Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Only Humans Measure Time

Author:  Susan L. Prince

My dog never frets about time. He doesn't know what time the clock says when he wants dinner, he only knows that he is hungry. He also doesn't think, while his legs are crossed and he is dancing around the house, man! I think I can hold it for a few more minutes. They are due home in about ten. He only knows that he's gotta go! He never considers the passing of time.

I noticed something today when I was configuring my virus scan to scan while I am at church weekly. The program doesn't anticipate doing that scan. When the time comes, it just starts the scan. It's an inanimate object and never considers the passing of time. It never considers that there are only a few more seconds before it begins the scan, it just starts that scan in that very moment it was scheduled to.

A couple of weeks ago, some of us in this time zone, switched to Daylight Savings Time. My computer made the switch without batting a byte. Now, as a human, I made arrangements to adjust to the time. I mourned the loss of an hour of sleep and also anticipated the additional hours of daylight.

Every year millions of people anticipate the coming of a new year and often count down the last minute of the last hour on the last day of the year. We watch time. We measure time.

I am anal about time. I am constantly watching the time and planning in my head what time I will do what. Even on my days off work I am planning ahead. I think things like if we leave now, it will take about fifteen minutes to get there, about forty minutes to order and eat, fifteen minutes back and we'll be home for about one hour until it is time to leave for the movie at 1:15.

My friend Katie says this just brings me additional stress. I just say "no, being on time brings no stress at all, but being late does!" LOL

Anyway, I thought it interesting that the only thing on this planet that measures time are humans. Nature just goes about doing its thing as God planned, and animals just do their thing. Inanimate objects don't care either way. Humans break time into increments and are the only creatures that anticipate the arrival of time, and mourn the passing of it.

I don't believe God experiences time as humans do, although, I know Jesus did. God is everywhere, all at once. He is the beginning of time and He is the end of time.  He is infinite, but I do believe he conceived time and created it...although, I do ponder if time exists as we know it in heaven?

"There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven"

The third chapter of Ecclesiastes may suggest that time exists for those things "under heaven", and not necessarily in it. This is good news for me because I figure, if there is no measurement of time...then I will no longer have want for patience! Now, THAT would be heaven!

What is This I Keep Hearing About an "Eclipse"?

Author: Susan L. Prince

I got this Life on the Way Devotional email today. I've never seen anything "Twilight" and I don't want to. But, the way teenage girls are freaking out about these vampire guys, I thought it worthy of sharing:


Regarding Love and Reality (and Vampires)

by Nikki

Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. We love each other because he loved us first.

1 John 4:18-19, New Living Translation

See This Verse In Context

Dear Tiffany, Madison, Emma, Kaitlyn, Kyla, Meghan, Emily, Ava, Elizabeth, Olivia, Abigail, and (insert name here),

I was thinking about you this weekend. It was while I was watching a movie. It was probably the most anticipated movie of 2009. Females all over the country, possibly the world, chose a team, put on the t-shirt, and maybe even camped out overnight in exhilarated excitement to take in the next chapter of this supposedly timeless love story. I was a little late in getting around to it, but as I finally sat down to watch New Moon, you were on my mind. And here's why:


Look, I know it's just a movie, and it's meant for entertainment. I am a movie buff myself, and I love escaping into another place and time and diving into a world of imagined intrigue. It's awesome. But with this one, I couldn't even take that journey because it was just so RIDICULOUS.

Bella's pain, relentless agony, and perpetual longing may seem romantic on a big screen, but please know this is NOT what love looks like. Please know it is NOT normal or healthy to be this obsessed with a guy, to feel as if life is over or not worth living because he isn't a part of it anymore. Or to think this other guy might do the trick if guy number one leaves. Please know your whole life and self-worth will never be wrapped up in any man. God completes you. End of story. I know this because I've let myself buy into that way of thinking before. I thought there would be no life for me if it didn't work out. And guess what? I'm still here. And God is still awesome, and life is still rolling.

Sure, I get it. It's a movie and it's fun. Go ahead, watch, enjoy, be entertained. But it's just a story. Please don't get too caught up in the picture of love Edward and Bella paint for you. Please don't buy into it, or you may miss out on how big and life-changing love can really be. I was thinking about you as I watched this, and I just had to tell you.


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Sunday, June 27, 2010

Many Friendships Would Not Have Survived

Author:  Susan L. Prince

I returned home tonight after spending a wonderful weekend with my friend Katie.  Katie is one of the most special people in my life and as we talked over these last two days, at one point I said "God is so good.  He has done an amazing work in our lives, because many friendships would not have survived all that we have gone through over the past few years."

I am not going to go into details about all that Katie and I have been through.  Some of it played out on this blog, but mostly over the past two years, posting was scarce because the both of us were going through a lot of difficulty, and some of that was in our relationship as friends.  Neither of us felt comfortable sharing the details of our struggles.  The details aren't important.  What is important is what God has done.

I've just really been pondering it this weekend since she and I talked about it and I am absolutely dumbfounded at the faithfulness of God.  Most people would not have endured the experiences and woundedness of our friendship, yet because we each sought Him, separately, He was faithful to each of us.  "He who began a good work in each of us will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."  (Phillipians 1: 6)

God did bring us together as friends all those years ago and used our friendship for His purposes.  Somewhere along the line we started to put more focus on our friendship, than on our individual relationships with Him.  God is a jealous God.  He did not like not being the center of attention!  He saw to it that we were fitted with new spiritual lenses.  He used other people to help us see, He used circumstances to help us see, and He used our prayer time to reveal truths. It was grueling at times, but worth it.

It has been a wild-roller coaster ride of emotion, but in the end, God revealed Himself as faithful.  Our friendship became strong again the day that I decided to put God on the throne, and not me.  Our friendship started to grow again when Katie decided to put God on the throne again.  

We now live in different states physically, but I am so grateful to God that He loves me so much that He helped guide me through to this point, that allows me to still enjoy such a special friendship with Katie.  I know this all sounds so cryptic to those readers who are not close to the situation, but suffice it to say that God's amazing grace has healed a fragile and broken relationship and is now restoring it.

I feel absolutely blessed that God has grown me through all of this and still chooses to trust me with the responsibility of relationship.  I have learned that I need to handle relationships with care and that whatever friendships God allows me throughout my lifetime, they should always point to Him. Yes, in some particular way, that relationship should help me to grow in Christ, "as iron sharpens iron".  I need to appreciate the friendships that I have, because obviously friendships are a sweet bonus in life, but they in no way compare to the love and importance I have in my relationship with Him.

God's faithfulness and love bloggles the mind!

Pictures of My Washington DC Trip

Author: Susan L. Prince

I visited Washington DC with my friend Ellen in June 2010 for about five days.  We had a great time and wore ourselves out trying to squeeze in as much of the city as we could.  There is so much to see and do there that it is impossible to do it all in one visit, or two, since this was my second time. 

We were leisurely about getting there and Ellen suggested we drive up The Blue Ridge Parkway, so from our overnight stay in Knoxville, we headed toward Asheville, NC, to catch the Parkway and drive north.  It was a beautiful drive over the Blue Ridge Mountains, but we soon realized that our detour added 5-6 hours to our trip, so we eventually made our way back to the highway and headed for DC.

We had a great view of The United States Capitol Building from our hotel room and it was exciting to be in DC.  We walked the streets and learned to ride The Metro.  That was quite a challenge to learn!  LOL 

On with the pictures...

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A Box of Memories Helps Me Celebrate My Parent's 49 Years of Marriage

Author: Susan L. Prince

It is not a pleasant thing to come home from a wonderful vacation to open the front door and step into an inch of water standing on your beautiful hardwood floors.  You discover that the line to the ice maker on the freezer broke at floor level and had been leaking for, most likely, the majority of the week you were gone, saturating the floors of three rooms.  For the entire following week you've had to endure your home being dried out with giant, industrial dehumidifiers and blowers, the carpet being torn up, the hardwood floor buckling, and the most affected area of the linoleum floor being torn out down to the subfloor.  From under the house, Service Master has pumped out +350 gallons of water and the house is now being tested for mold.  Nope, not fun.

This has been my life for the last week.  My house is a wreck with stuff everywhere that had to come out of bedroom closets and storage spaces.  But, then, I happened upon an old box of memories.  Old pictures, old letters and other paraphenalia like game winning softballs signed by teammates.

In this box of memories I came across a farewell note from my Musicland manager in Ames, IA after I gave notice to leave for TN, and I find it interesting that Brad, my manager (now deceased) credits a "higher power" calling me to leave.  I found letters of recommendation after I left teaching at Keystone Local Schools, notes that my mom and dad sent me while I was on a Search weekend #80 in 1984  (Catholic retreat for youths), and a plethora of other notes and things that make me smile.  I call it all "Happy Notes" and it has been fun rummaging through it.

So many faces were brought to my mind as I came across various reminders of the people from my past; former colleagues, classmates, bosses, employees, students, roommates, customers and family members.  What a treasure!

 While each of the things in this box of memories has significance, a few special ones stand out.  I don't have the time or space to share them all, but probably the most special to me are the notes from my parents.

That Search #80 weekend concluded with a surprise of getting letters from loved ones.  In the lesson for that day we learned about how temporary this life is and that the only eternal thing is the love of God.  All else is "meaningless" and a "chasing after the wind".  We were told that the cards and letters we received, while meaningful things to us, they were written on paper that would deteriorate and that everything on this earth is temporary.  I don't know how it happened, but we were all encouraged to throw these letters into a pile in the middle of the floor.  Then everybody started stomping on the letters and destroying them, I guess hastening the destruction and showing that regardless of the emotions expressed in these letters and things, it is meaningless in comparison to the eternal and gracious love of our heavenly Father.

Being the "free spirit" I am, I chose to keep my letters.  I understood the point of the "lesson", but did not participate.  While others were destroying their letters from family members, parents, friends and whomever else, I chose to cling to mine.  These were precious things to me!  I refused to participate! And now, 26 years later I can pull them out of the box and cherish them.

I've often wondered if those who no longer have their letters have ever regretted destroying them?  I know that I'm glad I rebelled and kept mine.  :)  As I reread them today, I am simply reminded about how much I have always been loved, and that God gave me to the perfect parents.  Mom even points to that in my letter saying "I often wonder why the Lord gave you to us in the special way He did, but thank Him everyday for you."  

I think the most meaningful part of Mom's letter to me is when she said, "Sue, I not only love you, but I truly admire you as a person.  I don't know how many parents can say that to their children, but I can say it to you very easily."  Those words have stayed with me all these years, even when I haven't been digging through my box of memories. 

I read these with different eyes now, 26 years later, and with spiritual eyes, and I can see from them how God cared so much for me that He gave me parents that always pointed me to Him.  Mom tells me in my note, "remember that your best friend, Jesus, is there in good times and bad, to carry you if need be."
Dad shared that I know that, "Christ loves you and you know how good He has been to you.  I have seen you give this love to others and it really makes me feel good.  Please continue to live in Christ in the trying times ahead.  You know He will help you."

My dad also said that he was "very proud of the way [I] conduct [myself] and the way [I] live [my] life." 

How blessed am I?  VERY!  :)

This has reminded me about how God orchestrated my life and cared for me even when I had not yet given my heart to Him.  Not that I lived a life of debauchery, but I did not live for Him until I committed to Him in 1999.  All the while though, I have had loving parents praying for me and loving me.  They have been an example of Christ in my life and I am forever grateful God chose them to be my adoptive parents.

What better way to celebrate my parent's 49 years of marriage today than to be thankful that God put them in my life and raised me to know Him?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Acutely Aware of My Church?

Author: Susan L. Prince

To those of you who have followed the Sisters' Weblog since it's inception in 2002, you are well aware of the fact that my friend Katie and I shared a home.  In this house, she raised her two children and I was blessed to have been a part of that for almost ten years.  For those of you new to this blog, you may want to read more about my story from the homepage, Sisters in Christ. 

When we moved into this house in July 2001, her daughter was eight years old, and her son was 11.  (I think)  Needless to say, it was rarely a dull moment in this household for many years.  Good times and bad times came and went.  We called ourselves a framily, or friends + family.  The phrase has caught on and some in our church have been known to use the term of endearment when describing a very close knit church family and any gathering of good friends.  

For those many years, almost an entire decade, we attended Northbrook Church as a framily.  Eventually, the kids would be off sitting with the youth at another area of the church, but my friend Katie and I sat together as friends, worshiping God.  Third row, right side, the two chairs closest to the center aisle.  My seat was the second chair into the row, and Katie's was the chair on the aisle.  Katie is a demonstrative worshiper so she needed the extra space.  I miss that.

Times are different now.  The kids are off living their own lives.  Katie married a wonderful man and they are happily building a marriage in Alabama.

And, here I sit.  Alone in this house. 

For the most part I enjoy my aloneness.  Honestly, I did want it at times, but in my ignorance, I didn't realize the permanence of the situation, or what it would really feel like to live totally alone.  It takes some adjusting for sure.

I'm not posting this to complain about my current state of being, but rather just put it out there and say what I'm feeling as I work through this new time in my life. 

I've pinpointed the two times that I most feel most alone.  The first is anytime I come home after a long trip when I've been away for a few days.  I used to be greeted at the door to hugs and happy faces.  Now, nothing.  The second time I feel most alone is when I go to church.

This is not something I expected.  I never expected to be made aware of my singleness at church and feel so alone there. I want to reassure my church family, that I do NOT feel unloved I know I am loved.  I hope to explain this in a way that is easily understood, but, still, may only be understood by those who have walked in similar shoes.

All those years I sat next to my friend.  Now I sit next to no one.  Again, this is not a plea for people to come sit next to me.  Far from it.  You see, I have gone many places by myself.  I go to restaurants and eat by myself.  I go to the movies by myself.  I go to the park and sit by the lake by myself.  I have gone to concerts by myself.  I like doing things by myself.  Sure, I like to share experience with friends, but I really don't mind doing many things by myself.  That is just what single people do. I even did church by myself for a good year before I moved to TN.  I didn't feel alone then, though, like I do now at church.

I've been perplexed by this reality of wanting so bad to get to worship with my church family, and then when I am there, I become acutely aware that I am alone.  I become aware of my singleness.  I become aware of how different my life is today from ten years ago, five years ago, two years ago, and even from last year.  Everything is different and being at Northbrook just seems to highlight the difference.  This is not a bad thing, it is just what is.  

I still leave the aisle seat available when I seat myself.  I look around and see so many new faces, and miss the faces I no longer see.  Faces of the kids, Justin front and center almost every week sitting with his youth friends, and Tiff usually off on the other side of the church, or possibly in the back helping with the children or nursery.  I just miss them being here.  I miss Katie sitting to my left, worshiping, and the both of us taking notes on the message, usually to discuss it later in the day in more depth.

I do rejoice that the framily is all moving on with life and living for the Lord, albeit all separately, but at church I am reminded of what is no longer my existence.  Everything is so different and it is the one place that brings that into the light. 

I notice families.  And I notice the empty chair to my left.

I notice couples.  And I notice the empty chairs to my left and right.

I notice children scrambling to get to Kingdom Kids.  And I notice that I never have to move out of the way of a child on a mission.  (Of course, that may be due to other reasons!  They smell the fear in me!  LOL)

Again, this isn't a bad thing, it is just what is. 

And it is what God is bringing me through right now.  :)  I choose to put my hope in God.  I can feel Him working in me.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Humbled to be Exalted

Author: Katie

I praise You, Father for all the times I have been told by man that I am not “good enough”. I praise You for helping me to see how unworthy I am in and of myself. I know it is not your will that I feel worthless…and at times I have. But in all the rejection I have experienced over the last few years, I have learned how prideful and self-centered I can be. In this realization, I have learned the exalting power of humility. I know in myself I am nothing…but with Christ I am everything and I can do all things and that is where I place my worth…in HIM. I praise You for the trials I have endured. I praise you for the agonizing fires and storms that have brought me to this place in You…that have helped me to understand Christ in Me the hope of glory. I can do nothing to glorify You…it is You working through me that brings glory to Yourself. You cannot be glorified through my life if I am prideful…only humble. I am exalted because of You…not anything I have done. You have brought me through a time of emptying…only to fill me. You asked me to let go…only to give me more…more of You…and that is far beyond anything I had to lose.

I have learned Philip. 3:7-14 “Whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings,(a life theme for 2008-2009) being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained it, or have already become perfect, but I press on in order that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."

I need not exalt myself. I need not defend myself. I need not prove when I have been wronged. I need not seek revenge or justice out of my own power…but only to seek You…to focus on You. Vengeance is Yours and You are a God of just and mercy and grace. It is my job to love, to forgive, to be kind (love others and esteem them as better than myself, love God and love others...the focus you gave me for 2001)

I am so blown away by all the focus themes you gave me over the last decade and how each one built upon the other and brought me to this place! Each one prepared me for the trials and blessings that were coming that year and beyond! You are with me always and always in control! How much I try to control things to no avail...but when I let go and let!

It is the humble you exalt….and it is for this reason I praise You for everything I had to suffer through in order to be made aware of how insignificant and helpless I am apart from You. You make me humble. Whenever I start to exalt myself…Lord, remind me of this and help me to remain humble. I am nothing…nothing in and of my own power. Apart from the vine I can do nothing…but abiding in the vine (another life theme)…"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Phil 4:13)." In Christ alone I am complete.

Lord, thank you for showing me how prideful and self centered I can be. Thank you for bringing me through a place of humiliation and total devastation so you could rebuild. Thank you for brokenness. Thank you for allowing me to fellowship in the suffering! Thank you for bringing me down in order to exalt me to higher places in You than I could have ever imagined! I want more!

This year, you told me it would be my Year of Jubilee! And blessed be Your has been! But, that's another blog in and of itself!