What are you snacking on?

It’s always dangerous to post something after 11:30pm. Sometimes my mind isn’t exactly sound, if you know what I mean.

I’ve been wanting to learn more about Jesus’ ministry. Jesus is very important, if you didn’t know. It is easy to love God. It is easy to worship God and to talk with God. But Jesus. Now that’s a different story. If you love God but you don’t know Jesus, then really your relationship with God is pretty much useless. This is hard to dissect because Jesus IS God and Hebrews clearly states that Jesus is “the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature.” So I guess when I say God I really mean “the Father.” That might not clear anything up either…

Jesus is the Way and the Truth and the Life and NO ONE comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6). If you read Luke’s account of Paul’s ministry in Philippi (Acts 16), you see that Lydia (the first convert in Philippi) was a worshipper of God. Oh yes, she knew and loved the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. But she didn’t know Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God. Paul preached the gospel and the Lord opened her heart to respond. She was baptized and all was well.

So all this to say that loving God without knowing Jesus is boo boo.

So this morning I was reading in John 4. It says:

31Meanwhile his disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat something.”

 32But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.”

 33Then his disciples said to each other, “Could someone have brought him food?”

 34“My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. 35Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. 36Even now the reaper draws his wages, even now he harvests the crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together.

Jesus’ food is to do the will of God. The thing that fueled him, the thing that drove him was to seek the will of God and to accomplish God’s work. But what’s interesting is what he said right after that. The fields are ripe for harvest.

I think we often think of God’s will for our lives as something far off. Something that is yet to come. And it is. We seem to think of it as a career. But it is also here and now. The climax of Jesus’ ministry was his crucifixion. That was his ultimate accomplishment of God’s will, saving mankind and all. And he did everything with his eyes set on that, enduring the cross for the joy that was set before him. But God’s will for Jesus was also the woman at the well and the blind man he healed.

I can get so caught up in what God has in store for me in the coming months that I forget that He has things for me NOW to accomplish. If we are constantly looking forward to the next season of our life, we might miss out on what God has for us RIGHT NOW.

In Colossians, Paul writes that he prays that the Church would be filled with the knowledge of the will of God. He prays that God would reveal His will for them. Sounds pretty awesome, right? Wouldn’t you love to know what God’s will for your life is? But what happens if you pray only to discover that His will is next week you pack up and move to Iraq as a missionary? Or what if it is to give up your house and car to live in the crappiest trailer park in town so you can host Bible studies and barbecues with the neighbors? It is a very dangerous thing to pray.

I went to Rocky to visit the youth group that I miss so dearly. We watched an old John Piper sermon. It was about not wasting your life. I can honestly say that that is one of my deepest fears. That I will waste this life that God has given me. And when I stand before the Holy and Beautiful King, I will give an account of what I did here. I don’t want to have to say that I was always looking to what might be in store and missed everything He put right in front of my face…

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Brother Bear.

It has been my experience that if you sit down at your computer, not really knowing what you are going to blog about, the entry will not actually make it to the site. Seriously, this happens to me approximately twice a day. I sit down to write an entry and I don’t know what to blog about. Thus, I throw my hands up in surrender. Maybe for another day.

But today is not so! Drum roll please…

Sam is my older brother. He’s only older by 18 months. When I was little, I always tried really hard to catch up with him in age. I was devastated when I came to the realization that we actually age at the same rate and that I would never be able to catch up with him. Nonetheless, we had some good times growing up.

People always thought we were twins. We used to be the same height, even though he was older than me. We both had red hair and freckles. And if I remember correctly, we might even have had the same haircut. Thanks mom.

We used to play tackle football in the front lawn. Just Sam and me. I thought it was great. What I didn’t realize at the time was that our daily 10 minutes of full-force tackle football was his excuse to beat the crap out me without my knowledge. I was a bright kid, but I was blinded by my love for Sam. He would kick the ball off and I would catch it, run across the yard with all my might, and Sam would proceed to clothesline me. Then I would kick it off and he would catch it and run at me with full-force. Sometimes I would take it and he would bull me over. Sometimes I would politely step aside and “let him” have the touchdown. “It’s only because I feel sorry for you!” I would say. That was my fantastic excuse.

My heart often needed inspiration in order to really prepare for the next punt return. So, in the 1/2 second of hang time in his punt, I would tell myself I’m a rhinoceros. I’m a huge pissed-off rhinoceros. And I’m gonna catch the ball and be the rhinoceros that I am and GET THAT TOUCHDOWN. You do what you have to do, I suppose.

I remember one time we were out front for our daily game of football, we both had braces. I returned his punt and ran like the rhinoceros I was straight at him. We collided and began wrestling for possession of the ball. When we finally came out of it, I had sore teeth and bruises all over my arms, and he had a huge scratch down his forearm. In all the chaos, somehow his arm had made contact with my braces. My teeth hurt so bad. We looked at his arm to find that he was bleeding! Victory was mine! That was the last football game I can remember with him.

Growing up, I was probably closest to Sam out of everyone in my family. Our nightly routine consisted of us sitting on his bed, listening to music, eating Skittles and playing chess. Sometimes we would shake it up and play Brain Quest. But we would make jokes and laugh and eat more Skittles. The night would usually end with my dad waking up and sternly tell us to break it up and go to bed. We would crack each others backs before going to our own rooms to call it a night.

I have thoroughly enjoyed the years spent with Sam. Even though we grew apart when he moved out, I still love him and I miss spending time time with him! He makes me laugh.

Happy Birthday, Sam! Just because it’s your 21st birthday doesn’t mean you can do whatever you want, though. So don’t do anything I wouldn’t do! I love you :)

Another Strange Encounter

Ah yes, another day at work means another day of thoughts that need processed…

Norma Jean was working again today. (Refer to yesterday’s post on Norma Jean if needed.) Abby wasn’t there to help her with prep and dishes, so my manager asked me to step back there for a bit to help her out. It was either gonna be me or Kevin and Kevin doesn’t like NJ very much. So I agreed.

We were rolling dough for a bit, and I mostly listened to Norma Jean tell her ridiculous stories about her family and her chickens and her college years and stuff like that. We were about to start on some prep work (cutting veggies and meats, etc) and she was washing some dishes. I walked behind her to wash my hands and she stopped what she was doing and turned and said, “out of the corner of my eye, you was an old woman.” That’s not the strangest of comments to hear. I thought she just had one of those weird moments where your brain thinks it saw something that it really didn’t.
“Well thats weird,” I reply.
“Yeah, you were 75, maybe 80 years old. I saw you. Sometimes I see things.”
“Wait, you actually saw me as an 80-year-old woman?”
“Yeah, you was walking all slow and you had a long black dress on and you was old. I’m telling you, I see things. Don’t tell no one though. They’d think I’m crazy.”

It’s too late for that one I thought to myself. Then it hit me. She doesn’t just “see” things. She Sees things. She started telling me about people we work with, the things she’s seen.

“What do you think about Aaron?” she asks me. (Aaron is our manager.)
“I don’t know. What do you mean?” I ask.
“Do you think he’ll be where he is forever? Working and single?”
“I sure hope not. I think he’s adorable.”
“He doesn’t think so. He walks around the store every day thinking he’s going to be here forever and that no one finds him desirable. I want to tell him different. Because it is different. His life isn’t what he thinks it is. That’s the best thing I think we can do. Tell people what’s good about themselves that they can’t see for themselves. Give them a piece of what they really are, you know?”

Once again, she’s caught me completely off guard. I’m in shock. Are you kidding me?

That’s really interesting, Norma Jean,” I tell her.
Can I tell you about you?” She continued on her little rant. “I like what I see in you. You are real with people. You are the same with everyone you interact with and you don’t try to hide things. You are authentic and you care about people and you are real and that really draws people to you. People really like you, Hope.”

I’m like about to cry at this point. The lady was practically prophesying over me. It was absolutely ridiculous.

A couple people we work with came back and so our conversation was cut off. But I was intrigued. She started talking more about her peacocks and her neighbors and totally random stuff. After what seemed like forever, we finally had the back to ourselves again and we were back to rolling dough. I had to ask her about it. It sounded like a heavenly gift, but I know the devil comes like a good angel with a loose tongue. If it wasn’t of God, I wanted NOTHING to do with it.

“So Norma Jean,” I akwardly dove back into our previous conversation. “I’m really intrigued about this gift of yours. Where do you think it comes from?”
“The Good Lord. Let me tell you. He gives you everything you need. Every tool for every situation that you are in. And He gives it to you for a reason.”

I was relieved. But she then jumped into a story about how she traded her goose with a Native American man for his pool table. I lost her. Oh well, 20 minutes of a sane conversation with her doesn’t happen very often so I decided let her keep on. It was another conversation that I’ll store in the back of my brain for a long time.

Surprise Lessons Learned

I think I don’t post that often because I never really think that anything interesting happens to me. In fact, I might even be boring. Don’t tell anyone though. Wouldn’t want people to get ideas.

But something happened today. So I’ve been concentrating on remembering it all day so that I could blog about it when I got home. I have to concentrate. Otherwise I forget.

I work with some interesting people. Today’s interesting people were Abby and Norma Jean.

Abby is from Jamaica. She is in Destin for the summer with many other Jamaicans. She said she works at a hotel because that’s what the agency wants. But she also works at Red Brick. Every time I ask her how old she is, she tells me a different age. Sneaky little thing. She’s sassy and sarcastic and has a Jamaican accent. It’s fantastic.

Norma Jean is the only person who works there over the age of 25. She is a VERY odd bird. She’s in her mid-50’s, lives on a farm in Defuniak (po-dunk town!), cuts her own hair (it doesn’t matter how old you are, not much good comes from cutting your own hair), drives a motorcycle every day, wears thick black boots, is from Nebraska, eats all the leftover food as she does dishes, and owns peacocks and chickens. She stays in the back and does dishes because she can’t really do anything else. “I learn things backwards and upside-down,” she always says. “You gotta tell me 3 times how to do something, and each time has to be different.” I’m not sure if that gives you a good picture of this woman. She’s crazy. But also a lot of fun to talk to!

So today at work, Abby and Norma Jean were in the back rolling dough. I came back there to join them and Abby was playing gospel music on the stereo. This is very surprising. Abby doesn’t seem like the type who would listen to gospel music. Or listen to anything about Jesus, for that matter. I asked her what it was we were listening to and she didn’t respond. I asked her again, and still nothing. Abby is not a girl who wears her emotions on her sleeve, but she suddenly broke into tears, still refusing to speak. Apparently, another guy we worked with had come back to find a knife. He picked up Abby’s purse so look underneath it, and some stuff fell out of Abby’s purse and falls behind the table. She gets REALLY upset about this. I got down on my hands and knees to look under the table, and saw only an open drain. Her stuff was lost forever.

Norma Jean and I exchange looks. I didn’t know what she lost, but whatever fell back there must’ve been important. We continue to roll dough in silence, tension now hanging thick in the air. To relieve us of the akwardness, Norma Jean begins to tell another one of her seemingly random stories, this time talking about her first husband.

“He used to abuse me,” she said. Now, that is a statement that would probably make anyone uncomfortable. But she doesn’t pick up on that kind of stuff. She continues. “One time, he had his hands real tight around my neck. And I remember thinking Lord, if this is it, just let it be. And all of the sudden he lets go and jerks his hands back as if he had touched something steaming hot! You know, the Lord always makes sure I’m okay. You just got to trust Him.”

Ummmm did that story seriously just come out of Peacock Woman’s mouth?! And where the heck did that come from?! As this story is told, Abby’s gospel music is going in the background. Some song about the Glory of Jesus.

I just stood there in shock. What is going on in the world?! I thought to myself. 

On the bottom shelf of the table behind which Abby’s things fell, rested 25 20-pound bags of flour. When we finally finished rolling dough Norma Jean begins moving the bags so she can move the table to retrieve what was lost.

I chime in with my superbly sound judgement. “How do you even know if Abby’s stuff is back there?”
“I don’t. Did you not hear a word I just said? You just got to trust Him,” she replies.

She moves the table out of the way and sure enough, there was her stuff! A bottle of lotion and a little bag of vitamins. It had landed on a little ledge just inside the drain. Abby’s gospel music was still flying in the background.

It seems strange that Abby would be so upset about losing such seemingly insignificant items. It makes me wonder just how insignificant they actually were.

Dude. That was hands down the most unexpected lesson I may ever have received. Small as it may be, it was most certainly for me.

“Just trust Him.”