This is my story…

WOW!  What a ride this has been!  From the moment I got my pink slip at work until now, life has been a very twisty turny roller coaster!  Four and a half months later, I’d like to say I’m getting off but I know it’s not true!  What I DO know, though, is that God has called me back to my school counseling position and I return tomorrow.

I’m nervous, too.  For four and a half months, I had to wrap my mind around going back, not going back, starting a new position in private practice, being a part-time stay-at-home mom, moving on from that chapter in life, and now, going back to the position I held for four years.  And I feel like it’s my first day at a brand new job!

This morning, I decided to take my nerves to church.  My thoughts were consumed with fears, worries, and feelings of self-doubt.  “What if they liked the part-time counselor better?”  “What if no one is excited to see me?”  “What if I can’t connect with the new students and the new staff members?”  “What if I can’t reconnect with the old ones?”  “What if I fail miserably?”  “What if I can’t balance the job with my new-found desire to be a fully present mom and wife?”  “What if…”

But then, a familiar hymn started playing.  “Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine.  Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!”  Usually, belting out harmonies with the worship band sets my mind on Higher things but this time, I just sat and listened.  “Heir of salvation.  Purchase of God.  Born of His spirit.  Washed in His blood!”  The words were like the purest water to my thirsty heart!  I AM the heir of salvation!  I HAVE been purchased by God!  This world is just a foretaste of the glory that awaits!!

And then, as if hearing it all for the first time, the soloist sang, “This is my story!  This is my song!  Praising my Savior all the day long!”  This IS my story!  This last four and a half months are part of the story God has written for my life.  I don’t understand it all and to be honest, I didn’t like it all, but looking back, there’s no way I’d rip out this page! 

I have gained so much in this short time!  I have gained new knowledge as a counselor and feel better equipped to help my students.  I have gained an awareness of just how special many of my friendships are.  I have gained a new focus and have realized just how awesome it feels to shut down the computer and turn off the TV so that I can be available to my family.  I have learned to relax more and to enjoy the time God has given me with my daughters.  I have gained a rekindled passion to be my husband’s best friend and the wife he truly deserves.  I have gained a new-found excitement to give control of my life over to the Lord.

And because of this time in my life, I have been reminded that my story is being hand-written by God Himself!  He alone puts the words on the page of each day.  He alone dots the “i’s” and crosses each “t”.  He alone breathes the music into my song!

God is writing a story through our lives.  We don’t know how it will end…we don’t even know what will be written on the next page.  But in the hands of the Author of Life, we know it’s worth reading!!

The Goodness of God

God is good.  I’ve known that before in my life but every now and then, I completely forget it.  I don’t know why.  I’m not sure why, every now and then, I am amnesic.  I know He doesn’t change which means that it must be all me.  I must be the problem.  (I can see my husband and brother-in-law nodding in agreement right now!) 

I forget that God is good, especially when His goodness doesn’t follow my definition of good.  I forget that God is good when His plan doesn’t come close to matching mine.  I forget that God is good when my own pride keeps me from sensing His presence.  When I feel like I’m wondering in the desert, I forget that He’s the beautiful mirage I see that won’t disappear when I approach it.  I forget that God is good even though we have wanted for nothing during this time of unemployment.  I forget that God is good even though, if I took time to write out all the blessings He’s poured out on my life, there wouldn’t be enough hours in my life to finish the list.  

This week, though, I was able to embrace the many reminders that God is good…all the time.  This week, He showed Himself in the abundance of hugs I received from my sweet but normally hug-resistant kindergartener.  This week, I saw Him in the long walks I was able to take with my funny and devoted husband.  This week, He walked in the door each time my silly but amazing third grader came home healthy and happy from school.  This week, I heard His voice on the phone during conversations with family and friends who are still here to encourage me.  This week, He was present in the new clients that He sent to my practice.  This week, I didn’t have to look hard to remember!!!

There’s a fantastic song that’s out now that I think describes it better than I ever could.  It’s by Switchfoot and you should check it out…

“Your Love Is a Song”

I’ve been keeping my eyes wide open

Ooh, Your love is a symphony

All around me

Running through me

Ooh, Your love is a melody

Underneath me

Running to me

He is everywhere.  We just have to keep our eyes and our ears wide open.  He is ALWAYS conducting His orchestra!

Joy’s just around the corner…I can feel it!

I’m not sure why this blog has turned into a place where I dump my heavy thoughts.  I intended it to be a place of encouragement and hope…a bit of a shelter in the midst of life’s storms.  I can be funny and witty and smart but you probably don’t feel like you’ve seen that side of me yet.  I will get there someday but, unfortunately, today is not that day.  Today, I share the heavy reminder I’ve been given that life is too often too short.

My dad turned 70 last week.  It was sort of surreal, to be honest, and not just for me but for him as well!  As he opened his gifts, he would pause and mumble something like, “Seventy…WOW!  I can’t believe it!”  I thought his birthday would make me do the whole “my parents are aging” thing but it actually didn’t so much.  I was reminded through the words of a sweet friend who lost her father several years ago how lucky I am to still have mine around.  It was a moment of clarity, really, rather than sadness.  So, while my dad’s seventy years have indeed flown by, that’s not what made me remember just how vapor-like life is.

That reminder came today.  A friend of mine who I knew from church camp in high school died.  She was 37-years-old and left behind a four-year-old son and a husband who, in one breath, is now a single parent.  She was incorrectly medicated after having her gall bladder removed and had a stroke.  Things never improved and she was taken off life support today.  To be honest, I can’t wrap my mind around what happened.  She probably thought she was going in for a fairly routine procedure and within days, she was living the final moments of her life. 

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not sad for HER.  She was a strong Christian who had accepted Jesus as her personal Savior and today, she met Him face-to-face.  I am confident she heard Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”  I am confident that right now, she’s catching up with her loved ones who were there waiting for her.  I am confident she has already stood on the streets of gold and cried, “Holy!  Holy!  Holy!”  For those reasons, I do not mourn for her.  I mourn for a four-year-old who cannot possibly understand why Mommy was here one minute and gone the next.  I mourn for a husband who cannot possibly find the words to comfort their son when he himself cannot make sense of this.  I mourn for those of us who so quickly forget that we do NOT have all the time in the world.

I am amazed, though, that the heaviness of grief does not outweigh the peace that can be found in mourning.  Only God can do that.  Only God can bring calm in the midst of such emotional chaos.  And because He is compassionate, He has done just that.  He has opened my eyes to His peace that passes all understanding. 

There is peace in knowing that her son has the opportunity to see her again someday.  There is peace in knowing that her life was a joy to so many.  And there is peace in knowing that the abrupt nature of her death will certainly be a reminder to people that life can be here today and gone tomorrow.  What will you do with that reminder?  I know I’m going to work to find joy in each day…even if I don’t always blog about it!

One day at a time

“One day at a time, sweet Jesus.  That’s all I’m asking from You.”  A sweet lady in my childhood church used to sing that song.  I actually remember her vividly.  Her name was Doris and she was extremely talented.  She was also the first person I knew who had cancer.  She died quickly because in the 80’s, I don’t think there was a lot doctors could do for her.  I also remember that her funeral was the first time I saw my dad cry.

Times like that truly stick with you forever.  There are seasons of life when times like that are pretty much all you get.  Today, I felt like I was drowning in a season of suffering.  My husband’s job search hasn’t progressed the way we’d hoped.  My sister has been facing defeat after defeat lately.  I found out today a friend from high school is being removed from life support soon.  I am starting over for the third time on my career path and for the third time, I am feeling pretty incompetent.  It has been one of those seasons where it seems to be one stinking thing after another.

This evening, though, a Bible verse came to mind.  “In this world you will have trouble.” (John 16:33)  Boy, He wasn’t kiddin’!  I actually chuckled when I thought about it.  Tell me something I don’t know, Lord!  But then I thought, what if that was it?  What if that’s where the verse ended?  What if seasons like this were all we got?  What a downer!

Thankfully, the verse continues.  “But take heart!  I have overcome the world!”  That’s NOT all there is!  It DOESN’T end there!  Because He has conquered this sad and sinful world, times like these are just potholes in the road that leads us Home!  What a relief!

And so I start over tomorrow, asking the sweet and mighty world Conqueror for fewer potholes and the help to make it one day at a time!

Even I can’t mess this one up!

I’ve messed up a lot of things over my 35 years of life.  I’ve sinned big.  I’ve sinned little.  I’ve sinned in the past.  I sin in the present and I’m sure I’ll sin in the future.  But I was reminded of something today.  Even in my very worst moments (and there are MANY!), there is one thing even I can’t mess up.  I can do nothing so bad, so off base, so outside God’s desire for my life that I mess up His sovereign will for mankind.

Tonight, in a book by James MacDonald that my dear friend is letting me borrow, I read the following:

“Nothing thwarts God’s sovereign will. Whatever God says will happen, does – on time, every time.  God never paces back and forth wringing His hands.  He’s not wondering how things will turn out.  He knows.  God’s sovereign will rules the universe and He doesn’t break a sweat.  He doesn’t stand on tiptoe looking at us to see what will happen next.  He’s tilted back on His recliner throne with His feet up.”

There was an incredible amount of peace wrapped up in those words.  I can worry about what my husband’s next job will be.  I can wonder when my next client will schedule.  I can stress out about where the next house payment will come from but God isn’t worrying.  He knows.  And He knows that ultimately, none of that even matters.  For when the time that He Himself has selected is marked on the clock, “at the name of Jesus, every knee will bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.”  (Philippians 2:10-11)  And praise the Lord…no one can mess that up!!

The next chapter

I’ve taken the leap. I’ve turned the next page. I’ve started a blog. That, of course, automatically makes the things I have to say extremely important, right?! Uh…no. This is so much more cathartic for me than anything else but if you’re here and you’re reading, I hope you enjoy!

After four years of having what I thought was the best job I could have asked for, God decided He had something better in mind.  He used a little thing called “the rapidly declining economy” to point me in the right direction.  My position at an elementary school was cut for budget purposes and after spending the entire summer wallowing in self-pity and anger, I’ve decided I’m over myself!  God has given me this time in my life for a reason and shame on me for not embracing it. 

So far, because of this new chapter in my life, I’ve been able to attend kindergarten orientation with my youngest daughter.  I’ve been able to wave goodbye to both girls as they ride away on the school bus (a first for me even though one is in 3rd grade!)  I’ve exercised with my husband (who, for added faith testing, is also unemployed!)  I’ve even gone grocery shopping in the middle of the day!  As a working mom my whole “mom” life, these things are all new and exciting to me! 

Like I mentioned earlier, I truly thought God had put a calling on my life to be an elementary school counselor.  When I was handed my pink slip I thought to myself, “Well, Lord…I got THAT wrong!”  And all summer, I’ve been pretty ticked off at Him.  But what I really got wrong was thinking that the four years I spent at my last job WEREN’T tied into my calling.  Those four years taught me more than I could have imagined.  They stretched me in ways I thought only Elasti Girl could stretch.  They showed me that it doesn’t matter WHERE you are in life…it only matters WHAT you allow God to do through you while you’re there.

And now…I’m here.  In this place filled with confusion, excitement, worry, energy, fear, and blank pages.  I’m looking forward to the next chapter God’s preparing to write!