Mustard Seeds

Mustard Seeds

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Lost or Wandering?

"All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king."
- J.R.R. Tolkien -

This is my favorite poem for many reasons. But today I want to talk about the second line, because we all feel a little lost sometimes.
“Not all those who wander are lost.”

I have it written on my car, in my room, flip flops, and probably a couple other places. I just love the reminder that it is to me of God’s faithfulness. When the Israelites wandered around in the desert I bet they felt pretty lost and hopeless at times. They didn’t know where the were or where they were going. So they complained a lot. Wouldn’t you? Shoot! We complain now when God doesn’t tell us His plans!

But think about who was leading the Israelites, leading us. We may wander… but we are NEVER lost. Ever. Just look at these passages…

When they were few in number,
    of little account, and sojourners in it,
wandering from nation to nation,
    from one kingdom to another people,
he allowed no one to oppress them;
    he rebuked kings on their account,
saying, “Touch not my anointed ones,
    do my prophets no harm!”
- Psalm 105:12-15 -

Some wandered in desert wastes,
    finding no way to a city to dwell in;
hungry and thirsty,
    their soul fainted within them.
Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
    and he delivered them from their distress.
He led them by a straight way
    till they reached a city to dwell in.
Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,
    for his wondrous works to the children of man!
- Psalm 107:4-8 -

Do you see it? God protecting His people, leading them, delivering them, and providing for their every need. Never lost. But wandering? Yes. God has lessons to teach us in the unknown, in our wandering. But He always has a plan for it and He always knows where we are. Such a comforting thought!

Second moral to the story: Next time you're looking for a quote, maybe you should hit up wise old Tolkien and slap a Lord of the Rings quote on something. That would make this nerd very happy.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Accepting Grace

More thoughts... this time dealing with Grace.

I often am unable to extend it to myself. I live with the guilt that I have failed to love, be humble, seek God... and I don't acknowledge grace. Which make it impossible to extend to others. Perfectionism is an enemy of grace.

When I don't see God's forgiveness it's because all I see are the ways I fail. Then I beat myself down with my standards. So I am hard on others to feel less broken. And so the cycle continues with the guilt of being judgmental.

So what to do, when we find ourselves here? Realize we are forgiven. Know that when God looks at us He doesn't see the list of negative we have made for ourselves, He sees Jesus. And He loves us. Graciously works on us. 

In other words, We Must Accept Grace in Order to Extend It. Thought for the week.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Crazy-Lovely Transition

An exact scan of my brain right now.
Quite a few things are happening all at once. Meaning, I have been a stress ball for a couple weeks now. This was especially obvious to me when I was in Krav class and instead of wanting to go through my punches, I felt more inclined to flail around or pass out. Or maybe both. But... it is getting better. My checklist is thinning and I am getting into a rhythm again. I love rhythm. The better my rhythm, the more ready I am to hit some off-key notes (like my *cough* speeding ticket this week)...

So why the stress ball? Because of transition. The key here is that I love being super busy... when the busyness is in one or two areas of life. Right now I am busy in all LOT of areas. It's over ten. I counted. Ten completely different part-time jobs basically. Whoo hoo! The King-pin of my sanity in all of it is Jesus. He is speaking to me and soothing by brain a lot right now. Thank the Lord for Himself! Don't know what I would do without Him!

Now to the transition. I am moving! Or rather, returning... to Temecula, California. I want my grizzly bear flag back! Just kidding. To be honest I didn't even know what the Florida flag looked like until I googled it a few minutes ago. But I actually am moving, and I am bittersweetly excited. Housing is lined up, I have a job, and I am almost signed up for school. The pieces are falling into place. The hard part is that I am leaving some of the most wonderful people ever here in Florida, and I can't seem to convince them to move with me. Drat. But, come May 9th, I am once again driving across the country. This time with my roommate Heather, a tent, and a few extra stops thrown in. 

Onto my plans! Over Christmas break I got to talking and processing with a few loved people. Through those conversations it became more and more clear that God was leading me to something new and unexpected. So I came home to Florida and prayed. And decided. I am going back to school to get my elementary school teaching credential. I can hear you all say, "But I thought you don't like kids!?" Right. Can't say that anymore. Little ones have been growing on me ever since I taught kindergarten in Mexico... and growing... and growing... until I realized that I in fact love working with kids and teaching them is something I already love and do for free. Not to mention the flexible schedule of a teacher with summers open for missions and a skill that transfers to all countries and states. There are a lot of other pros (and challenges) that I won't get into here, but I will say that I haven't been this excited in a while and I have complete peace about it all.

Some details... I am moving home in May, starting school at Azusa's satellite campus in Murrieta in the Fall. I am living with the Hannum's in their granny apartment (many of you know them, they are wonderful people). I currently am, and will be, working for Amanda and Kenny's Strawberry farm in advertising. Until the move, I am working at I-TEC and subbing a couple days a week in Florida. I am downsizing my stuff, meaning my roommate is getting new clothes and a bike, and I hope my car Aunt Bee will hold the rest. In the meantime, I am balancing applications with jobs and relationships. Hence, the need for better rhythm. It got off kilter for a little bit while new ideas and plans got added in. I will be posting more in the coming weeks I am sure. But for now, that's it! If you have any questions let me know!!! See you in a few months California!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Imperfect Nature of Man

My dad said something to me recently that stuck. Things tend to stick more when they are true. He told me, "we all have people we don't want to be around, that are hard for us. You just have more. You're pickier." Well, being picky is nothing new for me. But this was a harder one to come to terms with... I don't want to be picky with people!

In my favorite book, Jane Eyre, Jane meets her first friend, Helen Burns. Helen is an older girl at their boarding school who, no matter how wonderful her personality, seems to always be getting in trouble with the teachers. She is too untidy for their tastes. Jane cannot understand why someone whom she loves so dearly, is treated so poorly. When Helen is scolded again for being untidy, Jane gives way to her feelings about the accuser, a teacher names Miss Scatcherd.

"Such is the imperfect nature of man--such spots are there are on the disk of the clearest planet; and eyes like Miss Scatcherd's can only see those minute defects, and are blind to the full brightness of the orb."  -Charlotte Bronte

This is me. I am Miss Scatcherd much more often than I care to admit. Like the verse that talks about the speck and the plank, I too often see the minute defects in a person and miss the brightness of who they are as a whole orb/person. I see a speck in their eye of deficiency, while missing the greatness of who God made them to be. (Not to mention, missing the plank in my own eye in the process of judging others.)

So how do I change my mentality? Become less picky about who I spend my time with or even engage in conversation with? How do I broaden my scope to see the full brightness of people?

A quote from a friend's own journey helped answer some of these questions for me.

"... life will inevitably hand you lemons but God will show you how to make lemonade. Certain people will be the lemons in our life but God will use them to bear enduring fruit in you. And sometimes I am that very lemon and God shows me grace despite my sourness. The only moments that are sweet are the ones in which we allow God to cultivate and sanctify our lives. In a new year of unforeseen lemon, may we be reminded of His sweetness and sovereignty."  -H.W.

When it is not about me, it is much harder to be frustrated. When it is all about God and what He is doing in my life and other's lives, it is much harder to be impatient. When I realize I am a lemon too, it is much harder to be judgmental.

So, a solution? Have a proper perspective. Give grace to myself and others. Remember, lemons serve many purposes (they clean more than just countertops). And... don't be a Miss Scatcherd. She's too picky.

Monday, January 26, 2015

The Best Moments

It seems late to be sharing about a Christmas Break when we are on the cusp of February, with stores decked out in the red and pink of Valentine's Day... but oh well, I like talking about things and people I love...

So, an update from Christmas Break... three and half weeks of wonderful coffee dates and deep conversations. Catching up with family, and bonding more with friends... and FALLING IN LOVE with one little man in particular. So here we go!

First Stop... Del Taco with dad right off the plane. Perfection.

Second Stop... SLO with my sister and grandparents. 
This included a few old traditions and some new ones.

Third Stop... THE BEST STOP!!!! This is my new man, Kenneth the Fourth. And I love him, and his toes, and his nose, and his fuzzy head, and his little noises... and well, just about everything. Hooray for Nephews! (Especially for nephews that take selfies with me.)

Fourth Stop... Christmas with the family. Which included hiking everyday, a trip to the Wild Animal Park, and some other random adventures.

Fifth Stop... friends. I never seem to get enough pictures of people, but, there are a few!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

A Very Happy New Year

Happy New Year!!!
From: The Johnsons
It bodes well for a new year when the first day is purely magical. And being woken up in the morning to inches of sticky, perfect snow in Temecula Valley (not a mountain) was about as magical as it gets.

Two snowmen, a million snowballs, and two wet outfits later I was still glued to the window hoping it wouldn't melt. Even when day four hit and we only had a snowman the size of a leaf left in the yard, I wasn't ready for it to leave. It was a God-sized blessing to kick off the new year. =)

If you live where there is snow that has to be shoveled, I apologize for these next few moments while I gush about the wonderful nature of frozen water. You hate it. As a Southern Californian who has the choice to either visit snow or stay where it is warm, I love it. Even when we got stuck in it and had to hike down the mountain with wet feet.

Our First Day of Snow:

The barn had a facelift with a white top. Can you see the snowflakes still falling?
I took pictures of everything. Even the fence.
This is our street? WHAT???
I made tracks for my mom to get to the top of the driveway in her slippers through INCHES of snow!!!
Poly dog loved it. Our older girl, Kody, did not.
Our snowmen... Kimberly took her time and it looked WAY better than ours. =)
These pajamas were soaked.

Later in the day we decided to go for a drive... in the truck... up the mountain... with two wheel drive.
We "almost" made it... then had to back up.
And we got stuck. See the truck?
We had to walk down the mountain to get picked up. Success!

Maybe we will see you next year, snow! I hope so! =)

Airport Photo Update

Since my last photo update about our Amazon trip, some things of note have happened... And what better to occupy me for two hours in the airport than writing a blog update? First update on the iPad... We will see if I can finish this or if I get frustrated. :)

From the Orlando airport.... An update on FRIENDS.

Mincaye and Ompodae came from the jungle to visit Steve and I-TEC... So what better than a sushi party at my house? Yeah, that's an Amazonian warrior on my recliner... Haha such a strange experience! But turns out Ompodae loves sushi :)

I've been so blessed by these people this year... You know you are great friends when you will go see live mermaids together and be excited about it!
Or when you will go to a birding class at the local library... It was awesome :)

Other friends are now part of my Florida family... All the way from good ole Cali! Having the Meyers close is such a blessing!!

Heather and I decided to win the "friends of the year award" and eat Troy's food in the hospital... The BBQ he had later was way better.

Here is our I-TEC team. So many wonderful people!

And my happy place... My church. These kids make me so happy and I love teaching two of them every week in church. Their parents (our pastor and his wife) are just as amazing. Then there is the rest of my church family... I will miss them this holiday season!

But I have this incredibly adorable little guy to cuddle... So maybe I won't miss Florida too much... Tomorrow I get to meet him!!!!!!!! First nephew for the win!

The whole point of this post is that there are things to be missed in Florida. Last year I had no desire to return after Christmas, because I hadn't felt like I had left anything behind. Now I have left A LOT behind and I feel so blessed. To think that I get to come back to so many wonderful people is overwhelming. Praise God for fellowship, friendship, and kindred spirits. :) See you in 6 hours California!!!