Thursday, February 28, 2008

Holly Turns 34; Oh, Happy Day!

It’s my birthday, and my only plans were to work on a research paper. And write this blog.

This is most unusual—I usually make a huge deal out of my birthday. I typically spend six weeks planning my party. One month prior, I start a “countdown”: My friends receive an email that says, “Only 31 more shopping days until Holly’s birthday!” In the past, I’ve ordered custom t-shirts and themed party favors. (At my 80s party last year, guests received Rubik’s cubes and jelly bracelets in their goody bags.)

Additionally, I typically spend the entire week of my birthday engaging in “mini-celebrations”: I take myself out to my favorite restaurant, I give myself a day of beauty at the salon, I buy a new outfit. This is in addition to all the gifts and other parties I get from family and friends.

But this year, I didn’t remind anyone about my birthday. I didn’t plan a party. Instead, I spent the day doing homework. By choice. As much as I love my birthday (and I truly do!), I’m so enamored with school right now, nothing could be better than studying.

Honestly. I LOVE grad school! (I'm working on a master's in Christian Apologetics.) And I love my research paper. It’s on the holes in Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution; specifically, I argue against his idea life arose through purely natural means. In other words, Darwin theorized there was no supernatural involvement. No creator, no design, no plan—we simply won the cosmic lottery, and we’re lucky to be here. Francis Crick, a Darwinist who received the Nobel Prize for being a co-discoverer of the molecular structure of DNA, wrote, “An honest man, armed with all the knowledge available to us now, could only state that in some sense, the origin of life appears at the moment to be almost a miracle, so many are the conditions which would have had to have been satisfied to get it going." I wonder why Crick couldn't make the leap from thinking life seemed miraculous to believing it actually is.

I’ve been reflecting on my life—as we usually do when birthdays roll around—and I’m amazed at how truly miraculous and planned it is. Some folks would prefer to say I’m the recipient of good fortune. But in reviewing the evidence, I don’t think luck has much to do with it. Through a series of specific events, I find myself back in school at the perfect time. I wouldn’t have been ready for it a year ago, wouldn’t have considered it two years ago, and couldn’t have considered it five years ago. I started H-n-T two years ago as a way to stay in touch with a friend, and it turned into something amazing—something I never would have dreamed. Then, after reading H-n-T, the editors at Today’s Christian Woman asked me to blog for them. And thanks to my Today’s Christian Woman blog, traffic to H-n-T in the last eight months has grown from about 125 visitors a month to nearly 700.

Even bad circumstances have turned out to be good this year. In October 2006, I started having vision problems. I lost part of the sight in my left eye, and my doctor told me it was permanent and untreatable. For two months, it was a struggle to read—I briefly considered giving up writing because it seemed too hard. Then some friends started praying for me. I made up my mind that no matter how difficult it became, I was going to keep writing stories about my faith journey and God’s goodness. And I asked God to help me persevere.

As you may remember, my eyesight was restored without any treatment—other than lots of prayer from friends! It’s been just over a year since that happened. My vision was 20/200 in my left eye in December 2006; I couldn’t see the big “E” at the top of the eye chart. At my last eye exam, my doctor told me I was seeing 20/40 of out my left eye.

Since 2004, when I left Christianity Today International so hubby and I could move to California for his job, I wondered what God was going to do with my life. I was jobless, bored and miserable. And it seemed God was closing every door, which I couldn’t understand. I was making myself available! I was trying to tackle projects it seemed God was placing in front of me! But every time I got excited about some prospective work opportunity, it seemed to crash and burn. At times, I thought, Maybe God doesn’t have any plans for me. Or maybe I’m supposed to come up with my own plans. Or maybe I’m supposed to wait patiently … I just didn’t know what was going to happen.

I’m beginning to understand why I had to wait. Waiting is HARD. That’s why my birthday parties were so important in the past. They gave me something to look forward to. I’d celebrate that I’d gotten through another miserable year of waiting.

This year, I didn’t make any big plans for my birthday. I didn’t need to celebrate my survival or buy myself toys to feel better. This year I’m excited and expectant for stuff I see God lining up before me.

Guess I’m completely satisfied with the plans God is giving me. It’s been worth the wait, and then some.

To ponder:
1) Have you ever had to wait on God for something? How did this make you feel?

2) How did you deal (or how are you dealing) with the waiting time?

3) If you're presently waiting on God: Consider these words God had Jeremiah tell the Israelites: "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart'" (Jeremiah 29:11-13).

How do these words make you feel? (Some will find the passage encouraging, other will view it as discouraging, and some will feel a mix of the two.) Then, tell God how the passage made you feel.

4) If you had to wait in the past: In retrospect, could you see how God used the wait? What would you say to someone who feels like they’re in a holding pattern? If it seems difficult to come up with encouraging words, consider: What do you wish someone had said to you or done for you?


Jennifer said...

Hi Holly, I "randomly" came across your blog and was very inspired by it. I too am amazed how sovereign God is and that His plans are always better than mine. Many things I have seen come to fruition were unimaginable at some point. I am now waiting upon God to bring me some new Christian women that I can call friends. We recently moved 2400 miles away from everything I knew and it can certainly be lonely. I'll check back often. Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

Hey Holly. I remember the time prior to this period in your life, when you were frustrated and crying out to God because the waiting didn't make any sense. So it is really good to hear you speak of this change and motion in your life.
Love, Angela

Holly said...

Jennifer, I will be praying that God brings fabulous women into your life, and that he provides you with loving community.

My husband and I have moved from California to Illinois and back to another part of California. I remember standing in a grocery store about a week after we'd moved to Illinois and tears were welling up in my eyes. I was frustrated because I couldn't find the items on my shopping list, and I thought, I don't know my way around this town, this neighborhood, or this store. I don't know anyone, so how can I ask for help?

God used that time to show me I could rely on him, and it seemed like every day brought reassurance of this. In that grocery store, there were friendly stockers who offered to show me around the store. When I went to a Wal-Mart and had my hands full of items, another shopper offered me her cart. In another grocery store, there was a buy-one-get-one-free sale on potatoes--I wanted just one, and felt sad I didn't have a friend to give the free bag to. A woman in that store saw me staring at the potatoes and asked, "Do you need two bags? I only need one--would you like to split the cost?" So I got my potatoes half price and had a nice conversation to boot. Those little "God moments" reminded me I wasn't alone.

I'm praying right now that God will show you he's right there with you, and has an incredible future lined up for you and your family.

Jennifer said...

Wow Holly, Thank you! I am so overwhelmed as I read your post to me. To know that there is another women out there, that doesn't know me, who is willing to take time to pray for me is amazing! And, you know how you said I would see God's love through other people? Well, He just used you! Thank you, I especially needed this today!

LaTonya said...

Whoa, wait a minute. No party this year? What am I supposed to do with this afro wig? *banging forehead into keyboard*

Holly said...

LOL! *imagining you, wearing wig, banging head on keyboard--WOOOSH!*

Keep it ready and fluffy, Tawn. My big 3-5 is right around the corner. We're gonna throw down!