Sunday, January 30, 2011

not by works...

So I guess I'm admitting to you now that I've spent the past few weeks... well, lots longer than that if I'm honest... dragging myself deeper and deeper into pools of self-pity. Why am I even here? What am I doing with my life? Am I good at anything? Am I special? Am I as invisible as I feel? Those are the kinds of questions that would smack me in the face and leave me sad and frustrated and feeling pretty worthless.
I've been going to this church, and I have been pretty excited about it. Honestly it's the first time since the church I grew up in back in New Smyrna that I feel like I belong and people know me. The only problem is that it's been hard for me to get over this self-pity thing that I struggle with (along with feeling timid and embarrassed) and let God use me to serve in the church. Yesterday I went to a retreat the church had for servers. I think essentially I was invited because I'm with Daniel (who is like their favorite because he can do everything in sound and music areas) and, ok, so I have helped out a little with the children's sunday school and once or twice with the powerpoint during worship. But I'm not a server. I hold back and just wait for people to find something for me to do that doesn't require me to speak too much Spanish or for too many people to be looking at me at once. So anyways, I went to this retreat and I felt pretty dumb. I didn't know to which group of servers I belonged and I didn't have anything to say when we talked about what we wanted to "plant" for this new year in the church because I don't even know where my area is. Once again, I realize I'm feeling like a baby Christian... needing to be spiritually fed and guided instead of ready to pour out and love people like God wants from me. I decided to skip church today and take advantage of a quiet house and the chance to listen to some sermons in English. Two sermons later, I'm feeling heaps better. Pastor Mike from First Assembly of Gainesville preached a sermon called "mission" that spoke directly to my heart and where I'm at right now. He (well, God) reminded me of the most basic and essential element of my faith that I somehow had lost track of--that it's based on God's grace and my faith and not on any performance on my part. He helped me see that although Christianity shares several common principles and ethical rules with many other dominant world religions, it is different in one way. The one thing that makes it all make sense, and leaves me no choice but to choose this faith as my own, is that those principles and ethics aren't what matter. That a performance-based salvation system doesn't make sense because somewhere there has to be a line drawn to show how good is good enough. But with Jesus... he is the cut-off line. It begins and ends with Him. He blesses the 'poor in spirit' and not only those who have it all together. THAT is why Christianity is different. And today, that is what He showed me. That I can't wallow in that self-pity anymore because it's not, and nver was, about my performance. I even wonder if moving here (and to Mexico) was rooted a little bit in my need to perform for Him. To reassure myself that I was doing something worthwhile. However, it's not about doing anything. Jesus already did it all.
But it's funny how a whole sermon about not being able to "perform" enough for Jesus makes me so fired up to do something, anything, in His name. It's funny how the only thing required of us is to turn around and look to Jesus... and yet the simple act of doing that makes all that other stuff--serving, helping, loving on others--so desirable.
So, come on people...let's get it out of our heads that we've got to pull ourselves together in order to be good enough for God. He decided to love us and die for us when he knew we were utter crap. Knowing that he sees more than crap when he looks at me gives me what I need to make it through this day, and hopefully many more.
Happy Sunday!

Friday, January 28, 2011

This is me--trying to squeeze something blogworthy out of my oh-so-normal-for-me life.

1. I have a student teacher arriving this week! Never would I think that I would be "learned from" and never so soon in my teaching career (year four)... but I guess that's how things roll when you work in latin america and in a school with such a young staff. I'm nervous, but also excited!

2. I have to plan a field trip for our grade level... to an orphanage that they went to one year and now no one can find the phone number for. That's stressing me out a little because once I actually get that number--that's when the real work begins.

3. I want to buy a car, and might have an option... but I don't exactly have money. So, this is an obvious problem. However, the potential option may also be really cheap or perhaps even come with a payment plan, which makes it harder to refuse. But the thought of how much life for me would change just by living here with a car versus without one is mind boggling.

4. I actually regularly attend and consider myself a part of a church now, where Daniel and I go together. I'm just trying to get over my aversion to speaking spanish and potentially making mistakes so that I can actually serve. I'm really frustrated with the way I'm so automatically timid. Why do some of us turn out that way?

5. My most amazing friend, Rachel, is getting married on March 12 and I get to be a bridesmaid! I'm SO excited to be there, to see her, to see my other darling friend, Jess's new addition as well!!

I hope you, whoever you are, are doing well.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011


Today I was watching a movie, with the Spanish subtitles (only because they came on and I didn't bother to remove them...), and I noticed that the word "homesick" was translated as nostalgia. It got me thinking about the word, and I looked in my dictionary. The only thing it listed under homesick were nostalgia and to miss. I must say, however, that the way I feel today... the day after leaving my family after a beautiful vacation, is not nostalgia and it's more than missing. It's the first time I can say that I truly feel sick about not being there and utter dread at the prospect of working in the morning. That can't be a good way to get started again. And yet, I know, deep down, that God is faithful. He is constant. And even though I feel like a leave being tossed in the wind, not even knowing what I feel, God knows it all and is in control.
I just looked up and saw this verse that I had posted over my desk, and it seems fitting. Acts 17:26-28:
From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. 28 'For in him we live and move and have our being.'