My rest was that I was growing closer to God even when all I could do was cry. There was a time when I had a meltdown and in the middle of rocking, crying, and banging my head against something, I felt God say, "I'm here. Open your emotions to Me." I stopped banging and let Him take all the emotional pain that was too overwhelming and that I needed so badly to be released physically. I let Him take it so I could just lay there and cry. And I felt joy. No kidding. I felt joy that I could bring my emotions, my broken neurology to my Creator. I felt joy that I had a connection to my Creator because there are people on the spectrum that don't. I don't know if Temple Grandin has a connection to the One that made her and a cattle on a thousand hills, but I pray so much that at some point she does.  I rested knowing that God has a plan for my weakness. He has a future for me and He will use this for His kingdom. And one day, I will not have an ASD anymore. My friends reminded me of these truths, and I felt better and I kept on coming to God with stuff. Did I do it perfectly? Nope. Oh no... definitely not. But each time I did come to God, I learned more about Him. He showed me that He can and is using me even in spite of my ASD. I am still in children's ministry and I - with massive massive amounts of God's help was able to nanny for a single parent this summer :D and sometimes I doubted my abilities, but when I noticed progress in their behavior and when they would come to the door and almost knock little me over with hugs, I knew that God was helping me connect with them :) Our God is greater / Our God is stronger / God You are higher than any other / Our God is healer / awesome in power / our God / our God!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Oh yes, God used that song a lot!!! THANKS SUMMITVIEW WORSHIP TEAM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and Chris Tomlin and Matt Redman :)

4. Guy stuff. Since I'm a girl. I write more about this in another blog post, but basically, God helped me find rest in the fact that He is pleased with my development in whatever trajectory He decided to lead it and I don't have to strive to meet developmental milestones like marriage to please Him and be useful to Him. He also showed me more of how He is my eternal Husband. He gently reminded me, "Katie, I coded your DNA. I know you. You don't have to be afraid to tell Me things." Also, when I would whine and cry and pray in the middle of the night, I would say, "God, I thank You that You're my eternal husband, because I think an earthly husband would be grouchy if I woke him up with my crying in the middle of the night." Yay :) I know that God has given me rest in this area when I can go to weddings and enjoy them and eek without feeling the, "God, when will that be me???" feeling.

Yeah, those are the four main areas of Katie's life that God helped me find rest in Him :) :) :)

Wow!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! GOD YOU'RE AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thanks SO MUCH that I can find rest in You and I can continue to find rest in You just by praying and connecting to You and reading your Word OBVIOUSLY and - thanks for my SUMMITVIEW FRIENDS for encouraging me with Your Truths and just by their example of living by faith and it's so cool!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thank You that I am finding more and more rest in You even if it's through tears or after a meltdown or after I have to repent of some serious sin!! Thank You that You share the moments of me giggling to me crying in pain from something that's really bothering me. God I am soooooooo thankful that it's BY YOUR GRACE ALONE that one day, I'll wake up in Heaven and find rest in You because You're there and there will be no more sin or brokenness coming between us!!!! :) I always imagine You and I drinking tea and me snuggling in Your lap with a fuzzy blanket :) :) hehe! That will be super-awesome-ultimate rest :) :) :) :) :) !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :) God, I pray also that my brothers & sisters would come to know Your rest better here and look forward to the rest in Heaven. I pray Mom comes to rest in your salvation. I pray Temple Grandin does too. And I pray that other people I know who don't know You also come into Your rest because You bring them there through the Cross!!!!!!!!!!!! AMEN!!!!!!!!!! ((HUGS))

Thursday, December 02, 2010

A little community church in a little college town

Wow! God is SUPERTIGHT! :) So, I got to hang out with this girl from Zolder 50 which is a church in Amsterdam that was started by people at Summitview 8 years ago. It was cool to hear what they were up to and even COOLER to hear that they were supporting a church in Kenya that ran an orphanage. The Kenya church/orphanage seemed very much like the Nepali church & affiliated orphanages run by people that are also connected to and supported by Summitview.  In my head I had this diagram: 
So wow. I mean SERIOUSLY! WOW!!! The church in Amsterdam reaches people from all parts of Europe, so God is using it to reach other parts of Europe too. But seriously!!! God is - in a distant way - using US at Summitview to reach kids we've never met in Kenya, Africa!?!?!?!?! And in parts of Europe most of us have never been to??? I thought of Col 1:3-6 where Paul thanks God for the church in Colosse because they heard the Gospel, understood the hope they have in Christ and they are a witness to others so God is bearing fruit in that church. 

It just reminded me of this: God is using this little church in a little college town to reach the world. We're not the biggest church in Fort Collins. And Fort Collins isn't the largest or most famous college town. For a while, we didn't even have a building, and when we got it, it was basically a hand-me-down building from a larger church in town.We're not the most known church in town. Yet God chooses to use us.

I see this pattern played out in other areas too. I remember being part of a church in Littleton that also had a really good missions program in many parts of the world. God uses these little churches to reach people in really unexpected ways :) I think it's just so that we can look at it and say: Oh wow!!! OH WOW!!!!!!! That is so AWESOME!!!!!! God is so AWESOME!!!!!! :)  Not to us, but to Him be the glory!!! :)