Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Midway through summer...

Wow, I'm getting really bad at being consistent with this blogging thing. I usually keep a journal or something and lately have just been writing things down at work. I'll try to get a little better at this! :)

My, the summer has flown by!!! I remember my high school math teacher telling us that the older we got the faster time would pass and we needed to be prepared. I didn't really believe him at the time...that or he had already scared me with upper-level math terms that I had stopped paying real attention. But you know, it's true. Maybe not on a daily basis necessarily, but in an overall sense.

This summer has been a unique summer. I've definitely been battling issues I never planned to face and God has been teaching me new things with each step. For the first time in 8 years I find myself away from the church camp I loved working at. I always knew this day would come, but I just thought it would have a lot more to do with choice than force. It's something I find myself thinking about daily...juggling between the emotions of hope and good faith versus anger and ill will. But gradually God's been helping me to release my grip, hold tight to what I He has left in my hands, and move on to find a new identity. Gradually, I've found the freedom more liberating. It's nice to be able to make real plans, to leave "work" before 8pm, to actually get 2 full days off each week (or take time off paid). For example, June 10-13 I got to go to Lubbock to watch the Chicago Bandits play the USSSA Pride play professional softball. We never had softball where I grew up but I got hooked back in 2004 watching the Olympic team's Road to Athens tour. This series featured Jessica Mendoza, Lauren Lappin, Caitlin Lowe, Natasha Watley, Kelly Kretchman, Andrea Duran, Cat Osterman, Alissa Haber for the Pride and Vicky Galindo and Jennie Finch for the Bandits....all Olympians. It was a dream come true to have them so close..both in a regional sense and the fact that the stadium isn't very big so pretty much all the seats (other than the outfield) are close to the players. That opportunity was amazing in and of itself. Even more amazing was how God provided an opportunity for me to see that not all the world is against you and guarded. Thursday night I had the chance to meet Jennie Finch's dad, Doug. He was such a nice guy! We got acquainted, he was more than willing to answer any questions I had and explain some of the things about softball I wouldn't know from just watching it on TV. I also took the time to thank him for raising such a wonderful daughter. She's not afraid to profess her faith in Jesus and the Light in her really shines out to others both in her personality and the special things she does for others. I missed Friday's game, but went back for Saturday. This game was on ESPN and it was packed! I saw Doug at the top of the bleechers with Jennie's son Ace. Ace and I played with a slinky for a little bit, Doug updated me on how the game had gone the night before, and then told me to go down about 3 rows to where his wife Beverly was sitting and tell her that Doug sent me to sit in the extra seat next to them. I don't know if he saved it for me on purpose or if it happened to turn out that way, but either way I wouldn't have found a seat with it. I introduced myself to Beverly and got acquainted with her. She was also good about explaining things to me if I had questions. They bought me a bottle of water without letting me pay for it and were very good to me the whole game. Afterward they asked if I would be coming to Sunday's game or if I would go to church. I opted for the game. I got there early, but didn't expect to beat the Finches. I sat where we had been sitting the night before and waited...and waited. Every once in a while I noticed Jennie looking up where I was to see if they were there yet. The game started and went through the first inning before they got there. They thought the game started at 1 instead of 12. We had another great day. This time they bought my lunch and wouldn't let me repay them. Again, they answered questions, pointed out things I wouldn't know on my own, and gave me more insight into Jennie and her heart. She really is one of my heroes now. At the end of the game I sat around to talk more about life as a professional softball player, watched the teams get ready to sign autographs, and made plans to see the Finches at the World Cup of Softball in Oklahoma next month. While Doug and I were talking Beverly took Ace to the field to see Jennie with a Bandits bleecher cushion and marker. She got Jennie to sign an autograph to me just like that...no questions asked, nothing in return...not even "well, you're an adult and can go get in line if you want it that bad." Jennie's parents were some of the nicest people I've met in a long time and you could tell that's just how they are. They never questioned why I wanted to meet them or be around them (didn't assume I was using them to get close to Jennie or something), they just took me in and gave great insight into the game and Jennie's life in the spotlight. I have a special place in my heart for them and it was something I really needed to experience. I thank God for it every day...for renewing my faith in people. I'm also getting more opportunities to play golf with my dad. We've played in a couple tournaments so far and have done pretty good. We still have a couple more to go.

This summer I'm learning that life doesn't always turn out how you expect it or want it. You really can't always get what you want. But the amazing thing about life with Christ is that God makes wrong things right. He brings healing and refreshing. And as the door at camp has closed, He continues to open other doors and windows to bless me in new ways. I'll be intersted to see what the rest of the summer is like!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

What A Journey!!!!

My apologies for the time that's passed since my last post. Life always gets incredibly hectic at the end of the semester. There's projects and papers due, finals to study for, friends to enjoy before graduation, etc.. So far I know I have at least one A...now we just wait to see how Psych Ethics/Philosophy of Science turns out (yes, 2 classes in one). Now it's time to sit back and enjoy 2 months of summer before my summer classes start in July.

Ah summer....there's so much going on, and yet it's really more like nothing's going on. Tomorrow is a great day for all of us: Mother's Day. My family's a little different from most. My mom's cool as hell. She was the one pushing me out of the nest when I first got to college. She's the one who took me for an x-ray when I broke my ankle and was too scared to tell my dad. She's the one who stood by me in court when an evil man tried to do an evil thing. We've had our moments when we don't get along or see eye to eye. In a lot of ways we are completely different, and I'm pretty convinced that my little sister is her favorite for that reason. Even so, I know she loves me and would do anything for me. It's harder to do special things for her on Mother's Day, but tomorrow is my chance to let her know that I love her and am grateful that she's my mom. Thank you, God, for blessing me with my mom. You are the One who picked her for me, and I have been truly blessed for it.

The second part of this summer is probably the hardest. See, the only thing I've done each summer since coming to college is work at the same Church camp. It was where I went to camp in grade school, and has been a special place to me for a long time. That was the reason I went to court...to take a stand for that place and what it means to people no matter the cost. I realized this morning that this is the first summer in 5 years that I won't be there. You can't imagine the weight that is on me. It's hard to count the number of friends I've made there, the blessings, the battle scars...each day was an adventure there. It's become a great part of my identity. Now what do I do? Thankfully, I get to keep my friends. I get to see them and spend time with them. That's really what's important is the people. But still, after 5 years, I can only assume that there will be a sort of emptiness in it.

BUT...this is only the beginning. As God normally does, I'm sure He'll have blessings and new adventures for me I could never have at the camp. I'm sure He'll refresh me before summer classes. I dare not limit what could be when my Lord is involved!!!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Easter 2010

Tonight is the eve of the most pivotal event of my faith. Yesterday, Good Friday, was the night when Jesus died for the sins of the world. And tomorrow is the day he was raised again, giving life to all those who would accept it.

I always reflect this time of year on what this really means. You know, what does it really mean? I try to make an effort to watch The Passion of the Christ every year, and every year I find myself ready to go back in time and defend Jesus against all His accusers. At the same time, I acknowledge that should that actually come to pass Jesus would look at me and ask me not to...not only because I, too, am one of His accusers, but also because had he not endured the horrible things I would want to prevent I would not have the Grace I experience now. As someone I love, I would never want Him to have to endure that but if He hadn't, I wouldn't have the chance to love Him. It's a paradox, I know, but however it happened I'm grateful it did. I cry every time I watch Mary hold His lifeless body and gaze right through me at the end of the movie. I am SO sorry that it's MY fault He had to die.
Yet it was our weaknesses he carried;
it was our sorrows that weighed him down.
And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God,
a punishment for his own sins!
Isaiah 53:4

Thank you Jesus for sacrificing yourself for me. Thank you for a future with You for all eternity. Thank you for acknowledging my sins and yet remembering them no more. God, thank you for doing the hardest thing known to human beings...watching your Son die a horrible death. And yet, You knew it was the only way to get me to You, and You loved me THAT much that You would willingly arrange it a thousand times over again. On my own, I'm not worthy of this Grace, this pardon for transgressions that should put me to death. But with You, I am the temple of the Holy Spirit, a co-heir to the Kingdom of Heaven...and it all centers on this weekend...this moment where the celebration and wonder of Christmas meets the perseverance and heartache and overwhelming blessing of Easter!

Friday, March 19, 2010

In the Valley

Just a few weeks ago I was sitting at work marveling at the "normalness" of my life. Usually my days are marked with some sort of battle outside the norms of homework, bills, household chores, and the like. But at that moment I realized I had nothing but the norm going on. That's when I knew something would be coming. They say a Christian's walk is like traveling through mountains: sometimes you're on top of the world and sometimes you're in the valleys. I wouldn't say that moment was a mountain top but definitely hiking.

These past two weeks I must have come across my valley. So many things are going on, filling my plate with added stress...most of which I can do nothing about. A friend's mom is in very poor health, one relationship is working through the rocks while another two are soaring through the air (the dicotomy of which is a little hard to handle), a very close friendship is suffering a bit, and a best friend broke his femur just this morning. SO much going on that I am forced to handle with little ability, if any, to help. I suppose this is God's way of teaching me about my hero complex :).

Is it an indication of spiritual maturity to acknowledge the magnitude of these events and to further acknowledge that they are out of my hands? I hope so. I was watching Joyce Meyer on some podcasts at work and she was talking about truly understanding that God's in control and has everything covered, while all the while pushing on relentlessly in faith. If God never gives me more than I can handle, which the only handling I can possibly do here is to be a good friend and face the stressors coming from all sides, then I must relentlessly push on in the faith everything will work out as God sees fit. I don't have to know why these things are happening the way they are, I just have to trust it will all turn out ok.

That's what my spirit says. My heart and head are much more conflicted. I think it's important for everyone to know that just because you're a Christian doesn't mean you have super human abilities to "let go and let God." Actually, I'd love nothing more than to just get away from it all for a few days. Since I can't do that, my only weapon is prayer. The Bible says in James 5:16 that "The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective." I believe that with my whole heart. Please pray with me!


Friday, March 5, 2010

The Fine Line

C.S. Lewis once said,
"If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world."

I'll be completely honest, I'm a Christian. I make no claims to live an exemplary life like Billy Graham or someone most people hold up as a great Christian patriot. I simply try to live and grow in the basic beliefs and lifestyle handed down to me from my grandparents, to my parents, to me. At the same time, it's not enough for me to just continue that line of living...I want to be better, stronger, deeper, and more imaginative.

I was driving back to my hometown today and got to appreciate not only a warm, Spring-like day, but the kind of evening sky dotted by only a few clouds. I'm from a part of Texas where you can actually watch the sun as it dips below the horizon as far as the eye can see. The bright orange hues where the sun has just gone to rest shoot even more wonderful hues of light blues, purples, pinks, and creams. Opposite of that is the ever growing depth of blue leading to the night sky. I don't know if people who have never seen that really feel the kind of soothing peace that sort of thing can bring, but people where I'm from get it. And it got me thinking...maybe heaven really isn't that far away.

One of my favorite books of all time is The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis. I won't ruin the story for you, but Lewis presents a quote that sums the premise of the book: "Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither." I began thinking of how the beauty of a sunset here is far more dull than a sunset in eternity. The love I experience through various friendships and my family is miniscule compared to the love I will feel one day. And all the dreams and hopes I have for greatness for myself are nothing compared to what lies ahead. I should think that even the sweet taste of victory recently experienced by Olympic athletes would not taste sweet at all once you taste the victory of your salvation in Heaven. I long for these things, and because I am left longing, as Lewis says, the only logical conclusion is that I am made for another place.

However, I can aim at Heaven now, and earth will be thrown in. And it's true! Even non-believers can agree that there is a standard that, could we all live up to it, would make for a Eutopia on earth. It's really the same concept for my lifestyle: treat everyone with kindness, don't worry too much about your struggles because they will pass, be optimistic and hopeful. There's actually a lot more to it than that, but I aim for heaven. See, Lewis also wrote, basically, that those who aim for Heaven will look back on earth as the fine line, the beginning of Heaven. And those who do not will look back on earth as already being in hell.

So, enjoy the Texas sunset. Maybe you will find a little piece of Heaven in it.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

A Fresh Beginning

I've been pondering for 4 days now how to start my new blog. I couldn't decide if I should introduce myself or just take off running. So, I decided to make a compromise and give a little of both. I'm not new to the blogging world, just haven't done it in a few years. I will say, I've grown quite a bit since then, and I'm sure the posts on this blog will reflect it.

First, I'll begin by saying my name is Becky. I'm 23 years old and a college student working on my masters in psychology counseling...but don't worry, I'm not here to "figure anyone out"...yet. :) I learned recently at a conference that my generation is not well respected, and a sum of these complaints is that we are unwilling to work for anything and incapable of living as thinking individuals. Hopefully, this blog will provide a counter to those criticisms. What you will find here are the insights on life from a small-town, farm-grown, God-fearing girl.

So let's take off! I don't know about you, but I've LOVED the Olympics. Every chance I get I watch the events. Heck, I got in a small argument with a good friend and co-worker over the Lindsey Vonn/Julia Mancuso battle (I was for Vonn, just to be clear). I love how the Olympics bring out the best in us. It's competition for the purity of sport, and provides a platform not only to watch sports you never get to see, but as a woman I love getting to watch WOMEN'S sports above all. At 23 I still look at these athletes as role models, and I hope that somehow I manage to continue to watch them not only for my own encouragement, but for the generations of little girls who NEED these women as role models. I also love the human side of things...the ability to dare to do great things, to represent your country, and to show strength of character not only by the athletes but by the fans as well. I was heart-broken when our women lost the gold to Canada in hockey, but my eyes teared up to hear the Canadian people chant "U-S-A!" as we got our medals. I have a healthy respect for Canadians that I never had before. I appreciated the memories brought back by watching Lindsey Vonn and Maria Riesch, competitors, ultimately place friendship and real happiness for each other's success over themselves. Or watching Apolo Ohno congratulate the men he competed against after being disqualified...what a class act!

Regardless of the cause, that is what life is about for me. Treat people fairly with kindness and honesty and compassion. Be humble, gracious, virtuous, honorable. That's how I was raised. I can't speak for all small-town farm kids, but that's my way of life. So welcome to a fresh start...it's gonna be a heck of a ride!