Friday, September 4, 2015

Slivers of Loveliness

Where should I even begin?
I have now been in Mexico for a little over a month.
There have been so many wonderful, exciting moments and experiences already. Laughter and tacos and coffee dates with new friends. Evenings spent in my little home with my puppy whom I am so grateful to have with me here. Hugs and smiles from the most darling little kiddos.
There have also been a lot of lows. A lot of really hard moments. A lot of really long, really exhausting, really draining, tear-filled days. A whole lot more than I would like to admit actually.
I don't like tears. I don't like being out of my element. I don't like feeling insecure and inadequate and incompetent...
These things I feel multiple times on a daily basis.
The tears come when I least expect them.
I am surrounded by amazingly talented, bright, passionate, Godly people. This is an incredible gift. Always there is someone to share with and be real with and walk with through this time of transition. But honestly, this has also been part of the difficulty for me. The pieces of me who long to be great at what I do and known for being great at what I do are bruised every single day as I look around at so many who are much MUCH better at this than me. The parts of myself that I love and that make me, me, I can't seem to find as of late. My positive outlook and can-do attitude are somehow out of reach. My social side is tired and I opt for many evenings in...honestly because I am so afraid I will cry if anyone asks me how things are going. Because I don't want to cry anymore.

It's a nasty, messy little thing that we all must be rid of.
I must be rid of.
ALWAYS it is sneaking in and trying to gain footing in my life.
Thankfully I serve and love a kind, gracious, genuinely loving God who hates sin and wants no part of it in my life. A God who loves me enough to take me through the hard things so that I can be everything He created me to be and accomplish everything He set out for my life and His purposes. A God who is going to uproot every last deadly weed deeply rooted in pride that is in my heart. A God who is willing to inflict pain in order to cause growth and beauty.

Always for me it is pride.
Not the sort of pride that brags and boasts and presents itself in the form of arrogance.
My struggle with pride lurks in the forms of independence, self sufficiency, refusing to admit I can't handle things and hating to ask for help.
It's bad enough that I struggle with this in the context of relationship. Not ever wanting people around me to think I can't handle something or always wanting people to see me a certain way and only think great things about me...not ever wanting to ask for help or money or to let people see that I am struggling or weak. Hating to be on the other side of a hard moment...wanting always to be the counselor and never the one in need of counseling.
Unfortunately, this is also my root issue in my relationship with God.
I forget that I need Him. I forget to tell Him that I need Him. I start to think I can do things and be successful because I am good at them and not because He has given me the ability to do so. I forget that I always need His strength and His grace even when things don't seem so hard and I wait far too long to admit that I do need them once they are hard. I don't want to ask Him for things because I shouldn't need to, and I hate when I have to tell even Him that I simply cannot handle what He has given me or asked of me. I want to be His star student and when I am not it is a hard fall for me. Every single time.

Which is precisely why I am here.
Yes, there are a lot of tears and so much screaming and snot and coughing and yelling and is is frustrating to try to get nine two/three-year-olds to follow your lead all day long...but more than that. It is hard because this is a place that God is going to show me yet again that it is not about me or my abilities or my talents. It is only about what He can do with a willing, obedient heart. It is about His perfect timing and divine orchestration that knew that I needed these kids for this season probably more than they need me.
This is about bringing me to my face day in and day out in recognition of who He is...that I am NOTHING without Him and that I can do NOTHING apart from Him. This is about me finally understanding what it means to rely on His grace and strength and character and Spirit inside of me every single moment of every single day because I simply don't have any other choice. My natural "Rachel-ness" and resources simple will not do. I will not make it through without turning to Him over and over and over and over and over again. God reliance and Christ awareness over self reliance and self awareness.
Only God.
Only God.
Only God.

Here I have failed to find a good workout routine.
Here I have struggled to focus on new friendships and being social and trying new places and new things.
Here I am struggling to be myself and find my place and remember how to be me in this place that is so foreign.
Here I choose sleep over devotional and prayer time way more than I should.

But here God is still so gracious. In all of these things.

After more than a week of not reading my Bible or spending great time in prayer or reading through any of my daily devotionals, I finally sat myself down to catch up. I struggled to even know where to begin feeling as if too much had gone unsaid and there was no way I could possibly catch Him up at this point.
How human of me.
He in His loving kindness and immense grace already knew.
Even though I hadn't taken the time to sit down and share with Him and cry, He had seen and heard my heart. And instead of speaking harshly and convicting me for having avoided Him or just not making time, it was as if He had heard every single fear and concern and worry and made a note of each one so that when I finally came to Him, He could pour out His heart to me. It's as if He had been longing to do in every single hard moment. It's like He stocked them up knowing that eventually I would return and He wanted me to know that He had been close by all along and that He had not forgotten and that He did indeed know. Even though I was days behind, and I am still catching up, each and every passage I read has spoken directly to those sore, tender places in my heart. I can't help sharing these words that I know are from His heart, these slivers of loveliness in a cloudy, messy space....

"Self awareness is the first thing that will upset the completeness of our life in God, and self-awareness continually produces a sense of struggling and turmoil in our lives. Self-awareness is not a sin, and it can be produced by nervous emotions or suddenly being dropped into a totally new set of circumstances. Yet it is never God's will that we should be anything less than absolutely complete in Him. Ask Him to produce Christ-awareness in us."

"Whenever anything begins to disintegrate your life with Jesus Christ, turn to Him at once, asking Him to reestablish your rest. Ask the Lord to put awareness of Himself in you, and your self-awareness will disappear. Then He will be your all in all. Beware of allowing your self-awareness to continue. Simply ask the Lord to give you Christ-awareness, and He will steady you until your completeness in Him is absolute. Christ-awareness will take the place of self-awareness."

In the Christian life, godly influence is never conscious of itself. If we are conscious of our influence, it ceases to have the genuine loveliness which is characteristic of the touch of Jesus. We always know when Jesus is at work because He produces in the commonplace something that is inspiring." 

"Get to the end of yourself where you can do nothing, but where He can do everything."

"Faith is absolute trust in God. Trust that He could never imagine that He would forsake us."

"To say that "prayer changes things" is not as close to the truth as saying, "Prayer changes me, and then I change things."

(Above from My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers)

"Our troubles have always brought us blessings an they always will."

"The cry wrung from your Spirit's pain
May echo on some far off plain
And guide a wanderer home again."

"Isn't it glorious to know that no matter how unjust something may seem, even when it seems to have come from satan himself, by the time it reaches us it is God's will for us and will ultimately work for our good?"

"We live fascinating lives if we are living in the center of God's will."

"In the center of the circle
of the will of God I stand
There can come no second causes,
All must come from His dear hand.
All is well! For it's my Father
Who my life has planned."

"It is a sad mistake for someone to break through God's hedges. It is a vital principle of the Lord's guidance for a Christian never to move from the post where he is sure God has placed him, until the pillar of cloud moves."

"If God has called us to His highest and best, each of us will have a time of crisis, when all our resources will fail and when we face ruin or something better than we have ever dreamed... But before we can receive the blessing, we must rely on God's infinite help. we must be willing to let go, surrendering completely to Him and cease from our own wisdom, strength , and righteousness."

"Die in His loving arms to your own strength and wisdom, and rise like Jacob into HIs strength and sufficiency." 

And the most remarkable part of the journey is the difficult and narrow places that are intercepted with God's extraordinary providence and intervention."

"Too many of us want to see our way through new endeavor before we will even start. Waiting on God brings us to the end of our journey much faster than our feet. Many an opportunity is lost while we deliberate after He has said, "Move!"

(Above from selected passages in Streams in the Desert)

"...weak ones like you must live by faith, depending on Me to het your through the day. I am developing your ability to trust Me, to lean on Me rather than on your understanding. Your natural preference is to plan out your day, knowing what will happen when, My preference is for you to depend on Me continually, trusting Me to guide you and strengthen you as needed. This is how you grow strong in your weakness." 

"Living in dependence on Me is a glorious adventure. Most people scurry around busily, trying to accomplish things through their own strength and ability. Some succeed enormously; others fail miserable. but both groups miss what life is meant to be: living and working in collaboration with Me. When you depend on Me continually, your whole perspective changes. You see miracles happening all around, while others see only natural occurrences and "coincidences." You begin each day with joyful expectation watching to see what Iw ill do. You accept weakness as a gift from Me, knowing that My power plugs in most readily to consecrated weakness. You keep your plans tentative, knowing that My plans are far superior. You consciously live, mov, and have your being in Me, deserving that I live in you. I in you and you in Me. This is the intimate adventure I offer you."

(Above from Jesus Calling)

And on long walks home after long hard days, still there are slivers of loveliness to be captured and held close and treasured. In the hardest most discouraging, frustrating days there are glimmers of hope and moments of deep, satisfying joy. They are there. They are always there. They are simply waiting to be found.

All of the loveliness that is an evening in Guadalajara 

And this view from my pretty window that reminds me that life is beautiful often times in the simplest of ways. 

Yesterday my perspective was pretty blurry following a lot of unwelcome tears, but with those palms and that sky above, I will keep practicing my smile and my upward gaze. 

Finding a photo in my inbox of my lovely little Libsies at her Kindergarten orientation...wearing the necklace I got her for her birthday :) 

My land lady painting her house/hair salon my two favorite colors. 

Pallets I bought on the side of the highway fitting perfectly into my little window nook and helping me feel a little bit more at home. 

This incredible chica I have the joy and honor of working with and calling my friend. She makes the longest, hardest days so much fun and a whole lot easier :) 

Smiles and cuddles from my favorite little Mexican man :) 

Was I originally upset when I walked back into the room after stepping out for literally a second to find them NOT in their seats for the gagillionth time today..yes. BUT when I saw that they were all together like this on the floor...I couldn't help but smile. And snap a photo of course! 

Alas. This week may not go down in history as the best, or even close to it.
But I refuse to miss what this week with all of its challenges and tears had to give. 

Tonight I will eat veggie noodles. 
Tomorrow I will buy flowers. 


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