This week I got to hang out with 3 of the coolest kids I know while their parents were out of town. I don’t have much time for babysitting anymore (so don’t get any ideas!!!) since I have two jobs, go to school full time, and am training for a triathlon, but this is one that I try and do anytime that I can! This is the third time that we have spent a whole week together and it’s always a blast! They are such fun kids to be around! Here are some pictures from our Braves game adventure tonight. It was Allie’s first game, so that made it even better! I think that all together we consumed: 2 Moe’s burritos, 2 trays of nachos, 1 hot dog, 2 cotton candies, 2 dippin dots, 1 soft pretzel, and 4 soft drinks. It’s all about the food! I think we watched a few minutes of the game too!
Taking one last look at the game from the very top of the stadium before we had to go.
I realized today that I haven’t posted a good update about what is going on in my life for awhile, so here you go!
The triathlon training is awesome! I am up to 3.25 miles in my running and have just started swimming as well. Swimming is harder than I thought it would be, but I am told that it is a lot faster to build up in swimming than in running. That is encouraging, because it’s taken me 2 months to get up to where I am in running! Right now I am saving up all of the money that I make at REI to purchase a bike after the first of the year. They have some great bikes at REI, so I will probably buy mine there and use my employee discount.
Speaking of REI….I love working there! I have been on my own on the floor for about 2 weeks now and it is going great! I am doing well in my membership sales and I really like talking with all of the customers. They ask some really tough questions about our clothing/outerwear though, so I am having to learn really fast! Let’s just say that I have become pretty good at reading the tags! I work there a couple of week nights and then on Saturdays normally.
Work at North Point is great as well! Over the last few months we have had a lot of changes with our director, Reggie Joiner, leaving. As a result, Betsy and I were moved under Admin and out of Family Ministries. The move really made sense since the conferences have become churchwide instead of just Family Ministry, but I was not very excited about it. It meant having to move offices out of the main church building and up the hill to the other offices. I was pretty much dreading it, but after my first day up there I changed my mind! I love it up there. Admin is a lot more structured and organized, which is an environment that I strive in. My new director, Rick Holliday, has also made the transition really easy for me. I have met with him twice, just because he wanted to see how I am doing, and he has been asking my thoughts on our events and also who I think should replace Betsy, since she is going to work somewhere else now. It has made me feel really valued, like I matter there and they want me to stay. I am really enjoying my time there and am thinking about arranging my classes next semester onto two days so that I can work 3 full days at the church. I am looking forward to the changes that are taking place in our events and seeing how everything will unfold.
School is, well, school. I am taking 5 classes this semester instead of my normal 4. I start at 7:30 on Mondays and Wednesdays (so I leave the house at 6:15), 8 on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and 9 on Fridays. Friday is my sleep in day, I get to sleep until 6! Woohoo! I also have a Tuesday night class. It meets once a week for 2.5 hours. That is actually my favorite class right now. It’s Business Communications, which means I have to speak in public, but I like my teacher a lot. A good teacher always makes the class better. I am also taking my first Real Estate class this semester, so it’s giving me a taste of my actual major. So far, so good!
God is awesome. I have been extra intentional about time with Him, reading my Bible (still reading through the Message) and just talking to Him. My schedule is so busy, and unfortunately, time with God is usually the first thing that gets cut out when I am tired. I don’t want that to happen though. I know when I am this busy, my relationship with him is the only thing that is going to get me through! I am learning a lot about his heart for me and what it means to be a good friend and a servant.
I think that is everything! If I forgot something, I will include it in the next life update!
When I can no more stir my soul to move,
And life is but the ashes of a fire;
When I can but remember that my heart
Once used to live and love, long and aspire-
Oh, be thou then the first, the one thou art;
Be thou the calling, before all answering love,
And in me wake hope, fear, boundless desire.
-Gerald May (Diary of an Old Soul)
There’s a hole in the world now . . .A center, like no other, of memory and hope and knowledge and affection which once inhabited this earth is gone. Only a gap remains. A perspective in this world unique in this word which once moved about in this world has been rubbed out . . . There’s nobody who saw just what he saw, knows what he knew, remembers what he remembered, loves what he loved . . . Questions I have can never now get answers. The world is emptier. ~Nicholas Wolterstorff (Lament for a Son)
But there is hope!
It has been a year since Rick died. The year seems to have gone so fast, while other days it feels like it has gone so slow. Either way, the moment I got the phone call from Jonathan telling me that Rick was with Jesus is a moment that I will never forget. It seems like yesterday. This has been a year packed with unforgettable lessons, most of them about God’s ultimate authority and the validity of the promises that He makes to us in Scripture. Pain, promise, hope, joy, and doubt are all words that go along with this year.
For the last few years I have become so excited about Heaven and all of the promises that it includes. To be in the presence of God in our true and glorious form, worshipping Him together is something that gets my pulse racing. Trying to imagine a world without pain and suffering, free from disease and hunger, a world in its true form; a world the way it was meant to be, before sin entered it. I used to love sitting with friends out in God’s creation and talking about what it’s going to be like and imagining what we could never quite figure out how to imagine. I love Heaven! But last year, instead of being the giver of excitement that it always had been, it became the taker. Instead of something that brought joy, it became and inflictor of pain.
I struggled with questions like: Why would God do something like that? What happened to His promises of long life? How could we pray so hard and believe so strongly, and yet He chose not to heal? Why do we even pray anyway? I had the incredible opportunity to spend several hours with my friend Suzanne, Rick’s fiancé, talking through a lot of these questions. It was so reassuring to know that even though we had/have questions, we are confidant in the authority and kindness of God, and he is so open to our questions. Our discussions didn’t lead us to a lot of answers, but it stirred my heart to start praying in a new way, the only way I really could. I just asked God why. Not in a disrespectful way, but with and open heart to see the answers that I knew He would show me. I am so thankful that, as the Bible tells us, the Spirit intercedes in our weakness with groans that words cannot express. And there has been a lot of groaning.
Now, a year later, I have a few answers and a lot of faith and confidence in God. I was reading a devotion by John Piper a few months ago and one of the things that he says when talking about the promises of God, as far as living a long life goes, is “God does in fact rule the flight of arrows and the spread of disease and the length of life; and he can and does give safety and health and life to whom he pleases, so that it is always a free gift of God. But he does not mean for us to presume upon these promises as guarantees that God will no permit us to fall by an arrow, succumb to disease, or die at age thirty-eight.” That doesn’t necessarily seem comforting, but for me it was. Why did He allow Rick to die? I have no idea. Does it still hurt? Absolutely. I still wake up sweating and tense, or sobbing from nightmares about his death. I don’t know when that will stop, but I know that I can rest securely in Him and know that in the end, it is His will that will be done and not mine. I know that he sees the big picture and I can only see a mere snapshot. As John Eldredge says in the book The Journey of Desire, “We can never fully explain the reasons surrounding someone’s death. We’ve come to accept it for the aged, and we try to console ourselves with thoughts like, He’s had a full life. But death is never natural; it was not meant to be. That is why those left behind experience such excruciating pain. The agony is only worsened when the death is what we call premature, when it takes a life in full bloom, or just as it begins to open. Each death can begin to be understood only within the larger story God is telling. Much of that story remains for the moment a mystery.”
I will never “get over” Rick’s death, or his life, but I think that’s a good thing. How can I forget a Rick hug or shoulder massage? How can I “get over” conversations about our dreams and about heaven with him? How can I move on and leave behind the lessons that I have learned from this? That would be a tragedy, because the truth is that there is so much more to learn. There is so much to hope for! There is so much more in store for the heart that believes, and though my heart aches and groans from the hurts of this world, it hopes in the strong and reliable promises of God.
The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. ~Romans 8:19-20
We can cry with hope
We can say goodbye with hope
Because we know our goodbye is not the end
We can grieve with hope
Because we believe with hope
There’s a place where we’ll see your face again
– Steven Curtis Chapman
We just came back today from our annual Labor Day family vacation to Florida. This year we stayed in a beautiful house in Rosmary Beach and Leah’s friend Tiffany was able to come down with us as well! We had a great time hanging around the house, playing at the beach, and eating lots of great food! It was a great weekend! Here are a ton of pictures from the trip. Oh and by the way, Tiffany and Leah have this obsession with taking pictures of themselves. They somehow managed to drag me down with them, so there are a lot of self portraits in here!