Thursday, October 11, 2012

Chinese Food and Sister Dates

I can't tell you how many days I've opened every cabinet and looked in the fridge and found "nothing" to eat for lunch. Obviously there is plenty to eat; we are blessed to never have had to go hungry. I'm just a peculiarly picky person, and I sometimes forget to put it in perspective. I have a strange affinity for warm food. I don't like to eat food that's cold (unless, of course, it's ice cream). I like hot meals. Being homeschooled, I generally have leftovers to warm up. But having two 5-year-olds running around the house, Mom doesn't always have time to make dinner. Which means no leftovers.

Every Wednesday night, Jace and I go to youth church, and every Wednesday night (without fail) Mom and Dad bring in Chinese food. Without us. It's sort of like a date... with Levi and Evan.

I opened the fridge this morning to see what we had to eat (I prepare early for lunch). No leftovers. Except... Dad's leftover Chinese. As he walked out the door, I asked him what he'd gotten from Great Wall of China, our favorite place to get Chinese.

"Chicken fried rice," he replied. "I got it so you could have the leftovers."

My day was made.

It's the little things in life, isn't it? It's so strange; we always understand this concept when someone does little things for us. But how often do we translate that into doing little things for others?

A few weeks ago, I was getting ready to go to the library. As a side note, the library is one of my favorite places in the whole world - the quiet, the smell of books, the sound of pages ruffling - but I digress. I was going to the library and to get lunch while I was out, but before I went, I looked at Evan.

Mom was already at her wit's end, and Evan would probably really like the library. I asked her if she wanted to go (the answer was an emphatic "yes"), put on her shoes, and strapped her into her carseat. I took her to get Mexican food (her favorite) and then we spent nearly an hour and a half at the library.

She grabbed books randomly from the shelves in the children's section, sat in her little beanbag corner, and read, read, read.

Not only was it wonderful for me to see Evan love to read (a girl after my own heart), but it was such a blessing to me to know that I had helped out my mom and gotten a little closer to my sister.

It really is the little things that count.

Monday, October 8, 2012


There are definitely perks to homeschooling. I can sleep in until 9:00. I can do school in my pajamas. I can watch a TV show at lunch. The one downside?

You're alone a lot. This is less so for me because Levi and Evan get out of school at 11:30, so they're home about half the "school day." Mom is gone for a lot of the morning though.

Today, I was carrying my breakfast to my favorite chair where I was going to start my Bible study when I spotted something small and brownish on the carpet. I froze.

Hoppy bug.

Alright, so they aren't really called hoppy bugs. They're cave or camel crickets. We've had them around since I was younger though and because they jump like crazy, we call them hoppy bugs.

For anyone who doesn't know, I have an extreme fear of bugs (a phobia, if you will). Hoppy bugs are one of the worst anxiety triggers for me because I had experiences with them as a child when my phobia was just forming.

So, needless to say, the hoppy bug in the middle of my path caused me great distress. I could feel my heart start racing. My breathing became shallow and quick. I felt tears forming in my eyes.

What was I going to do?

I was to afraid to get close to it with a shoe or a book - it would hop. So I ran quickly and got out the vacuum.

Plugging it in, and taking out the suction extension, I turned it on. I shakily extended it to the hoppy bug. I was so close then - HOP!

I screamed. I broke down. The tears streamed down my cheeks, and I was sobbing harder than I have in quite some time. I gathered up my courage and jabbed out at the bug again - and again it jumped. This time behind a chair where I couldn't get it for fear of it jumping on me.

I stood for a good twenty minutes with the vacuum on in front of that chair, hands clenched, hyperventilating, waiting for that bug to come out. It didn't.

So slowly I went and sat back down in my usual chair and started to eat my breakfast. After about half an hour I was convinced that maybe it had left. Or maybe it wasn't coming back.

I looked down to my left and jumped. Right next to my chair was the hoppy bug. I leaped off the chair on the other side and ran to the vacuum. I tried again and again and again to kill it.

No luck. It was simply too fast. And I was terrified. You do not know terror until you've suffered from a phobia. Blinding, paralyzing fear overtook my body. I cried and cried and cried.

Finally I picked up my cellphone and called my mom. I don't know what I expected her to do. She was out. She couldn't come back just to kill a bug for me.

She told me to calm down and take my work up to my room. She would try to find the bug when she got home.

But I wanted to try just a few more times. And I did. And it didn't work.

Finally, so scared I wanted to fall on the ground and curl up in the fetal position, I ran up to my room with my work and lay on the floor sobbing my guts out.

It was the providence of God that just a few moments later, my mom walked in (in between going to the store and picking up my brother and sister from school), found the hoppy bug, and killed it.

When I came downstairs, my body was still shaking with leftover panic. I kept looking around for movement, locking onto anything small and brown I saw. When I had calmed down a bit, I wondered, 

"Why didn't God let me kill the bug?"

It would have been so much easier and so much less stressful and manic if I could have just sucked it up on the first try.

Why did God put me through all that? Why didn't he let me kill it?

I then realized how big of a step in overcoming my fear I made today. I did not run, at least not at first. I did not cower in panic.

I tried. I tried multiple times to kill it myself, despite how terrified I was.

And that is more than I have ever done in my life.

So even though in the world's eyes, this would have been a failure, I consider it a success. I consider this God's message to me saying, "It's not hopeless. Baby steps."

And I have faith that God will continue to eradicate this fear from my heart, because He's already started to.

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.
          - Philippians 1:6

Friday, October 5, 2012

Up Close and Personal

For the past five months or so, I've been learning how to study my Bible. I mean really study it. I'm talking about little drawings over certain words, cross-references, and looking things up about history. It's called the inductive study method.

There are days when I love it, and there are days when I think, "Geez, can't I just read it?!"

The answer is yes. I can just read it. And it is still God's word, and it will still speak to me whether I am reading it Kay Arthur's way or not. But there is a point to inductive study. It is good to focus on a passage of scripture and study it so that you can know what it really, truly means. Not what a pastor says it means or the internet says it means, but what God says it means.

Needless to say, my Bible has been getting a lot more use since I started doing these studies. Half of the time, though, it seems like a chore. Like I should be studying the Bible because I'm a Christian, and that's what Christians do.

Many times I won't pick up my Bible for a week, and I've finally figured out why.

The Bible is hard to read.

And I don't mean hard as in Shakespeare, although for those less inclined to reading, the Bible might seem like it. Those obstacles are relatively easy to overcome. Download the free Merriam-Webster and Blue Letter Bible apps on your iPhone, and you're pretty much good to go on that front.

The Bible is hard to read because what we read doesn't always make us feel warm and fuzzy. Sometimes it convicts us. It takes what we try to ignore that we're doing wrong and throws it in our faces as if to say, God knows too, and He wants you to acknowledge it. Not the most comfortable of experiences. For instance, there was a point in my walk in faith that I was harboring a lie. A deep, dark, hidden, sinister lie that was taking its toll on my emotional, spiritual, and physical health. I knew exactly who I was supposed to tell the truth to, and that it was God who wanted me to do it, but I kept constructing loopholes for myself and convincing myself that there was a way around it. Then I happened upon this verse:

Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.
              - James 4:17

Ouch. Talk about a spiritual slap to the face. God had just revealed to me that I was directly in sin. On purpose. And there was only one way I could make it right. And I did, shortly thereafter. That's the power of the living word of God. And that is what makes it so hard for people to read.

But the Bible doesn't stop there. God didn't give us the Bible so that we could feel guilty and convicted all the time. Sometimes it does convict us, but it also was created to give us great comfort.

As anyone who has read my blog for any amount of time knows, I struggle quite a lot with anxiety. Fear. Dread. Any of the above. Last night my family watched a TV show, not uncommon for us. In fact, we've been watching this particular show for almost a year, and we love it. Its something that we can all watch together (rare in this day and age). Not too scary or violent for me and not too inappropriate for my little brother. However, this particular episode disturbed me. Bothered me. Scared me.

I've had many nights where I've been so scared that I can't sleep. Shaking. Breathing heavily. Heart racing. And it seems like I can't stop it. It's happened enough that I can "feel" it coming. I know the symptoms of when I night like this is coming. I know how to alleviate them a bit, but not stop them. Only delay them.

Last night I brought my Bible to bed with me - a habit, and not a bad one, as I'm about to prove. I read a book for about an hour before deciding to try to sleep. I turned the lights out, and back on in about thirty seconds. Not working.

As a sort of last resort, I opened my Bible. I remembered reading something that had comforted me in Proverbs 3. And then my eyes fell on it - the perfect verses for me at this particular time. It soothed me, it comforted me. I felt anxiety running out of my body like a river.

When you lie down, you will not be afraid;
When you lie down, your sleep will be sweet,
Do not be afraid of sudden fear
Nor of the onslaught of the wicked when it comes;
For the Lord will be your confidence
And will keep your foot from being caught.
            - Proverbs 3:24-26

It seems like God put those verses there just for me, they're so perfect, just because He knew I'd need them. And for all I know, maybe He did. All I know is that He did give the Bible to me. He did direct my mind and my thoughts toward those verses that He knew would help me. He did make His word up-close and personal so that we could feel close to Him even though we can't see Him with our eyes.

So I encourage you not to be afraid to delve into God's word. Bored with it? Try reading Acts - it's anything but boring. Convicted? Maybe God's trying to tell you something... Tired of feeling empty? Breathe in God's word. No, it's not all sunshine and roses, but even with the things that are hard to swallow, God's words will fill you up.

     "Open your mouth and eat what I am giving you." Then I looked, and behold, a hand was extended to me; and lo, a scroll was in it. When He spread it out before me, it was written on the front and back, and written on it were lamentations, mourning and woe.
     Then He said to me, "Son of man, eat what you find; eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel." So I opened my mouth, and He fed me this scroll. He said to me, "Son of man, feed your stomach and fill your body with this scroll which I am giving you." Then I ate it, and it was sweet as honey in my mouth.
          - Ezekiel 2:8b - 3:3

Give God's word a try. There's a reason He gave it to you.