Thursday, May 29, 2008

A Selfless Witness

Webster defines "selfless" as "having no regard to self; unselfish." "Witness" is defined as "one who gives evidence regarding matters of fact under inquiry." Therefore, could it be said that A Selfless Witness is "one who gives evidence regarding matters of fact while having no regard to self"? And, if that is the case, what does it mean to be a selfless witness for Christ?

A friend and fellow sister-in-Christ confronted me today concerning some ways that my attitude in recent months had hurt her feelings. Throughout the course of our conversation I found myself realizing that no matter what my "excuses" were or how big or small I might perceive the offending issues two things remained true:
1) Her feelings were real and they were hurt. For that I was sorry.
2) The Lord was using her to show to me the extent to which my attitude in the last several months has become increasingly selfish therefore leading me to become less of a witness to Christ in my workplace. For that I was hurt because I should have known better.

Even as I process and pray through the things I have realized about myself today, my selfish nature wants to argue with me. The selfish part of me is giving me all of the reasons why I was justified in my bad attitude and actions. The selfish part of me is reminding me that I didn't realize I was being selfish at the time, so how could I be held accountable to it? The selfish part of me wants to make sure that I feel okay at the end of the day.

But, I know better. I know that Christ disciplines those He loves so that He can make us more like himself. I know that even "small" things in our book are important things to him. He tells us to "Love our neighbor as ourselves" and that does not mean only when we're not tired or overwhelmed or frustrated. It means always! See, Christ was hurt and mocked and treated badly, and he did not lash out. He didn't lash out at those who hurt him, and he didn't lash out at those that did not hurt him just because they were close by. He loved them. Fully and perfectly. No, I'm not perfect, but I am being transformed daily into the image of Christ. I pray my experience today will serve as a reminder that I still have things to work on. I need to open my eyes a little wider, and turn my ears up a little higher...and pay attention. There are those that Christ is trying to love on through me, and I don't want to miss it! Maybe then I'll be a little closer to being A Selfless Witness!

"When they hurled insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. INSTEAD, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and LIVE FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS; by his wounds you have been healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls."
1 Peter 2:23-25

"Love your neighbor as yourself."
Leviticus 19:18

Monday, May 26, 2008

Long Weekend Activities

I have had a 4 day weekend this weekend. Of course, today (Memorial Day) is a holiday for obvious reasons; but we also had Friday off as a "bad weather" day which we never needed. I packed this weekend full of fun. On Friday, Taylor and I headed off to Nacogdoches for a wedding. We spent Friday afternoon around the campus of SFA while Taylor showed off all his favorite spots and took a stroll down memory lane with me by his side. It was so much fun! We both felt like young college kids again as we walked hand in hand around the campus. I'd never been to SFA, and I loved it! It's a beautiful campus, and it was so much fun to see where Taylor spent his collegiate years growing as a musician and a man! I cannot wait to take him to Harding next month and do the same thing on my end!

On Saturday afternoon we sang in his friends' wedding. It was our first time to sing together publicly, and it was a BLAST! We had several kinks to work out the night before (including completely transposing the part of the song I sang up 2 1/2 steps just so I could sing it without sounding like a man!). But...for the wedding day everything went off without a hitch. It was such an honor to sing for them and such a blessing to sing together. I look forward to singing many more songs by Taylor's side. We headed out of town as soon as the wedding was over to head to Royse City outside of Dallas for Taylor's family reunion. I'd met a few family members, but there was a big ole crew I hadn't met yet. Everyone had heard about me, so it was funny to see the looks on everyone's faces when we walked in and hear all the "Oh, so you're Kristi!" On Saturday night at their family reunion they have a concert where different groups of people and different portions of the family get up and share songs with the rest of the group. Taylor and I sang "The Love of God" with his brother Jordan. All of the cousins in Taylor's generation got up to sing a song and they let me join them. The Belt portion of the family got up to sing a song as well ("Gentle Shepherd"), and they asked me to jump up there with them! It was so much fun!! The whole evening was a blessing.

Taylor and I drove back into town late Saturday night in order to go Highland Oaks on Sunday morning. This was the difficult part of the weekend. After a long, emotional week for the staff and elders at HOCC our senior minister has decided to resign. It was a very emotional morning. I have been blessed to have a friendship with our minister and his wife outside of the minister/church member relationship that always exists. I've had long "figuring out life" conversations with them. I've babysat their kids. I've had game nights with a whole group of people that they were apart of. It is going to be very hard to see them go. It's is going to be a time of healing and transition for HOCC. Please pray that the pain will reside, and that the Lord will guide and lead the elders and ministry staff at HOCC. Pray for the transition time and the eventual hiring process that will take place to bring a new senior minister on board.

Today is Monday. It's the last day of this 4 day weekend. Aside from the emotional exhaustion of yesterday morning, the weekend was such fun! Taylor left last night again to go back to Midland. We have only 6 days left in this long-distance portion of our relationship. It was much easier to say goodbye last night knowing that very soon he will be coming home for good! I am SO excited for him to get here and for us to start our summer! We have a TON of fun things planned, and I'm looking forward to each one of them!!

I hope your long weekend was fun and exciting as well! May God bless you and your family and friends. May God guide you and shower you with grace through whatever type of transition you may be experiencing in your life. God bless!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Field Day 2008

Do you remember Field Day as a kid? Wasn't it just so much fun? Well, today was Field Day at Anderson Elementary. It was hot and the kids were exhausted, but they had a blast!!! Here's a few pictures I snapped during the day, and yes, the first couple are of us teachers making fools of ourselves. Enjoy!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Soaring Like an Eagle

In the portion of a Beth Moore Bible study I was working through tonight, she made a comparison between physical sickness and spiritual sickness. It really struck a cord with me, so in order to process a little more I decided to make my own comparison.

Two years ago I was at the end of my first year of teaching. It had been a long, hard year; but I was confident that I was finishing strong and heading into a wonderful summer of rest. For 6 weeks of the summer I rested and rested. I felt great and had some fun times, but I was resting a lot! After that 6 weeks I hit a wall and started coming down with some type of strange virus. After 2 weeks of being in and out of the doctor, they finally diagnosed me with mono. I spent 3 to 4 months taking very good care of myself trying to recover. This past winter (a year and a half after first having mono) I came to the realization that I have just never been the same. I get sick all the time. I've always required a lot of sleep, but since having mono the amount of sleep I've needed has been unreal. I started seeing a nutritionist and am currently in the process of finally really healing. What I learned is that I had not been eating the way I should to allow my body to fully heal. I'd been letting my stress level increase without realizing what that was doing to my physical body. After the initial healing, I had not allowed myself to let the healing process work to its full scale.

There are a few things from this story that to me make really good parallels to spiritual sickness:
1) Spiritual sickness can seem to come out of nowhere when in actuality it's been strengthening for a long time. I did not suddenly come down with mono in July of 2006. I had been working at getting it for months due to the stress and exhaustion and running down of my immune system that happened during my first year of teaching. In my spiritual life I have noticed before that I will "suddenly" feel extremely empty and lonely and wonder where that came from. The truth will be that I have neglected my alone time with God which at first doesn't affect me drastically, but overtime causes major damage to my spiritual health! Unfortunately, it is all too easy for me say, "Hey-I had a really good quiet time yesterday and I'm feeling good today. I'm just going to read my novel instead." The next thing I know, I will be stressed out to the max and realize it's been a week since I've blocked out time for God-and therefore, I cannot cope with life! The thing about taking care of ourselves physically is that we don't realize how good it is for our bodies to eat right and get good rest and exercise until we don't do it for a while and get sick. The same is true for time with God. We take for granted that every time we spend time with God, our spiritual health gets a little stronger. We may not feel the effects immediately, but we may soon realize we haven't been sick in a long time!

2) Sometimes due to this busy life we don't let ourselves completely heal from an illness before we jump right back into the real world. The same can be true for spiritual illness. Sometimes it can take years to heal from spiritual wounds. Unfortunately many times spiritual wounds are the easiest to hide, therefore delaying the ability to heal. Just like a doctor encourages us to give ourselves plenty of time to be well before returning to normal activities, so does our Great Physician encourage us to spend the time needed in His care to allow our spiritual wounds to be healed with His love.

I am on the road to a much healthier me than I have been since falling prey to mono 2 years ago. Already I feel tons better and it's been only 2 months since starting to work with the nutritionist. I pray that as my body gets back into shape I can remember to keep my spiritual health just as well tended and cared for as I am my physical being. I pray the same for you as well.

"Even youths grow tired and weary
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint."
Isaiah 40:30-31

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Weekend in Albuquerque!

Taylor and I came to Albuquerque, NM this weekend. My parents just moved here about a month ago, so I was anxious to see this new place they are living. In addition, Taylor had yet to meet my parents. We have had a fabulous time! It's been the icing on the cake to this relationship. All things are in place now, and it is so exciting!!! We were in Old Town Abq. yesterday and Dad took several pictures of us so that we could add to our collection. The following pictures are just a taste of what he got. It was so much fun, and we love how they turned out! We're going to be uploading them onto an album online. When that's done I'll post the link so that you can check out all of our cute photos! Blessings!