Monday, November 29, 2010

My Thankful Heart

We stood in a circle holding hands. We were about to say grace for our Thanksgiving meal when the host, my Aunt Patsy, asked us each to share what we are thankful for this year.

Chris and I have been to Aunt Patsy's home quite a few times this year—one of Chris's several relatives that live in California. She and her husband have blessed us with that 'family feeling' over many holidays where we were not able to travel to Minnesota or Texas. Last Thanksgiving, her home was filled with family members, most of whom I was meeting for the first time.  This year, her Thanksgiving feast was a smaller gathering shared with friends, neighbors, her parents, and us. No matter how big the party, she ad her husband are gifted in making one feel at home and loved.

As I stood in that circle, looking at Patsy, I was struck by how blessed I really am. My mind flashed back to a year ago when we were unemployed and on the verge of homelessness; I didn't know anyone, much less my husband's distant relatives. And now, we have work, we have a beautiful apartment, and so many wonderful relationships. I thought, "Lord, you have answered our every prayer, you have provided for our every need (and then some)! You are truly amazing. Thank you."

I am so thankful for my family—no matter how far down the family tree they are. I am so thankful to be getting to know my husband's side of the family this year. I love that his third cousins are more like aunts to us than "distant relatives." And I can't wait for Christmas, when we'll be seeing my family again!

I am so thankful for all I have and all those I hold in my heart. May the Lord bless you richly as you wait on Him!

Sunday, November 14, 2010


No, not the TV show—although Chris and I do enjoy watching that one.  The concept of belonging to or having relationship with a group of people is what I want to talk about tonight. Chris and I heard someone mention that the most common unmet need in San Francisco (and possibly globally) is community. In a place were there are roughly a million people I wonder how can that be true?

And yet, it is true for me. I'm not saying I'm completely alone and have nowhere to belong. I belong to a wonderful church and small group, which does offer a great source of community and relationship.  I also have some really great colleagues at work. But I want more. Not really more friends, but deeper relationships. Granted, I've only been in the city for five months and it's bound to take a lot longer than that to build solid friendships. All I'm saying is that I understand the longing for community.

I wonder what people who don't go to church do to find friends. In all honesty, I don't even know where to look other than church. Do I join a gym or take a class to find people who might have one shared interest with me? Do I go to the bar? Do I sit down next to a complete stranger at a coffee shop and start making conversation? Seriously, how do people get connected with others and experience real community in real life?

I have been in a "Christian-bubble" for so long, I don't even know how to make friends normally. Ugh! In High School, I didn't really have a choice, there were 17 students, so naturally they were my friends. Our town was small, so you just did what everyone else did and you had instant community. It was easy in college—people had similar classes and majors so finding common interests was a no-brainer. You also had organizations and clubs at your finger tips so finding a group to belong to was stress free. And the cafeteria was perfect for meeting people! Most of my friends from college were actually strangers to me until I sat down next to them for lunch (a few I seen previously from a class or something).

So what makes "real life" so much different—so much harder? I wonder if as we've gotten older, we're more reserved in what we share with others, which leaves our conversations lacking any real meaning.  I wonder if we stop making time for other people because there is just too much going on in "my world" right now. Or, maybe we're fearful of someone really knowing us?!? The surface looks good and clean but digging deeper reveals hurts, weaknesses, regrets, and sins making us unlovable and rejected.

What is it that makes people bond and become friends?

These are just my thoughts from today—spurred on by an idea of building a different and stronger community. I'd love to hear your thoughts about what community is and how you find or create it! 

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Help! I'm Stuck!

I think about writing to you almost everyday.  I love writing to you—updating you on my thoughts and sharing with you how God has led us to where we are.  But the past few weeks I just can't think of anything new to tell you. Routine and normalcy have entered my life and to honest I don't know how I feel about that.

There is something energizing and exciting about not feeling settled. Yes, its extremely frightening most of the time. For the better part of this past year I have felt uneasy, anxious, and uncertain about where my life was going or what I was suppose to be doing in San Francisco (or even if San Francisco was where I was suppose to be). And during that period I know I didn't like it. But now . . . I'm bored.

And I hate to put it that way, but today, thats how I feel.  Now, you may be asking, "Emily, isn't it impossible to be bored in a city like SF?" That's not what I mean. I love this city. I don't think I could ever grow tired of all there is to see and do. I'm bored because I don't know what I'm suppose to be putting my time and effort towards or trusting God for next.

So, maybe "bored" isn't the right word after all . . . "stuck" might work better (at least for today). I'm waiting for the Lord to direct my steps again and lead me to the next part of this journey. I feel like crying out, "Ok, Lord, I'm here, now what!?" But in the back of my mind, I'm scared of what He might say!

Doctor's Orders: Rest (and no heavy lifting)

Two weeks ago, the Lord was telling me to rest. Actually, He's been telling me that for a while now, and it was my doctor who told me to rest—for an entire week!  On October 21, I had a minor surgery to have a couple of ovarian cysts removed.  My doctors orders: Take a whole week off of work. 

"What?!? A week? What am I suppose to do for a whole week?" I thought.  But, it in the end it was a huge blessing. I feel like I got to experience what rest really is. Both the lazy kind and the kind that only comes through knowing our Heavenly Father. 

To rest in the Lord is to trust. Trust that He is in total control and you are in His care. Trust in His promises and His plan. And let go of the need to run or control your own life. Worry and anxiousness have to place in this type of rest. There is no greater freedom than in resting in the Lord. 

The weeks before my surgery I found myself feeling very anxious and worried. Anxious because I didn't know if this was really the best thing for me and worried because my insurance company wasn't handling it the way they needed to. Some days, these feelings would overtake me and I'd be in tears, other times, I knew that this is what needed to be done and I had faith that all would work out well. 

On the morning of my surgery, I remember feeling a bit nervous, but as soon as my doctor was there I felt better (she has this great affect on me whenever I talk to her). And when the surgical staff asked, "Are you ready?" I actually smiled and said, "Yes!" I had this indescribable sense of peace as they wheeled me into the operating room. I knew my Father was with me. 

Being cooped up in my apartment for an entire week helped me rest physically and spiritually. I could praise the Lord for bringing me out of surgery successfully and providing such wonderful medical care. I could rest in him knowing that He is faithful to His promises to care for me and provide for me. I also had to give up control over what happened in the kitchen (and the rest of the apartment) as Chris was now in charge of all the cooking and housekeeping for the week (part of the doctor's orders).  What a great exercise in giving up control—and practice for giving control over to the Lord for everything else!

I am a worst-case scenario worrier by nature, but now that I've learned this lesson on rest, I don't want to go back to my "old" self.  Hopefully, I can remind myself to find rest in the Lord each day—no matter what worries come my way.