Happy Saint Patrick’s Day to you! My paint dried perfectly, and I no longer have black stripes, spots, or other marks decorating my skin. Having placed the endcap on my counter, the set of shelves is now comfortably placed and stocked at the end of the counter. I’ve got a wine bottle rack I purchased at Ikea that I’d like to get installed next. I’m not sure that’s going to happen today, though. Mom and Stephanie are headed out of town for an Oregon FFA event. Stephanie is campaigning to be elected as a state officer, and here’s hoping that she gets it! Vote for Stephanie! Anyway, that means I’ve got Kimberly and Kalyn here to help me this afternoon, and I have to do things like feed the little monsters so that they don’t really turn into monsters. We’re going to make some dinner and brownies (*Shhh! Don’t tell Carey! It’s a surprise!) and, with any luck, have a grand time working and laughing together.

Moving along to write what promises to be another lengthy post, mostly because I yammer on about what I’m doing at home to help ground myself, I was writing about the solid beginning of my faith. I’d like to continue that story today. It’s one I’ve told many times to many different people, so chances are that you’ve heard it, but it’s a pretty standard part of my introduction. I tell it because I want people to know that it’s important to me, and I tell it because remembering where I came from and how I got here is good for me. Why do I think the way that I do? Why do I see life as I do? Why do I believe and live the way that I do? A good part of those whys come from the experiences I’ve had and the choices that I’ve made in my past. Nearly twenty years ago, I chose to become the person I am today, and every day since then, my choices, however deliberately or carelessly made, have supported or undermined that choice. My story is not about what happened to me. My story is about what I have done, and I have done it because God is real and is true to His Word and Himself.

What did I choose? I chose to admit that I didn’t know. I chose to admit that I wanted more than I could get on my own. I chose to seek. I chose faith. At the time, I don’t think I would have called it faith. I was angry, I was frightened, and I didn’t like at all that what I’d thought was true was without substance, so I rounded on the void of the great unknown and defiantly begged for more. But it was faith. Angry and desperate it may have been, but the very desire I had to know if God was for real or just more crap was evidence of something beyond me, of something beyond this world, of eternity at work unseen. I had to know, and I challenged God to prove it by changing my life. I didn’t want Him to make my life all better and give me everything I ever wanted. No, I wanted something a lot more difficult. I wanted an internal makeover. I wanted to Him to change who I was inside and make me a person who authentically and demonstrably belonged to Him. I wanted reformation, renewal, transformation!!! of my soul. If that didn’t happen, I was going to call Him a liar (which He would be, because He makes a lot of promises about new life in His Word) and move on.

It began simply. I admitted that I didn’t have what I needed and couldn’t get it myself. I asked God for help. I dug more deeply into the Bible with an eye to learn what should be present in my life and what I should expect of God and myself. I meditated on it while I was working and about my day. I would ask God what something meant and to bring clarity and understanding. I was convicted, and the cycle would begin again, where I was admitting that I didn’t have what I needed. I had a lot to learn.

See, I knew how to behave well. I did a pretty good job of being a good girl, but it was a layer. It didn’t go all the way through me, and I behaved because I was made to and generally because of fear or a desire to show off. I was all about the performance. I knew the verses, I had the grades, perfect attendance was mine, and I was a “good” kid. But what I didn’t know, what put my performance to utter shame, was, in a word, love.

I Corinthians 13:1-3 (courtesy of Bible Gateway)

1 If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Do you know what this means? It means that what I can do and what I can know is so much garbage without love. It doesn’t matter how perfectly or powerfully I perform, it is noise without meaning. It does not make me a better person. I am still the same nothing I was before the performance, and the bottom line is that I have gained nothing. Love is that essential. Do you know what this did to my self-esteem? Bad things, let me tell you – I felt pretty worthless, which made made me more angry and desperate and inclined to scream at God. Fortunately, this is not the end of my story.

It’s just the end of this post. ๐Ÿ˜€

 

Almost. Funny story at the end.

 

* I have this sneaky streak, which won’t surprise most anyone who knows me. Last night at dinner, I wanted to make sure that the rottentots had plenty to be excited over today. I pulled them in close and said in a confidential manner, “Can you keep a secret? You can’t tell Carey!” Their eyes got big, and they assured me of their ability to keep it quiet. “Okay,” I told them. “We’re going to make brownies for dessert. Won’t that be good? Don’t you think Carey will like that?” They got all kinds of excited, Kimberly told me we should have them with ice cream, and they solemnly promised not to spoil the surprise for Carey.

Here’s the deal, though ๐Ÿ˜€ : Carey came home last night after they went to bed, and she didn’t see them this morning before they left for school. Barring something unusual, I knew last night they wouldn’t see her to spoil the surprise! They get to be excited about knowing a secret, Carey gets a chocolate surprise, and I get to sit back and snicker over how well I managed all that.