Thursday, July 1, 2010

Jess and Mike

I had the huge honor of blessing my good friends Mike and Jessica at their wedding. This is what I wrote for them:

Mike and Jess, may you grow so deep in truth and love that your marriage has no choice but to grow and flourish into something beautiful.

And as your grow deeper and deeper into that love and truth, may your marriage become an actual living, breathing space.

And may that space that will be you marriage be so spacious, so secure, so inviting that those who are without either food or family or love be able to find both home and hope in you two.

May you perpetually be aware of the elaborate gifts God has given you and may that awareness spur both of you to live your lives with open hands with willingness to give back all that has been given to you with grace.

Jessica and Mike, may you fearlessly and uninhibitedly chase and grab a hold of the story God is waiting to tell with your life.

May you have a humble courage to live your story in a way that invites others who do not yet know God into a vibrant relationship with Him, the Living God.

May your story be irresistible to the community you’re apart of now and the communities you have yet to be apart of.

And may your children be raised in a story where the Kingdom of God present and actualized in their parents.

Finally, Jess and Mike, as you continue to work out your faith with fear and trembling both together and individually, may your marriage be the catalyst through which Christ’s character is formed for fully in you so that when people look at you they no longer see Jessica Michael Bernard, but rather God’s love manifest.


Michigan and Today

It has been quite the summer so far.

Since May, I have gone to Japan and Thailand, got a new apartment, got a new job, took a four credit class, took a couple weekend trips, been in a wedding, made the decision to go Thailand from September 2011 to May 2012, and started a month-long nanny gig in northwestern Michigan with my dear friend Miranda.

I took a four hour nap today. It was glorious.

As I write, I am sitting in the room designated for the nannies that come to live-in for the summer. It’s a nice little room with a huge window with a lake view, two twin beds and a stash of our nighttime treat: two buck chuck. It’s not bad. Miranda, my friend who was on the North Park team to Thailand is here with me for the month. Without a doubt, if she was not here, I would not be able to do this. It is a 24/7 job of watching four kids who have never been disciplined. Currently, she is playing with the kids outside with her fiancĂ©, Ryan.

Miranda got a call yesterday that her biological mother was killed in a car accident. Ryan drove up at three am to be with her. She has done amazingly well and is handling it far better than I know I would be. Having Ryan here for a couple days is good too. Life has a funny way of doing what it wants.

Being here, watching Miranda go through this, and, honestly, being convicted of my horrible attitude about this job, has got me thinking: am I ready for my world to be turned upside down?

Jesus told His disciples that life has little mercy and that things are going to happen that will feel like (and very well be!) a storm. He said the only way to actually withstand would be to be with Him. He said that when we build our lives on Him, we will be able to come out alive from the storms. And how do we be with Him? How do we build our lives on Him? Well, I guess it starts with living as He commands and ordering first lives and then eventually our hearts (feelings always seem to be last) around what He said. When we do that we are prepared for life in a certain way.

Example: If I got a call informing me my mom died, how would I feel? Devastated, of course. But what else? Two years ago I would have felt huge regret. I would have felt like there was unfinished business between my mom and I. Essentially, I didn’t love my mom or do life with my mom as Jesus commanded or as He would have wanted. Thus, there would have been huge, gaping wounds left unattended.

Now, I am not saying that if my mom died it would be okay or that I would even be okay. What I am saying is that my mom and I have healed quite a bit in the last two years. What’s changed? Well, for me I know I surrendered more to God and asked Him to teach me to love and seek forgiveness. I think it’s from doing that I feel like there is no longer unfinished business. If she died there would be regret, but regret about missed time, not missed love.

Being here in Michigan, I have struggled with being content. I’m not going to lie, it’s hard. It’s really hard to be here with the four kids, live with them, be at the whim of their parents and not have any freedom at all. Given all this, it’s hard for me to be present. I find myself wanting to, well, not be here. And I also find myself counting down the hours until dinner time, then bath time and then bed time. The reality is that it’s beautiful here. The kids, when not with their parents, are not that bad and there is plenty to do. You see, I can’t see this when I am thinking about how much I hate it, how much I want a venti soy chai or how much I miss my friends and bed.

I miss what’s here. I miss what God is trying to give me right here, right now.

If my world was thrown upside down while I was here, like something happened to me or one of the kids or even I had to go home, I would be devastated, and not just generally devastated because it ended. I would be devastated because I would have regret. Regret because I missed a million opportunities each day to be a part of something wonderful and bigger than myself and a million and half more opportunities to see and experience God.

I would be devastated because I wasn’t living the way God intended me to.

It’s almost as if I had cheapened life or something.

It’s pretty clear what God has for me in Michigan: to live well, as He intended.

Weather it’s something wonderful or tragic, I want no regrets or questions. And the beautiful thing is that I know that’s what God wants for me too.

I think I’ll take the kids swimming tomorrow. And make them hold a bug. They’re scared of bugs.