February 23, 2012

Permission to Rest

My Ian is a very eloquent man.  This comes from his ability to think about what he says before he says it (I'm so jealous of that).  Ian has more than once fought away the demons that haunt my mind or the worries that jump on my back with a single concise, truthful sentence.

Last night I was stressing about my health.  My miscreant, illusive physical being who refuses to be pinned down with any help or diagnosis.  I told my Ian the worst part of being so oddly ill is the thought of not only my future being affected by a chronic illness, but his future as well.  This fear comes from what I have seen for many years in my mom who has lived with a debilitating autoimmune disease most of my life.  I'm afraid of watching healthy, vibrant Ian be held back and limited because of being attached by love and marriage to my mysterious struggle.

"Ian, I'm afraid of affecting your life with my struggle."

"Cas," he replied like a mountain my puny muscles were trying to shake, "it's not up to you to decide how God grows my faith."

Wow.  Simple as that.

I sat there encouraged by his heroic heart and free from the fear that I'm going to ruin my husband's life, but convicted as well.

Convicted because it's not up to me how God challenges my faith, either.  Simple as that.

Why do I think I have any sort of control over this life that I, in theory, have handed over to God?  And why do I think that my opinion of the situation matters so much that I'm going to sit there and stew over it until God (you know, GOD, Creator, All powerful and Supreme) bends to my will and changes the circumstance?  Because obviously I know what's best, and I judge this by an omnipotent comfort scale that is always ticking in my head, right?

Ten years ago when my brother died, I realized that I had to lose whatever negative opinion I had towards God about my brother's death or I was not going to mentally survive it.  I had some giving up to do because there wasn't enough space in my being for the god of my feelings and the God of the Universe (which is always how it goes, you know).  I knew that it came down to His absolute right to do whatever he pleased in my life and my brother's.  It had to be, "Yes, God, I accept this situation- not because I want to but because you are God and I am not.  I have already, before I got here, given my life and all it's parts to you who loves me.  These things are non-negotiable and though I am wounded, I refuse to blame you or fight you."

I definitely would not have chosen to grow my faith by losing my brother, but God did.  And somehow He turned surviving into thriving.  Somehow He turns ashes into beauty.  Somehow I have walked forward from that situation better and stronger.  I have no idea how He did it, but if I perfectly understood God, He really wouldn't be any "God" at all and we really wouldn't be talking about faith at all.

If your God is demanding, impersonal and aloof, then the thought of giving up your rights and opinions in order to go along with whatever He wants is insane and scary.  Kinda like marrying someone you don't know (have you ever had a dream that you did that?  Worst nightmare ever).

But if your God is near you, loving you, full of grace, working all things not only for your GOOD but because He knows the wisest thing that needs to happen ("Cas, you're brother must come home though He is young.  It is the wisest, best thing"), then in giving up your rights and opinions to a God like that you will find so much more than what you have given up.

And it's true, because I've tested it and it works.  I'm testing it right now.  And you know what?  Rest truly comes.  Not because I used my mind to figure out the universe and demand an explanation from God so that I can justify the pain in my life, but because in God I don't NEED to figure it all out... I pretty much just need Him.  And that's how the deal goes with Him: when God's children give their lives to Him, God gives to His children the permission to rest.

Psalm 131
The Message Bible

"God, I'm not trying to rule the roost,
I don't want to be king of the mountain.
I haven't meddled where I have no business or fantasized grandiose plans.

I've kept my feet on the ground,
I've cultivated a quiet heart.
Like a baby content in it's mother's arms,
My soul is a baby content.

Wait, Israel, for God.  Wait with hope.
Hope now.
Hope always!"

February 22, 2012

Dance it out.

I think that instead of JUST having to stop when the school bus in front of us waves it's red-lighted paddle (yes, it is called a 'stop paddle'), it should be compulsory for all motorists to get out of their cars and dance next to their cars for the duration of the stopping period.

Wouldn't that just give everyone a better, more adventure filled day?

And think of all the calories you'd burn and all the fun you would have if you were stuck behind a school bus... inspiring generations of children (and yourself) to not be so uptight and just dance it out :)

February 17, 2012

Everywhere is Safe


For about four months I have been having extremely odd health problems that the two doctors I've seen about it cannot explain.

My primary doctor sent me to a specialist, and, realizing the specialist didn't believe a word I said and was just wasting my time and money (a bad habit doctors have), I am now going back to my primary doctor today with no further answers than when I started.

I've been gearing up for this all week... mostly by harboring a healthy dose of anger towards modern medicine, the situation itself and my abject lack of faith towards a positive outcome.

And yes, at times, some of the anger has gone towards God.

Actually (now that I think about it) in being angry at the situation and the people involved, it turns out ALL of that anger ultimately ends up being funneled towards God.  Scary.

Here is the problem: I go back and forth between believing that everything is from God, allowed by God, and thus God's will and subsequent responsibility, to withdrawing my faith and hope into myself and seeing the whole thing as a mistake.  I am the victim.  God, the only one who can help me, hasn't done a single thing about it for four months while hundreds of dollars go out the window to fund medical tests that tell me nothing about the problem.

"Um, Rabbi... I hate to wake you up, but the boat is sinking and we're gonna die," the disciple said.

In believing myself forsaken, I take all the love out of my relationship with Him (after all, if He cared He would help, right?) and discover that I don't feel so safe in God or around Him anymore.  I then wonder why I'm so angry, tense and lonely in my spirit.

My jaw starts clenching extra hard when I sleep and there is a headache always loitering around the right side of my forehead.

This is a vile land to dwell in.  If I can't (because of my unbelief) feel safe with God and about God, then all hope truly is lost and safety is nowhere except in the shallow escapes that we all know our tendency towards.

BUT (Cas, listen)...  If those thoughts and feelings characterize a state of unbelief, then what about a life of REAL trust in God... what about a life where everywhere and everything is safe?

What if everywhere is safe?

Wretched, chronic disease.
The death of a friend or love.
The greatest fear that has actually happened.
A raging sea in Galilee.
A cross.
The very one He gave Himself to.  It was safe if he went knowing that God His Father had decreed it.  Jesus obeyed His Father rather than insisting on keeping His rights and comfort... and Jesus won.

Here's how every war, internal or otherwise, is ended:
1) utter victory, the literal breaking of the opposing force...
2) or simple surrender.

It's radical, but God recommends the white flag, and He points to Jesus and every other person in love with Him in the Bible as the example of it.  With "I surrender," not only does the war and agony of it cease, but His deep comfort swoops down on our battlefield and bundles us up in invincible peace and hope (which is exactly what we want and exactly what we did not think surrender would bring us).  This applies to every part of our hearts that maintains that tense, sniveling, self-entitled conflict that we know is there between us and God.

But think of the battle's end... where we stand clear headed at last, calm and unclenched, glad to be holding the ensign of submission.   Finally understanding how amazing it is to "just let go," wishing surrender to His authority would have happened sooner.   It isn't about getting my way in the situation anymore.  I know that whether a disease takes me down or He heals me, I will not be ashamed for trusting Him.

In this our struggle has once again proved God right.  Whatever we have "lost" in our surrender doesn't even take up space in our memories anymore.  We are too busy being excited about where He's taking us in His victory parade.

Well, doctors... little do you know and that's alright.

February 15, 2012

rancho guacamole

gouache on illustration board

thanks to a recommendation from audria, i have had the pleasure of working with a farm in Goleta, Ca. named "rancho guacamole" to create a fruit box label for their fine avos and lemons.

much, much prayer went into this little piece and i'm super stoked about it!

(and if you've never asked God for help with the work or tasks in your life, i highly recommend it.  He really does care about the small things in our world and wants us to talk to Him about them!  i learned this in art school after realizing that all the projects i prayed over came out better than i imagined and got better grades :)