Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Dumping The Toy Box

One of the scariest things you can pray for is asking God to come in and break you, because He will. And it will be beautiful and needed, but it will also be tough.

In college, I took a small class my senior year regarding our spiritual lives, and I pretty much got a small group discussing a Christian book to count as a 3-credit course. We used to joke in midst of our prayer requests, "Be careful praying for patience" and then we would giggle, "Be careful what you pray for, because God will answer prayers."

After that class and a few months later, I sat crying on my parent's couch begging to feel something. Yes, I may have been overly-emotional. But more so, I think I knew what I wanted. I had hit rock bottom the year before, and just spent a year hiding in over-achievement and running from having to feel anything but a proud feeling only I thought I could give myself. So I cried a frustrated cry to my dad, and I mumbled a frustrated prayer to be healed. I'm sure it sounded like "God, just heal me or something." I knew I wasn't physically hurt but I knew I had picked things up along the previous 23 years that emotionally and spiritually I didn't need.

Then one day months later, I felt better. Or maybe I just noticed I felt better that day. And that same day, Dad mentioned that I seemed better. And when my dad started that conversation, I remembered a very distinct sound of my childhood. And it all clicked together.

As kids, my brother and I had a giant green plastic toy box in our basement play area. All of our toys were to fit into this, and when we were done playing we were to put away all of our toys in this box. Obviously children clean up in the least organized way possible, and Robbie and I would cram and shove the toys into the toy box, and then I would make Robbie sit on it so it would close. As the year went on, we would receive new toys, and just try to cram them in the box with the rest. So that whole cycle would usually result in us not even knowing what we really had to play with because we could only reach the top toys and the bottom was filled with all the crap, like broken Nerf gun darts and small pieces of Legos. (And the heads to my Barbies that Robbie liked to used for his G.I. Joes. Still bitter about that)

Around the time I was making Robbie climb onto the toy box to close the lid, Mom would ask us clean out the toy box for whatever we weren't using. Once again, kids are the greatest with my brother and I being no exception because we did not clean out the toy box. And Mom would become so annoyed that on a random Sunday afternoon, we would hear those small Legos scrap against the plastic sides of the toy box as it was being dumped out.

Mom wasn't mad at us but she knew it needed to be cleaned out (probably due to my crying about missing Barbie heads that could only be found at the bottom of the toy box) and so Mom was going to be the one to clean out the toy box.

And she would go through and sort our toys into piles. And she would grab a garbage bag and label with "donate" or "trash." All the while, Robbie and I would sit at the foot of the stairs and watch her. Not in a milieus way, we weren't THAT mean. But we knew Mom was on a roll, and the least we could do was sit there with her while she did so. In the end, the toy box would be half empty (or half full depending on who you ask) and we would still have all the toys we liked to play with, and we could finally see what we really owned. I wish I could say this only happened once, but Mom always cleaned out the toy box. And we always sat on the stairs and watched her.

So, a decade and some years later, I realized I had asked God to dump my toy box. I had picked up things (i.e. toys) as years had gone by, and packed them into my life. Some of these "toys" were probably cheaply made Dollar Store items that only bogged me down. And the only way for me to really, and fully clean my life up was for God to dump it all out, sort it out and give me back just the things I needed.

Since then, as Dad and I share this example with people, we hear people mention something very similar to what I added to my prayer on the couch the first day. "I'm scared about who I will be if I don't act this way." But feeling torn open, and ready for change but also scared to death of who I would be without all my "toys"…. it all had a meaning to me. And it's scary and tough to ask God to break you, but in order to properly convey this I have to be obvious and use the phrasing we use around here and "the toy box has to be dumped."

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

God Hacked Our Amazon Account

The long and the short of the story is God logged into our Amazon account (or maybe he bi-passed all that and just made it happen. He's God, He can do whatever he wants) and bought a devotional book to add to our prayer life.  No, we didn't have a spammer/hacker buy us Christian devos into our own account (because if someone was going to hack our account, why would you buy a devotional?)

But really, God logged into our Amazon account and bought us a Kindle book.

Found on Amazon here

As a family, we have been praying together every night before. After a few months of doing this, we noticed our prayers were very routine and kind of lackluster. So, one night we asked God to lead us into what we should be praying, what to ask Him, how to seek Him. After saying "amen" we all headed to bed. The next morning, my dad texted me.

When I called my dad, he explained that this morning when we did his morning reading, he saw that he had a new Kindle book in his Kindle carousel. He assumed when I was in bed last night, I found a new book for us and ordered it. My dad and I are the only ones with our Amazon password. 

But at 10:37pm, nearly a half an hour after we prayed to be lead, this book was purchased, and downloaded to our Amazon kindle account. 

After telling my dad that I didn't buy it, and in fact have never heard of the book, he started laughing. Instead of laughing, I racked my brain with potential ways hackers could have logged into our account. But why would a hacker buy a Christian devotional where each day you read something about God's different names? And we don't have "1-Click" buying on Amazon, so it's not like I accidentally clicked on the book to buy. 

My dad came home that day and joked about how if God was going to log into our account, He could have at least paid for it Himself? (Obviously a joke. We don't mind paying for our own devotionals. That money is definitely worth it.) A few days passed, and no new hacks happened. So we laughed with God, telling Him "Of course you'd use technology."

We don't know if God was trying to tell us to read this book and we just didn't hear Him. We don't know if He was just being funny and showing us what we can do. God does that, you know. But either way, we went with it. It's a year-long book where you read one page each day, and at the end is a little prayer that we include with praying as a family.

We haven't seen anything crazy result from reading this book. Some days the devotional speaks to one of us like crazy, and we chalk it up to God speaking to us. Other days we just hum and mumble "Interesting" after reading. But it's important to understand that sometimes we don't see the result of our prayers right away. I like to think of prayers as getting loaded into an account that God is able to use. 

As for our Kindle account, God hasn't bought any other books. But He has used my dad's Kindle in funny other ways, and also an incident where God sent an email from my uncle's account about a car. But those will be saved for when you guys think I'm less crazy.