Friday, August 25, 2006

Age - It's Just A Number

I started doing a Bible study on my own last week. I need to be fed. Basically all I am getting right now are the weekly sermons. They are great, but I need more.

I have been feeling stagnant in my walk lately, and that is not a good thing, so I went to one of the local Christian book stores last week and picked up a few Bible studies that sounded interesting to me. The one I am working at now is called "Living With Passion & Purpose" by Elizabeth George, and it's on the book of Luke. I have only done six chapters so far (I'm trying to do one every day, though haven't for the last two days), and while I am finding it helpful, I still feel like I need something a little more indepth - you know, something that makes you feel challenged, something that makes you look at yourself in a deeper way. I really don't know what kind of studies there are out there that would do this, but I'm keeping my eyes opened.

This study has helped me be more conscious in one area that I struggle with. You see, age is a real issue for me. I don't know why that is so - although I have a little inkling as to why it could be. You see, I am thirty-seven years old and I am not married and have no children. Some would not see this as being a problem, and would tell me "Well, there is nothing wrong with being single, just think of all the work you can do for the Lord!" Fair enough. Yet, there are others who wonder why, at my age, I am not married nor have any children. While I hate both of these responses, the latter one bugs me the most.

I have to wonder if the stem of my problem with age, is the fact that I am still single with no kids. I wonder if I were married and had kids (or even just married), would my age still be a problem? It's not that I feel I am too old to do things for the Lord, though to be honest there are times when I think I am too old to do something. You see, I look back over my life at what I have or have not accomplished. Not too much. I feel as though I have wasted a big part of my life - though to be honest, the majority of the past was lived in a non-Christian manner.

Now, I know that I can't dwell on the past and that Jesus has forgiven me of the sins I've done then. I know I need to focus on the present and do what I can for the Lord, with His help and provision.

I guess I feel like time is running out - to get married to the right one, to have children. My clock is ticking BIG TIME, and this is a real issue for me. I've taken it to the Lord, cried out to Him - you name it. I will admit that there have been times when I have cried myself to sleep over this, have been almost obsessed with this matter. Not good, I know.

I was talking with a friend the other day, and she said something that made a lot of sense and it kind of hit home. What she said was that she is learning (or has learned) to wait for God's timing in bringing her a husband if He chooses. I can't explain it as well as she did (hopefully she'll be kind enough to leave her explanation in the comment section, even if only as a reminder to me), but I don't want just any husband. I want the husband the Lord has for me, the one He wants to bless me with. I want His best, not second best.

To get back to the Bible study, one of the "questions" was to list a truth that I took away from that chapter (it was chapter 1), and what I said was that I need to remember that age does not matter, and God can use anyone to further His kingdom regardless of his or her age. See, it's not just in doing God's work that I need to remember this, but in everyday life.

Age is just a number and it doesn't matter if everyone around me is younger; it doesn't matter that at age thirty-seven I am doing or learning things most people would have started as a child or teenager (such as taking up a musical instrument, going to university). It doesn't matter if most everyone I know is either married, has a child, or both. It doesn't matter - but some times it does matter to me.

I haven't mastered this yet, but I'm working on it and it might take a long while to change my thinking and feelings around; but I'm trying. I'm trying to put my focus on Jesus and be obedient in my walk, seek Him in all situations, etc. Again, it's not easy - but no one ever said the Christian walk is a piece of cake!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The Sound of Music

I went to my third flute lesson last night. The time simply flies by so quickly! Of course the lesson is only for half an hour. I could sign up for an hour, but that would cost double and since I'm no longer working, that is a little more than I care to spend on it right now. The teacher did say that in the future, as I start getting more into it, I could sign up for an hour. We'll see.

He told me last night that he can tell I'm practicing because he's seen improvement already - said that a lot of his students (regardless of what instrument they are learning) come in and haven't improved so he knows they aren't practicing. He said it doesn't matter if you only practice for fifteen minutes a day, the important thing is to practice every day. There are a couple things I need to keep working on though, but they are normal things that people starting out playing the flute need to work at.

One of the things is my breathing. I'm not taking deep enough breaths so that will affect the playing. If you take deep breaths you can play more notes and the result would be a smoother sound. The other things is to hold my flute a certain way. I tend to want to hold it so the hole you blow into is facing me. It needs to be facing more upward. He told me that can be corrected by standing in front of a mirror some - that way I can see how it looks.

I am really enjoying playing the flute so far! I'll write more on another topic later - hopefully tomorrow. Since this is a Christian blog, I want to have more content geard toward the Lord. Anyway, have a Christ filled day!

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Prayer Needed for Rebekah

Not sure if everyone is aware of this or not. I just came from Rebekah's blog and they need some major prayer between now and Tuesday. Please stop by and read what is going on and say a prayer as well.

Rebekah's Blog

Edited: The link to Rebekah's Blog is now fixed.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Whew!

I think I'll have a couple of days to unwind. I've been on the go pretty much since last Thursday and I'm feeling like I need a little break to refill my tank.

Last Thursday, Friday and Saturday I attended a leadership summit conference with about seve others from my church. This is an event held every year, but it's the first time I have attended. It is telecast live from the Chicago area (forget the exact name of the place) and is put on by the Willow Creek people (Bill Hybels is the 'famous' pastor).

There were three speakers that I really enjoyed the most - Bill Hybels (I think that's how his last name is spelled), James Meeks, and Wayne Cordeiro. They all spoke with regard to church type leadership, and this really got me motivated and inspired. The other speakers were mostly the 'business' type leaders who apply leadership in business principles to church. Those didn't speak to me so much.

They also had an interview with Bono from U2, though it was prerecorded and not live like I had assumed it was. No biggie though. It was interesting, though it wasn't really leadership geard; it was of a more mission type focus. It was good though.

Saturday afternoon, Sunday and all day today I got together with Kristina to work on stuff for the kids mid week program that we both coordinate together. There is still quite a bit of work to be done, but we now have a name, key verse, motto, and logo. We also got together with a couple of the leaders - well really one leader and one who has experience in picking curricula(only 2 people showed up which was disappointing, though God brought the ones that we needed to help us make some decisions and choices - we see them as key people). We were able to finally choose the curriculum for the program, and now we need to get some people in place and what not. Like I said, there is still a lot of work left to be done.

So, if you don't mind, I would appreciate if you'd pray for Kristina and I as we continue getting things put into place, making phone calls, meeting with the pastor, and all that is involved with directing the program. This is the first time for both of us doing anything like this, and we could both certainly use your prayers.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Last Day

Today was my last day at work for the summer. It really doesn't seem like all that long ago I started work, though it was at the beginning of May. In some ways it has flown by, yet in others it has dragged on and on.

Remember earlier in the summer when I was trying to figure out what to do with my life since I didn't get accepted into the education program? Well, I have decided to go back to school for another year and take some teachable courses (English and History) which will help should I go into the education field next year.

The courses I have chosen for my first semester are Children's Literature, TESL (teaching English as a second language) and a writing course. Second semester will be the second half of the TESL, Maritime History after 1800 (which is the history in my neck of the woods), and Post Exilic writings. This last course is a religious studies course, and I took that should I decided to pursue a third avenue - which I won't be able to do until fall 2007 anyway.

To review, my three avenues of possibilities for my future are:

1. To get my Education degree and become a teacher
2. To teach English as a second language overseas
3. To get my M. Div. (Masters of Divinity)

With regard to the education degree, the door was closed for that this time around. I don't know if God is closing it because it isn't the right time, or if that is an avenue He does not want me to go down. In all honesty, I don't know if I want to teach school anymore. I'm not sure if that is because of my rejection in the program, or if God removed that 'desire'. I'm still praying on it.

The TESL course I am teaching will give me a certificate and qualify me to teach English as a second language here in Canada, or around the world. This is something I am thinking I might do (for a year at least) to help me pay off my student loans quicker. I have been talking to some people who have done this, and they say it is a great way to get the loans paid off. Again, it is something I am praying about.

My third avenue was suggested to me by my pastor's wife. She told me this past July that she and her husband (the senior pastor) had been discussing my future and what I should do. They think I should go and get my M. Div. in Christian Education - I guess it's something they think I would be good at.

When I was worried about what I could do with a BA in Biblical Studies, someone commented (I believe it was Joe from Joe's Jottings) that I could/should do Christian Education. At the time I didn't know anything about that. We have a Board of Christian Education at church, which I am on, but there is more to doing CE than this. So, I wondered and thought that maybe God was confirming this suggestion for me when the pastor's wife mentioned this out of the blue when she heard me tell someone I didn't get into the education program.

I've contacted the university where I would have to go to get my masters, and have found out that it is a three year program and I would be living off campus - ain't no way I am going to live in a dorm at my age! Besides, even if I was to live on campus in the dorm that would be calculated into any student loan I would get.

The program, after three years, would put me roughly 21,000 dollars further into debt. That doesn't include rent, groceries, bills, etc. So, if I were to add that on to what I currently owe, I would be looking at nearly 50,000 bucks worth of debt when all is said and done. OUCH!

So, if I can get my TESL certificate and go teach somewhere like Korea or Japan I can get my current loans paid and save and do my masters. From what I've been told, if I do this my airfare to wherever I go would be paid as well as accomodations. The people I've talked to said that if you live off the money they give you to live off, you can bank your wages and pay off the loan. So, in theory if I am there a year (which is generally the length of contracts - they do it on a year by year basis) and can live off what they give me for accomodations and food, I would/could get about 2000 a week for teaching. I could save that up and in a few months have enough to pay off my current loan. Then, if I could save the rest, I could get partial student loans to get my masters and have some money for rent and stuff. That is if it all works out that way. It would be hard to do though.

But, like I said, I don't really know what avenue God is leading me down. I am continuing to pray about it and unless I end up getting into the education program for the fall (I've been told I'm on the waiting list) I think what I will do is the latter - teach English overseas for a year and then go get my M.Div in Christian Education. I think I will have to do more research into it because I have no idea the pay would be like in something like that.

Anyway, this post is way longer than I had thought or intended for it to be. I'll end here so I won't bore you all to death. I'm still praying about my situation, and if you think if it please pray for me as well.

God bless and have a Christ filled day!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Putting Action Behind The Thoughts

Recently I have been observing other people, their walks (with the Lord), their successes and whatnot. I have to admit that several times I have felt jealous that I could not do something they could, or that I haven't achieved success in some aspect of my life like they have. Then, the wishes started rolling in...you know, the "I wish I could sing like her" or "I wish I was as smart as he is" or "Why can't I have what they have" and so on, and so on...

I have been reading Steve Sporre's blog, Following God's Will, recently (and in the past as well), making note of just how God has been working in and through him. Here is a young man who has gone through some struggles in his life and his walk and has come out on the other side as a stronger man. He openly and freely talks about his past in a book that he has written (he's now looking at publishing) and let me tell you, it is powerful! This man is also a talented musician and has a CD that is coming out (check out his blog for detail of how you can order).

Then, I read about Katie who is also open and honest about her walk, her struggles, her desire to serve the Lord. From the various entries I have read over the last I don't know how long, this woman loves the Lord and seeks Him in the different situations she faces. She claims that she is known around the world for falling down. She is a funny lady as you can witness by reading her blog, and can laugh at herself as well - not everyone can do that or is at least willing too...

Stephanie is someone whom I have had comment recently on my blog. We seem to visit a lof of the same blogs and she has a request. Visit her blog to read about her upcoming mission trip if you haven't already. She will need prayers, and if you can help financially with a donation, she has a way that you can contact her as well.

And then there is my best friend, Kristina who is so awesome and just inspires me all around. She is such a godly woman who is constantly seeking the Lord and His will in her life. She's a single mom who has done an excellent job raising her six year old daughter. Someday, when I have kids, I hope to be as good a mother as Kristina is.

I guess where I am going with this post, is that I see (or read about) people like the ones I have mentioned (there are tons more out there though) who have inspired me recently. It might not be in something specific, but generally with what they have done. What I have noticed lately, is that a lot these people (and others) don't just sit around twiddling their thumbs and simply wish they could do something.

No, they actually put action to their thoughts. Like Steve, for example. He didn't just think about writing a book or making a CD, he did something about it. Stephanie is being obedient by following the Lord's direction in going to Jamaica. Kristina isn't all talk, she's action - she does things. She wants to learn the keyboard and/or guitar, so she does. She wants to sew her daughter a halloween costume instead of buying one, and she does (when her sewing machine isn't being temperamental that is!). Katie actively seeks the Lord in her walk, listens for His guidance with regard to her future.

I have been wishing lately that I could do certain things. For example with the flute, I have loved the flute for the last six years, and have wished I could play for the last five. So, I have decided to do something about it. I don't want to simply wish I could play, I went out and purchased a second hand flute and signed up for lessons.

I have been wishing that I was further along with my writing. Usually I get the inspiration at work when it isn't possible for me to write anything, and when I get home I feel too tired to do anything. So, my plan is to sit and write something - even if it's only a paragraph. At least that way I am working on it and not just wishing that I was doing it.

I have to admit that I have also been wishing my relationship with Christ was better, that I was closer to Him again (I have been letting this slip, and that is not a good thing). I have been asking Him to help me with this, but you know what...I have to actually do something about it. I am the one that has to open the Bible and read/meditate. I am the one who has to pray. I am the one who has to do the footwork. Like any relationship, if you want it to be successful, you have to work at it.

So, thank you to all those who have inspired me and helped me to see the difference between wishing and being able to do something. Thank you for allowing the Lord work in your life, and then share these ways. Thank you for talking about what you are doing in your lives, no matter what it is, so that the Lord could use these things to drive home the fact that if I want something I need to do something about it and not simply feel jealous that I don't have it or can't do it. I need to get off my butt and put the action into my life.

I need to just do it, not wish it. I need to put the actions behind the thoughts in order to accomplish things.