Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Because to have a blog means you really should write in it

Because to have a blog means you have to write in it...

I've wanted to write lately but every time I begin to - I quickly find myself stammering around lacking motivation or the right words to write.

Tonight's post will be brief but is needed.

I feel good.  I feel right where I'm supposed to be - a feeling I've lacked for several months.  Contentment.  It's growing on me and I'm starting to learn it's okay to enjoy life again.

For a while there (too long of a while) a certain amount of guilt creeped in every time I'd start to feel contentment or happiness.  It sounds crazy, but when you work in social services you see people with such great need and it's puts your own life into a different perspective especially the part where "maybe I shouldn't get to enjoy this knowing so many people are suffering."

This is going to be a lifelong struggle for me.  It just is.  But I'm learning it's okay to enjoy things and take certain joy in seasons of our life.  I can't be good to others if I am not good to myself.

The decision to give up a good job to stay home drudged up it's own amount of guilt - knowing how many people have been laid off and desperately need employment and I just didn't want it anymore... But all that has changed now.  

I don't feel guilt in being happy.  It is amazing what happens when you no longer allow yourself to be driven by the dime....  Money used to be a huge stressor when I worked full-time - a means to a good life for my family.  

Now I'm looking at money as a means to pay our bills and save a little.  It's just a dollar.  It's not my Savior.

As I'm typing this I realize I'm rambling... But as I ramble I realize something even greater:

The second I allowed myself to not have to know everything about where my life was going was the second I finally felt free... There is an unmatchable freedom in knowing I have no control over all my future unknowns.

So with gratitude I'm praising Jesus for loving me and providing a way back to His restful arms...

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Fast:: a break from this world

Fast - a break from this world 

For many years of my life I haven't made Easter about Easter...  

This is a season and "holiday" that should be even more significant than any other - a time of remembrance and humbling for the sacrifice our King has done for us.

I usually don't participate in a formal lint - or abstain from specific things for a matter of time during this season like many of my friends do -- mainly because I find it hard for me to make something personal if I know everyone else is doing it.. Also, it has to be a heart issue for me not just something I'm checking off my list.

  So many of my friends make this such a sweet time of surrendering with the Lord but I have always struggled doing it corporately.

I know I'm weird.. I look at most things sideways :-/

BUT as these weeks have led up to the remembrance of our sweet Lord and the promise of His return - I have felt a strong conviction to fast in my own way this week.  I need to make this a week of steady focus and cling hard to gratitude and reflection.

I am choosing to spend some time fasting from food for a couple days this week.  Those who know me well - know that food has always been a stronghold in my life serving as a major source of comfort to me.  I've struggled with my weight a lot after having kids and food has easily become a best friend and worst enemy to me.  It takes up too much of my time and too many of my thoughts.  Probably the biggest barrier between me and the Lord is the idol of food in my life.  

As I think back to Jesus and the disciples' last supper I think about how food was used as a tool for a Christ-centered relationship.  It was not a source of frustration or gluttony - it was a tool to remember and to know Him.

So this week on Tuesday and Friday I choose to only partake in small amounts of bread and juice or wine.  My head and heart feel called to be still, to remember, to sit with my Lord quietly.  

I look forward to really celebrating Easter this week, :)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

grace, love, & tattoos

grace, love, and tattoos

People get ink for all sorts of reasons... Growing up I dreamed of having a tattoo maybe because it sounded cool or because I was raised to believe they were off limits therefore it was somehow more appealing, or maybe just maybe -- it was something else, :)

As an adult I reached the conclusion that the only way I would get inked is if I knew that it was something that was honoring to the Lord.  If I'm going to permanently change my body it better be for a dang good reason and it better be something I can live with my whole life without regret.

So after years of toying with the idea I landed on getting one -- a trinity symbol with the word agape running through the middle on my mid-back behind my heart.  I got this with my sweet Steve on our honeymoon.  It seemed appropriate that the love of my  life was included in a tattoo that symbolized the number one Love of my life.

After a few months I had the desire to get another one, but this time the desire came with another agenda...

What if I can use a tattoo to tell my story?  The story of what Jesus has done for me and what if that story can impact someone else.  What if?

Because let's face it - how often can we really be part of ministry and relationships with others if we can't be relatable.  If I was getting another one it had to serve an eternal purpose...  And so grace happened.

The word "grace" defines everything in my life.  If you have read my other posts that's easy to see, haha.  

So in my own handwriting I wrote the word grace and had it tattooed on my foot.  These feet have been through a many steps of both joys and challenges and with each step grace played the ultimate role.

A couple days after I got this I had the cashier at walmart ask me, "who is grace?"

My reply, "grace is my whole reason for being here today actually" -- which led to an even deeper conversation which led to her asking about church and some deep questions!

A few days later an elderly man at church asked "is that thing on your foot real?"

"yes sir it is.." I replied smiling just waiting for disproval.

"that's a great witnessing tool."

"so it is, sir.. Thanks"

What if a tattoo was the tool for a relationship?  And that relationship led to the Ultimate relationship...  What if we looked past stereotypical notions in society and used ourselves to be something far greater than what we imagined.  What if...

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Chapter 9:: (day two)

Chapter 9:: (day two)

And just as the saying goes "time stops for no one" such was day two...

(and if this blog seems confusing then please reference it to a few posts down on chapter 8 - as these are chapters of my past that I feel led to write down).

The weeks following brought many mixed emotions:  loneliness, depression, then excitement and independence, then bitterness, then apathy, then glimmers of hope, deep surrendering, and finally some healing.

Those first few weeks I felt as though I was just merely striving to survive.  The first time I went to counseling I felt like an idiot.  I had been to counseling for years trying to work on our marriage --- just to go back in front of yet another counselor so I could admit how greatly I had failed.  Yet something in me said - you have to talk to someone, it's not only good for you - it's biblical. 

So, I went reluctantly - halfway expecting to feel worse about myself after leaving... But i didn't.  It was great.  After meeting with this wonderful woman, I felt well...

normal

I was okay.  I was grieving.  I was going to overcome this mess.  I had been hurt but I wasn't a victim.  I had a lot of ugliness in me that needed healing also.  So, this marked the beginning stages of self-improvement.

And with self-improvement came forgiveness of myself and of others. Life was looking up

I leapt, He answered

It's absolutely amazing how God can answer prayer.  As many of you know, I had made the decision to take some time off over the next few months to focus on my most important roles - mom and wife, and to get back to volunteering at some other amazing orgs.  

However, I knew I would need to do something to supplement our income part-time.  AND I didn't know what that would look like.  In any job I have I want it to not be a "job" but a passion, a calling, a missional way of living, another way I can be an extension of His love whether it's at a nonprofit, church, restaurant, or retail store.

So, I made the decision to be obedient to the Lord even though there were a lot of unknowns... and turned in my notice at work.  God had been making it painfully obvious that my direction lied somewhere outside of where I was.

Within a couple days after turning in my notice a friend referred to a part-time opening with Cobblestone Project's Farm - as they were looking for a Farmer's Market Coordinator!  :)

10-15 hours per week, coordinating their farmers market booth, volunteers, and sharing how The Farm is planting on 10 acres and taking the produce raised and distributing it to local food pantries, soup kitchens, and other families who need it.  Food becomes a tool for relationships.

Besides being amazed with what this initiative is doing, the work hours still allow me to spend the week with my kids and have them even come with me to help at the farmers market sometimes!  

So when they said "we would love to have you join our team" all I could do was say "thank you, to a big God who always goes before me."

It also still gives me plenty of time to volunteer at places like autumns reride, to help in my grandpas recovery, and to have extremely fun days with my kiddos.

Praising Jesus for yet another answered prayer.  Thank you, Lord.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Recipe to my heart

Recipe to my heart..

A quick note to say my heart melted this morning!

Today was my first Saturday ever getting to be the chef at Samaritan/Cobblestone soup kitchen/cafe.

There were so many awesome volunteers there to help!  I got to make all my family recipes of meatloaf, cheesy potato casserole, sweet corn, and cinnamon/brown sugar carrots.

We kept getting requests from one table for more of the potatoes, but since I was working in the kitchen I didn't get to see who they were for we just kept dishing them.

A little while later a woman and her grandson came to the door of the kitchen...  "can we speak to the chef, please?"

Everyone pointed to me.  "how can I help you guys?" 

The little boy (just a tad older than my son) smiled up at me with his missing toothy grin and said "can I have your recipe?"

If I had any doubt that my time was meant to be spent there today -- it vanished with this request.

I sat for a while with the grandma and boy.  We talked about cooking, life, and our community.  My day was spent well.  Thank you Lord for this opportunity.