Thursday, April 14, 2011

Looking for Joy and other Clues

Joy. Having it, finding it, knowing it, wanting it. It can be so elusive sometimes - we can get so far from it. Life presents many obstacles to it, right? Hurts, anger, complacency, guilt, and even busyness - thats always a favorite tool of the enemy for a lot of things.

I think its no mistake that I picked up the little book 'Joy for a Woman's Soul:Promises to Refresh Your Spirit' with excerpts from the Women of Faith ladies a week ago and have been thumbing through it just a couple days before having lunch with my friend Leslie Vogel. Because one of the things that came up over our quiche, stuffed pears, chicken salad, and raspberry tea at LuLu's Tea Room was joy.

I was in Lifeway Christian Store the other day, just perusing through the gift books, journals and such, and I remember saying in my mind and my heart - "God, I would really like to have something in addition to the bible study I am working through right now that would allow you to say some things I may just need to hear, if not for me then for someone else... something I can keep handy, keep close, and that will be that extra connection"

Then I had lunch with Leslie. Then I got home, picked up that book, and suddenly remembered another conversation from the day before... my friend Pat Wade and I were at her house talking about a lot of things, but they all seemed to lead to the fact that there are so many women right now being tripped up by things that keep them from living the life God desires for them - keeping them from living a life of 'JOY'...

Yep - I think He's speaking, and I think I better be listening :)


Chick Chat with Marisa

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Getting Caught Red Handed

I'm 7 again. My face is flushed. My heart is racing. I'm embarrassed. I'm scared. And I am in trouble.

I am immediately back in the old Sears building on Central Avenue with my mom and dad. I can smell and even see the candy counter where I used to press my face up against the glass in excitement.

Back then I would enter the building and would be assaulted by the overwhelming smell of chocolate. My excitement was about more than I could stand because I knew that when we were finished shopping I would get to go with my parents to that huge glass cased counter in the center of that floor and watch as the gentleman behind it in his red and white stripped shirt and crisp white paper hat filled one white bag with chocolate covered raisins and one white bag with chocolate covered peanuts. I then would get to sit between my parents in that green country squire station wagon with the wood paneling on the way home, where on that front bench seat I would get to reach into both bags filling my cheeks full of delicious candy goodness!

But what I was remembering most right now as I listened to Priscella Shire in one of the Jonah bible study dvd sessions was one specific Saturday afternoon before I got to the candy counter. On this particular trip to Sears I got into trouble. Big trouble.

'Garanimals' were huge then. Tags hung from each item in a line of children's clothes that allowed us to pick out our own outfits without looking like little freaks! All we had to do was match up a lion tagged pair of shorts with a lion tagged skirt, or a zebra tagged pair of pants with a zebra tagged shirt and the colors and fabrics would automatically match! Parents could relax and let the independent streaks run free in children who wanted to dress themselves before school and church and know that other parents would not question their sanity.

I loved Garanimals because I got to finally be a big girl and pick out my own clothes! And on this particular Saturday I was pretending I was shopping alone. I was pretending that I had driven that station wagon to Sears, that I would get to go and tell the man behind the counter that today I would just have the chocolate covered peanuts and raisins mixed together in one huge bag. That I was out for a day on the town all by my big girl self.
In fact today I was feeling so grown up that I decided that, even though my mom had told me to stay in the two aisles of Garanimals racks, I was big enough to walk to the candy counter and look through all the glass cases by myself and pretend I was trying to decide what other exotic candies I may try on my next trip into the city. After all, if I was dressing myself I was big enough to maybe branch out and try other chocolate covered delicacies. I would only stay there a couple of minutes anyway.

This day is what I was remembering at this moment in bible study. The day when I decided to leave the two aisles I had been given permission to roam free in and venture out clear on the other side of the giant candy counter where I was envisioning the chocolate covered orange slices and caramel turtles being dropped into separate white bags. It was then, on that day that my mother and fathers voices interrupted my day dream as they yelled my name - loudly.
They had been looking frantically for me. I was busted. Caught red handed in defiance of what they had told me I was allowed to do and not do. They had told me the two aisles they gave me free reign was where I should stay. No where else was I to be. Right there and there alone. But in my new found independence I decided to stretch those limits. That was a bad move.
I was snatched up, spun around, my back pressed up against that candy counter, and was berated by my mom and dad as they preceded to LOUDLY machine gun fire questions at me... Did I not know I had just given every pervert within 5 miles a chance to kidnap me? Did I not know that little kids get taken all the time? Was I trying to give them a heart attack? Did I want to be killed by strangers? How could I have disobeyed? Did I not realize how much they loved me and what they would do if something had happened to me? Did I not know how scared they were when they stepped one aisle over from where I was to be and could not find me? Did I not know that what they told me to do and not do was for my own good?
My face flushed, my heart raced, I was SOOOOO embarrassed, and everyone was looking at me. Every adult, child, and Sears employee within ear shot had gathered around and was looking at me.
Oh my, I just wanted to die. And I had disappointed my mom and dad. I was caught red handed in disobedience. I felt swallowed up by what I had done, by my own guilt and unwanted attention it had brought me in this moment. And as the questions they fired at me began to sink in I was swallowed up by the realization and fear of what could have happened to me.

Priscilla Shire shares in one particular session of the Jonah study that we often see the big fish that swallowed Jonah as part of the consequence of his disobedience to God in not going to Nineveh as the Lord has asked. I can see why we would think that. Imagine living in the dark, smelly, gross, wet, cold belly of a big old fish for three days. Bad, right? What fear in that moment Jonah must have first felt when he looked around and realized where he was.
But she reminded us that God's provision and saving grace can look very different than what we expect it to.
That sometimes what we first view as the consequences for our behavior is actually our provision - it's what saves us, preserves us, and allows us to live to see another day.

Jonah 1:17
Now the Lord had arranged for a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was inside the fish for three days and three nights

God arranged that fish to be there in that very place Jonah was thrown overboard into the raging sea. As Jonah sank into the depths of the sea, seaweed wrapping around his head and legs, dragging him down to what would have been a sure death, God SENT the big fish. Jonah's big fish was God's provision. A provision that saved his life, that would forever be the reminder and turning point for him. Look how much God DID love him, even in his disobedience of not going to Nineveh like the Lord had asked him to.

In fact it didn't take long for Jonah to realize this:
Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from inside the fish. He said, “I cried out to the Lord in my great trouble, and he answered me. I called to You God from the land of the dead, and Lord, You heard me! Jonah 2:1-2

The consequences of our actions ARE our provision in themselves - they are our second chances!

I was totally upset, embarrassed, guilty, angry, mortified, and was on display in front of all those people in Sears that day. But getting caught red handed by my parents at that moment when I disobeying them, going outside the limits they had set (instead of being allowed to make my way back to the Garanimals aisles with my parents none the wiser as I intended) was my consequence, my lesson, my provision, and my second chance.

I have never forgotten it. It was what I remembered the first time my own son asked me if he could go two aisles over in the store and look at the toys by himself like a big boy.

I do remember all that I mentioned above about how I felt, but what I remember the most now is how much my parents loved me to worry like that, and to have set the boundaries to begin with. That it was for my own good. Ands it's what I see in Gods provision of that big fish. Oh how He loved Jonah to have arranged in advance for that fish to be there to swallow Jonah up and keep him safe as he learned his lesson.

Oh how He loves us ~ So much that our actions have reactions, that our consequences are our second chances as we learn our hard lessons :)


Chick Chat With Marisa