Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Perfection VS. Obedience

I have to remember God does not call us to be perfect. He does not want flawlessness. He already created this in Jesus. What He desires is obedience. He searches the earth for His people who are willing to put down themselves in order to comply with His placement of our ministry. If this were easy we would see a whole lot more miracles and faithfulness. The fact is, this is difficult. Something inside us whispers that it is our own doing that brings about godliness. But this is far from the truth. It is the lack of ourselves that allows God to work. How could He work through one who is filled up with only their own desires for ministry? Just because we are Christians and want to do the right thing doesn’t meant that all of our ideas and actions in the “name of Jesus” are what He wants us to do. We are so busy deciding what it is that He should do with us, we miss the whole point of surrendering our lives in the first place.

These words do not come easily, however, because what does one say when we want God to show up and lead us, and yet we hear nothing? Now, this is difficult. It is real and painfully exhausting. But giving up is hardly the solution.

R.T. Kendall says God plays hard to get. His silence is a way to challenge us to see how much we want Him. God is never absent in the trial. He wants us to press in even harder during those times. Saul, and Moses, and even Martin Luther experiences times where during where they needed God the most, He seemed gone. But they did not give up. They were obedient and even when they deserved to be rewarded; they were imprisoned and tested further. So why did these men become people to follow? Because they did not give up.

We are in a battle. It is real and true. And if we do not arm ourselves with truth, we will not stand. God is not calling us to be perfect. He is this for us. He wants obedience. He wants followers. He wants listeners. He wants men and women who are not afraid of making a fool of themselves for Him. Being a Christian is not being called to comfort. It is believing the Bible and living it.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Compassion


As I clicked through channels last Saturday waiting for Bryan to come home I came upon the movie “Patch Adams.” It seemed just like yesterday that I watched this as a New Release! But it is nearly 8 years later. I decided to watch. In fact I needed a laugh and the premise of the whole movie is something like...“Laughter is the best medicine.”

I had forgotten about the tragic death of his girlfriend in the movie. She was killed abruptly and Patch had a very difficult time dealing with the guilt of this. He felt responsible for it. He drove in his beat up car and came to the spot where he had taken “Carin” played by Monica Potter just a short time before. He began to have a little talk with God. Realistically he was yelling at Him. Strangely enough I understood that moment in the movie all too well. Patch said, “What do You want from me?” You created the heavens and the earth in 7 days! And on the 7th day You rested! Maybe You should have spent that day working on compassion!”

I got chills. Again, I knew how desperate this honesty could be. It is real. And He chose to seek Him even in His distress. He turns around thinking he is going to leave without an answer. But, slowly he notices a butterfly on his bag. It is a beautiful monarch gracing him with a presence of peace and new beginnings. He walks over carefully and the butterfly glides to him and lands on his jacket. Instantly Patch awakens to understand God has not left him and perhaps there is purpose in sorrow.

I had an experience just like this once. I blogged about it several times. God sent a monarch butterfly to renew my hope. It landed on my hand in a crowd of people in the middle of a big parade in 2004 just months after I was intitally released from the hospital. It was God, no doubt! I took a photo and it is one of the greatest photos I have to this day. It offers a reminder of God’s specific gifts to wonder about. And there is no doubt He sent that one to me.

It feels good to see this happen in a movie, but it validates me more knowing it actually happened to me. How ideal would it be when hurt souls scream to their Creator for answers and a gentle unique reminder is given. Maybe we should cry out more often. We would be surprised how big our God really is. And how willing He is to show us His love even after He made the ultimate sacrifice.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

I Chose You

I hate being caught in the middle. I feel cornered. It is a feeling where you anxiously look for a way out, an escape, and not one is found. A time where you look every direction hoping for what seems like a clue to freedom. But, right now there is none. No one can help me find the path. I have to search for it myself and then decide to chose the way and whether it be the correct one or not, I must alone reap the consequences. It is periods like these I wish the Lord would have coffee with me. I would listen intently. He would probably talk in parable though, so my deciphering radar would be on high alert. I want Him. I need Him. I chose Him. I just wish He would currently make things a little clearer. It really is not about impatience. It is about my desire to take a risk and let the Lord show me what is the proper solution. He hears me. And not only this, He knows and understands my heart. So much that this, in its severity, is an opportunity for me to be intimate with the Lord and know Him. He is aware of the right way to get my attention. He does not force me. I could chose to ignore Him, but I am not. I want to press in and believe. If faith is not taking a chance than what is real faith anyway? Shouldn’t it be an acceptance of what God says to us through action?

Lord,
Give me strength to listen to You above anything and anyone even if it does not make sense. The great things You accomplished in Your words were things people did not understand. They judged as if they knew better. I want to be one of those people who is not afraid of looking stupid. Your love is too great to pass up.
My life is Yours.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The City of Pink

Jaipur, India "The Pink City"



I just finished the book “Three Weeks with My Brother” by Nicolas Sparks. It was very good. So excellent I could not put it down until I finished. I was so into the book that as I approached the last few chapters I read slower and slower because I did not want it to end. One thing unique to this memoir is the abundant knowledge you learn as a byproduct of his tour he went on with his brother, Micah. You learn about the culture, the world, and the people. Most of the time, I felt I was with them.

One place they visited was destined to be an “Olivia Location.” It is Jaipur, India. Jaipur is known as the Pink City. THE PINK CITY! How beautiful would this be? After being forced by its resolve to finish the book I looked Jaipur up on the Internet to see if it truly held by its name. Here is what I read,

Jaipur, popularly known as the Pink City, was founded in 1727 AD by one of the greatest rulers of the Kachhawaha clan, the astronomer king Sawai Jai Singh. The pink color was used at the time of making to create an impression of red sandstone buildings of Mughal cities - and repainted in 1876, during the visit of the Prince of Wales. The city is best explored on foot and the adventurous visitor willing to go into the inner lanes can discover a whole new world not visible to the tourist-in-a-hurry.” (http://www.ent.ohiou.edu/~kartik/jaipur.html)


I think it would be wonderful to have an opportunity like the Sparks brothers did. I would enjoy standing in a city noted for its pinkness! Who wouldn't?

Monday, February 19, 2007

The FurBall 2007


The FurBall is a banquet for dog lovers and their pets. It is held to benefit "Rescue the Animals." This years theme was Hawaiian Style! We all dressed up, ate, visited, and even danced in the doggie dance contest. It was so fun I couldn't believe it was over so soon.


The Brigham Family

Practicing at the house.

Are we ready to go now??

One lucky Chawennie at the Doggie Buffet.


A hot dog?

Dancing the night away!

Hungarian Vizla's!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Unbelievable

I just read that in the 1950’s the 5-year survival rate of people with kidney effecting Lupus was 0%. (http://www.emedicine.com/med/topic1597.htm) Every person with my illness just a little over 50 years ago died because lack of knowledgeable treatment. They lived merely up to 5 years after being diagnosed or treated. Unbelievable. Now, the 5 to 10 year survival of people with Systemic Lupus Nephritis is 73%-85%.

I am stunned right now at the reality of our advancement in medical technology. I wonder what those who watched there loved ones suffer and die think about when just a short time passes allowing life to those in such critical condition. And now there is other progress for men and women’s pain with this illness, cellcept. I was treated by the National Institute of Health’s protocol stating to receive 2.5 years of Chemotherapy. Now, this new oral medicine cuts the treatment to 6 months. No intravenous drips or poison to correct the destroyers. It is a very expensive drug, but I am pleased and extremely proud to know researchers are adamantly working for a cures and treatments of such a complicated infection.

I have been communicating with the institute in Oklahoma to offer myself as help to understand people with Lupus. Recently, with the assistance of my biological family, we participated in a genetic study by providing blood to test from all 4 of us. It will be used to educate the scientists and eventually others in my situation causes and effects of Lupus as originating from a parental standpoint. I may not be able to do much for the cause of Lupus, but I pray for more opportunities to further this advancement.

Father thank you for causing my existence in this age and time. My treatment was definitely not without pain and suffering, but You allowed me to live. You strengthened my doctor’s knowledge and performed a miracle in me for You to be acknowledged. Be with those who lost someone due to this complex disease. No one is protected from the bad things that happen. Just provide us with comfort of knowing that someday, we will see You wipe every tear away.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

come away with Me

About two weeks ago the Lord told me to come away with Him. I was attending the “Word, Spirit, Power” conference and learned how to not only listen to the Lord, but also obey Him. I have felt this overwhelming guidance from God since I was younger, yet recently it has become more difficult to hear Him because I have been busy with myself. I remembered during these influential sermons, Jesus was the ultimate thing to satisfy, not myself even though most of my requests are legitimate. When the last of a 3-day lecture was given we arrived home with my heart unsettled to do anything but listen, read, and seek Him. Bryan was working on stuff in his office and I was reading “More than Enough” by Heidi Baker. (By the way if you have not read this book, it is worth reading. Just be sure there is nothing else you want to accomplish before picking it up. You wont be able to put it down) He called me to “retreat” to Him and I knew just the place, the Brigham’s lake house at Possum Kingdom Lake. After the Lord confirmed this in Bryan’s heart as well, I packed and left the next morning. It was going to be a trial to be away from Bryan and Gracey, but God was calling me to want Him more than anything, even the things that brought me comfort.

I praised and prayed the whole way there uncertain what I would learn or feel. I wanted to know Him more. I was compelled to go there and listen. No TV, no, shower, only food that would be appropriate to my need to taking my medicine, only person I could call was Bryan and I did not even bring my cell phone. I asked for prayers from 2 prayer warriors I knew and besides my sister and these 3, no one else knew I was gone.

I guess you can say I failed. I became so scared that evening that I actually drove back to Abilene at 8:30 PM and arrived here at 10:20 PM. I cried. My flee was based on terror and trauma of my past 3 years. But I knew what I had to do. I had to go back. So the next morning I got my scardy butt in the car and drove back with my stuff, cell phone to only call Bryan since the phone lines where down there, and I brought Gracey.

While there I sang, and prayed, and mostly I wrote like I never wrote before. God was pouring His truths into my head. I couldn’t write fat enough sometimes as it came quick and soothingly. Here are some excerpts of what I wrote. In total there were 26 typed pages. I will never forget what He did and I pray I will continue to seek Him. He will be found.

“As the sun sets I am reminded of the constant battle we face until we are in heaven. It says that even the earth cried our in desperation and groaning for You. What an example of how You are to reign. The days are continuous. What is it that I want to learn from all of this? Want to know You are a God who meets me. I want to see You and yearn for You more than anything else. And although Bryan is the most important this under You, I ask for You to show me how to love You more than anything. I came here not understanding how to do this and I still don’t know, but I am willing to make myself very uncomfortable to find out. I have to. It is like a moth to a flame. I don’t care if I am hungry or dirty, I ask for You to be Mighty in me.”

“If we truly believe we will act even if it is simply praising Your name. Our response to Your glory will be that of we can’t help but love people in Your name. We will get weak and tired and that is ok. We can rest in You and delight in Your renewal. What is you response going to be when You don’t feel Me? Will you keep seeking me? If you endure you will see more than you could eve dream of.”

There is so much more and I am not sure if these 2 even grasp the revelations I was blessed by. I wish I could paste the whole thing here to encourage you. I ask you remember God gives us challenges to see how much we want Him. If you really do, even when you feel He is silent, you will press on and seek Him more.

“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, be glory and praise, forever and ever Amen.” Rev. 5:13b

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Love Day

I heard if grace were measured by what we deserve it wouldn’t be grace. What makes life worth bearing? What makes the mistakes we make better? Does time and space resolve these fallouts? No. Nothing we do can resolve the bad. Everyone in the world combined does not equal enough good to do what Jesus did out of pure love. I know today is a exploited holiday used to market products catering to woman’s emotions, but maybe there is something valuable in observing love. I believe it can exists to remind us of what Jesus did and how lost we would be if people did not have this foundation for their own love.

Love is never wasted.

Happy LOVE day.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Feelings vs. Reality

A long time ago my sister and I were at an amusement park together. I actually was tagging along with her and her friends. I didn’t mind though and feel in entire perspective I was treated fairly with her sisterly love. There was this one ride I was afraid of and by sheer force and peer-sibling pressure I agreed to go on. I didn’t quite understand the engineering of this particular ride but it was too late. I was strapped in. I was trapped in! I was sure this was the end of me. I don’t like rides that turn around and around, and this was one of them. Seriously, I have much debate in whether this is an appropriate bodily preserving instrument of entertainment. To me it mixes up what should not be, and I am almost certain that one exits with less brain cells than were present at the initial start of the ride.

I held the bar seeming to only provide false comfort and prayed I would last until the end of what seemed to be an eternity. I was in middle school and the length one goes to keep composure at the risk of being made fun of was imperative. It began and I felt like I was being tossed north, south, east, and west…as well as north-east, south-east, north-west, and south-west, as well as anything and everything in between. I was freaking out and began to get anxious. And then I became scared and began to cry. I looked at my sister who was having fun, but she also noticed my petrified state. She told me this ride was a mind teaser and that we were not actually spinning and being tossed up and over. She pointed down to the ground and I saw what she meant. We actually were only being slightly tilted in the directions, but with the mirrors it created the illusion of what I was feeling. I believed I was looping a thousand times per minute and that was not the truth. I was not. I was being tricked! After noticing this, I calmed down and mostly starred at the same spot the rest of the time. I tried to figure out the stunt.

This so often demonstrates our actions upon our emotions. We feel something so powerful and strong and although they are real fears inside us, if we just look around, we can comprehend we are not subject to what we think is happening. I was not immobile. I was moving, but my reaction was extreme in thinking something else was going on. Feelings lie to us. Our head takes over and decides we are in danger or we are being attacked. But if we have a focal point, we realize we are grounded and the truth is, we are OK. My focus should be on Jesus and the stability He gives to us no matter what is actually happening or what we think is happening.

I am not sure what caused me to remember such a thing, but I am glad I can look back and realize something important about feelings and reality.





This is not the ride I went on, but it is a good example of brain-cell-consuming entertainment.

Monday, February 12, 2007

In Memory


Eight years ago today my friend and roommate died in a fatal car accident that killed 6 people all together. I miss her and wonder what she would be like today. I know the Lord is still good. I praise Him for giving hope in times of despair.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Happy Birthday Bryan


"Age is a question of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter."
Satchel Paige
"Age is not important unless you're a cheese."
Helen Hayes

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Constant

God’s grace comes quietly. Not weak, not over powering. He meets us in time of trials and suffering, yet He is evident in joy and insurmountable happiness. Why is it that we fight ourselves in allowing feeling these attributes? It is not He that gives up on us, rather it is our “valid” wound causing us to be obligated to ignoring Him. And even though He handles all emotions within us, He sits there just the same waiting to show Who He is and Who He was even within the grief. We just have to yearn and seek Him long enough to put ourselves aside and truly discover Him. It is the road less traveled, but the one leading to joy.