A Comprehensive Insurance Plan

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Hello, beautiful people,

I thought that I was finished posting for the week. Honestly I did. I was already thinking forward to possible ideas for next week, thinking about future entries, having fellow Christian writer friends guest post…and then I did it:

Baby, I beat a dead horse.

I think that it is universal to the human experience to have friendships that don’t work out. I remember studying the plot pyramid in school– exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, denouement–and thinking of relationships that have followed this pattern. Everything was sweet, and then there was a defining moment, and then…it just wasn’t. But then those friendships come along and they end without following that script and those are often the hardest of all. There were no fights, there were no misunderstandings, at least no perceptible ones. There was just silence and limbo.

I had a friend that honestly was closer than a sister, I felt. We spent large amounts of time together and we existed in this really cool space where we were able to learn from each other: I learned more about a new culture and about her life’s work in the sciences and I was able to teach her about my culture and the lessons I’d learned working with my students in the communities I’ve been blessed to be apart of.  She is a Christian, so we connected on that level: we went to concerts and prayed together often, sat with each other in worship nights and called each other after they were over to exclaim just how much we felt God move. It was excellent. There were no issues that I knew of.

And then….nothing.

Suddenly I couldn’t reach her. Calls went unanswered, texts did too. I don’t see her anymore, and it felt like there was this gaping hole where she used to be. Life is better than awesome, and it didn’t happen often, but occasionally I would count the weeks since we’d spoken and get a little…wistful. And, like clockwork, those frustratingly familiar feelings of inadequacy that I war against all the time try to gain footing:

Did I do something to make her leave?”
“Was it something I said?”
“Let’s go back and pick apart every moment of your last interaction…”
“Maybe we’ll find something.”
“Maybe then, I’ll understand!”

I came across a card from her in my keepsake box this morning, and before that litany could start up again, I reached out to a trusted covenant friend. One thing that I know about myself is that when difficult circumstances or decisions arise, the answer has already been made clear…I just like to talk it out with someone else. Since I don’t have siblings and don’t want to make a habit of carrying on conversations with myself (at least not in public haha), I often reach out to very patient girlfriends of mine and off we go.

So I am talking to a stalwart member of the tribe, and she says “that’s tough…but I think it’s one of those things where you pray and give it to God and ask for His will. He knows what both of you need.”

Just like that, I was taken back to a text message that I’d gotten about a week ago from SHINE-FM. It was a quote from Elisabeth Elliot, an awesome author and all around wise Christian lady who passed last year:

eequote

I thought that this quote was so simple, yet so powerful…I actually made it the wallpaper on my iPhone. This quote of course led me to Philippians 4:19, which says “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”

And I started thinking of car insurance. (You should already know by now that my mind works in some odd ways)

I don’t know the ins and outs of auto insurance, but I do know that when you go to buy some, you can purchase two main categories:

At very minimum, you have to have limited liability coverage. This basically means that if you inflict damage on someone else’s car, your insurance will pay for their repairs and not much else.

You can go on and get collision coverage, or property coverage, or you can go with the whole shebang and get comprehensive and collision coverage. This basically protects your car from fire, flood, people, accidents, leprechauns, and anything short of an act of God (in which case, why would you need the car to be fixed? Forget this Honda…I’m going to Heaven!) It costs more, but it carries with it the confidence that you are totally protected.

When things like this happen, when people disappear, when I don’t understand exactly why things are happening, I reflect on Philippians and it becomes clear that we serve a comprehensive God, not a limited one.

and my God will supply all your needs…”

All. ALL.comprehensive

Our God is NOT  a God of limits.
Screenshot (1)

We serve a thorough God. A complete God, and like I stated in my last post, a God who is not the author of confusion. He is our comprehensive plan, not just taking care of the things around us and leaving us broken and in pieces to sort it out ourselves. He is taking care of us too–sweetly, perfectly, and miraculously.

Do you remember those  “if-then” logic statements from when we were in school?

“If fish live in water
and if trout are fish
then trout must ______”….the answer being live in water, right?

I am learning that these kind of statements apply to God…ergo, Ms. Elliot’s profound statement:

“If God promises to supply all of our needs
and if you don’t have something (even if you may want it or THINK you need it)
YOU. DON’T. NEED. IT.

It’s not the easiest pill to swallow: I don’t need her. She doesn’t need me either. This reminds me of one of my mother’s tidbits: “everything that is good to you isn’t always good for you.” Darling, the same goes for every friend, every man (or woman, if there are any guys reading this haha), every job, and every so-called missed opportunity that you thought passed you by and that threatened to drag you into the quicksand of “why me?”

You didn’t need it. It wasn’t (or isn’t) what God has for you right now. But trust that comprehensive God that loves you madly when He says that He will supply. What is coming is greater then what was lost, and He delights in blowing your mind.

Preaching to the choir loft on this one here.

Be blessed,

StephTheScribe

 

 

 

Ask, Seek, Knock, and Try

Hello beautiful people!

It’s Friday morning, and since the city is still working to clear the snow from main roads and side streets, I have yet another work day all to myself. I have become spoiled, and when everything is cleaned up, I am going to miss my uninterrupted morning time with Jesus where I get to sip coffee, listen to music, read my word and devotionals…and of course, write to you, beautiful.

For the past few days, I have been thinking about a pirate’s treasure chest. Odd, I know, right? But we have this historical vision from Hollywood of there having to be this convoluted process to get to the good stuff inside of the chest:

  • You have to know that a chest is in existence…
  • Then you have to go on a quest to get to the treasure chest, which usually involves battling some kind  of creature from the black lagoon:
moviecreature Terrifying. That alone might make me stay home.
  • Then once you get to the place where the treasure is, you have to dig it up…
  • You have to figure out where the key is, etc, etc…

There is never anything as simple as the treasure chest being right there in the movies, because that removes all of the suspense, drama, and 90 minutes of the running time from the equation.
Hold on to this pirate analogy…I’ll be back to it. Promise.

I was in a car supply store a couple of days ago, because Winter Storm Jonas flippantly decided that making the roads impassable and closing my job wasn’t enough–he had to break my windshield wipers as well. There is this giant book in the car store where you can look up the make and model of your car to see what wipers you need to attach to your car. While looking through this manual the size of my head and wondering to myself whether my Civic actually had other letters that I didn’t know about (news flash: it did!), my aunt helpfully said, ” you know, you can just ask one of the staff to put it in the computer and what you need will pop up.” I thought, “well, that’s much faster!”, and off we went.

While we were waiting in line, I heard a cashier complain to a coworker about a customer who apparently asked her a question and gave her major flak for not being able to point him in the right direction. Then, I heard those fateful words:

” I mean, I don‘t know nothing about cars, I just work here for real…”

I couldn’t believe that here this woman was, literally surrounded on all sides by tires, batteries, and car paraphernalia–and people who lived and BREATHED tires, batteries, and car paraphernalia, and she ADMITTED to knowing nothing as if that were an excuse.
I asked my aunt, “if she worked in Foot Locker and I had a question about whether this sneaker was good for running, would she tell me she didn’t know…she just WORKS around shoes?!”

But I have a question: How many of us “work around” Christ, but don’t really know Him?

Ouch, right? And thank you for being patient, babies, because this is where the pirate analogy comes back in. Remember how I said that in the movies, finding the treasure is always portrayed as this exhaustive process full of plot twists? My guess is that a lot of people think that knowing God and understanding His word is the same way. They think that to know God and to be “His” is this mystical process, inaccessible and impossible, and they would just rather not try.

superconfused Actually, the treasure is RIGHT THERE.

I worked at the Jewish Community Center for about 5 years, and while there, I learned so much about Judaism and the ritual/religious aspects of it. I went from knowing nothing before I started to being able to independently lead prayers and answer questions by the time I left, and while a lot of that was because I read information on my own, a lot of it was because I chased people down and asked until I understood.

It would have been a tragedy to leave there after 5 years knowing nothing (and being ok with that) when I had so many resources around me. Likewise, it is a tragedy for people to know NOTHING about God and how He loves them when every tool is already provided.

Ask, seek, knock, and try. God’s word (and His goodness) aren’t these far off, mystical  entities that we have no hope of understanding. Two scriptures:

Acts 17:27 NLT- “His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward Him and find Him–though He is not far from any one of us. For in Him we live and move and exist. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are His offspring’. And since this is true, we shouldn’t think of God as an idol designed by craftsmen in gold or silver or stone”.

1 Corinthians 14:33 NLT- “For God is not a God of disorder but of peace, as in all the meetings of God’s holy people.”

God has said in His word that His promises and new mercies aren’t like that far off treasure chest packed in under hard earth…rather, that treasure is sitting in front of you with the key taped to the bottom of the chest and an instruction manual in front.

In order to know where that key is, you have to look in the instruction manual and it plainly tells you to grab the key and unlock the box. But if you refuse to read, you are literally [thisclose] to all that God has for you, staring at a closed chest. How to get in, you say?

Ask– Surround yourself with people that are already in the process of unlocking the chest and go get you some mentors in the faith.
Seek– When they tell you to read the manual (as they inevitably will), actually read it. Read it with them. Read it on your own. Like I tell my students, the best way to be a better reader is to read.
Knock– Once you see what the key is, where it is, etc, open up that treasure chest. Inside lies salvation, first and foremost. Beyond that, there lies grace, joy, peace, love, patience, knowledge, wisdom, vision, covenant friendship, servanthood–this is a pretty big chest. It is truly the gift that keeps on giving.
and finally, Try– One thing that you will probably hear me say more than anything else on this blog is that beautiful, God rewards pursuit. Press into Him. Don’t open up the chest and see all that is available and content yourself with knowing that you found the jewels and precious robes, man! Dig in there and you will see that everything in there is just your size.

Please, dear heart, don’t let your legacy be that you got close enough to the throne of grace to touch it, but you never took that integral step. Don’t be that girl in the auto supply store, positively surrounded by everything she needed to be excellent at what she did and never having the inclination to find out. There is so much here for you if only you want it.

Be blessed,

StephTheScribe

Snow, Shoveling, and Look How Far We’ve Come…

Hello, beautiful people!

As I mentioned in my welcome post, Baltimore has been visited by Winter Storm Jonas. And when I say visited, this was not a cute little visit from a friend dropping off some pie or something. Ohhh no. It was clearly apparent that the meteorologists were right and Jonas was THAT friend–you know, the one that you said could crash overnight and you looked up two weeks later…lo and behold, Jonas is still in YOUR domain, feet on YOUR couch, hogging YOUR Netflix.  The storm is over, but in his wake, he left 2+ feet of snow, and our cars looking like this:

IMG_6584 Thanks, Jonas….just, thanks.

Anyway, I called myself coming up with an expert shoveling strategy. Instead of waiting until the storm ended, I would periodically go out in the thick of it and shovel so that I wouldn’t have that big job all at once. That worked for a while:

FullSizeRender (5) See? Progress.

But then, I went to bed after two nighttime shovels, coincidentally the time of night when Jonas REALLY decided to show off, and instead of the progress I thought I’d made, I woke up to this:

FullSizeRender (4) Well, alrighty then.

I walked outside late this morning planning to dig out my car and was almost immediately discouraged. How was I, just one person, supposed to tackle all that snow? I only have one small shovel, and no real place to put the snow either? I found myself enviously looking at people who were outside with their children or significant others working as a team. I found myself getting distracted and shuffling through the songs on Lecrae’s Church Clothes 3 instead of doing work. And I lost a lot of the drive I had when I left my apartment.

So what was the problem here? Besides the ignorant amount of snow outside, I mean?

I let what I perceived to be my deficits distract me from my purpose.

I don’t have a cohort out here helping me!
My shovel is too small!
I barely got anything done and it’s been an hour!
I can’t do this!

Eventually, an hour and twenty minutes later, I stepped back and saw what I couldn’t see while in the thick of it:

IMG_6602

Am I finished? Not even close.
But did I make progress? Absolutely.

I find that so often, in our Christian walk, we get in so deep into worshipping, serving, praying and generally being made new that we forget what hot messes we were when God saved us. I can’t speak for any of you, but I KNOW who I was: profane, depressed, stuck, irrationally angry, closed-off, and not nearly as joyful. We look around and we know where we are and we think we know where God is taking us, but it can seem so far off:

God, you gave me this idea for a business…but I can’t even figure out where to start…
God, this degree is going to allow me to work for Your glory..now can a sista get a full schedule?!
God, I feel like you have called me to be a wife, but I haven’t had a date since Obama campaigned the first time…
God, all of my friends seem so close to You…do you love me like You love them?

And we get so caught up in where we aren’t yet that we forget where we WERE. How our souls felt that first time God manifested Himself and we NOTICED. How He took this ragtag, barely beating heart and transformed the mess out of it. How we have relationships with family members that we despised this time a year ago. How we pray first instead of picking up the nearest thing to throw (I can’t be the only one…right?)

Make it your mission to TAKE A STEP BACK. Ask a friend who has known you since pacifiers and Pampers (or as close as you can get) for an honest assessment of your life. Pray for vision and compassion…not just towards others, but towards yourself. And if nothing else, let me assure you that YOU. ARE. DOING. FINE. God rewards pursuit. As long as you are praying and trying everyday to be a bit more Christlike than you were the day before, God is so, so proud of you.

So yeah, Jonas Elsa and Olaf’ed all over the Eastern seaboard. And it’s a mess…but we will dig out and drive to and fro and life will speed back up eventually. Eventually as well, you will see the fortification of all that God plans to do with your life. You may only be able to see the footpath that you’ve made for right now, but trust me when I say that God can see the whole lot. You’re doing fine.

Be blessed,

StephTheScribe

 

Welcome: Eventually, Everything Connects

Good afternoon, all! I’m very excited to start this writing journey again…It has been awhile since I sat down and devoted intentional time to penning (typing?) my thoughts, but since Baltimore has been covered with around 2 feet of powdery precipitation, what better time to start than now? It is my hope/goal to post here at least once a week. Posts may take the form of poetry or a journal entry, but my prayer is for this to be the place where my Savior and what He has gifted me with–the ability to express myself AND lift others up–meet. Here you have it, folks: A little Paper, Ink, and Jesus.

A little about me: I am 28 years old and currently employed as an assistant teacher in West Baltimore. I am also about halfway through a bachelor’s degree in what was supposed to be English, but which may turn out to be much more. I love to read/write, anything remotely French, serving in the house where I’ve been planted (Destiny Harvest Church, Columbia, MD–whoop whoop!), decadent food, teaching my kindergarteners, putting miles on my Honda, and spending time with my friends and family. I am an only child, but God has blessed me with incredible “siblings” and covenant friends that challenge me and love me beyond reason. Life is good.

Here is my plan: As I am growing in Christ and learning snippets about His plan for me, I am also finding that there are parallels between a lot of what we go through as human beings and our walk with Christ. Being the English major that I (currently) am, my mind works best when it can pinpoint allegories and connections. Rarely is what you see just what meets the eye. As I learn more about how God manifests Himself, I just want to bring you along on the journey–through work, through love, and through trials. I hope you enjoy what you read and can apply it to your life somehow.

That being said, allez, viens!…lets go!

Be blessed,

StephTheScribe