Sunday, January 27, 2013

Get it Out - My Drawing Assignment

Today's post I wrote in a scurry. I am trying to understand why I have such a hard time in my drawing class here are my thoughts on the matter...

I know it sounds pathetic but drawing is the most challenging part of my life right now.  My heart clenches and my limbs stress at just the thought of drawing. At my university however, drawing class is mandatory for you to pass into becoming a Fine Arts major… a necessary evil. I like to be able to draw but really if I did not have to take the class I would not take the class because it totally freaks me out. It took me a long time to take the step into a Fine Art major. A looong time. Part of that was because I knew I would have to take drawing. I am now into my second semester of drawing class and I was semi-considering totally switching my major this semester so I could drop out of drawing… that is how much I do not like it. Geez.

This morning my pastor spoke on Jeremiah. The book of Jeremiah starts begins by telling us how Jeremiah became a prophet… God assigned him the job. Jeremiah was not totally pumped about his new career and as a twenty-something year old, he felt that he could not conquer this great task.  This was Jeremiah’s “Difficult Assignment.” As I sat listening to Pastor Steve talk about difficult assignments, I wondered if God would be here for me as I went through this difficult assignment of drawing. It is just drawing, isn’t it?  But Pastor Steve kept saying over and over,

 “God will be with you.”

The nation of Israel was broken. Jeremiah had to break a lot of crappy news to these people that had already been through a lot of the muck. But God told Jeremiah, 

I formed you,

I have consecrated you,

I will be there with you,

I will deliver you,

My power is perfected in your weakness,

Trust me.

Do I really believe that about my classes? Do I believe that God is with me at my job? Do I believe this about God when my relationships are difficult and torn up? Do I believe that when I am at my worst that God will deliver me from myself? Do I believe that God, in my daily living, is truly with me? Do I believe that he will deliver me?

As I look at my life it does not scream “I TRUST GOD.” It whispers lies fear, distrust and brokenness. As I sit down to my first drawing assignment of this Spring semester, I hear a lot of lies. I hear,

“You are not enough, Liz. You will never be good at this. You will never get past this stress. This is not worth it.”

But what is really cool is that I can hear God whispering to me,

“Elizabeth, I delight in you. I rescue you from this worry. You are mine. I know how I have made you and it is good.”

He really does whisper. Sometimes I wish he would have written these truths into my being right when I was born. I wish that I would just know and simply trust. But he whispers ever so gently that I am his. How precious.  He leads me to trust even in my meaningless drawing class. He leads me to trust.

That is some kind of crazy. That is some kind of love.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Styrofoam Treasures

After two weeks of needing sunglasses, I came home to Kansas not thinking that I would need my cheap shades in the dim prairie winter. I got in my car to go to the store and was blinded by the same sun that shone on me just last week in Thailand.  I woke up every morning in Thailand, watched the sunrise, had a prayer meeting each morning with an excellent group of people, drank coffee, got “disgustingly tan” (says the mother), hung out with kids all day on the beach, painted faces, hugged babies, ate loads of cheap delicious pad thai. Don’t get me wrong, serving in the form of child care is exhausting but at the same time a little bitty dream. 

For two weeks I was one of four leaders for a group of hilarious “young adults”. I think at just about every age we are we seem to think that we are in fact very adultish and pretty cool. My group of adultish people was the 4 year olds. We called ourselves “The Zoo.” Four year olds think that they are quite grown up and they know what is good for them but they don’t know what is best. They are sweet, endearing, uninformed, unqualified little humans whose brains don’t comprehend why they cannot run into the ocean and swim with the jelly fish. However, as little as they are, they blew my mind with the stuff that came out of their big mouths. One little girl, especially…

She calls me Aunty Liz. She calls me Sister. She calls me Friend. She calls me The Most Beautiful Princess in the World. The first day I met her she asked me if she could take my hand, I said yes and we walked together. As we walked she picked up little tiny pieces of colored Styrofoam. I informed her that they were just pieces of Styrofoam and I warned the little boy she gave one of these tiny pieces of Styrofoam to not put it in his mouth. He knew of course that he should not put Styrofoam in his mouth. Duh, Aunty Liz.  After I told my friend that they were just Styrofoam, she said to me,
            “Yes, I know, but I will keep them as my treasures.”
To me Styrofoam is trash. Mere packaging material meant to be thrown away. Its noise is grating when broken apart and it is sticky and messy. I do not appreciate Styrofoam.
I woke up for two weeks to a ready-made breakfast buffet by the beach (sweet as…). I woke up this morning anxious and worried about what I will face in the coming weeks; work, paying tuition, being awesome at school, buying gas for my car, paying rent, buying groceries, being able to  relate to grown-ups again… you know, adult stuff. And to my chagrin the coffee was not ready-made. I know that as an “adult” I must approach my responsibilities with a sense of maturity, panic, stress, procrastination… wait, what? This is life? I fidget and curse at all of those stupid seemingly insignificant tasks I have to approach throughout my seemingly insignificant days. Yuck. That is not how I want to live, yet I find myself in this apartment, knowing rent is due in 9 days, knowing I am broke, and knowing that I am not willing to sell any of my internal organs (or external organs…can I do that?)

Stuck in my madness, everything menial has become difficult for me. Okay, maybe I am being dramatic. But seriously, don’t you find yourself in a space of indifference to the Styrofoam life? This packaged life that we all have seemed to get stuck in? Aren’t you bored and stressed and don’t you find yourself cursing that very life which God has given you? I don’t know, maybe I am alone in my ocean of crazy. I hope not.

So here is my thought…

Styrofoam does not have to be boring, solid, annoying or crude. If you feel your life is packaged and mundane, maybe you should get down on your knees (I will meet you there) and think about your Treasure. 

Styrofoam, at a different eye-level, has been made a treasure. You might think a 4 year old ignorant, small and insignificant but my small friend broke my heart with her love as she collected her small colorful treasures.She taught me that God is loving me in my most simple days. And I should collect to be grateful of what life has been given.

p.s. -Thank you to all of you that allowed us to go to Thailand to serve these missionary families. It was an honor and a privilege. We know now what a great blessing it was for these families. Thank you for your prayers and encouragement. We felt that God was with us every moment. As we trudged through long hot days we knew that prayers were covering us. I can speak for the team as I say that we are extremely grateful.