Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Little Note


Refreshed vision. Renewed passion.
Answered prayers and God's faithfulness. Timidity destroyed. Self grown. God's heart experienced. Reflecting on His goodness. Resting in His peace now.

It's been a good day.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Waiting. (Life Form.)

My summer was full of expectancy. I was so eager for Master's Commission to come. August seemed distant. But it was full of promise and change and I wanted that so badly. I couldn't do anything to make August come sooner. All I could do was wait.

"All I could do.." is a little misleading. Waiting is purposeful. It's not meant to be a "useless sitting time" or a time to grow lazy and apathetic. In the waiting time, God increases vision in me.

I'm amazed this morning by the way God's perfect timing and His understanding of my need for preparation work together. He's created a season where I'm becoming both intentional and passionate about growth. That's where I'm at right now. I'm in the waiting season. Just like last June, today I'm thinking about who I want to be when this season is done. I like thinking like this.

My expectation about the seasons ahead is building each day. But the beautiful thing is that my appreciation for this sweet season I'm in right now is also growing. I'm so sure of God's love for me. He wouldn't give me this season if he didn't care about what's coming after. But He knows what I'm capable of and he knows where I'm hungry to grow. And He knows I can do it. I think it's the sweetest thing that He cares about us this way. We're not left to our own devices, he comes to our aid and guides us. He's equipping me and strengthening me. And I get to know Him more in the process, too.

He's patient and nurturing... but He doesn't want me to waste time or settle for less than what "our time" is capable of producing. So this morning I'm motivated. I'm grateful. I'm expectant.

And I'm so thankful for his unconditional love and provision of this time. He'll be with me through all of it. I love that.

"A waiting person is a patient person. The word patience means the willingness to stay where we are and live the situation out to the full in the belief that something hidden there will manifest itself to us." --Henri Nouwen

God, I love seeing your heart.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Story About My Dad.

(Life Form.)
I just spent a couple minutes looking around my room for an old journal so I could accurately retell the story I'm about to tell. Unfortunately, the journal is back in Camp Hill. But I remember the story well enough that I probably don't need it anyway.

About a month before the start of my senior year, I sat at the kitchen table with my Mom, Dad, and younger brother, Aaron. I remember it was a long and warm kind of day, the room was dim, and I was a little grumpy. 

We had just finished dinner and we began to talk about the school year ahead. One of my parents brought up the topic of grades (a very normal subject when talking about school) and for some reason, I seriously have no idea why, I clicked into this terrible mood and gave my parents the worst attitude ever. I'm ashamed to think about the way I responded to them when they were simply encouraging me to work hard from the beginning of the year. So I yelled, which must have completely shocked them because it was totally out of place. They responded (not nearly as loudly or rudely as I had just spoken) and I stood up, grabbed the back of my chair and shoved it back under the table before storming off. I hadn't realized how close the chair was to my Dad's foot, though, so when I pushed in the chair, I actually slammed it against his foot. 

That broke my heart.
That story is literally painful for me to tell. That's an old and dying version of Bonnie I REALLY dislike. In any form.

I went up to my room and as always happens, within about a second, a mix of embarrassment and shame swept over me. I couldn't believe I had just responded the way I had. Seriously, dumb. So I just kind of moped around in my room for a few minutes.

Then my Dad came in. This is my favorite part of the story. 
I looked at him and just started to sob. I felt terrible. I had treated both him and my Mom like they were nothing. I'm not exaggerating when I say that the way I responded was completely out of place. It didn't make sense at all. But my Dad didn't make me feel ashamed or embarrassed... he didn't even ask me to apologize. He just came over to me and hugged me as I cried on his shoulder, telling him how sorry I was for hurting him. 

He told me he loved me and left no room for me to believe any lies. Because of his love I couldn't believe any longer that he'd love me less. I couldn't believe he wanted to be away from me. I could only believe things that were in line with the love my Dad was showing me. 

I can still feel the way I felt at that moment. 
My Dad's love, words, and embrace made me feel completely safe, totally forgiven, miraculously loved, and ultimately protected. My Dad was covering me and shame couldn't mess with me anymore. He's my protector and I am so sure of his love for me. 

Shame lost because of my Dad's love

This is the love of God for us, too. 

Thank you, Dad, for this testimony of your love for me. When I think of you I immediately think of your grace and kindness. I love you. 

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Surprise (Life Form.)

"Besides being complicated, reality, in my experience is usually odd. It is not neat, not obvious, not what you expect...

...For instance, when you have grasped that the earth and the other planets all go round the sun, you would naturally expect that all the planets we made to match-- all at equal distances from each other, say, or distances that regularly increased, or all the same size, or else getting bigger or smaller as you go further from the sun. In fact, you find no rhyme or reason (that we can see) about either the sizes or the distances; and some of them have one moon, one has four, one has two, some have none, and one has a ring."
-- C.S. Lewis from Mere Christianity

I've realized that sometimes I expect God to be very predictable. 
Not on purpose. In fact, I often pray for new things... for things that would surprise me and take me out of my comfort zone or any place I've been before in my walk with the Lord. 

But the other day I was thinking and I started comparing a situation in my life to a similar situation in a friend's. In the back of my mind, I was holding onto this idea that if what was going on in my life looked different than how He had worked in theirs... mine couldn't be legitimate.

I felt like what God's work in my life needed to follow some kind of pattern. The words He had spoken to me and the steps I was about to take needed to look more like what I had already seen work in somebody else's life. I thought like this for a little while...

Then I heard this little whisper, "You're not allowing any room for me to surprise you."
That's where I said, "Oh."

I'm really glad that God doesn't limit himself by making my life look just like someone else's. 
I feel like God's heart is all over doing things that are new.. and fresh.. things that catch us off guard.

Sometimes a person will say something so kind or so insightful that it just stops you.  The busyness of life kind of fades away as you look at them and think about the depth of what was just spoken to you. It's so special and you treasure their words because they were meant just for you. I think God does the same thing. The way he's bringing together the plans he has for you and for me and the calling on my life.. and on your life... it's all so personal. So specialized and designed to capture our hearts in the way God knows they will be best captured. To remind us He knows us and He's our very best friend. It's very sweet of Him. 

So God, come in and dust old expectations and ideas of "how it should be" off of me. 

Thank you for surprising me.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Delight (Life Form.)

I was getting ready for church this evening, thinking about some good things, and feeling maybe just a little bit frustrated about the uncertainty I've been struggling with. 

My golden retriever does this thing every time he gets a new toy. He looks at you and at the toy as if he's not completely sure that you're really giving it to him. When it sets in that, yes, it's his, he takes it in his mouth, turns around and flees the room. Every time Utley* does this, he goes to the rug in the entry way of our house. If you follow him and offer to play, he'll cover the toy with his paws and cute little head. Now that the gift is his, he's keeping it. But he's keeping it away from us. He's not sure if the giver of the gift will take it away and I think that might worry him a little... as much as a golden retriever can be worried.

So I felt a little like Utley today. 

Sometimes really good things happen. One moment we might rejoice with God about it... but soon doubt and fear come. Disbelief comes that something so good and so pure and so beautiful could be ours. So we cling tightly to it. I mean, really tightly... white-knuckle-tight. 

We get in our minds this idea that this thing is too good to be true. Sometimes I start to think God will take it from me. I worry about praying about it because I worry He'll tell me I was wrong... that it's just not time for this or I've just got to get rid of that. I don't mean for this to sound mocking. Because yes, there are definitely times when God rightly and graciously tells us that it's not time for that yet or that this thing we're allowing in our lives is destroying us and we NEED to get rid of it

God is good like that. He loves us a lot.

But what about the times when he's already confirmed something to me? What about the times when I see his sweet Fatherly hands all over this gift and there is a timing on my situation that seems to have flowed right from his heart? Those times are good.

Sometimes that is where fear gets the best of me. That "too good to be true" mentality invades and I "hide it from God" with my head and my hands, just like Utley. 

But tonight God said something really sweet.
He said He wants to delight with me in this gift. 

If I keep hiding the gift from him out of fear that he'll take it away (which assumes God, my best friend, heavenly Father, savior-provider, is some kind of threat to my well-being)... I'll never get to just enjoy it with Him. I'm not sure there is anyone to enjoy a gift with more than the one who thought to give it to you. It is so good to enjoy life with God. 

So tonight a weight was lifted. Fear died and uncertainty turned into faith. I sang and worshipped and cried (a little) amazed that what I tried to keep from God, He just wanted to delight in this with me.  

So whether an opportunity, a spiritual gift, some kind of blessing or a relationship-- don't keep it from God. You'll enjoy it much more if you don't run away to the rug in the entry way and hide it. He delights in being with you. 

The white-knuckle grip gets really old. But life lived with open hands allows God to give and take as he sees fit. I like that God has taken things out of my life. (Even when it was hard at the time) And I love that he's given me the things he has. He's good. All the time. 

* Utley is named as he is for this reason: My last name is Chase. Utley Chase reversed is Chase Utley. Chase Utley plays for the Philadelphia Phillies (or did.. who knows) and Dad, from Philly, is a Phillie's fan (phan). Now I feel like I should say something great about cheesesteaks. This is not the time.