Friday, October 23, 2009

Project: Delight Yourself in the Lord

Okay - just because you haven't heard from me doesn't mean I'm not still delighting! Life has picked up pace. Started school - UoP - and am off and running on the master's. It will be fun because I really like the subject matter!

Had to do jury duty two days this week and that really messed me up on my paper writing schedule so I was up very late last night beating a 12 midnight deadline. However, we won't mention the fact that I procrastinated the last two weeks to get it done will we?

I am still reading,"The Sacred Sorrow" but can't read any further until I finish the book of Job. I have challenged myself to read Job all the way through as I never have and Michael Card challenges us to do so at the close of the section on Job. I read 5 chapters a day and have 7 more to go.
(you can tell I don't read everyday)

Also have started reading "Prayer" by Philip Yancey - love his writing. It is so honest and real and takes you out of the church box. I have also read his books called "What's So Amazing About Grace?" "The Jesus I Never Knew" and "Disappointment with God."

AND I am reading "Tomboy Bride" a book, actually, a real journal of a woman who traveled to Colorado to be with her husband during the Gold Strikes and her life living in a mining camp.

And trying to stay up with my reading for my school...and sometimes work.

This delighting myself in the Lord has made me be more disciplined. Don't laugh as you are not seeing the discipline in the blog writing. Inconsquential, actually. I find myself focused on being delighted. Not sad and worrying about stuff. The project has affected my attitude and thinking. It has changed the way I view my time with God.

The other morning, I woke up before the alarm went off. I lay there trying to go back to sleep and I felt this huge desire to get up and visit with God. Not pray. visit. What is the difference? For me, it was quite different. I didn't want to go before God with my usual prayer routine. I just wanted to talk to a friend. No formal wording or the way I usually pray. (Do you think God ever wants to say to us, "Just shut up and talk to me?") So I got up and sat on my bed and had this sensation that God was sitting right there with me, crosslegged, right in front of me and we talked. I told him how things were going and how happy I am and just stuff. And we laughed. That was because in the course of conversation, I said I wanted to be like Paul having a tentmaker's kind of job and then I thought of Paul's life and all he went through and I stopped talking and that's when God and I laughed. Because the LAST time I told God I wanted to be like somebody - as in Darlene Rose - this missionary prisoner of war in the 1940's - my life got turned upside down. SO, I remembered that and so did God ...and we laughed and I said to God. "Let's put some qualifiers around that one." The whole 'meet with God' experience was SO amazing.

I don't really know why the beach scene is a place God takes me to but He does. As we talked, and it was SO comfortable, my mind ventured off to walking on the beach. And it was God walking with me, holding my hand and hugging me close as we walked along the seashore. I didn't ask him for anything - other than being like Paul - uh - having a tentmaker job like Paul - we just talked and It was good!

I find that I am living in a place most people rarely get to inhabit. No - they get to inhabit - but don't enjoy it. Not Pagosa - the life of unemployment. I am sure many would say, "We'll let you take this one for the team, Jaye." .....

I will continue this line of thought later - I must go walk as I have missed my routine all week. Walking also is great think time for writing. My head is overflowing. So

with that

Good morning! I'm off!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

On Being...Enough

I really hate going to the mailbox. It's not like it's very far to walk to it - the box is right there in front of the the condo. But I have NEVER enjoyed getting the mail. Most of the time it is only junk mail and bills.....uuuugggghhhh. And then you have to spend precious minutes going through all of it, deciding what to do with each piece, where to file it or what pile to put it in and then trashing the remaining junk. It probably wouldn't be so bad if I didn't wait days to get the mail and have "mail build up." Hey, why go to the mailbox everyday when you can spend half an hour going through the mail one day a month? Just kidding. How about once a week...And that is why I love on-line banking bill pay. OLBP makes my life easier and reduces "mail buildup" and saves me time. You know, if I knew I was getting happy mail like "I love you, cards", encouragement cards, winning lottery ticket notifications, and tax refund checks, etc, I am sure I would check the mail twice a day therefore changing my bad attitude about mail. Keep dreamin' sister!

Well anyway.....I have been expecting something really special to come in the mail but I had kind of forgotten about it.

I checked the mail Tuesday and upon opening the box, lying among the assortment of mail was a white, cardboard envelope. I knew what it was. I walked up the stairs to my condo, opened the door and laid all of the mail on the counter. I began going through all of it, saving the white envelope for last. A couple of bills from companies I have yet to put on bill pay....official transcript from Univ. of Phoenix...mmmm....3.41 GPA - pretty good - huh?...(Would have been higher but I took that trip to Stupid thinking I was going to get married a couple of years ago and failed to turn in a final least it was a very short trip...) Alco for the envelope. I ripped the tab away and pulled out a black, leather folder, opened it up and stared at my name.....Jaye L Price....and above it...University of Phoenix...I was staring at my official diploma from the University of Phoenix. And I burst into tears.

I did it. I really, really did it. After three years of staying up late at night finishing papers; scheduling my life around when I could be on the computer doing school; choosing what activities I could participate in and what I couldn't; passing college algebra on an on-line program no less, although I couldn't have done it without my friend Diana and her son Kevin - thanks Diana for letting me be 9 years old and cry through the whole lesson while we did algebra together - I will never forget it and will be eternally grateful to you for seeing me through that ordeal....and others; going to work at Alpine Components after staying up nearly all night to get an assignment done and spending almost as much hours at work as I was in one particular class, crying and telling Donna - "I can't do this!" - thanks Donna for saying "Yes you can. Take it one assignment at a time." The instructor was almost as impossible to deal with as the amount of work in that class....most creative I have ever been on an assignment...I will explain maybe another time....LOL...experiencing a very adventurous although grueling past summer...hostel life rocks!.....ya'll..... three years of hard work and I DID IT.

However, being the over-achiever I am, my educational goals have increased through time and process. When I started college in 2000 at Austin Community College, my goal was to get an associate in Early Childhood Education. After getting half way through the program I knew I would not be satisfied with an associates and started taking core curriculum classes toward obtaining a bachelors degree. After having the education program interrupted with life blips, in 2006 I entered the University of Phoenix to complete the bachelor program. Check that one off the list. Now, I must have the Master's. As of Tuesday, I am enrolled in the Master's of Education program for secondary education and I wonder, will this degree of education be enough for me? Will I one day be "Dr. Jaye"? Kind of scary huh?

As I bask in the achievement - do you know what it is like to be able to open the classifieds or go to company websites and apply for jobs that were previousy denied you because of a piece of paper? Knowing full well you could do the job but are denied the opportunity because of ...a piece of paper? -however, there is a cloud that mars my ray of sunshine. Although I can apply for the jobs, the market is so competitive. Lots of people are looking for jobs and they have the degree plus the years of experience and accolades that accompany those years of experience. Once again, I don't have enough. I don't quite make the grade even with a 3.41 or the piece of paper or the passion and determination. Even when I finish the masters program - I still may not have enough...When is it enough?

I have been plagued with this dilemma all of my life. I am not sure exactly when it started but I remember always having the thought, I have to be the best. I could never simply turn in an assignment. For example, I remember an assignment in fifth grade where we had to draw a spider and label it for a science assignment. Could I just simply do a pencil sketch, label it and turn it in? No. I had to have artist paper, pastel chalks, and a black marker to label my drawing. It had to be the best - stand out - look great. In junior high, I tried out for twirler in the band. Well, that was just a step up to what I really wanted - cheerleader. I didn't get it my eighth grade year so I spent the next year preparing for tryouts. Always in front of the mirror, doing jumps - checking my arms for being straight, thumbs in, crispness...smiling...perfection. I made cheerleader the next time I tried out. Our squad was always trying to think of how to do cheers, jumps, signs, and skits better than the other squads. I was president of student council and our community service project we participated in with March of Dimes had to be bigger and better than anyone had ever done. We bought a neonatal something or other for our local hospital.

As I have grown up and participated in various events and projects, I find I still can't just do projects and events. I am always thinking of how to make them be...over the top....the best. I want whatever I do to be....enough...And still sometimes, no matter how hard I have worked at something or how good something may look, I look at it critically and sometimes think... it isn't enough. This same "flaw" exists in my mom. She is an awesome artist. She painted this clock for me and the fruit on the front of it has a water drop that looks like you could reach up and flick it off it is so lifelike and yet, she doesn't think she is good enough. I want to shake her and make her believe she is good, definitely good enough....more than good enough, but she wouldn't believe me I am quite sure. Shaking me wouldn't make me believe I am enough either.

Although I was tiny in high school and voted most attractive, I still have never thought myself to be thin enough or pretty enough.....Enough...does it ever happen? Will I ever consider myself....enough?

I ponder this question and as always I am taken back to the spiritual. When am I.... enough? Fact is, spiritually, on my own, I will never be enough and thank God, I don't have to be enough. Do you realize what a work-based salvation experience would do to an over-achieving crazy like me?!!! I would be on over drive. And if I didn't drive people crazy before, I would certainly do it then. If it matters so much to me now to be "enough" in the secular world that really counts for nothing - can you imagine how I would be in my spiritual life that matters for eternity?????!!!!!! An absolutely SCAREY thought!

Thank God, my salvation does not rely upon my being enough. Thank God, I am not on a degree system or merit system that may or may not be enough. No matter how good or bad I am, Jesus is still enough to encompass good, my bad, and my ugly, my overachieving personality, my OCDness...Jesus, YOU are enough.

I don't know if I will ever be cured of my earthly longing to be enough but I do know I was cured of being enough spiritually 40 years ago in a little country church in Enochs, Texas during a revival service when I gave my heart to Jesus.

Lord Jesus, thank you for that awesome spiritual moment of completeness...of "enoughness" when you entered my heart. In you, and you alone, I am enough.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Previously on Project: Delight Yourself in the Lord - Day 14 - Concrete formulas and faith

Okay - actually this is previously, previously day 14 since I posted twice in one day!

Math is not my best subject. I'm not really sure why - I mean - isn't it just learning facts and formulas and applying them to equations and working it out? Pretty cut and dried you know. But I just find math very tedious and unless I am in it every day - I forget all those formulas. However, the one thing you can count on in math is that regardless whenever you return to it, the rules are still the same. 1 + 1 = 2. Everytime. No variations. No matter how you write it - up and down, across, switch the numbers - it is still two and always will be....

I am glad concrete mathematical concepts exist - even if I don't always understand them. I know those concepts bring order and keep things from being chaotic in a chaotic world. Concrete concepts create boundaries and make us feel safe. However a problem arises when we try to attach concreteness to God. Don't get me wrong - there are very concrete aspects of God and THAT makes me feel safe but sometimes concreteness doesn't work with God. How so?

Job's friends wanted to attach concrete mathematical concepts to Job.
Job's righteousness + God's love = God's blessings. But Job was righteous. God said so. Ok, so Job's sin + God's wrath = Job's punishment. But Job's slate was clean. Ok, so Job's sinful deeds + God's anger = Really bad consequences and hardship for Job. But Job had not committed sinful deeds. The equation isn't working. Shouldn't Job's blamelessness = God's blessings? Why was Job's life falling apart in spite of his righteousness before God? Why do bad things happen to good people who are trying to follow God and do what is right? Why does it seem the harder we work and try to be "good", the harder life gets? Because it is not about the blessings. It is about the relationship.

There was a time in my life when I raged before the Lord over my life falling apart - "God, I have gone to seminars, read books, done bible studies, listened to radio broadcasts, taught my children about you, served you in the church all these years and LOOK HOW YOU REPAY ME!!!" My marriage was eroding, my sons were rebelling - why? WHY? I screamed before God. "God, you aren't doing your part of the bargain." What bargain? Where in the bible does it say we will lead a blessed life if we follow the "rules"? God promises to never leave or forsake us; to bear the burden; walk with us in the valley of the shadow of death; to protect us; and the list goes on. But we are not promised a carefree, problem free life. In fact, it is almost a guarantee the life of the believer is going to be full of strife. As believers, we are walking in a world not meant for us. We walk against the tide - the flow of life, thus war erupts within our world. So why do it? Why walk intentionally in the warzone? Because of the relationship with God.

I thought I knew God before my life was interrupted with "relationship wars." If the war in my life had not broken out, I would have continued in my misguided concrete thinking that if you follow God's rules, life is good. I never would have had the opportunity to experience the goodness of God through some of the most horrendous moments of my life and come out knowing and believing: God is good. ALL the time, God is good. Even in the horrendous.

When God allowed Satan to test Job, God knew Job's heart and that Job did not love him (God) for the blessings, God knew Job loved him (God) for Who he is and would remain faithful through all of the trials in his (Job's) life.

I am not even a tiniest fraction close to the person Job was and I have certainly done my share of screaming, raging, complaining, griping, pitying myself, and rebelling at times BUT in spite of my temperfits and because of God's omniscient knowledge, he knew my heart and knew I would hold onto my faith through it all. It's been sketchy at times but never have I walked away and thrown in the towel.

You know my little project "Delight Yourself in the Lord" has and continues to be a great avenue of keeping me centered and focused on my walk with God. Each day is good because I have no concrete expectations other than to rest in the Lord and wait upon him and not stress. Interesting things have happened...

1) I am relaxed and happy.
2) I am not fighting against God. If the direction I have felt is led by God (substitute teaching), then He is going to provide the way. I am resting in that knowledge.
3) The best thing has been surprises and delights from the Lord. For instance, his very surprising provision this week. I have no clue if anyone reads this blog or not. If they do then they have an inkling of my circumstances. Regardless, someone felt the nudging of God to help me financially and deposited $500 in my account. I have no clue who it is. But what I do know is that it is a gift from God via someone whose heart was nudged. The money is great but the best part of the whole thing is knowing God ordained it. He knows and sees and hears my physical need and my heart need.
4) My substitute teaching calendar. I have consistently worked three to four days each week. Next week, I have two assignments and the assignments then thin out. I wait expectantly for God's appointments. Whatever it is will be perfect.
5) I don't think God intends for the government to be my "bail-out." I asked for help from them and received $60. I didn't ask for help from the Lord and received $500 anonymously. Think I'll stick with the Lord and forget SS. Much better deal.

What I know: 1 + 1 is always 2 and my obedience does not necessarily equal blessings, i.e. a happy life. However, God's love, care and concern, kindheartedness, and devotion to his child (that would be me) always equals his protection and provision.

Thanks God for being concrete in your character.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Project: Delight Yourself in the Lord...Day ?..again!

I know I have already written once today but this is too hysterical to not share....

I make too much money. I'll continue when you pick yourself up off the floor and stop laughing. Okay, this is just brutal honesty here - not a plea for help, etc...just letting you know how our wonderful government works.

About a month ago I decided to cry uncle and go apply for food assistance aka food stamps during the recession in my life. Talk about swallow your pride. Man has my ego and pride taken a few dives. Okay, so I dredge up the courage to go to Social Services and apply. Well, I decided if I must go, I might as well try to look like something. No use trying to look like the dregs of the earth. Never being one to abandon class, I dressed like I was going to work in a Dallas office and walked into Social Services. (Actually, I was also dropping off substitute teacher resumes at the schools thus the true reason for dressing nicely.) Sauntering up to the counter I told the lady I would like to apply for food assistance. What I really wanted to say - in my best southern accent was, "I am havin' a really hard time maintainin' my style of livin' and surely would like some he-ulp." (gotta get the drawl in there) but I didn't think they would appreciate the humor so I didn't do it.

They give you a packet of papers to fill out at home and bring back - along with your bank statement, proof you pay rent, mortgage, electricity bill, car payment, etc. ...and there are also about 5 extra pages provided for you to list all 50 'leven dependents you might have. No, no, it's just me. There is a question also asking if you have I have lived longer without insurance than with it. Anyway, I checked the box saying I would like some. Well, the 50 'leven kids would be eligible but not the poor, white, single, struggling, "mature", college student!!! Never hurts to ask. LOL.

I brought the papers back to my next appointment and answered all kinds of questions from the social service lady. One of the things that showed up on my bank statement was a deposit I made from an anonymous person for $400. My other deposit was my 1st check in the amount of $258 from the children's ministry job I have. (I get another on the 15th of the month - a total of $516 a month.) That's it folks. That is my income for the month of September.

They want to know if you are looking for a job. Yes, I am substitute teaching. How much does it pay? $85 for a full day but varies according to the it a teacher job or paraprofessional job? Is it a half-day or full-day? Secretarial? bus driver? cafeteria worker? I told the lady I don't know what the income will be because I don't know how many assignments I will get and I won't even get a check until the 25th of October. So, basically, all she has for guaranteed income is the church check - and potential income with teaching.

But the gift deposit threw her. I explained carefully that the money was a one time gift from an anonymous person and could not be counted as "income." (They did anyway.)

Okay, so, as I am leaving they give me a debit looking card that will be loaded with money (I use that term loosely) for food once the forms are processed. It took two days for that to happen. I had to "prove" my income from the church. How do you do that? I do children's ministry....Soc. Serv. has a copy of my paycheck stub...that is all the church has for my else do I prove I work there? I guess they finally took it.

I called the number on the card to find out if it was activated. Yeah, for $60. Hmmm, well, I guess if I go on a Ramen noodle diet with a few things tossed in, I should be able to make the food budget last. I couldn't believe it. All that paperwork for 60 bucks not too mention the humiliation? I called the lady. I was totally embarrassed to ask but I did. I asked her, "Is this all you get for the month or is it pro-rated since this is the midde of the month?" I am totally feeling like an ungrateful pig for even asking. She tells me it is pro-rated for the month. does that mean it will be $120 next month? Wishful thinking.

Here's the funny part - I get a letter from the State of Colorado telling me I have been approved for emergency assistance (Less than $100 in the bank and half the month left must indicate an emergency) but I had been denied for October because my income was above the qualifying level!!! Are ya kiddin' me? I called the Social Service lady up and flat out asked her, "Well, how poor do ya have to be to qualify?" Man, $516 income is hardly up there with quality living! Is it because I own a house and a new car? Dan's little slogan is starting to get a little close to home - you can live in your car but you can't drive your house. I told the lady you cannot base my income on substitute teaching. You don't know how much I am going to make and neither do I! It depends on how many sub jobs you get! But they are gauging my income on the potential - not the reality. this is unbelieveable!

Ask me if I want the government to provide me with healthcare...are you absolutely out of your ever lovin', pea-pickin' mind????? Not on your LIFE!

Stay tuned - I'll let you know how this goes...

LOLROTF (laughing out loud, rolling on the floor)

Project: Delight Yourself in the Lord - Day ? -

My daughter produced the first grandchild in our family recently. Little Collier, of course, is absolutely beautiful but much to my daughter's consternation, the bebe' is having these fussy moments. Word on the baby street is that it is not good to let babies cry or fuss it out, so my daughter is looking for the solution to Collier's fussy moments so that he does not cry.

I think back on early mommy days and preschool days and the issue of crying. I, too, sought answers for crying babies and children. Kade had colic caused by a spastic reflux muscle in which he threw up everything he ate (seriously, projectile vomiting) and cried everyday the first three months of his life. I kid you not, every picture we have of him the first three months, he is crying. Nothing, absolutely nothing, helped to calm him. The only respite we received was that he slept from 9 at night to 9 in the morning. Then he cried from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. I tried everything anyone told me that might help the colic to no avail. So...he got to cry. Finally, at the end of his third month, his spastic muscle repaired itself and he was able to eat, keep it down, and smile. Happy days!

One of the earliest "tricks" you learn as a parent or teacher for toddler and preschool age children is how to avert crying. The child falls down and they look at you and gauge their response according to yours. If you race to them and are all "oh honey, did you hurt yourself?" and you get all emotional about it - so will they. However, a lot of times, if you matter of factly, walk over to them, pick them up and say "what a big boy or girl you are! You didn't even cry...." They don't. They dust themselves off and toddle or run off to play. Therefore, crying is averted.

Averting crying does not stop with the little ones. Our most basic instinct, I think, is to stop the make it all better..."let mommy kiss it and make it better..." I know I am a fixer; my mom is a fixer; many of my friends are fixers. We want to stop the tears because tears are evidence of pain. If we can stop the tears, we can avert the pain. For the moment.

If you read through my blogs this past year, you will see I have shed some tears of anguish, pain, confusion, doubt, happiness - a myriad of emotions. You have read it through my blog but my friends and family have seen the tears and anguish and have tried to make it better each in their own special way. But sometimes, I just need to express my emotions... you know..."it's my party and I'll cry if I want to..." kind of thing. Scott, my guyfriend, said it best. "Jaye, I can't make it better for you - I wish I could. Sometimes we just need to cry, get the tears out, go to bed and face a new day." He is right. Sometimes, we just need a good ole Jewish cry fest - you know where you and your friends throw ashes on your faces, rip your clothes and all of you wail and cry together. Nobody needs to fix anything, just cry - lament with me. Take a moment to get a mental picture of that - kind of makes you laugh, huh? Next time I'm having one of those days, I having a "Wailing Party!" Seriously, I am going to do that.

Lamenting. Even though I do a pretty good job of getting my emotions out there, there is a part of me that feels guilty when I do. I mean, I am supposed to be this strong woman of faith in which "with God, nothing is impossible" according to my phone message and have made Jeremiah 29:11 my life, if I lament to you about my situation, doesn't that decrease my faith walk with God? Not according to Michael Card, author of A SACRED SORROW. Michael has reminded me of all the biblical saints and disciples that have lamented before the Lord....David (the Psalms are full of lamenting)...Jeremiah...Job...Jesus. Michael reminded me also of the words of lament spoken..."where are you, God?"..."why are you hiding your face against me?" "Nobody loves me, everybody hates me, think I'll go eat worms..." OK that is not in the bible...LOL...but I am sure that is only a revised version on someone's lament - Jonah I'm thinking and I think I have spoken those words as well. So, if these great men of God and our Lord Jesus himself have spoken words of lament, has that lessened their faith in God or made Jesus less than he is? Not in the least.

Actually, lamenting our prayers of complaint can still be prayers of faith. How so? Because if I am griping, complaining, throwing my temper fits before the Lord, I am expressing the thought that there IS a God out there that hears me and "represents my last refusal to let go of the God who may seem to be absent - or worse - uncaring. Lamenting expresses one of the most intimate moments of faith - not a denial of it. It is supreme honesty before a God whom my faith tells me I can trust. God encourages me to bring everything as an act of worship, my disappointment, frustration, and even my anger. Lamenting uncovers a new kind of biblical faith that better understands God's heart as it is revealed through Jesus Christ." (Card, 2005)

So, I will continue my litanies of every emotion - hurt, anger, disappointment, jubilation, sadness, confusion...because...well, although YOU may get sick of hearing all my stuff, I think honesty before the Lord is truly a delight unto Him. Don't you think?