Keith has headed off to visit the Bass Pro Shop with a friend and fellow soldier. I told him we needed no more decorative ceramic, camo-cap wearing, black Lab beer bottle holders, which is what he came home with the last time he went to that particular establishment without me.
He was in processing most of this week and as the week went by, his excitement mounted. So far, he loves his new job. Everything is brand new and well thought out and well put together.
However, he can't even meet his soldiers until he's completed his classes, because he can't know anything about their medical case histories. Instead of a tanker patch on his shoulder, he wears a medic patch.
The army is sending him to Texas sometime next month for two weeks of class- they'll pay for his airplane tickets, food and hotel room.
We've decided to send in our application to the adoption home study program when he completes his training. Our plans on adoption changed yet again recently, when we learned that the wait time to be matched with two Colombian siblings aged 0 to 5 years, even after one's dossier is received in Columbia, is three years.
And that's not even counting the six month or longer period of trying to get the paperwork together for the dossier. So we had to give that plan up as well, like many, many other adoption plans over the last two years or so.
That brought up a great deal of pain and frustration for me- the pain and frustration of the entire process. This is clearly why Jesus cautioned me to take the whole process one step at a time- it's a crooked path and who knows where the next direction goes.
So now we are back on domestic infant adoption, which means that after the home study is completed, we'll put together a "get to know all about us" photo-book for interested birth mothers.
I dread this entire process; I try not to think about it. That's best anyway, because that's several steps ahead. The thing which I cannot imagine doing now, is what the future me will be better equipped for.
A book I ordered arrived yesterday, called: I Come Quietly to Meet You: an Intimate Journey in God's Presence, by Amy Carmichael.
Some of it is very good, but then I read the section where she talks about being God's Nazirite- someone who gives up the pleasures of the world in order to have more of God, to be belong more intimately to God.
Hearing this set off all kinds of warning bells in my head. I grew up hearing this sort of message, over and over again.
On one hand, I empathized with her, simply because I don't enjoy most of the bright and flashing pleasures of life that are so captivating to the general public, but I have no illusions about that making me a "special" or more Godly person- all that it means is that I am by nature an introvert.
It's no merit to me to live out my own nature. That requires no self discipline, and it would be silly to think that introverts somehow have a "leg up" on extroverts when it comes to meeting with God. He created them both- they obviously must both reflect Him.
Personality aside, abstinence from pleasure also does not, in itself, assist one to meet with God either, in my experience. In fact, in the past, the more I attempted to give up this or that- that music, that object, that desire- in order to gain more of God, not only did I fail miserably, but I felt distant from Him, dry and desperate.
You know what I've noticed, as I've read about other people's experience of God?
They are all different.
Why don't we talk about this more, I wonder? Why didn't I grow up learning that the way C.S. Lewis understood God and the way Henry Nouwen understood God and the way Amy Carmichael understood God are all different?
Clearly, they all knew God and have been used and loved by God. That's undeniable. Equally undeniable is that they all, to some degree or another, understood God differently and followed different paths in expressing their life in God.
It might have saved me a great deal of frustration, as I first read this person and then read that person, and then attempted to mold myself to that person's example, with obviously poor results.
It is clear that God uses imperfect people who understand Him imperfectly. If perfect doctrine were a requirement to know and be used by God, we would all fail the test.
I think now that we are asked to be in relationship, not to have the right answers. Or, to put it another way, the relationship is the answer.
That is what worried me, when I read about giving up this or that pleasure, in order to have more of God. It's not that I'm clinging to any particular pleasure, glaring at Jesus and daring Him to come and take it away from me, if He dares.
It's just that I've tried that before, and it didn't work for me. It took me backwards.
But I'll bet it's right for someone else, at some other point in their walk with Him. And we can get caught up in the cares and worries and pleasures of this life, and be distracted and hedged in by them.
But maybe the answer is not so much trying to weed whack as it is to simply look up.
Lately, I have experienced intimacy with God unlike anything I ever had before, or even guessed was possible. This did not happen because I gave up anything before hand- I know, because I hadn't given up anything.
I had not "prepared" myself in any way to meet with Him. I had the desire and I followed my desire and He met me as I was.
Eventually, my appetite for certain things died away, but that wasn't in order to have more of Jesus- it was because I already had Him. Or He had me.