Earth is just a rest stop

When was the last time you were at a rest stop somewhere on a road trip. My family has taken so many road trips over the years, so rest areas are just a normal part of travel. And it’s true, some rest areas (the newer ones) are very comfortable. They have gift shops or information booths staffed with actual people. But here in Kansas, the rest areas aren’t always that nice. Most of the time, there’s just one main building that has restrooms and some overpriced vending machines.

Sure, it would be nice if they were all climate controlled. And it would be even better if the toilets were real, rather than chemical jobs. But it’s just a rest stop. It’s a place to get out of the car for a little bit, but you don’t stay there. You get back in the car and keep on going.

Have you ever thought about how similar that is to the lives we’re living today?

rest_areaToday’s verse is Hebrews 13:14.

For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.

It’s easy to get caught up in this life because it’s right in front of us. We live it every day, and we experience the troubles that come at us on a regular basis. And it’s tempting to think that this is the way it’s always going to be.

But it’s not. Because Earth is just a rest stop. We’re not sticking around for much longer. Rest stops aren’t designed to be comfortable because you’re not staying there permanently. Like the old song says, “This world isn’t my home. I’m just a’passing through.”

So what does that mean for us? How does that help us get through a difficult day or face an unpleasant situation?

Well, it helps because we remember that this life isn’t all there is. If you follow Christ, you’ve got a much better life coming after this one is over. This little insignificant life on Earth is just the beginning of your eternity, and it’s not even a very good beginning because we can’t experience all the awesome that God has in store for us. So on those difficult days, remember that there’s more to this life than what you can see.

If a rest stop was really comfortable, it would be awfully hard to get back into the car, wouldn’t it? What if they had a coffee bar? What if they had free cookies? What if they offered unlimited tacos? I mean, you could just hole up in the rest area station for the rest of your life and get along just fine, right? Because who wants to get back in that car and keep driving when you can sit around and eat free tacos?

You don’t know what the road ahead holds for you. It might be difficult. It might be worse than your situation is right now. And wouldn’t it just be better to stay put and enjoy the comforts of your luxurious rest stop?

That’s an exaggeration, of course. Although I’ve been to some rest areas that I wouldn’t mind sticking around a bit longer. It usually had to do with the ready availability of ice cream. But on the other hand, I’ve been to some rest areas that I couldn’t wait to leave. They were dirty and broken, and I just wanted to be done with them and leave. And sometimes I wonder if that’s how we’re supposed to see the world.

We need to be here, though. God put us here for a reason, so we need to accept that. But that doesn’t mean we need to get comfortable here. And that absolutely doesn’t mean we need to wish that it would become more comfortable for us. It won’t. What it should make us do is long for our true home more desperately than ever before.

When was the last time you yearned for heaven? Have you ever? Makes you wonder where your priorities are, doesn’t it?

So don’t long for easier times. Don’t wish for smooth sailing. I mean, you can. There’s nothing wrong with that, and there’s nothing wrong with asking for it either. Bet don’t be surprised if you don’t get it, and don’t get it in your head that God is mean. He’s just trying to help us understand that Earth is little more than a rest area on the great adventure we’re on with Him.

 

The tricky little bitty sign in my very strange hotel room, Las Vegas, NV

Hotel fridges and the tricks they play

My hotel room has waist-high black grass painted on the wallpaper and floor-to-ceiling mirrors at all corners of the room. This is one of the strangest hotels I’ve ever stayed in, and I’ll tell you what–these folks are sneaky.

As is normal for hotels of this caliber, there’s a fridge, and it’s full of alcohol, along with some juices and other things. I went ahead and picked up a bottle of water and a bottle of pop for dinner last night, intending to drink half for dinner and half when I woke up…. because there’s no coffee pot in the room (this place is weird). So I pulled out a bottle of juice and a can of Red Bull and set them on the counter, replacing them with my own drinks.

Didn’t even think about it. A little while later, I spotted a sign that said the fridge is full of sensors. And anything you move will be charged to your room. Of course, the sign is tiny and not on the fridge at all.

So, I replaced the drinks and drank my own stuff last night, and I’m going to talk to the desk people today and see if they will make an exception for a Kansas farm kid who missed their teeny tiny sign.

What really irks me, though, is that I’m pretty sure the girl who checked me in told me that taking anything out of the fridge will be charged to my room. I just wasn’t really paying attention.

The sign that says not to move stuff (if the word "sexy" bothers you, please ignore it; it's a label for marketing; this is Las Vegas, and you can't get away from it)

The sign that says not to move stuff (if the word “sexy” bothers you, please ignore it; it’s a label for marketing; this is Las Vegas, and you can’t get away from it)

Today’s verse is Proverbs 9:9.

Instruct the wise,
    and they will be even wiser.
Teach the righteous,
    and they will learn even more.

If you’ve ever tried to teach anyone anything, you know that wise people learn easily and foolish people don’t learn at all. That’s a principal you’ll see over and over again in the Bible.

When God is trying to teach us something, people who are wise will listen, and people who aren’t will just do their own thing. What’s nice about being wise and being foolish, though, is that you can choose which one you’ll be.

Yes, you have a choice whether to be wise or foolish. It’s not just something that happens. You aren’t born one way or the other. You are wise or foolish based on what choices you make in your life.

The verse right after this one says: Fear of the Lord is the foundation of wisdom. So if you want to be wise, you need to start fearing the Lord. Not the kind of fear that keeps you cowering under your covers at night. That’s not what this fear means.

Fearing the Lord is reverence. It’s recognizing His authority and His sovereignty, which is basically His right to do whatever He wants with the universe. You understand, don’t you, that God doesn’t have to explain Himself to us? He made us. He made everything. And if He wanted to start over, He’d be within His rights (even as we understand them) to wipe everything out and begin again. We do it with our own creations all the time.

We need to recognize that God can do that if He wants to. But He doesn’t. And He even chooses to tell us about His plan and teach us how to live. It’s up to us whether to accept it or not.

If you fear God, you will learn how to be wise, and if you are wise, you will grow wiser every day. If you don’t, you’ll be foolish, and you’ll keep making the same mistakes over and over again. And that’s how you end up with a sky-high hotel room bill, because you move the things in your fridge after the girl at the desk told you not to.

So don’t be foolish. God has showed us how to be wise, and it’s so much better (and much less expensive) to be wise.

The Pink House - Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

Rest doesn’t equal indolence

I believe in putting my whole heart and soul into everything I do. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well; that’s what I believe. Life is too short to do things half heartedly. So whether I’m working at my job or doing ministry of some kind, I am always doing it 110%.

But I’ll be the first to tell you that people weren’t designed to run at that kind of pace for an extended period of time with no rest. And that’s where I have been for the last six weeks. Maybe even longer than that. Probably since January.

I’m exhausted. And run down. And worn out. But even though I recognize that I need rest, there’s still some part of me that feels guilty for doing it.

The Pink House - Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

The Pink House – Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

Today’s verse is Mark 6:31.

Then Jesus said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.” He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat.

It’s difficult to remember sometimes that Jesus rested too. And no one believed in ministry more than Jesus did.

Resting is necessary. It’s not being lazy.

That’s what I have to convince myself more often than anything else: that taking a break doesn’t make me lazy. It just makes me human.

In any case, it’s important to remember that you can’t make it through life with your nose to the grindstone constantly. I mean, you can try. But if you deny yourself the rest you need on a regular basis, you’ll lose your perspective.

If you bury yourself in your work, whether it’s job or ministry, pretty soon you’ll be so buried that you can’t dig yourself out. And by then, your work or your ministry will be all that matters to you anyway.

And, yes, it’s important to care about your job. And it’s important to care about your ministry. But not at the expense of your relationship with God.

Even Jesus recognized that He needed a break to reset His relationship with His Father. And He knew that His disciples needed a chance to breathe, where He could spend time with them and encourage them.

So that’s what I’m doing this weekend. I’m resting. I have my camera. I have three of my favorite people in the world in one of the most beautiful places on earth. And I have my netbook with a novel I’m working on (which I may or may not work on).

But beyond all of those wonderful things, I’m being quiet. I’m slowing down. And I’m listening. Because I have been so busy for so long that I’ve not taken the time to listen to the things that God is trying to tell me. And I’m excited for what He has to say.

If you are like me and are so overwhelmed with life and work and ministry, do yourself a favor. Take a break. Step back. Do something else for a weekend, and listen to what God is telling you.

You might be surprised at what you hear.

Stone path beside the Pink House - Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

Safe and sound

Just an update. We made it safe and sound to Glen Eyrie, and at the moment we are settled into our room. I just love this place. I may do a post tomorrow.

Stone path beside the Pink House - Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

Stone path beside the Pink House – Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

We made it safe and sound. Have a nice evening, everyone! And a safe Memorial Day Weekend!

Hitting the road

Hey, guys! I just wanted to shoot out a quick little blurb. I will try to have a post up tomorrow morning, but I’m going to be on the road to this phenomenal place:

Glen Eyrie Castle - Colorado Springs, CO

Glen Eyrie Castle – Colorado Springs, CO

I will be going back in June for a writing workshop, but that keeps me so busy I don’t have time to enjoy the awesomeness that is Glen Eyrie. So this year, a bunch of my favorite people and I get to go up a little early.

I will be replenishing my store of photographs too. =)

I fully intend to keep posting, but in case they come a little later over the next few days, now you’ll know why.

Thank you all for reading and for all the encouragement you bring to me!

~ Amy

How I remembered that God is always working

I have been working in the corporate world for over a year now. I started at Viega on March 22, 2010, the Monday after I got back from my last trip to see Jim and Shelley and Jonah and Silas. And although I really love what I’m doing and the people I work with, I will be the first person to tell you that the transition has been difficult — much more difficult than I expected.

When I worked at the library, my projects were all large, but they all had an end. And usually, once a decision to do something was made, it stayed the same.

Where I am now, I have project after project after project that don’t seem to have any end in sight. Theoretically, they are supposed to end, but from everything I have seen I doubt highly that any of them actually will. And the powers that be change their minds constantly. Granted, their input is valuable and they all have wonderful, creative ideas, but after I’ve spent four months on accumulating copy and photos and layouts, having to start again at the very beginning is somewhat discouraging.

The corporate world is teaching me the subtle art of balancing passion with indifference. I don’t know if that makes sense or not. I want to be passionate about my work. I want to do my very best, but usually my very best isn’t good enough. And I have to be okay with that. That’s the job. I can be as creative as I want, but if it’s not creative enough or if it’s not directed clearly enough for the powers that be, it won’t work. And I can’t get my feelings hurt becuase that’s silly. That’s the job.

So I am learning how to be passionate about the things I can change and how to distance myself from freaking out about the things I can’t change. . . . . maybe it’s a good life lesson . . . .

In any case, this is a very long introduction to a story I’m gearing up to tell. I don’t have my usual 15-20 minute morning blog deadline like I do with my devotional posts, so I’m kind of taking my time this morning.

I do a lot of traveling for my company, mainly because I’m accumulating stories on product installations around the country. The first time I traveled by myself, I went to Tampa, FL for a couple of days to cover three different jobs. The way the process works is that our field sales guys sell the product, build a relationship with the contractor, and if it’s a high profile enough job they call us. And if we can fit it into our schedule (and our budget) I go down to cover the installation. The sales guy is usually responsible for picking me up, making my hotel reservations, ensuring that I get something to eat, etc. etc. etc.

My boss had told me that it’s like having 150 brothers out in the field. I was kind of skeptical of that, but I doubt doubt her anymore. It’s actually very true.

The sales guy I met in Tampa is a Christian. And not just in name only but he lives it. He’s passionate about his faith. He’s passionate about the Bible. And the few days I had down there with him were great. I hadn’t expected to find another Christian in Florida like that. It was neat.

But I still thought it was a fluke. That is, until this last trip.

I had to fly to New Jersey to cover a product installation on McGuire Air Force Base, and because it was coming at the absolute worst time imaginable for us (and a budgetary issue) I had to make the trip an overnighter. We hired a videographer because we were also making a video out of this installation, and he traveled with me. I thought he seemed really nice. Come to find out he’s the technical director at a local church in Wichita and he watches Pastor on television! It was so refreshing to be able to sit and talk about missions and the Bible with him, discovering that his beliefs about everything from music to translations were almost identical to mine.

But that wasn’t the end of it.

We landed in Philadelphia, PA and the sales guy picked us up. And five minutes after we got in the car, his boss called him, asking why he had turned in his resignation. This was a surprise for me, because not many people resign from Viega. It’s a great company to work for. But the sales guy when on to explain that he was resigning because he and his wife felt called to plant a church in Rhode Island. He spent twenty minutes explaining to his boss how he and his wife had everything the world said made them secure, but that they wanted to do what God had called them to do in spite of the fact that the decision made no sense secularly.

When he got off the phone, both the videographer and I were so excited. And we all went around the car sharing our testimonies, talking about our churches and what God is doing in the world. We went ahead and went to the Air Force Base to scope things out, but afterward we went out to dinner and spent hours talking about faith and callings and the Bible. And it was awesome!

That night I went back to my hotel and lay awake for a while just thanking God.

It’s one thing to find believers at home. It’s another thing to go to a different state — one you’ve never visited — and find family you didn’t know you had. Between this sales guy and his wife and another couple of people who I think are some of the most amazing people in the world, I honestly think we may be on the verge of seeing revival in New England.

It’s so very easy to get tangled up in the day to day affairs of life. It’s easy to get so focused on what you’re doing in your life today that you forget to see what God is doing around the world, around the country.

God isn’t confined to your life. He’s out in the world, working through people every day. He’s working. He’s doing something out there. Do I know what it is? No. I have no clue. But He knows what He’s doing, and every event in life is evidence that He’s up to something big.

Leaving Kansas and meeting people who are passionate about God and about His Word helped me to remember that God isn’t still. He’s never still. He’s always moving, especially when it feels like He’s not doing anything in my own life.

It was beyond encouraging to remember that.

If you think about it, say a prayer for Gus and Debbie Piazza. They will be leaving New Jersey for Rhode Island in August, and they have no other source of income.

Tampa Traveling Update

Howdy, folks. It’s been a very productive day in Tampa today. The weather is nice, and I got a lot done. We got out to the new Dali Museum first thing this morning, and I interviewed the contractors while the Googled-Hired Photographer took spectacular photographs. After that, we bustled off to McDill Air Force Base and enjoyed Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II in the lobby while I had by background checked (I have new respect for the Air Force now). Then, we ate lunch and the salesman dropped me off at the hotel where I have caught up my email and started on the Dali story. It has to be approved by both the project manager’s office and the mechanical contractor’s office before it can be printed, so I need to get it done very quickly.

Sounds like the weather at home is dreadful, so we’ll see if I actually get into Wichita tomorrow. I may spend the night in Houston.

Anyway, things down here are great. I’m looking forward to getting home, though.