Be Still My Soul

I just received a beautiful email from a friend. It read much more like a hand written letter and I’m tempted to copy and paste it into a document and print it on paper.

Besides sharing her struggles and joys, she ends her letter with a very simple statement which left me stunned for a moment while salty liquid rushed into my eyes.

“I pray for you, Peggy, that your faith would not fail.”

I sat up late last night trying to write a different blog post and then trying to write something for just myself to make sense of life right now. One metaphor that seemed fitting was that of being out in choppy water on a small pontoon. Just as I think I’m grasping what it means to be still inside, the scenery changes and I’m sliding toward a metal railing with pinwheel arms. Three things I forgot to do and seven things that need to be done right now, and several questions I’m not completely sure how to answer slam into me at the opposite end of the boat….

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Staying to Go

Life is moving quickly. Quite quicker than I know how to document. I have actually written several other posts that I didn’t publish because I couldn’t sit still within myself long enough to decide whether they contained true and real things.
I often think that it is in these moments that it’s best for me to stay silent.

But I do want to share, even if the words are few.

After spending 6 weeks preparing, the students have finally arrived. There are twelve of them, 10 women and 2 men. They are a very social group, on the whole. Listening to them share how they got here and why they have come has brought tears to my eyes several times.

Why is that?…

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Holler

If I could create a drawing that described this year, it would probably be a comic strip. The whole thing would be a roller coaster ride.

After sitting here thinking for a while, I realize that describing the pictures I would draw is probably less effective than just describing the year itself.

January: This was a month of great elation. I had just completed the School of Biblical Studies, which is a marathon of studying for 9 months. I had puffy, bluish skin under my eyes and a great big smile on my face.

February: I went home for 6 weeks to “raise support.” I put it in quotes because that is not as concrete an activity as some might make it out to be. Basically I hung out with my friends, made new friends, and spoke to a few groups of people about the work I feel called to do as a Missionary….

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God In My Homework

The School of Biblical Studies was both the most difficult and the most rewarding thing I have ever done. Because I had not had a positive experience with school in the past, I had never wanted to do the SBS, afraid it would just be another opportunity to fail. And so when I felt like God might be calling me to do the school

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(just about 3 weeks before the school started) I wrestled hard to be totally sure I was hearing him correctly. To be honest, when it came down to it, I made the decision based on who God is and not upon what I feel I’m capable of accomplishing successfully. I took a dive because I would rather fall on my face in pursuit of God than be “safe” and miss what he has for me.

What I discovered during the SBS, was God himself…

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Terrifically Specific

This weekend our School of Biblical Studies staff took a retreat to the charming vacation town of Pagosa Springs. Our training goes for 6 weeks before the students arrive and so far it is a lot more fun than I usually picture myself having at “work.”

We ate together, prayed together, hung out, made plans,  held the baby… There’s one thing we did in particular that I would like to share. Each of us took a turn giving a “devotion.”  The general instruction for the devotional time was to share something that God has been teaching you recently. Something I love about God is his willingness and his patience to teach us on an ongoing basis. I loved that each of us had something different to share.

What I shared with them I want to share with you now. This is something I began learning at the beginning of the last school I staffed and I feel like it’s a good thing to revisit.

…Expectations…

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Boundless Joy

I‘ve been really into this song lately called Up In Arms.
The lyrics that hit me the hardest are;

So here I am,
Your love has got me up in arms again,
And this hope won’t let me go
My joy is boundless,
My soul knows its worth
In arms stretching wider
Than my heart could ever fall

Joy is something I think about pretty regularly, as I have experienced a lot of sorrow. Some of the sorrow came from circumstances, but much of it came from an inner sense of emptiness or worthlessness. I admit that even after I started following Jesus I experienced that second kind of sorrow. It has taken much, much longer than I would have liked for me to grasp my value as a daughter of The King. There were so many lies to contend with….

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A Body in Motion

My guess is that most people who choose a specific education out of high school hope to be able to use that education in the future. Otherwise, what would the point be in persevering to learn? Really, to learn is to change. If we cannot act upon something we have learned it seems likely the learning will be lost.

So you can imagine my delight to discover that the nine months I spent intensively studying the Bible is already starting to impact my outward life….

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A New Redemption Song

This is the place a person expects to feel a lot of emotions. One week before the end of a very intensive 9 month… anything. When the school started I laughed about it being as long as a pregnancy and how I hoped to birth something awesome at the end.  A metaphorical birth, thank you.

Near the beginning of this “pregnancy” (Bible course) I found out what I would be having when it was over- a life as a teacher. But when starting a new life, where does one start? With babies you buy clothes for them to wear, not knowing how much they will swim in the newborn clothes or how quickly they will grow out of them. You set up room in the house for the baby to sleep, not knowing how much or when sleep will occur.  You pick out names, not knowing if what you’ve finally agreed upon with your spouse will actually suite this small human.

I have done those things for a literal baby, only to find everything far different than anyone had prepared for or expected. She only lived 19 hours. I’m not trying to get all depressing on you here, but I just want to give myself some perspective.

We don’t know what will happen next….

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The Unknown God

This post was birthed in the last, but when I finished writing this bit I realized it deserved its own place. Jumping off of thoughts about what might be next, I got caught up in what God is doing in the present to reveal himself.

I’ve discovered, while studying the Bible so in depth, that I have a lot to say. I can suddenly see my own context and the larger context of living… the things that make us human and human for a reason. The why of my existence along with the bigger why of existing for humanity. Not like a tidy religious package, as you might assume, but… well… It’s like Love, for example. Everyone has their perspective on love. When we spend too much time immersed in media and fake intimacy then we stop craving anything deeper,  so to others looking in on ‘media lovers’,  love looks cheap – because it is. It doesn’t cost anything. Others spend time learning that love is a list of rules, lines to not cross, words to not say and so their love might actually look like hate to others because ‘rule lovers’ have taken the idea of preferring the other person and turned it into correcting the other person. There are many other ways to look at love, my point isn’t to point out failures but to give an example of something really big that can be made small….

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Learning the Steps

I always want to say really epic things when I post. It’s not because epic things aren’t happening that I cannot find the words, it’s because too many things are happening with too little time to process them.

One beautiful thing happened on Friday. Thursday night I saw this video about a dog named Skipboot (and his owner). Skipboot is the most incredibly smart and obedient dog I have ever seen. I was really moved by the dog’s obedience… to be listening so attentively to hear and obey every small step. While watching the video I thought, “I want to be like that with God. I want to hear and obey Him that well.”

The next morning in class we heard teaching on the book of Hosea. In that story are pieces of Hosea’s incredible obedience to God. At the end of class the teacher invited us to spend some time talking to God personally. She turned on music… to be honest I can’t remember what she told us to seek God about! I just remember that when I closed my tired eyes and set my heavy head in my arms I immediately thought of Skipboot and was going to start praying along the lines of God making me more like that dog.

Almost as immediately I got a picture in my mind of dancing with a man, ballroom style….

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