Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The IRONMAN Life As I Know It...Yes and Amen!

Hello friends! I just got finished biking a quick 20 miles and as I was riding, the thought suddenly occurred to me--I'm doing a half IRONMAN (70.3 miles, swim, bike, run) in 40 days! How I misplaced this reality, I know not...but I'm doing it and I've gotta say I'm beginning to get excited. Now, in all honesty, I am a little nervous--why? Not because I'm not perfectly capable of such a feat. I know I am and with Christ in me--the Hope of Glory--I can do anything. I sincerely mean that, live it, breath it, consume and believe this truth with all that is in me. I'm a little nervous because I don't really know what to expect. I've seen the course maps, the elevation tables, the water-way channel, etc. But seeing it on paper is so very different than actually living it out and doing it. Which brings me to this thought: What if Jesus came to me and said, "Kristen, here is the map of your life. I've marked out every turn, every ascent, every descent, every curve, every fork,every bump, every crossroad...Now go and live it." Whoa...Now, who hasn't ever said to the Lord, "Father, please show me what your plans are for my life. Please give me direction...Holy Spirit lead me in the way I should go..." I believe we all have, multiple times, if not daily. How would we respond if Our Heavenly Father--the God of the Universe, Creator of time and space, master builder and architect of our salvation; author and perfecter of our faith, the Great Counselor, the Good Shepherd, The Spring of Living Water, The Lover of Our Souls, Our Husband, Our Friend, Our Redeemer, Our greatest Joy, the Love of Our Lives---actually came down and handed us the very map of our lives--the very fabric on which our name is written--composed by the greatest "soul topographer" of all time---How would you respond? At first, I would think, "Woo hoo! Thank you Jesus! Now I know what to expect...life is gonna be so much easier now that I know EXACTLY where I should go." But then I imagine this scene unfolding: I catch a glimpse of Jesus' gaze as He watches me. He's memorizing every expression, every line on my face as I delight in the map of my life I'm holding in my hands. His eyes meet mine, they hold onto me forever--He's unmoved--fixed...steady...determined not to break our gaze. Words are unnecessary--I feel, hear, see and taste His heart for me. He is Love--extraordinary, other worldly love personified. Then I realize, my need. My greatest need is not the map of my life I held in my hands. Even with the knowledge of the course my life would take, I still would be unable to fathom how exactly every step, turn, every curve or every climb would play out. I wouldn't know how I would feel--what I would experience. The sounds, the tastes, the people, the faces; the joy, the pain, the tears, the laughter, the smiles--I would not know any of this. I would know that in the beginning I started out at point A and that in the end I will make it to point Z. I would have so many questions about the in between! I'm reminded of a quote--I'll have to paraphrase:" The lover of life lives; the liver of life loves." Which brings me to the greatest orator of all time, Jesus: The Living Word. "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life, will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's will surely save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what will a man give in exchange for his soul?" Mark 8:34-37.
John 14:1-20, 1"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. 2In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going." 5 Thomas said to him, "Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?"
6 Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him."
8 Philip said, "Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us."

9Jesus answered: "Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? 10 Don't you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves. 12 I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. 15 "If you love me, you will obey what I command. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another, The Counselor to be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him."

So Jesus totally blew that pion of a paraphrased quote out of the water! And now onto my greatest need...I don't need to know what will happen. I can't believe I just said that. Anyone who knows me, knows that in general I am anticipating what exactly will happen next in any given situation. I come up with at least 5 different scenarios for any given situation--and most of the time, one of them does happen. You see, I'm not so much interested in how the end will play out--most of the time I want to know "who" "what" "where" "when" and "why"---I'm a little foolish at times in this. Mainly in consideration of my life. I think to myself, "If I knew what the next point is in my life, I could run full force directly at it." But would that bring any relief? Momentarily. But then I would want to know what the next point is, and the next after that, and so on and so on. For what? Just to know? No. Because I want to know that everything will work out. That I will "run with perseverance the race marked out for me." I don't need to know everything. My greatest need is JESUS. All of God's promises are Yes in Christ. And so through Him is spoken the YES and AMEN by the Father. God's promises to me are made YES in Christ. Jesus is the Father's AMEN spoken to us. God doesn't just say Yes to us. He sees us and raises us one with Jesus--THE AMEN to us. What I need is what I already have: Christ in me, the HOPE OF GLORY. "Jesus, do you love me?" "Yes, I love you." "Jesus, are you always with me?" "Yes, I am always with you--I will never leave you." "Jesus do you have good plans for my life?" "Yes." "Jesus, is there a place for me with you?" "Yes." "Jesus, do you think I'm funny?" "Yes." "Jesus, do you think I'm beautiful?" "Yes." "Jesus, am I covered, kept, taken care of; watched over, fought for, delighted in, sung over, celebrated?" "Yes and Amen."

Are you with me on this? My hope for myself and the body of Christ is that we would dare to believe...that our lives would be the living expression of faith in His word, Hope in His promise and Love in His presence. I need Him. I don't need a map. Jesus is the GPS of my soul.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Agitation of the Appliance Life As I Know It

Hello friends! As most of you know, I work at Best Buy. What comes to mind when one ponders that of "Best Buy?" Computers, cameras, TVs, Blue Ray Disc Players, Wii, XBOX, PS2, iPod, Macbook and of course THE GEEK SQUAD. Yes, those things comprise the bulk of all that is Best Buy, but there's more. What else can you get at Best Buy? Well you can get books and all things made by THE SHARPER IMAGE--but there in the corner of every Best Buy is a super-store unlike any other. One full of shiny, stainless steel...tango red, platinum, blue steel (I kid you not--just like Zoolander)and midnight black and blue...a playground for up-and-coming Generations looking to step into all that buying a home brings, i.e. Appliances. Yes. This is the Shangri La of Best Buy. It's a pretty peaceful piece of real estate. For those who don't appreciate the symphony of hummmmms coming from the refrigerators & freezers, it is a place of quiet desperation...a place where salesmen and women go to die a slow death--plagued with the responsibility to know all things about washers and dryers; top loaders & front loaders--ENERGY STAR qualified products & those that are not. I am on the side of both opinions: it is both peaceful and mind-numbingly boring. I keep the time by making a lot of "TO DO" lists, most of which I never really get around to doing.
On the night of Sunday, May 16th, the Appliance Life as I knew it was forever changed. Things became interesting and I was forever changed...
A young couple came in looking for a washer and dryer. They seemed "normal" enough, possessing the innate distrust of all sales people and genuine inability to separate me as a person from "the MAN" known as "Best Buy." After 2 and a half hours of negotiations, we finally came to an agreement. I'm not fond of the "sales dance" at all--the customer is shown the product, the customer wants to talk the seller down, the seller(me) approaches the "highers ups" with the proposition; the seller returns to the potential buyer with the terms of the possible agreement--the buyers want more than what is being offered--the higher ups are unmoved by their request--and the seller is left to salvage what is left of a not so fun sale and so on and so on. Most of the time I feel like I'm in some sort of mix between a made for comedy mafioso genre TV show, Let's Make a Deal and Candid Camera. I check my peripherals on the regular, just waiting for a covert TV host (who may or may not sound and look like Tony Soprano) to pop out of a refrigerator and say, "$1500 for a washer & dryer for my family? Forget about it! You've insulted the family...Gotcha..." I'm totally serious. Back to my story...
I finally make the worst sale ever--there was no money to be made in this sale--at all. But you know me, I don't get caught up in things I cannot change. They were happy, so I was happy. I ring up the sale at the register...the receipt sputters out of the shoot...I hand them the receipt and say, "You guys said you have a truck right? Go ahead and pull it up to the front and I'll be up there momentarily with some guys to help load it." They look at me. They look at each other. They look at me and laugh. "Uhhh, ma'am...we've got a truck. The question is do you have a forklift?" I thought, "Oh my dear sweet Jesus! What is that supposed to mean?" It was now 20 minutes past the time I was supposed to be off. Best Buy is a ghost town. I'm looking for anyone to help me wrap the washer and dryer. I find a fellow and he helps me. It took us 15 minutes to complete this endeavor because these were floor models and they were shoved behind a steel plate that kept us from being able to remove them. We had to move 2 washer and dryer sets, just to get to the ones that I had sold. We made it. Now all we have to do is move them to the front of the store, load them and then we can go home. We make our may to the front. I'm relieved...I have a little spring in my step while pushing the dolly because I'm hungry and I can't wait to go get something to eat. I see the front doors...the finish line...I'm elated. Then it happened. I look outside and it's pouring down rain. That in and of itself would have easily thwarted the hopes of most people, but I was unmoved--I like the rain. But then I turn my attention to the noise I'm hearing--not that of thunder but an old familiar sound I hear when I'm driving down the interstate. That symphony of hydraulic brakes and clanging diesel engines...it was the sound of a SEMI. I think to myself, "Oh no you didn't. Tell me you didn't just sell this to the people sitting in the foreboding, massive, black, steel encased nightmare of a truck? Oh yes you did! Ahhhh man...this is hilarious...oh crap...how are we going to get this in there?" We watched in shock as the driver of this "big-rig" pushed a button and made the truck bed ascend to a very impressive 90 degree vertical. I had never seen this before. This indeed was a first in my history and in the history of Best Buy. Well between myself and two other guys, one of which is smaller than me, we did it. We were soaking wet, the guys were covered in the cement and mud from the truck--but we made it. I hope you've enjoyed this very small glimpse into my fun life as I know it ;)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Modest Life As I Know It

Hello friends! I know that it has been entirely too long--my bad...But I wanted to share a story with y'all that I know will have you instantly forgive me for neglecting my blog.

So I live in California now, and they have the reputation for being more liberal than most in my beloved sleepy south. I was raised to say, "Yes ma'am, no ma'am" "Yes sir, no sir" "Please" and "Thank you." My mother told me to never say anything bad about anyone--to always "bless their hearts," eat whatever is placed in front of me with gratitude, don't talk with my mouth full, stick my tongue out at people, say curse words (cuss words),smack, spit;talk back to an adult, always cross my legs and never ever hit anyone--ever. I was also raised to keep some things to myself--those things deemed "private." For example, going to the bathroom. We don't announce it--we're discrete--it's ladylike and polite. We don't do that. We also don't walk around in our underwear--that's private and it's not proper for a southern girl to be an exhibitionist. It has everything in the world to do with boundaries--respecting one's privacy. I mean, I don't want to see anybody's naked-ness. I don't want to see what your momma may or may not have given to ya and I don't want you seeing what my momma did not give me. I'm cool--keep it to yourself. I mean, I've seen my twin sister naked one time--and that was out of necessity--that is another story in and of itself. I will say that we may be twins, but we are fraternal. I digress. My roommates think that my modesty is funny. Apparently, I'm a rare occurrence--they've never really encountered someone who doesn't use the bathroom with the door open or parades around half naked--or totally. Well, here I am! So they've given me a hard time--all in jest mind you. I have some good stories, most of which I'll be glad to tell you in private. It wouldn't be polite to blog about it. On to my story.

With the previous information in mind, enjoy---this would happen to me. Oh and by the way, IT DID.

I spent one afternoon tanning outside. This day was glorious! Spring had officially "sprung" and I was especially looking forward to enjoying the warm weather as opposed to the Arctic chill I've endured for the past 6 months. I was also delighted to work on my tan--everybody looks better with a little color--this is soooo true. I reveled in the beauty of this sunny day for a few hours, then I came inside, had lunch and proceeded to take a shower. Well, I'm in my bathroom about to hop in and wash the sun off, when I remember that all of my towels were in the dryer. Dangit...So I think to myself, "Nobody's home--just make a break for it." The laundry room just so happens to be on the opposite end of the house...I think, "I can make it, no big deal." I have never walked around naked in the house, let alone run. But, on this day, I made an exception. I chose to forgo any and all wisdom that had been instilled in me--I bowed down to the need for toweledge. Anyway, I stick my head out of my bedroom door--the coast is clear! Sweet! I'm good to go. So I sling open the door, and make a run for it. It was so freeing! I was enjoying the freedom for a moment, then it happened. As I'm turning the corner in a full on sprint, I happen to look towards the front door. There standing in knocking position is a man in a suit. Not just any man, but a Jehovah's Witness! I think, "Oh my God--sweet Jesus! I'm naked and there's a man--a JEHOVAH'S WITNESS--I'M NAKED! I'M NAKED! I'M NAKED!!!" I immediately slid feet first into the great room--the blinds were closed, so I was free from exposure. I peered through the blinds, looking for the man--but he was gone. I thought, "Man that was fast! Oh, well. What just happened? That just happened. I guess the Jehovah's witness, witnessed the glory of the Lord."
That is the first and last time I EVER walk out of the privacy and safety of my bedroom NAKED.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Someone saved, someone saved, someone saved my life tonight...

"The Lord is righteous in all his ways and loving toward all he has made. The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them. The Lord watches over all who love him..." Psalm 145: 17-20

Jesus saved my life Thursday night October 22nd. Here's my story...

Last week some very curious things kept happening and presented themselves as I drove home from work. There are two roads I can choose to take that lead me home:CR 26 or 70. In general, if I'm coming home very late at night (after 10pm) I choose to take 70 because it's not as curvy and has less traffic. This road has a place within it that houses a railway--the trains literally drive over the road. Monday night I find myself on CR 70. All is quiet...not a single car on the road to keep me company. Just me and The Blazer. I come to the railroad crossing and look to my left and I see a train coming right at me! Only,there was no train. I shrugged off the matter and attributed my "hallucination" to general fatigue or tiredness. Tuesday night I find myself on the same road, crossing the same railroad tracks and AGAIN I see a train coming directly at me! But, there was no train...Wednesday was my off-day from work and I met up with my precious sister Linn Lazenby. We went to church and had a wonderful evening together and the Lord definitely spoke to us that night--but those things are for another blog post time and place :) On my way home from Linn's house I was driving and again I find myself on CR-70. This time I am blocked by the longest tractor-trailer I have every seen before in my life! I am not exaggerating when I tell you that it was as long as 6 18-wheelers! It even had three police escorts that blocked off the entire road so it could make turns. Did I mention the police escorts were FBI-esque Tahoes? They were...So my plan to drive down CR-70 was thwarted and I opted to take CR-26 instead. I made it back safe and sound--no big deal. Thursday night I finished working very late into the evening and began my trek home around 10:30pm. It had been storming all day and was currently holding down a constant, moderate downpour. I'm driving about 55mph, have on my high beams and the radio is off so I can focus on the road. I come to the railroad crossing...the lights aren't flashing...the bells aren't sounding...I look to my left and see a train barreling down the tracks(*remember the tracks cross the road)&I am about 10 feet away from the tracks when I realize that indeed there is a REAL train and indeed the lights are not flashing and indeed I am about to die. I cry out:"JESUS!!!!!!!!!!!!" Immediately the Blazer stops on a dime! I am exactly 10 feet away from the long black train. What is amazing is that what happened completely defies the laws of motion--specifically Inertia: An object in motion will stay in motion unless acted upon by an unbalanced force. So picture my situation: I am driving in a Chevrolet Blazer (notorious for flipping and hydroplaning) in the rain at a speed of 55mph. What should have happened was that the Blazer should have hydroplaned when I slammed on the breaks, causing me to go directly into the train's path. I should have been thrown around in the vehicle or at worst thrown through the windshield. But none of that happened. As soon as I cried out to Jesus I felt like I hit a wall--an invisible buffer. Kind of like when you're competing in an egg toss. You don't just catch the egg like you would a ball or something. No, you cradle it and receive it in your hands so it won't crack. Well, that's what happened. I stopped right in front of the tracks...everything I had in my passenger seat remained exactly where it had been before--nothing moved---nothing had been shaken. There was peace. I was surrounded by the Grace of God and His peace. He saved me! He had been telling me all week! He is always speaking to us--we have to become aware of His voice and recognize that indeed it is Our Father's. I shouldn't be here and yet, I am. He showed me the train long before I encountered it. There were no warning lights from the tracks---but the Lord had already shown me. He is mighty to save! He is my fortress...a sure help in times of trouble. He turned to me and heard my cry. He is Good! He is my savior...He is my Jesus--the great interceder!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

You Got to Know When to Hold Em'...Know When to Fold Em'...

Hello friends!
Sorry for neglecting my blogging duties---I've had a bit of writer's block, well at least until yesterday. Oh yesterday...it happened--a jewel of a story fell right into my lap. What was my first thought? "I have to blog about this asap!" So here I go.
I have been living in Bham for a little over a month and got a job the first week I started looking (Yay! Thank you sweet Jesus!!!). I am working at Best Buy as a "Digital Technologist." Sounds important, right? Don't laugh---cause' it is the hardest job I've ever had! Never thought I'd say that--but I have to know EVERYTHING about computers, digital cameras, digital SLRs, and mp3 players. Becoming an "expert" entails taking many, many certification tests that I have to pass within a 30 day period. So far, I've knocked out half of what I need to do, so that's good :)I really like my job! Okay, so onto my story...
Yesterday was the first day I flew solo in manning the fortress of cameras. I thrive in an autonomous environment--let me go and do my thing and the magic will happen. It started off as a pretty normal day--sold a few cameras and lots of accessories, helped out lots of people--so I was really enjoying myself. At about 7:30pm a gentlemen popped into my section. Now let me preface this by saying that for some reason that day I had decided to right down every encounter I had with customers. Why? I don't know. I felt compelled by The Holy Spirit. I look at this and then look at my list of "encounters" for the day. There he was: #3. So I say to him, "Oh, well hey there! You're back. Good to see you." Ok so I am very friendly, but I AM NO FLIRT. Just need to say that. So he's asking me about the big cameras--you know the ones that cost about as much as a car. Then the red flags(aka The Holy Spirit) start going off all over the place!!! He says to me, "So when do you get off work?" Please, like I'm going to tell a potential stalker when I'm going to be walking to my car...amateur. Well, I say to him, "You know, I don't really know--since I'm new here I really don't have a set schedule--I'm probably closing." In truth I got off work at 8pm--closing is at 10. Then he says, "Well, do you know very many people here (meaning Birmingham)?" So I said, "Oh yeah, I have a lot of friends who live up here!" Then he says it--the most awkward segway in the history of segways: "Well, maybe you'd like to go to dinner sometime with me." Oh just get ready for what I said...After I get over the initial shock and finally process what has just transpired, I say: "Umm, no that's okay. I don't really get very hungry. I'm good." What does that even mean??? I don't know. But then he says, "Well I can't be more than 15 years older than you." I said, "Really? I'm pretty sure you are...I'm 25." Then he says, "I'm 45. Twenty years isn't that bad." I just looked at him and with my eyes said, "Get the H away from me!" So he obliged, shook my hand and said, "It was very nice to meet you Kristen." I just said, "Uh huh, yeah." This was a really odd situation. First of all, he had already been in that day--so he came back and it was not for the purpose of making a Best Buy purchase. Secondly, the dude was 20 years older than me! Ewww!!! And thirdly, this man looked just like Kenny Rogers...a thinner version...but nonetheless he had the silver hair and full beard.
Here's my confession: As a child I had crushes on Kirk Cameron, John Stamos (Uncle Jesse was my fave)and a few others. Well, I also had an affinity for men with facial hair. Some of my bearded/stached crushes were George Michael, the guy off of "My Two Dads" and my all time favorite Tom Selleck. I still think Tom's a good looking guy..what??? Go on and say what you want, but he's a man's man. I mean hello? Quigley Down Under...The NRA. Yeah. But never, have I ever had a thing for Kenny Rogers---I don't want the recipe for his Roasters and I never will! And I am allergic to chicken.
In conclusion, I now have a designated "Best Buy Boyfriend" named Patrick who is a very good-looking seminary student. He walked me to my car and even opened my door :) There are still good guys out there--the kind that will be more than happy to be your escort and workplace boyfriend. So that's my story. Kenny Rogers has now been flagged and all is right in the world. Now if I could just get the security video from the Geek Squad...That would be amazing!