Friday, September 26, 2008

"He was a very intense child."

"Intense. Very Intense." This is how my mom described me as a baby...and as a child... and again as a teenager...And now that I think of it, probably as I am now.

My mom told me a story about the way in which I would practice my clarinet when I was younger. I would play and play a piece until it was perfect, and if it wasn't perfect in the amount of time I thought it should be I would get so mad that I would THROW my clarinet across the room. Finally my mom "broke" me of this getting me to throw the music stand instead. An improvement, but not a big one. There was another time when I was auditioning for the Arizona All-State Band in high school, and I got so frustrated with my performance in the audition that after I left the room that I was auditioning in I actually threw my fist into the wall of the music building. These are just a few of the colorful stories that capture my unfortunate personality of being intense.

As you can expect this has caused quite a bit of strife and harm in relationships that I have had with people. I often come across as harsh, competitive, argumentative, and aggressive. And the person who really has to deal with this first hand is my wonderful wife. I feel so blessed that God has given her to me because she is so patient and kind and gentle with me as I undergo God's tempering of my spirit.

Recently Valerie brought to my attention how I had become more aggressive and argumentative in the past few months than I had been in the last couple of years. It was hard to hear that because I do not really like that aspect of my personality and have been trying to give God's Spirit more and more control over my life and attitudes. I thought that I had been improving in that area. One of the phrases in scripture that has been running through my mind for about a year is found in Ephesians 4:2 "with all humility and gentleness...". I have been trying to live that out as it pertains to walking with Christ in a manner worthy of the calling of Christ. I struggle so much with gentleness, compassion and humility so, to hear Valerie bring that up definitely made me get before the Lord and seek His thoughts on this.

The next morning I was spending some time with Jesus in His word and God gave me two passages of scripture that I am now memorizing and meditating on:

Proverbs 16:32
"He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit that he who captures a city."

Proverbs 17:27
"He who restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding."

These verses cut me to the quick and I knew as I read them that Valerie was the instrument that God was using to continue the tempering process in this area of my life. I feel like these verses speak for themselves so I will not attempt to expound upon them, but believe me when I say that it is harder to live out these verses than to read and memorize them. I memorized them in a day, but I will be seeking to live out these verses, with the help of the Spirit, for my whole life.

As I have been spending time in prayer over this, God has shown me that I often do not think of humility, gentleness, being slow to anger, restraining my words, and being tender with people, as strong characteristics.

As being characteristics of a good leader.

But I am about as wrong as you can be about that.

Jesus is the perfect example of how humility, compassion, gentleness, etc. all are characteristics of a truly godly servant-leader. As the Spirit of God works in me and tempers me I see more and more the value of these fruits of the Spirit. Not only in my relationship with my wife and others, but more importantly in my relationship with God! I have experienced a deeper and more intimate communion with Jesus because He is working those things into my life.

O' the sweet pain of the Great Doctor's scalpel in my heart,
turning me toward a greater affection, commitment, knowledge, and reliance upon Him!
The pain comes from my sin and depravity acting against God's work in my heart,
and will only go away when I enter in His eternal rest
where there will be pain no more!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


"Wait"...135 times this word shows up in the Bible. Waiting for land to appear after a flood that just wiped out EVERYTHING. Waiting to talk to the powerful Pharaoh to ask him a request that he will probably laugh at. Waiting for children, years of waiting for just one child. Waiting for the Messiah, the one that suppose to "fix" everything, the Savior, the One.

Waiting, waiting, waiting. God is a big fan of waiting. It's just so hard for me to grasp why. During Elisha's time the King refused to wait on God for the famine to end, so Elisha point blank said, "too bad, so sad. Guess you won't have any food then." And it's true, the king got trampled to death, by his own subjects no less. I do NOT want to be trampled. And maybe I won't if I don't wait, but there are so many stories of people being impatient and it ALWAYS ends up bad. I mean, look at the whole Ishmael deal. Abraham couldn't wait to have his own kid, a kid from Sarah, his wife's stomache. So what does he do? He has a kid with some other chick. Even now, if you look at world news you can see the reprocussions of this decision to be impatient. Muslims verses Jews. It's this crazy mess. And why? Cuz one man didn't wait.

Yep...this is what I hear everyday we are not yet in San Diego. Wait Val, Wait. "But God, we're doing everything we can?! Calling people talking to people, I'm so tired..." I'll say and what does He say?

Ps 27:14
Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD."

Begging I say, "But we can totally be more impactful in San Diego, Lord! Isn't that where we should be?! We want to further your kingdom! isn't that what YOU want? Isn't that what we are suppose to do? I just don't understand." ...and He just says

Ps 37:7
Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him...

So I get on my knees and start crying "But it's so hard! I can't do this any longer! Maybe I should just get a part-time job, maybe we're not cut out for this, maybe I should get a job again and Ryan can do the full time gig and...." Then I read

Ps 130:5
I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I put my

Hope. My hope is in Him. My hope SHOULD be in Him.

Is 49:23
"...those who hope in me will not be disappointed."

I've been looking at this all wrong. I'm making SDSU some kinda salvation or something. My identity. My desire is now becoming my obsession. So, I think I'm understanding a little better why He asks us to wait. So He makes sure He is always higher then anything else.

So I wait. I pray. I share my burden with others so I don't lose heart. This is a very hard lesson He is teaching us, yet here we are, praying for SDSU, as we wait. Thankfully though, God says through it all we WILL NOT be dissapointed.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


" I have no greater joy then to see that my children are walking in the Truth" 3 John 4

Truth. Truth. How can we find truth? what is truth? Obviously the first answer is God, and the Bible, and even sometimes people and creation. When you hear truth it can be like clouds parting. A small beam of light into the dark abyss of lies. Truth is everywhere! So why is so hard to listen?

I've been going through this book I heard that made a big impact on my friend Michelle. It's called "Lies women believe and the Truth that sets them free." At first I started reading it because I knew I would be working with college girls, and I know from experience how many lies infest inside you during your time in college. But even though I've only read the first section I start to notice...Wait! This is talking about me!

Take for instance God's love. I would never SAY God didn't love me. But, do my actions say the same thing? Isn't worry or an anxious heart form of questioning his love for me? I mean, if I truly believed he loved me, I would never worry, because I would know in my heart that what is happening to me, what will happen to me, is because He loves me. Maybe the evil itself is not from his love, but definitely the journey through that evil. So that stopped and made me think. "if that's true, then He loves me so much, and is so perfect, that He knows that the most perfect and loving place for me right now is to be in...Arizona?" Wow! That's crazy! Cuz that's not how see it. But if I don't believe that, then I REALLY don't believe he loves me. Truth. Crazy truth. It really makes you step back and re-think so many things.

Sometimes "truth" can also lead to lies.

I hardly ever tell this to anyone. In fact, I didn't even tell this to Ryan until we had been married for like six months. But when I was in 7th grade some kid made fun of the way I looked. He was surprised that his friend could ever be attracted to me. I know of so many girls who have had very similar experiences. From then on, I was always counting fat grams, watching what I ate, weighing myself. I would constantly be doing sit-ups, push-ups, leg lifts, whatever, while everyone else would be siting and relaxing. I had drilled it into myself that I had to work on myself, that I could only be attractive if I looked a certain way. Thank God he protected me from more dangerous measures, but my thought process itself had become a cancer inside me. Even to point that I feel self-conscious in front of my very own husband!

Living single, it was very easy for me to control my body. I was starting to feel OK with it, I had met others girls who shared similar issues, and I was really trying to believe in GOD's truth. "I praise you because I am perfectly and wonderfully made." God created me perfectly just the way I am, slow metabolism and all. Then it came. I small, innocent remark. I am sure that whoever sent it only had good intentions. It was in fact the "truth". In essence it clothes were to tight to be attractive...I just stared at it.

Now, I am not one to really flaunt my body. Maybe when I was young and naive, but now? No! I try hard to be fashionable yet modest. I where camisoles under almost all my shirts so when I bend over no one can see anything. When I wear skirts I always make sure it passes the fingertip rule. I know that I am not only representing myself, but also God and the way I value myself.

But...see. whether I admit it or not. I had lost control. When I got married I no longer had time to teach gymnastics, in which I could work out with my students during their condintioning time. It was harder for me to grab one of my friends and say "hey, let's go to the gym." I was learning how to cook things that Ryan would like, apperanetly alot of men don't absolutely adore salads, who knew? So I would inveditably eat whatever I had cooked up for him. And life just got sooooooooooo busy! Needless to say, I had gained so much weight.

In church, our pastor talked about our "hell on earth," a real or theoretical situation that you do everything in your power to avoid because of the personal pain you would experience through it. Mine has always been being over weight. But there it was. Looking at me in the face every morning I would wake up. I began to try and take back control. Running. muscle strengthening. trying to eat smaller portions. Then I learned that the medicine I was taking could also be keeping me from losing weight! AH! It began to get daugnting. dis-heartning. No changes. no nothing. So I gave in. I began asking Ryan if I could get some new clothes. I had know idea when my weight would finally go down but I couldn't wait for that. So there I was, trying on sizes I thought I would never be forced to wear. With the small budget we had, it was a slow process. A new piece here, a new piece there. Anything I could that would cover this now hated body.

Here is where this comment plays in. I had tried to be so careful! I had been watching what I ate! I had been excercising! I bought new clothes to cover it up! But it didn't seem to matter...When I read the comment my heart stopped. I had to get out of there. I put on my shoes and ran and ran. Not content with that, I even walked on the treadmill until my feet started hurting. I figured I still had time till bed, so I jumped in the pool and just started swimming until my husband found be in a hurt confused puddle.

The comment was probably true. Maybe I needed to go to Goodwill and find even bigger shirts to fit in. But to me, it didn't matter. I saw myself as being fat. and now other people knew it as well. While I was running so many lies entered my head. Hurtful and pronounced. Over and over they swept. But...I prayed. I prayed that God would be my savior. That he would walk with me through this journey. I was running, and I hurt so bad that I almost convinced myself to start throwing up. I mean who would know? it was late. No one was around. But then I started to think about truth. What was true? God's word! I frantically began reciting old scripture verses I knew. It didn't matter what they were about. I just needed some TRUTH!

Eventually my mind couldn't take it anymore, and that is when my husband, my gift from God came to me. I no longer had the capacity to remember any truth. But he sat there next me, stroking my arms, whispering beautiful truths.

This is a journey I didn't want to go down again, but here it is. And I will walk though it because God loves me. Even writing this I'm crying. I wish I could brush off the comment. I wish I could go on living as though it wasn't said. But it opened a pandora's box of lies. lies and insecurities.

I don't know how this experience will mold me. I have a hard time letting hurtful comments go. I just want to remember truth. Beautiful truth.

Monday, September 1, 2008

"No,it means Saint Diego." " Agree to disagree..."

Well, here we are in San Diego or, as Will Ferrel argued against, "Saint Diego". I am not sure who Saint Diego was to have a city named after him, but it is a really cool city. He must have been a really cool guy. Anyway, we actually aren't here permanently because we are still below the funding mark to be allowed to actually move. But, we were given special permission to be out here for the week of staff and student planning for the year, as well as the first week of school. So we are into our first week of being in San Diego.

Just to give you all an idea of what has been going on, we have had several days of planning sessions with the staff and students, as well as just getting to know the city and looking for places to live! It has been a jam packed week and we are tired, but I am encouraged with what is going on out here. First I want to talk about our staff team. They rock. I really like being around them and listening to them because they each have such a humble attitude about what God is doing in their life as well as what God is directing them to do with the ministry here at SDSU. The staff team is as follows: Myself and Valerie, Tim Nelson (UCLA graduate), Anne Palawski (4th year on staff), and Dave and Heather Molascan (campus leaders).

Our staff and student leadership sessions have been really encouraging because everybody seems to be on the same page as far as where to take the ministry. Also, Dave has really done a great job of sharing the vision of the Navigators at SDSU in such a way that the staff team especially, is united together in spirit and purpose. The staff team is brand new and the students leadership team is new, but already we have sensed a deep love for one another and the possibility that this ministry can really be one of transparency and reconciliation. Not to mention fun and a whole lot of love thrown in there :)

So, in way of history of what God has been doing here with the ministry, it is pretty simple. Last year the staff team saw that there was a need to really challenge the students to actually take their walks with Jesus seriously, and as a result most of the students left. What was left was the remnant that God wanted to help rebuild the ministry on a solid foundation of people who love Jesus and take seriously His command to "make disciples of all nations". This is where we come in. We have joined the staff and students (total numbering about 10) for this new season of rebuilding and casting our nets out to "be fishers of men". There is no where to go but up at this point.

I am super excited about this because it wasn't too long ago that ASU was in this exact same position and I got the privledge of seeing God take a few and grow His kingdom into many. This time also reminds me that I am inadequate in myself to go and make disciples, but Christ makes me adequate and He is the one who really grabs a person's heart and soul for Himself, I just happen to be the vessel through which the news of Christ comes. I am praying that God will give me just one or two guys who are thirsty for Christ and His word "as a deer panteth for steams of water" that I can pour into and invest myself in. As the founder of the Navigators is famous for saying: "You can't have two 'till you have one". Simply put, we cannot grow unless we are investing in the individual, being careful and intentional to help that person become a mature Christian (Colossians 1:28) and equipped to "go and do likewise".

Another praise is that God has been connecting Valerie and I with many, many Godly friends with whom we get along with well. We went to a small church service at a church plant called Kaleo and I will tell you what, those people made us feel so welcome and we met almost everybody there! That is what a church is supposed to do, and they did it! We really felt connected to that church and we had just met them. The pastor was not afraid to speak truth, but he also reminded us that all we do and everything we have as believers is because of the Gospel! He is also laboring to see the church really be a community where people are actually involved in each other's lives daily, not just once or twice a week. Now that is a picture of the early church seen in Acts 2!

Here are some things to be joining us in prayer for:
1. Meeting new students on campus starting tomorrow!
2. Getting the rest of the funding in place so that we can actually make the move out here. We need about $15,000 to move.
3. That Valerie and I would be content with where we are in our funding and living in Arizona still when our hearts desperately desire to be in San Diego with our new friends and ministry.
4. Energy. We are physically and spiritually tired. Please pray that we can know what it means to find our rest in Christ!

Thank you all for your prayers, they have been especially felt this last week! We are encouraged but tired. Please continue to pray that God's kingdom would continue to be advanced on the campus of San Diego State University!