As long as I live there will be something worth fighting for, worth writing for, and worth dying for.

Friday, December 17, 2010

On This I Stand

I just finished reading a beautiful post by a photographer friend of mine.  Julie and I met my last summer of Bible college.  Our interaction was brief and limited, but I remember Julie.  January 1, her life will change, and today, I stumbled across her last blog before becoming Mrs. Johnson.  In it, she talked of a little picket fence and how God had brought this chapter in her life full-circle, literally. 

Two years ago, as she- a young single woman- stood on the edge of seeing her dream career take flight, she came upon this picket fence.  It was a backdrop for her first 'professional' photo session.  God is so amazing in His providence, because it was also the backdrop for her last 'professional' photo session before she gets married and moves to Japan.

How it must delight our Savoiur's heart to pour out such blessings on His children.  We truly can never know where His plans are leading us.  What we can do, is be faithful to follow. 

A few weeks ago my contentment was threatened.  I can't tell you how much these people annoy me.  People who think they have God's will for my life figured out and have been ordained as His messengers to relay it to me.  I stood face to face with one of the biggest threats to my faith and heard, yet again, "Life isn't going to come to you here."

I am so grateful for other women who stand with me on this truth: that God is enough, and that "life" only exists in following His guidance. 

I think of women like Annie Wesche, who left home to become a little-known graphic designer in Colorado but is so overflowing with love for her Saviour that it is crazy.  I think of women like Katie, a 22 year old girl who forsook the American dream and moved (not traveled, not went on a missions trip-  MOVED) to Uganda where she now is mother (yes, mother) to 14 beautiful little girls.  I think of Julie, who bucked the system and devoted her talents to the One who gave them to her, and in turn felt the joy and fulfillment of using her talents to demonstrate the love of Christ.

I think of women, years ago, who sat with me and declared, "Jessica, you will never make it unless you go to college."  I didn't listen.

Life wasn't supposed to happen for any of us.

Yet, it has, and in more abundant and overflowing ways than ever imagined.

I think of Julie, who on January 1, will marry the man God only recently brought into her life.  We started our 'ministry careers' right about the same time.  In fact, Beggar's Daughter was Julie's first comissioned work.  And on January 1, Julie will say "I do" 24 hours after I hold my first international speaking engagment.

Life wasn't supposed to happen for us.

If "life" is the boring and mundane process and procedure we have come to know as living, then it hasn't.  If "life" is living up to the cultural status quo and following the American dream, then it hasn't.  If life is marriage, a white picket fence and tons of kids, then it hasn't.  If life is becoming great, then it hasn't.

But that isn't life.

Life is Christ.

And for those few people who understand that-who embrace that- life, in fact, does happen, in every moment of every single day- life happens.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Everyday Birthdays

In the past year or so, I have come to ascertain that my 'love language' is a close tie between quality time and words of affirmation. Birthdays are fantastic for both of those, and I have received them in excess today. My love tank is well beyond full.

My favorite moment of the day was a series of moments spent with my mom. We went dress shopping, and, for the first time ever, I own a formal gown. It was quite a sight, me trying on a dress in the middle of a thrift shop while trying to be modest. I love how all of the women around immediately become your best friend when you are trying on a dress- "Oh! well, if you let out a little here" "Oh, that looks perfect on you!" "Oh, that's nice." It was quite the comical experience.

We followed that by a little Christmas shopping and then a nice dinner out -- just the two of us. (For you locals, I highly recommend Mama Lucia's Veal Chesapeake- amazing!) That was followed by shopping for our church's AWANA ministry. On our way home, we swung by my boss's house, where a beautiful white chocolate raspberry birthday cake waited for me. We brought it home, and I savored a piece before slipping upstairs to try on my dress again. I feel like a princess today.

But it begged the question- what happens tomorrow?

We often encounter similar situations in life, especially spiritually. There are days when God is just so real and we just feel so close, it's as if we could reach out and touch Him. Within days, we feel lost- wandering adrift on the darkening sea.

Has anything changed? Not for the most part. It's just another day. God is still God, still loves us, still wants to be with us. Maybe what makes our lives fall apart is our own expectations.

We just can't have a birthday everyday. Not saying that we have to have a bad day everyday, but if we are expecting nonstop texts, calls, e-mails, cards, messages, hugs and well-wishes everyday, we will be disappointed.

My boss and her husband came by just a few minutes ago to sample her amazing cake handiwork. As they left, he swung his arm around me and pulled me tight in a hug. "Happy birthday!"

That will be the last birthday hug I get this year. I have 364 days til I can have another birthday hug. In those 364 days do the people around me change? Do they love me any less because it isn't my birthday? Of course not. The same is true with God.

He doesn't change, and though there are days full of intense spiritual relief and joy, there are still others full of pain and sorrow. Unlike any human being, He knows exactly what we need, exactly when we need it, and promises to stick tight through it all.