Sunday, January 20, 2013


I consider myself to be a pretty open person. I don't really know how to hide anything. It's weird, because I don't think other people see me that way. Honesty isn't something people are accustomed to, so I figure people just assume everyone has stuff they're hiding. And there are some secrets I don't share, but for the most part, I really don't even know how NOT to volunteer information about myself. And the world doesn't know what to do with people who don't hide.

But I think I consider myself a vulnerable person.

I know my own weaknesses, and I have a lot of them. I am often a frightened little girl who needs a lot of grace. I am afraid of a lot of things. A lot of things make me sad. I don't mind being honest and open and talking about these things.

But the other day something happened that made me think.

I read a post on Facebook that looked really innocent, and it was, but to me, it reminded me of some past feelings of rejection. I got angry. I got upset. I posted comments. I got off Facebook and went to get some stuff done. But I couldn't shut my brain off.

And suddenly I was breaking down crying in the middle of folding my laundry.

I kept folding my laundry, because I had been putting it off for days, and it needed to be done. I guess that helped calm me down. I reminded myself that God knew what He was doing with me, that my life is really good. And I kept thinking. I started thinking about vulnerability.

I don't mind being vulnerable. But when that moment of pain and anger hit me, I didn't like it; I didn't want it. And if I had a choice in the matter, I wouldn't have shown weakness then. I wouldn't have gotten angry and posted some Facebook comments that I had to apologize for later. I would have been strong.

Because I realized this about myself: I only want to be vulnerable when it's in my own terms. I only want to be vulnerable when I'm in control.

And I have to wonder, if I'm only being vulnerable on my own terms, am I really being vulnerable?

I don't think there's a clear-cut answer to that question. For some people, vulnerability is HARD. They've had their trust broken, they've been hurt, they've been abused or rejected. Or...its just not naturally easy for them to be open.

For me, I really don't know how to keep much to myself. It might be the writer in me, but I need to express myself or I go a little bonkers. So I can't say its hard for me to be open with people.

And I do think there is merit to being vulnerable, even if it's on my own terms. But when I really look at my actions and reactions, I have to say that there are times when I'd rather just go hide.

Like when a coworker suggests I'm getting too frustrated with the kids and might need a break. I don't like admitting that kind of weakness. I tend to get angry instead of grateful for their concern, because I don't want to be weak.

Or when I'm reminded of things that others have said and done that have hurt me. I don't like having to deal with the pain and anger all over again. I don't like having to admit to God that I'm still having trouble forgiving something that happened years ago. And I don't really want to admit that to anyone else either. It's easier to look like a saint than a dirty beggar wallowing, yet again, before the throne of God.

God is very gracious. The very fact that He convicted me of this is proof of His grace towards me. So I'm going to keep struggling. I want to be transparent. I want others to see that I'm just an imperfect, weak, human whom God has chosen because of His worth, not mine.

I want to boast in my weaknesses and boast in His strength. I can't do that unless I'm honest.

Especially with myself.

1 Corinthians 1:27 NASB
...But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong...

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Receiving Grace

Tonight, I yelled at "The Princess," one of the girls I watch.

I've yelled at the Princess lots of times.  Most of the time she had it coming. She probably deserved it tonight, too. She wasn't listening. But I still felt bad for yelling at her.

I try to be gracious. Then I fail. And I find myself being the one who has to accept grace.

The Princess has some pride issues. She HATES to be wrong (don't we all). And if she's wrong, and she's wrong a lot...because she's a kid...and a human being, too boot--well, if she's wrong and you catch her being wrong, well, she doesn't forgive that easily.

However, I find her to be very forgiving when other people are wrong. For example, when I apologized for yelling at her, she shrugged and said it was okay. When I asked if I had scarred her for life, she grinned and told me I'm weird. In her vocabulary, "You're weird, Ruth" is synonymous with "I love you, Ruth." At least I hope so, because she says it all the time.

The Princess and I are a lot alike. I see a lot of who I was (and still can be) in her. It's easy to forgive sometimes. It's not so easy to ask for forgiveness.

When we forgive, we get to be the bigger person. We get to be the hero. That's a good feeling.

When we ask for forgiveness, we have to humble ourselves. We have to admit a we are at fault. We have to admit that we aren't these perfect people who always have it together. We have to put ourselves at the other end of grace, hoping the other person will give it, because we need it in order for the relationship to continue and grow.

That's not fun.  But I would venture to say that graciously accepting grace is just as (if not more) important as freely giving grace.

After all, as fallen, sinful humans, we aren't fully able to forgive others until we're able to humble ourselves and accept the grace of God.  We can't begin to comprehend the power of grace until we realize (on some level) just how much grace God gives us.

And when we mess up, as I did tonight with the Princess, we have an opportunity. I could have just brushed off the whole encounter with the Princess. She gets yelled at so much that she can brush it off quickly. But I took the time to pull her aside (after we had both calmed down) and model humility. That doesn't mean she's going to develop her own sense of humility overnight, but children need to understand that it's okay to mess up. They need to see that there's a proper response for those times when we mess up.

Guilt is human, meaningless, and leads to self pity and inaction. Conviction is from God, meaningful, and leads to humility and change.

We need to learn to accept grace and even seek it out--even when it's scary and could lead to rejection. And we need to give grace to others, for we have likewise been forgiven.

We are all undeserving princesses and princess. We aren't perfect, but we should strive to honorably represent our Father in all and say and do.

...Even when we fail.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Year of Glory

I'm updating my blog from my phone, which is weird for a couple of reasons. First, I now have a phone that's smart enough to be able to do that, and second, my phone just has one of those Swype keyboard things that I had never heard of before I got this phone that's probably smarter than I am.

Yes, it's 2013, in case you didn't know. I'm having trouble grasping that fact. Actually, I can still vividly remember being 15 years old and telling my sister how weird it was that it was almost 1996.  ...what happened?

I started 2013 out right by getting sick. And even with a day off for New Years, I still worked 50 hours this week...while having a cold that's starting to seem suspiciously like a sinus infection. I'm not complaining, just explaining why my brain hasn't fully realized that it's no longer 1996.  I mean 2012.

I feel the need to do a year end/year beginning blog, but I'm not sure about this year. Last year, several of my close friends moved away. I dealt with minor depression. I had some hard financial moments. A lot of things changed. Other things didn't.

Last year I managed to meet some of my goals, but I failed miserably on other ones. My writing was pathetic last year, but my running went well. I'm not sure I can maintain both running and writing at the same time. I want to get back into writing, but I'm scared to make goals.  I want to possibly run a full marathon this year, but I'm not sure I'll be able to. I'm afraid of failing, as usual. I know I'm very capable of failing. That can too easily become an excuse.

About 11 or 12 years ago I got assigned to the preschool program at Ridgecrest Conference Center.  I had worked at Ridgecrest the previous year, but not in preschool.  In fact, up until that summer, I thought I was bad with/didn't like kids.

I went along with it, all the while thinking it was going to be a bad summer. I went through training and all of that, still thinking  it had been a huge mistake. The first say with the kids, I stood off to the side and observed, thinking I'd just be useless. But there was this Hispanic kid named Luis who was very shy and who barely knew English. He sat in a corner and cried. No one noticed, but I saw Luis. All I did was pull BROWN BEAR, BROWN BEAR off the shelf. I sat next to him and read it to him. He stopped crying. He got attached to me. The rest of that week, he blossomed into a happy, playful child. And I figured out I had a gift for working with kids. I was 21 years old.

Now, I made plenty of mistakes that summer. I still do. I can't be perfect, but I can still use what God has given me to bless others.  And when I really think about it, as well as I know myself, I figure God still has some surprises about how He will use me.

This is the year of Glory. And I don't really understand Glory, which is probably a good thing. It's too big for me to understand and too big for me to handle. So it makes sense to give it to God.  He can handle it better. He is the only one worthy of it, and He didn't design us to keep it. The world it's such a frustrated place mainly because people keep trying to take what only God was meant to have.

And I'm one of those frustrated people, just relying on grace, which, thank God, is sufficient.

I really don't know what 2013 holds. I hope to go on a mission trip overseas. I am thinking of running a full marathon to possibly raise funds for that trip. I hope to work more on some recording projects, reevaluate what I want to do with my writing. ...and...I don't know.  Because I don't know what God has in store. It might be something I never imagined. I once thought I had no desire or talent to work with kids, so who knows what other surprises God might have. All I know it's that it's not about me. And so I have no business being afraid. If I fail, there's grace and redemption. If I succeed, it's not by my power...and probably not even by my own plan.

I was thinking about my accomplishments from last year. On the surface, completing the half marathon seems to be the biggest accomplishment.  But...I can't define a whole year by a moment. Last year's greatest things were probably getting laughs from a grumpy kid, or spending time with dear friends, or just rejoicing even when friends left...because it was such a gift to know them.  That was 2012. 2013 won't be made up by just grand events, either. The little moments will be just as important...if not more so.

Regarding blogging and my new intelligent phone, I will try to get into a regular blogging routine again. Fiction Friday is coming back, but not every week. I'll shake it up somehow, because that's how I roll.  ...yeah...

So stay tuned and stay awesome, and I'll try to figure out what year it is.