Friday, August 21, 2009

The Proposal

One fine Saturday in May, Peter Webb called me up and asked if I'd like to go get coffee after church the next day. I readily agreed, and he responded that he was going to plan it all and that the plan was to NOT talk about the possibility of getting married or any of those details the whole day. I thought it was a great idea because I had been trying to figure out if it was possible or not--a.k.a. worrying and talking about it pretty much all the time. Excellent, I thought--some time to just be friends who happened to love each other, too.

So the Sunday comes and I didn't dress up too much--a nice shirt and jeans with my new sandals. I'd had a long weekend, so I get home from church and while I am waiting for him to call saying he's on his way, I decided to take a nap. He wakes me up to let me know he'll be there in 20 minutes, and adds that he's dressed up from church still so if I want to dress up too so we're the same that'd be fine, which was unusual, but I didn't notice. Groggily, I let him know that what I was wearing was fine and I'll just sleep an extra 15 minutes.

So Peter arrives and whisks me off to "That Coffee Place" in Paw Paw, because we had never been there. The nap had put me in a good mood, and I was excited about finally getting to see this little shop. I ordered a chai tea latte and he and I sat in there for a while making small talk, when abruptly he said, "Let's go!" It was a bit sudden, but I was up for it. In the car, he said since we had done something new, we would now do something old and visit Maple Island, a beautiful little island in Maple Lake that has a park and a pavilion as well as lots of trees that we had been to a few times before.

When we got out of the car, he mentioned something about maybe having the wedding on the island, but I told him we weren't allowed to talk about it, and he laughed and said he forgot. As we were walking over the bridge to the island the wind caught his shirt and made it REALLY poofy--something that could bug me if I wasn't in a good mood, but because I was feeling so happy it just made me laugh more. We walked over the island and I remember this feeling of it being very peaceful, and being so appreciative of being best friends with Peter. We didn't talk too much, and eventually he led us over to a bench where we sat and looked out over the water. I leaned my head on his shoulder, and thought how perfect this was and how it could totally represent how I wanted my life with Peter to feel--not needing extravagance, peaceful, and an intimacy that grew from and held its foundation in friendship and trust.

The minute I took my last sip of my latte, Peter asked if he could throw the cup away for me. He hadn't really ever done that before, but I let him take it from my left hand, and he bolted to the nearest trash can and right back to me. I leaned my head back on his shoulder, and after a minute I noticed his heart was beating VERY fast, so I asked "Peter, are you ok? Your heart is racing!" He replied that he was fine, and I said, "Hm, must have been that quick sprint." But that didn't make much sense because that would normally not overdo it for him at all.

I went back to gazing at the water, as Peter repositioned himself. He moved towards me to hold my hand and I felt something hard touch my ring finger and stop at the tip, then the words I had been longing to hear came from his lips--"Tori, will you marry me?" I was totally shocked. For a good 30 seconds I didn't say or do anything other than stare gaping at him--and then I exclaimed, "Oh my gosh, YES!!!!" and hugged him and kissed him on the cheek for the first time.

We laughed and I cried and stared at the ring and spent a few moments together as newly engaged couple. I laughed that he had tried to get me to dress up--something he knew I wanted to be when he proposed. Then we realized we had a whole city of people to tell the exciting news to! So the rest of the evening was spent doing what we love--being together and spreading excitement with many of the people who mean so much to us.

May 17th, 2009 was a beautiful beginning to a wonderful new chapter in our lives together--let the adventures continue!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A Broken Heart

How can people accept Jesus as their savior, but not their ultimate redeemer? I know I have been blessed with a life that has been protected from a lot of the things that happen to bring impurity and shame. So I know this is supposedly easier for me than others--at least to someone who feels like they can't live like I do or value the same things I do because of circumstances that have happened to them. And yet I see those around me desire purity and the blessings that come with it, but the pain they have gets so overwhelming it seems they can't even see the aspect of redeemer that their Lord is.

I see Christ standing, as if he momentarily stepped down from the Cross, holding out His forgiveness, and I see them looking at the pain in their hand and being sucked into what it feels like so much that they can't let it go and take His forgiveness for them, and for them to use towards others. They are too caught up in the terrible yet twisted-justice feeling of pain that they won't take the exchange before them. It breaks my heart. Because so many thing my life has been "better," and because I am the daughter of a Pastor that my view is somehow less legitimate. Their circumstances validate them, but mine disqualify me. "She hasn't been hurt like me. She can't understand." Sure, I might not understand. I can imagine, but I won't know exactly like you. But what I do know is that HE knows. And he's standing there bloody and bruised right off the cross showing you the way out. He took that exact pain and shame they feel and bore it on the cross combined with every other pain and sin and injustice. It breaks His heart that the people in this world don't run into his arms of forgiveness. Sometimes His tears become mine. They are now.

So when I get insistent and I sound bold or too black and white or like I don't's because my heart is breaking for you. I see you have the option for a better way and it pains me just as much as it does you how much of a process it can be to exchange your pain for His Forgiveness daily. I have to do it too, with my own burdens. They aren't your hurt. They are mine. You can't understand mine and I can't understand yours completely, but He does. Why don't you choose Him?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Result of A Night of Thought

I've been pondering a lot lately. I'm just going to make a running list of the questions and thoughts going through my head and I don't really expect any answers. I don't want to get in a theological debate right now, I just want an outlet and to maybe encourage others who might be asking the same questions by letting them know they aren't alone.

(time elapse)

I just wrote a bunch out. I just dumped into an empty post, and I'm feeling better. But sometimes it isn't wisest to just post what has come to your heart in the heat of the moment. Especially when you know your hormones are a bit whacked and you're emotional and its thunderstorming outside. So rather than list all those questions/ramblings right now, I'm going to share a few verses I've been pondering to give you some background on where I'm coming from. Maybe this and the post I might put up soon will help you understand me a bit better, or maybe they won't connect at all. The point of this blog is for me to share the breathings of my heart, and this is what's been going in and out lately:

Proverbs 16:1-3
We can gather our thoughts, but the LORD gives the right answer. People may be pure in their own eyes, but the LORD examines their motives. Commit your work to the LORD, and then your plans will succeed.

Proverbs 17:9
Disregarding another person's faults preserves love; telling about them separates close friends.

Proverbs 17:22
A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person's strength.

Proverbs 17: 24
Sensible people keep their eyes glued on wisdom, but a fool's eyes wander to the ends of the earth.

Proverbs 19:3
People ruin their lives by their own foolishness and then are angry at the LORD.

Proverbs 19:20-21
Get all the advice and instruction you can, and be wise the rest of your life. You can make many plans, but the LORD's purpose will prevail.

Proverbs 15:15
For the poor, every day brings trouble; for the happy heart, life is a continual feast.

I've got a lot of commentary on these verses, but I think for today I'm going to leave it at this.

Friday, August 7, 2009

The Focus of Strength

Recently, I did a short study on strength and the source of strength in the Bible. Amongst some great chapters (Philppians 4, Colossians 2, etc) I realized that James 4 actually has quite a bit to say about strength, even though it may seem a little indirect at first.

At first glance, James really wasn't one of those books in the Bible that I really liked reading. It's tone is often negative and can feel really condemning and critical--not the typical "Jesus loves me" atmosphere. However, taking it into context, it can be a goldmine. James is being bold and pointing out some of the Jewish Christians misunderstandings by laying it down pretty straight. In essence, a lot of it is "You're messing up and God doesn't like it. Repent or face God's wrath." Though that's pretty intense, the bottom line is James sees what is at stake here. He sees the immense value and blessing that comes when you live as a follower of Christ, rather than simply trying to associate yourself with Christ and not do as He desires. And he sees the devastation that comes when you don't follow Christ. He works to erase the gray areas and lay out the black and white.

So, James 4. It starts like this: "What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Isn't it the whole army of evil desires at war within you? You want what you don't have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous for what others have, and you can't possess it, so you fight and quarrel to take it away from them. And yet the reason you don't have what you want is that you don't ask God for it. And even when you do ask, you don't get it because your whole motive is wrong--you want only what will give you pleasure."

So often when I go before God with a request, I don't want to find out what His perspective is. I want something to make me stronger so I feel better, so I ask My-All-Powerful-Superhero-God to give it to me. Unfortunately, that's not who He is, and confusing the Almighty God with a Genie in a lamp is a dire mistake, and as James so aptly points out, it doesn't do any good.

James 4:4-5 "You adulterers! Don't you realize that friendship with this world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again, that if your aim is to enjoy this world, you can't be a friend of God. What do you think the Scriptures mean when they say that the Holy Spirit, whom God has placed within us, jealously longs for us to be faithful?"

That's pretty harsh--I can't be friends with the things down here? Am I to despise everything about this world? I don't think that's the point at all--the wording is "if my aim is to enjoy this world." If all I want is enjoyment, then truly I do not want to follow Christ because He already says "here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows" (John 16:33). No, my aim must be for life, a life lived to please Christ who saved me from death and destruction. And what my Savior desires is for me to be faithful to His ways. When that is my goal, this follows:

Jam 4:6-8 "He gives us more and more strength to stand against such evil desires. As the Scriptures say, "God sets himself against the proud, but he shows favor to the humble." So humble yourselves before God. Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you. Draw close to God, and God will draw close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts..."

Ah, clarity. When my goal is to please Him (which brings something better than a simple "enjoyment") then He will give me strength to endure the desires my old sinful self has. He will give me favor (aka lots o' blessing)! So, my goal is to draw close to God, and He will draw close to me and purify me when I offer my sins to Him.

With God on my side, who can stand against me? Not just "who" but also, what can stand against me? The desire to slack off? The overwhelming emotions of rejection, loss, or fear? The direction from Him to give up what I want the most? Any illness? Any circumstance? No, because my focus is higher, on Christ, and if the task or feeling or circumstance is before me, then He will give me the strength to make it through.

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