So Easy to Forget..

For over a year I have prayed every day for a job. My contract ended June 2016 and I needed a new one. I watched as we neared the summer, telling myself that maybe more schools would hire in June. I talked myself down during July and told myself that there were always last minute hires.. maybe in August. I braced myself to face September.. my first September in a looong time where I didn’t have a contract. I comforted myself with the idea that “anything could happen” and a mid year hire was possible. I scoured job sites, explored fields other than education, and prayed every day.

God didn’t answer my prayer immediately. He didn’t answer it the way I thought he should answer it last Spring but he did have a plan and while I’m sure I don’t understand all of it, I see now that he had some work to do in me.
So the past year was trying and difficult and humbling and frightening. Every month I had bills to pay and spent a lot of time talking to God about my bank account. I had never been in that position before… needing to pray for literal daily bread. (well not totally literal.. bread is bad) But I had specific financial needs that I needed help with. And God provided! It was amazing!
Since I didn’t have a busy full-time job (I was supply teaching) I had lots of time to read. I read a lot. My morning time with God was no longer rushed and that was a good thing. I noticed my prayer life was changing too. While a year ago I was a bit more demanding about the kind of job I wanted and the particular school I was hoping for, my prayers changed to asking him to put me where he needed me and where he could use me. My heart was changing and shifting and my relationship was deepening. I moved from praying for the ability to trust him, to actually trusting him.
And now things have changed. I have a job. It came just in time and so far it seems like a great fit for the next year.
I am excited about the future and I am so happy to be working again. I am also determined not to forget all that God has done for me. I don’t want to wander slightly because things are good at the moment. I don’t want to forget the moments that I nervously checked my bank account to see if I had enough to pay a bill and found that the money was there! I feel protective of this past year because it was the year I experienced him in a totally different way. So I’m writing things down so I don’t forget about that time that God took care of me and showed me amazing kindness and love when I needed it most.

Bratty Behaviour

Oh, how fleeting our happiness can be! It seems as though lately I have been bombarded by the idea that nothing in this life can truly satisfy us. No person, job, condo, vacation, clothing item, accessory, toy, can ever cause us to be completely happy. For a little over a year I’ve been praying for a job and simultaneously living in a state of minor terror. When September rolled around and I wasn’t working, I was shocked and fearful. As the year went on, I went through varying degrees of fear but deep down I told myself that once I had landed a job– all of my problems would be solved. I believed that true happiness would be found in gainful employment.

And so, one day in early March, I received word that I had indeed gotten myself a job! I was ecstatic! I was thankful! I could see God working in the details that made this happen for me! I was finally able to sleep at night and wake up in the early morning hours without worrying myself into a dark hole.

BUT – that happiness rather quickly disappeared and my worry for a job was way-too-quickly replaced with my desire for a really great boyfriend. It had only been a couple of days! My employment dream had come true. The key to my supposed happiness had been given to me and I so quickly forgot. I figured I had at least a couple of weeks before I was yearning for something else to make me more satisfied but no.. we are strange creatures that way.

I know that should I ever meet a tall, bold.. wait that’s my coffee order.. but should I ever meet the right man, I will be happy but then inevitably I will be wanting for something else. We are never satisfied. I feel like such a brat but I also recognize that this is what C.S. Lewis was talking about.. this is the very “desire that nothing in this world can satisfy” and the indication that “we were made for another world“. Or as Paul David Tripp wrote in his book New Morning Mercies: “Of course you haven’t been fulfilled in this world. It’s a sign that you have been designed for a world to come.

So I will continue to be thankful that God has blessed me with a job and when I feel that annoying longing for something new, I will tell myself that this is just a symptom of the human condition. Sure, those things may bring some happiness but they will not stop me from wanting more. Only God can satisfy our hearts and only He can bring us to a place where all of our yearnings and desires will be completely met.

 

Two Become One.. but not like that.

I have kept a journal for ages, since I was about 9 years old I think. While during some stages of life I was more diligent about writing in it, I’ve always had one on the go. I remember in high school someone introduced me to the idea of a Prayer Journal and I thought that sounded appealing too. I remember thinking at the time that I didn’t want to give up my personal journal and combine it with the prayer one so I have had two on the go for many, many years.

If I examine my reasons for this.. well back in the day I wanted to write in my personal one about .. well “personal” things. It was mostly about boys and friendships and the daily dramas I was going through. I didn’t want to mix that up with God stuff because, sometimes I liked boys that I didn’t want to pray about and sometimes I had very ungodly and mean feelings about people in my life. So I felt like I had this double life of journals going on. I also had the far-fetched idea that I was going to be a famous writer and when I died and my journals were published, I preferred that the public read about my ever-so-exciting life of being unable to decide between two boys and musings about my humdrum life instead of see my inconsistent prayer life. Ridiculous.. on so many levels!

So this kept up for a very long time. I would write prayers to God in my devotional journal and then I would pick up my other one and scribble out anxious thoughts about men, jobs, friendships, etc. Recently, I have been writing way more in my prayer journal and it’s started to turn into a personal journal too.

One of my consistent spiritual struggles has been trying not to balance on the fence.. keeping one foot on either side and I think the separate journals is a very tangible depiction of that. I am now “all in” but my journals were not.

SO… today I started a new journal. Just one. A journal where I can record my life and talk to God about it at the same time. Imagine. I’m pretty excited because not only is it quite pretty, but I finally am at the point where I can see how I need to be transparent and open with God about all the areas of my life. I am hoping that this will be a good thing and I can’t wait to see what ends up being written on the pages.  It’s one life… so one journal.

 

 

On Why I Need to Stop Being Silly…

I’m pretty stupid sometimes.

I worry and I fret myself about all kind of things. I view situations as impossible to solve. I dread the future based on my own paranoid induced predictions. Silly girl.

I have been dealing with a less than pleasant situation at work for about… well since the year started. It continues to escalate and grow seemingly worse and I spend way too much of my time thinking about it. I have been trying to come to grips with the fact that being in a leadership position means that sometimes people just aren’t going to like me. I’ve been trying to make peace with that and figure out a way to deal with it. I tell you, I may be an expert at pinning quotes on Pinterest about how it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks, go your own way, don’t let others affect you, people can’t make you feel badly without your permission.. or something but I tell you— they don’t really seem to work!

And so I kept praying that God would help me. I’m not sure what’s wrong with me but I didn’t expect such an immediate and unexpected answer. Yesterday, I went into work bracing myself for more awkwardness and yes, that was there but also many opportunities to discuss things. The whole day seemed to involve conflict resolution and/or “difficult conversations” and you know what– I feel so much better about everything.

Honestly, it was a bit of a rush to see such a quick answer to prayer. It was such a clear example of God going before me and opening the doors and hearts of the people I needed to speak with. And I didn’t even cry.

So I must remember not to be foolish and to trust that He really will work out all of the details and be beside me when I face tricky things.. His way of working things out is so much better than mine!

On speaking to students…

I remember watching an Oprah show back when I was in high school.. yes apparently I had the habits of middle aged housewife but I digress. On that particular show, she was talking about how she had a teacher when she was 9 who told her that she was beautiful. She explained how that single comment changed her life.

I started thinking about my own high school experience. I honestly don’t recall receiving any sort of positive validation from my teachers. No life changing comments or pieces of advice or anything. (Correction: I did have a computer teacher who told me that when I became fwustrated with my computer, I should get up and go get a dwink… valuable stuff really). However on a personal level, what I mainly remember from high school is being embarrassed. I have several vivid memories of teachers snapping at me about things and saying phrases that actually still ring in my ears. I know, I know, it’s been over 15 years.. let it go already! I have and this really isn’t a pity party post by any means. I think I’ve done a bang up job of getting on with my life and not letting a mediocre high school experience taint that but the fact that I can so clearly remember comments that I’m almost 100% sure were off the cuff, in a moment of reaction, not meant very much at all– concerns me when I think of what I do for a living.
I’m with an “impressionable age group” all day long. Not only that but this impressionable age group is entirely female. Hormones rage, emotions fly off the wall, life is all kinds of crazy. I think of how often I am not careful with my words. How I can carelessly over react and say something in the heat of the moment. Something I don’t mean very much at all. I shudder to think of what my students may take away from their experiences with me. I need to clarify by saying that it’s not often that I fly off the handle in moments of impatience.. in fact it rarely happens but I just wonder if I have said things and if some kid is going to remember that moment that her mean old English teacher said…..
I can’t focus on those things though. I can only be really careful to take the time to give positive comments to the kids I come in contact with. I need to be purposeful in praising their successes and kindly deal with their less than stelar moments. To make sure that every action I make is out of love and not anger, impatience or general tiredness… needs to be at the front of my mind. Each. And. Every. Day.
I think I’ve written about something similar before and it came back to me the other day while I was with one of my classes– thinking about words and how they have the power to completely undo a person.. or more happily– completely alter her life for the better.
I do pray every morning that God would give me love for the people He places on my daily path (prayers of an introvert right there!) and I must continue to remember that every word I say counts.

Trust and Peace..

The past couple of weeks have been rather trying weeks for me and my family. We have been waiting for some information that will greatly affect all of us, in particular one of us. I have been amazed at how by clinging to God and His word, He equips us with all that we need. Everything.

If I were to put a label on last week.. I would call it the week I learned to TRUST in God. Yes, I’ve always claimed to trust Him but when faced with a situation where I really feel like the path He is choosing isn’t very pleasant for anyone, it’s a different story. I found that He really worked on my heart last week and got me to the point where I was able to sing that Blessed Be Your Name song and mean it. It was about clinging to His promises and trusting Him completely.

This week has been different. It’s amazing how hard it is to wait. Especially when what we are waiting for is completely unknown. Through my own time with God and through various people sending me encouragement and passages that they believed God wanted them to share with me, I learned to adopt a peace I had never experienced before. I had heard of the idea of the “peace that surpasses all understanding”.. the deep peace found in God, but honestly I don’t think I have been in a position where I needed it more than I do now. And you know what? God gave that to me. Despite the chaos and uncertainty and emotional highs and lows, deep down, I am at peace. This week has been about PEACE.

This just further illustrates to me how loving our God is to His children. The fact that He cares about us enough to help us work through our emotions… it’s really overwhelming. I have my eyes open right now (I am awake) and I can see Him reaching out to me through other people, through The Bible, through songs, through words and actions, reaching out and holding me firm.

Yes, the storm is rough and about to get rougher but I faithfully trust the Captain and I am at peace.

Christian Songs Are Kind of Scary

I remember a little over a year ago, sitting around somewhere and hearing a friend start to plunk out on the guitar that ever familiar chorus of Matt Redman’s Blessed Be Your Name: “You give and take away, You give and take away, My heart will choose to say, Blessed be Your name.” She was happily strumming along and singing it in a way that I could clearly see she wasn’t actually grasping the intensity of those lyrics. I remember thinking: “No no no! Singing about God taking away things should never be done in that key, that quickly, that upbeat-ly.” That’s a hard thing to praise God for. And sadly, during that time of my life, I was never able to sing that song. In fact it got deleted from my playlist.

It’s funny how a song can continue to haunt you.

Fast forward to now and that song is back on the playlist. God didn’t take away what I was afraid He would yet that song still catches me off guard. Am I really able to say Blessed Be Your Name even when/if He takes away something I desperately hope He will not?

This week I’ve been working on being able to sing that and mean it. I think I’m really nearly almost there. That song does come on some mornings and I somewhat flinch but I’m okay with it and I can pray along with it.

There are other songs that keep playing though and I wonder just how many lyrics I’ve sung over the years with a poor understanding of what they actually mean. It’s so easy to get caught up in the catchy beat or a phrase we find is worth writing down and mulling over but to really internalize these lyrics that we sing…to really mean them… that’s a pretty incredible thing.

While I was making breakfast Chris Tomlin’s song Lay Me Down started to play and “It will be my joy to say, Your will, Your way” started to hit me. It sounds so nice and joyful but what happens when His will and His way makes us ever so uncomfortable? What happens when His will and His way plunges us into sadness and grief? What happens when His will and His way seems so opposite to what we think we need to be happy? It’s tough…

So I can quickly press next and get something a little more upbeat or I can turn to the Bible and there.. promises.

He will not leave us, nor forsake us.

He will not give us more than we can handle.

He will provide comfort.

He will be enough.

He will help us be brave and courageous.

He will hold us in His wings and keep us close to Him.

He will make us aware of His steadfast love.

He will continue to be faithful to us.

And He will help us get to the point where we can sing to Him, no matter what happens in our lives: Blessed Be Your Name.