Blessed Stress

As I write this I am a ball of nerves (what a fun expression for such a terrible feeling!).  I am anxious, worried, and apprehensive.  I have to get up in less than 5 hours but am I sleeping…nope.  Can’t quite get calm enough to get real sleep. I’ve been fretting and worrying for weeks now…months really.  Why?  What impending doom is keeping me awake at night?

I’m going on a once-in-a-lifetime awesome trip to the Holy Land with my parents and a bunch of the most wonderful people from my “home” church.

That’s right I’m worked up about an exciting trip.

I know it sounds crazy.  Believe me I’m very familiar with sounding crazy.  I know what crazy sounds like.  It’s taken me a long time to really figure out why I’m so anxious.  In fact it took a conversation with my sister (she’s so awesome) and a very direct question.  The question was “It’s not like you really think that something bad is going to happen is it?”

And the answer is no.  No I don’t think anything bad is going to happen.  But it feels like so much good has happened that I don’t deserve it.  Surely something must be wrong for me to, not only go on this trip with these people I love, but to have all the blessings in my life that I have been given.  It’s been an amazing week full of such amazing moments.  But I’m constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop.

I don’t think I deserve good things.

I’ve made some awful choices in my life and hurt people I love.  I still hurt people I love, albeit it unintentionally now.  I’m selfish and slow.  I’m an epic procrastinator and a good liar.  I’m quick to judge and slow to forgive.  I know the weight of my sin and I know that even though I have also done good things those don’t outweigh the bad.

I’m afraid of good things because I fear that in the balance I’ll have to pay for them with more bad things.

But what kind of God would I serve if that was true?  It’s not that God thinks I “deserve” to be blessed.  I cannot earn blessing.  I cannot earn grace.  He just gives it to me.  He wants to give me good things.  He wants to give me good things in abundance!

Do you do this too?  Wait for the bad things to happen?  Live in fear of the next phone call?  Dread when things start going well because you just know they’ll soon end in disaster?

God wants to bless you!  Not in the weird “prayer and prosper” way.  When I say things I’m not talking about stuff.  I’m not convinced God cares about what car we drive or where we live (unless those things are coming between us and Him or us and serving His people).  But I do think God has beautiful experiences and moments for you.  I think He has blessings of opportunities and redemption and healing in parts of your life you thought couldn’t be made whole again.  I think the goodness of God is so much bigger than we can fathom or imagine.

This fear that I am not good enough for the good things God has for me is stealing my joy.  Instead of excitement I have anxiety.  Instead of anticipation I have sleeplessness.

And that has to stop.

I will not let fear rob me of joy.   I will not let the lie that I am cursed and gone astray  be the only voice I can hear.  Because the truth is that I am redeemed.  I was bought at a price and brought back into the family.  I have the protection and favor of my heavenly Father.  Yes, difficult and hard things will happen.  But God will be moving in each and every one of those moments.  He will make those broken things beautiful.  He will make all broken things beautiful.

His goodness is here and is coming.  I will give thanks and praise for the goodness of God, my Father.  I will find joy in being His and find rest in trusting Him.

Israel Trip Update vol. 1

I love traveling!

I love to travel!

So I’m going on a trip to Israel in February.  I’m excited and nervous about this trip but mostly excited.  Truthfully, I started this blog as a way to record and be accountable for all the prep I need to do to get ready.  But it’s been about a month now and not a single post about this trip.  So maybe now is a good time to start.

So it all started with my Wednesday morning bible study.  I’ve been taking this bible study for 5 years now and it’s my second family.  We studied this amazing book a couple of years ago, The Epic of Eden.  It sparked an interest in further study of the Bible and totally unlocked the biblical narrative for me.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  That does not mean I now totally understand the Bible.  But when I read and study it now I feel like I’m reading a history of my family and a love letter from my Father instead of some far-away philosophical text.  And that is a HUGE difference.  Conversations started about putting together a trip to Israel to even better understand the scripture and I signed up.  Wham bam.

Go. Get. It. Now.  Seriously.  It's that good.

Go. Get. It. Now. Seriously. It’s that good.

About a month ago, after deposits and such have been paid, I finally find out the details of this trip I’m signed up for.  And let me tell you it’s pretty awesome.  We are going with these guys so it’s a pretty serious deal.  But’s a school type thing…not just a show up and look at interesting rocks sort of thing.  So I have homework.  Which is a little daunting because, although once upon a time I was a great student, it’s been a while and I’m a little rusty.  So here’s the homework assignments:

  • 6 maps- this means reading the extensive discussion notes, deciphering a really ridiculous timeline chart, and reading corresponding scripture to mark up 6 separate maps.  Supposed to be about 40 hours worth of work
  • Reading- just what it sounds like.  Reading Genesis, Exodus, Deuteronomy, Joshua, 1 & 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings, and any gospel text I want.
  • Exercise- apparently there is a lot of hiking and they want you to be physically fit enough to keep up.

 

So it may not seem like a ton ( 3 bullet points is nothing!)  but it’s a lot to do and do well in your spare time.   So be expecting regular updates from me and please please please help me to stay on target!  My biggest fear about this trip is that I won’t be able to get as much out of it as a I possibly can because I was too lazy at home to spend the time to get myself ready.

So here’s how I’m doing so far.

Maps:  I’ve got to finish a map a month in order to keep up!  Map 1-  totally finished!  I finished it last night about 10:30pm waiting for my cookie dough to chill (priorities, people).  It was a lot of reading and I feel like I need to go back now and read all the prophets.  Which is like…half maybe? (I’m terrible at math) of the Old Testament.

Map 1 Complete...even those little maps at the bottom!

Map 1 Complete…even those little maps at the bottom!

Reading: …yeah not so much.  I’m currently teaching a jr high bible study on Genesis…does prepping for that count?  Ok…I need to get busy on this one.

Exercise:  Also with the not so much.  I have done some yoga (it’s stretching…best exercise ever) but that’s about it.  My excuse is that I live basically in the middle of hell’s fiery furnace so it’s still well in the 90’s throughout September.  Plans for mucho walking when it is less than a million degrees.  I’m also planning on going for walks this weekend while I’m down at the coast since my dad will be there (a total fitness freak…why didn’t I get those genes???) and the scenery is nice to look at while you are walking.

 

I did finally get on the public library’s website and request some audiobooks on the history of Israel.  I’m totally an auditory learner.  When I went to Turkey a couple of years ago I found a “Great Courses” audiobook that taught the history of that region and I was able to enjoy and understand what I was looking at while I was in Turkey a lot more.  So hopefully this will help.  I’m a big fan of audiobooks in the car.  I’ve listened to all kinds of crazy audiobooks while driving around.  Beats the heck out of the crappy pop music and commercials that normally come out of my speakers.

All right well that’s the first update.  Hopefully I can get to work on some of this stuff and get it done!  I’d love any tips on organizing and setting and keeping goals if you’ve got ’em!  Thanks!