Sunday, March 24, 2013

"Beef Cows" Don't Go on Vacation... They Die


(Told in six scenes)

Once upon a time, I was traumatized by my mother. Well, if we're honest, I was traumatized by my mother repeatedly. Take for example when I innocently asked her what a tampon was. That conversation left me in tears and vowing never evereverevereverever to have sex. Ever. This is not that story, though. That will come at a later time, because I actually just now remembered that it even happened. And, it is quite funny. So, why not share it with the public?

This story is about how I came to know the difference between a cow raised for beef and a cows raised for milk. I am not sure the technical, rural farm terms. I just call them "Beef Cows" and "Dairy Cows." If I'm incorrect, don't judge me. If I'm right, by all means, please praise me openly in public with confetti and parades.


Scene 1 gives some background for the typical relationship that I would have with "my" cows.

I grew up across from a cow farm. Every once in a while, I would get brave and cross our street to feed the cows a blade or two of grass. Then I would get grossed out as they cleaned out their noses with their long, slimy tongues and make a sound that was a cross between a wretch and a scream and sprint back to the safety of my yard.

I felt like me feeding the cows meant that we bonded. Sometimes the cows would go on vacation for a while, but then they always came back to eat my long blades of grass and taunt me with their booger-tongues.

Scene 2 is a conversation with my mother.

I'm not sure what age I was when I declared to my mom that I had named one of the cows "Buster." She went along for a few moments with me. Then, she quietly told me that the cows that I grew up mooing to and feeding grass were probably not the same cows that I saw before they went on vacation.

In my innocence, I thought, "Oh, poor mom. She just doesn't know things like I do. Poor thing. I will just try to show her that they are the same cows."


Scene 4 is my mission to inform my mom.

All the cows had tags on their ears. I knew that these were like a name-tag that you would wear on the first day of school, except at school, they didn't make you wear your name-tag as an earring.

I thought that if I could just make a cow be best friends with me, then she would see that the same cows live at the farm for always. Just like us. Except they didn't have a tree house. That would just be silly.

So, I braved crossing the street.

I went over to feed the cows a few blades of grass. I started referring to them by the numbers on their earrings.


Scene 5 is another conversation with my mother.

Although an entire year hadn't gone by, I wanted to make sure that my mom knew that I was about to help teach her something. My mom was my mom. She was an adult. Adults don't always like it when kids tell them that they are wrong. So, I wanted to prepare her for the situation to make it less awkward. It was the right thing to do, right?

Me: "Hey, Mommy. I have something to tell you."

Mom: "Okay."

Me: "Remember how you told me that the cows are different when they come back?"

Mom: "No."

Me: "You did."

Mom: "Okay."

(Clearly my mom had been just as concerned about this topic as I had)

Me: "Well, I am going to show you that they are the same cows."

Mom: "But, they're not. You can't show me that because they are completely different cows."

Me: "They are NOT! They are my cow friends!"

Mom: "Maybe these are your cow friends, but then they go away, and they don't come back."

Me: "No they don't! Friends don't do that!"

Mom: "Honey, we need to talk."


Scene 6 is me being traumatized.

My mother decided that it was her duty to keep me informed. In that moment, she made a decision that scarred me for years. Well, okay, that's not true. The truth was that it only freaked me out for a day or two, but in the moment, it felt like I was going to be sad forever.

My mom said, "You know how when we grill hamburgers and those taste good? Or when we stop and get fast food? Or when we have steak and baked potatoes? That is beef."

She paused to give me a moment to process.

"Where do you think beef comes from?"

Me: "From beef."

Mom: "Right. But, beef is made of something. Like how mashed potatoes are made from potatoes. Beef is meat. It comes from an animal. Do you know what animal?"

Me: "No....."

At this point, a dim lightbulb was being lit. I was starting to get it, but not ready to admit where she was going with all this "beef comes from animals" talk.

Mom: "Beef comes from cows. The cows across the street are not 'Dairy Cows,' that we get milk from. If cows are not 'Dairy Cows,' then they are 'Beef Cows' and we eat them."

Pause for processing.

Mom: "Are you understanding what I'm saying?"

I understood.

I swore off beef for the rest of my life. That lasted about a week.


And that is how I learned that "Beef Cows" don't go on vacation. They die. And then I eat them.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Tick Tock...

Twelve Days. Twelve short days until I embark on a new journey. It seems like just a few short months ago, I was moving to Lynchburg to start over. My plan was to attend grad school and enjoy the mountains. God's plan was so much bigger.

He needed to mend old wounds. He needed to show me Himself in all aspects of life. He needed to walk me through messes, mistakes and sin. He needed to reveal to me that I wasn't truley His. He needed to show me what it was to stop running. He needed to show me love.... friendship.... surrender.

And boy, did He ever!

So, now I am moving back to Ohio not defeated as though things didn't work out here in Lynchburg, but as a New Creation. I am not the same person that I was when I came here. I belong to My Creator, My King, My God. I am His daughtor.

And maybe Ohio is colder and flatter and it doesn't have quite as many any mountains.... but it's where He told me to go. And so I'm going and holding onto His promises, expecting miracles and opportunities to give away what was given to me.

In 15 months, He has changed me, and I am forever grateful.

As my time here draws to a close, I am finding that He is showing me how to tie up loose ends and have the conversations that need to be had. So that I can drive out of this town with the knowledge that I did my best to honor Him in all areas of my life- including moving back to Ohio.

I will be cherishing every person, every hug, every inside joke, every opportunity and taking nothing for granted.

Lynchburg, you have been good to me. So very good.

You will always be a special part of "home" for me.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Are You Willing?

A few weeks ago, my church had a service dedicated to celebration and worship. Baptism. Just typing that word makes me excited. And hopeful. And honestly, a little weepy.

This is from my baptism in September, 2012.
Baptism to me is more than getting sprinkled with water, more than going for a quick dip in a tub or pool of water. It is taking a step of obedience in front of our community. It is continuing in the obedience that God has called us to. It is an incredible thing to watch, especially at my church. If you haven't ever been to Blue Ridge Community Church, take a second and click on this link. It will send you to one of the services that just took place.

Because I serve on the Praise Team at our church, I had an opportunity to serve at all three services. I got to bear witness to story after story of life change and freedom. It was a beautiful thing.

Not too long ago, I stood on that very stage and told my story. I was scared and excited and overwhelmed. The feeling afterwards was incredible, though. Because I had finally surrendered my life to God, I needed to also step out and make my decision public. I was taking a chance and putting myself out there. There were a lot of insecurities that were involved in the process, but ultimately God made it clear that I was doing exactly what He wanted me to and exactly the right time.
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While I was watching these stories, God spoke to me in true "Abba Father" form. He showed me myself in all of their stories. Showed me their sacrifice. Showed me their boldness. Showed me their courage. Then He showed me who He was and where He was in all of it: in control.

These are the words God spoke to me: "I know sacrifice. I know what it is to let go of something that I care about. I know what it is to say goodbye. I understand completely what I am asking of you, and I am asking, 'Are you willing?'"

This was a new step. He already knew that I was being obedient and moving back to Ohio. He knew that I was packing thing after thing. He knew that I sold my furniture and threw things away. He saw me and what I was doing.

But, now He is addressing the condition of my heart. Where is my heart in this? Is He going to need to drag me kicking and screaming back to my family? Is He going to need to put me in my place time and time again as I try to make my own plans and have my own agenda?

Or am I going to go willingly?
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How many times in our lives do we begrudingly do the things that we know we are supposed to do, but complain along the way? Doing the chores our parents ask us to, but complaining the whole time. Apologizing to someone we hurt, but hiding pride and bitterness.

Moving to Ohio to love and serve my family, but crying and complaining as I pack and say goodbye.

I am not saying that's where my heart is, but that's definitely where it was headed.
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Poverbs 4:20-27: "My son, pay attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to one’s whole body. Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil."
Above everything that we do, we need to pay close attention to the condition of our heart. Everything. Every. Thing. Everything we do is a result of what we allow in our hearts.
This includes doing dishes, and apologizing and moving to Ohio.
Maybe Ohio is boring. Maybe I will feel useless. Maybe Certainly it will be colder than VA.
But as I go, I need to make sure my heart is soft to what God is saying and free from anything that will hinder my ability to fully glorify Him.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Leaving on a Jetplane?

My efforts to stay on top of writing on this blog and continue to process through what God is showing me were taken over by a big life event.

The event itself is twofold:

1. My Grampy started his battle with mesothelioma about a month ago. The news itself was not a shock to me, which I credit to years of watching medical-related TV show (thank you, Shonda Rhimes) and symptoms which I suspected pointed to cancer. But, it is still difficult to picture someone that has always appeared strong and invincible as strugglng and weakened.

All my bag are packed... I'm ready to go... (Well, almost)
2. I have decided to move back to Ohio. This was a long and complicated decision, but surprisingly not a hard one to make. Why? Because I can trace back how God has been preparing my heart for the past year (yes, year) to go back and love on my family. At first I wrestled with feelings of sadness and grief over leaving people that are so close to my heart. But then as God comforted me and began confirming over and over again that this was the thing He had for me, I began to get excited.

3.5 weeks from now, I will be rejoining my family in Ohio. I will begin a New Journey as a New Creation sharing New Love. I will be seeking community, and clinging desperately to the God that I now can call Abba Father. And I know that He is going before me in all this- every last step of it- to prepare a way for me to do the things that He is asking of me.

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I am so reminded of the passage in Matthew 28, when Jesus commissions His disciples out to share the things that they experienced and to reproduce themselves:

"Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:16-20)

I went to Virginia, where God told me to go. I became His daughter and learned to worship Him for who He is, not just what He has done. Now God is asking me to follow Him in this and give away what He has given me. And there is a little fear and uncertainty. But, He is with me. Always. He is by my side in all of this.