Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Realities of Change


Such a small word but yet it creates a huge amount of anxiety in even the calmest people. This past weekend I spent a great deal of time trying to calm and encourage my wonderful mother in law as we helped her move from the home that she has lived in for over ten years to a new home in a new city. I don't really think that it was the move itself that was scary for her but she was giving up a part of her life... part that can't be replaced. My father in law passed away 3 years ago and she has had to adjust to her new life without him. The actual grieving has past but this was her first move without him... The life that they built together was packed into boxes and put into storage..a life of memories condensed into some neatly packed boxes to be stored away and forgotten until another day. This was hard enough because she was so terribly overwhelmed by this task but then she had to "deal" with my husband, her son who despite being a great guy has no patience. There were several times that I thought she was going to cry just because of some of his comments when he was "just joking" around with her. I am sure he never even thought about the emotional toll that this move would take on his mother and how hard it was for her to decide what was going to her new home and what would go into storage until who knows when. We don't really realize what an effect that change has on our lives into we are body slammed with it and it totally knocks the breath out of us. We all struggle with change..I wish I could have done more to offset the heartbreak that I know that this move brought for my mother in law even though she will now be roommates with her daughter which she is really looking forward to. But change is like the wind... it will eventually blow your way... sometimes quietly and othertimes with hurricane force... Sometimes with a force that you don't think you can endure.

Our church was rocked to the core this past summer by the sudden departure of our beloved pastor of 17 years. God has moved him into another area of ministry and although we were initally sad with the news we were totally happy for his opportunity to serve in another area. CHANGE... small word...huge uncertainty...Today was our annual church conference where we as a body of believers come together to look at where we have been in the past year and where we are going in the coming year. The crowd was noticeably smaller in size than normal ( some people haven't figured out that church is not about who the pastor is but what God is doing in the life of the church and it's members) but even with the decrease in attendance the evidence was notable... The winds of change have blown through our church family too. We are still searching for an interim pastor and new policies and procedures have had to be put into place too. The economy has created changes in our church as well.. The cost of gas has given way to families having to decide if they can "afford" to go to church once, twice or three times a week. CHANGE... small word... lives forever altered.

As mentioned, change definatly can be negative but what if we choose to look at change as a positive? As a Christian, I can personally attest to the positive change that has come from my decision to accept Christ as my personal Savior. I am truly blessed and I try very hard not to worry about change because then we "short change" God in allowing him to work in our lives.. to fulfill His plans for us.

God has a plan for my mother in law's life and her move is all a part of that plan. Perhaps He will bring her into contact with people that will help her with her grieving... new friends... a new job... a different but new life. The same could be said about my church family. I truly believe that God is strenghening our faith in Him by not providing us with what we think we need right away. CHANGE... in God's time might just possibly be divine. He will increase our faith through all of our anxiety... uncertainty... anger .... and fear... Better days are coming... CHANGE... I feel a lift in the wind already... What about you?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Creative Burnout!!

Today was day two of being "officially but unofficially" back at work. We are required to be there but there are no children until next week. (Thank goodness..) This week has already been much different than this same time last year. Last year I was just starting to work in a new district, didn't know the teacher I was reporting to work for or really anyone else I was going to be working with. What a difference a year can make!!

This year was different for a lot of the same reasons but in a different kind of way.. Are you as lost as I am ?? What I mean is that although there are some things that are similar about this year and last.. new school (again!!), new co-workers (ditto!!) not knowing really any of the kids, this year is different in that I know at least the teacher I work for (Caroline is awesome!!) and the other aide Tawyna so that is a relief.

The most significant thing that is different this year is that my creative side was discovered over the past school year by my co-workers and I am getting the opportunity to use it. Caroline is great about giving me creative license on pretty much doing whatever I want in the classroom. This is a good thing but for me can be physically and creatively draining. I am such a perfectionist when it comes to putting things together "just so.." I fuss and then fuss some more... stand back .. observe...contemplate... and then fuss some more.... This absolutely wears me out... Don't get me wrong... I LOVE IT!! but beginning a new year can be a very daunting task for the creative minded individual . I liken it to a writer that ponders everything, writes down a few lines then amazingly comes down with Writers Block... Being creative can be kind of like that..

I often have an idea... can envision it, almost feel what it will look like when it is finished but then comes all the fussing which eventually turns to CREATIVE BURNOUT!!! That was what it was like for me today. I wanted a unique space for our classroom reading area so I decided to create a cave overhang with a waterfall coming over the top. Sounds easy enough right? Wrong!! Being vertically challenged was well a challenge... I had a hard time getting my waterfall the right height proportionately so I did what all creative people do... fuss, fix, and fussed with it some more until I finally just "caved in to the fact that it will for now, be less than perfect". Did you hear the gasps? I know.... I can't even believe it either. Tommorow is a new day though..

I hate to think that the wonderful gift that God gave me to be creative at times causes me so much stress. In retrospect... God didn't create us as perfect individuals.. I sure am glad that he doesn't stress over all my little (and big) inperfections... But... as I see the way that He has had His hand on my life... changing me... strengthening me... completing me.... I can't help but wonder if God is a "fusser" too. I sure am glad that God doesn't get creative burnout but delights in His creations.

Isaiah 64:8 "Yet O Lord , you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand."

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Things worth cheering about...

Well...tommorow will be a week since me and our wonderful team returned from our mission trip. It took me several days to make sense out of what it was that I had just experienced. This mission trip was unlike ANY trip I had been on yet and I think that is why it captured my heart the way it did. The thought of going to Massachusetts didn't initially seem too exciting or interesting but boy was I wrong... I had personally never been to a place that was so beautiful but unattractive at the same time. Let me explain... The cities that I visited were emaculate and very pretty, quaint even, however; there was a definite darkness , a stark constrast to this seemingly cozy place. It didn't really even take very long to realize what it was that was different but it seemed to me just plain weird..

There seemed to be very few people in New England that know about Jesus let alone put their hope and faith in Him. In Texas where I live, you don't have to go far to see evidence of faith in Christ everywhere. Everywhere you look you see adults,teens and children wearing T-shirts emblazened with His image or some other religious saying on it. You can often walk into a public store and it will be playing christian music over the intercom. There is more than one christian radio station to choose from on the radio and there would appear that there is a church on every corner. This is NOT the case in New England. I sensed the difference in the people right away. They were missing something... Something that is normally everywhere around me.. The thing they were missing was Joy. There is a certain Joy that comes with being a christian but a greater Joy comes from having a personal relationship with Christ. We are His joy and He delights in us. I felt so sorry for these people... They don't even KNOW what they are missing. Although the region is by far very unreligious, I was fortunate to be on mission working with a small but great congregation of wonderful, God-loving Christians.

Our mission last week was to bring the Joy that we know and are assured of through Christ's love for us to another group of believers. The act itself was not hard, emotional at times but not really difficult for me since I am a people person and love to be around others. The thing that amazed me though when I returned home and started reflecting on my time there with these precious people was that even though my purpose was to spread joy, they in turn blessed me beyond words and brought me so much more joy than I could imagine that I brought to them. God's love is funny that way... Just when we think we have things figured out, He shifts gears on us. I guess it is a good thing that I depend on God to be in charge of the wheel and I try real hard not to be a backseat driver. Some of the things that I brought back from my trip:

  • God's grace is sufficient for us all even when we try to sell Him short.

  • Working as a body is not always easy but it is what we are called to do.

  • Love CAN conquer all things, even really difficult things.

  • People the world over have the same kinds of needs, fears, hopes and dreams

  • Hope might be better than a lifevest when we feel like we are drowning in despair.

My hope is that All people will someday realize their need for Jesus and that they will come to Him, eager to fall into His loving arms and rest there for eternity..That's where my hope and faith Jesus!!