"The thistle is a prickly flower, aye, but how it is sweetly worn."

Sunday, September 29, 2013

My Calling, right now

Today I read this blog which I loved.  Throughout the years I've followed and unfollowed (and followed again sometimes) a variety of blogs.  At my core, I am an avid reader.  I will waste most of my precious hours reading thoughts, thinking about those thoughts, and pondering changing my own thoughts in response.  This blog is the kind that can make me do just that.

Lately, I just haven't been blogging.  And if you were to keep track of all the blogs I used to read vs the ones I read now, you would know a precious few blogs are still around on my blog feed.  It's not that I didn't love those other blogs, it's just there is so much to the whole blogging community thing that I just don't think is part of my assignment right now.  For awhile, I thought maybe it could be.  Who doesn't like the idea of lots of people reading what they write?  I'd love to be able to write and write all the time.  But it just doesn't seem to fit into my assignment right now.

I could probably spend an entire blog post on all the things I can't do right now, but where's the fun in that.  Instead, there are so many things that I can do where I am right now.

So here is a list of the simple things I'm called to do right now:

1- I am called to Shepherd.  I read this week in Ezekiel about God's role as the Shepherd in Israel's life, and I immediately thought of all teachers (and moms).  It was so beautiful.  v15-16: I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign Lord.  I will search for the lost and bring back the strays.  I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak... I will shepherd the flock with justice.  I just love that.  The environment I am called to create is one of peace and welcoming and home and belonging and healing and strengthening and freedom and justice.  That's not an easy job when you are dealing with 'sheep' who throw temper tantrums or talk back or try to see what they can get away with.  Sheep who are forgetful and tired and distracted.  It's certainly never ending.  Yet, God's chasing after my own heart is similarly never ending.  I just impulsively responding to Jude's disruption of my typing with frustration.  And God had to remind me of what I was in the middle of typing.  And remind me to actually do it.  It's not easy for me in all my selfish humanity.  But I do know this is my assignment.

2- I am called to wait and be patient.  Jimmy and I have this amazing relationship.  I am beyond blessed with his presence.  He is just someone I plain love to be around.  He stretches me- to be a little calmer, a little more patient, a little more understanding (I have very OCD like tendencies about my kitchen).  He models for me what service looks like when it's truly lived out.  I am assigned to learn from him and follow him.  Yet, we are still within dating boundaries.  So sometimes I have to learn to be content where I am.

3- I am called to encourage.  This is something that I am really starting to see as the how God can use me right now sort of thing.  I don't have time to serve in my church.  I barely have time to get to church each week.  I'm not the kind of person who does well juggling lots of things.  I need downtime- not because I'm selfish or lazy.  I honestly am just a truly introverted, highly sensitive person who becomes overwhelmed.  It really limits what I can do.  What I am realizing is that through the discipline of 1000 gifts, God has helped me become gifted at seeing the good.  I can share that perspective with teachers, parents, friends, etc.  That really is a needed service in this world.  So many people are weighed down by so many things.  Encouragement in a 'dirty laundry news society' is truly needed.  And I can do that.  I love doing it!  I could spend all day encouraging others.  That's an assignment I feel enabled (by Him) and called to do.  And I just really love it!  Christ has filled me greatly the last year plus.  He only fills what He expects to flow over and on to others.  There is so much joy in encouraging others!

4- I am called to trust.  For those of you that have followed my life awhile, you know that anxiety has been my constant companion.  I think I have always had undercurrents of anxiety all my life.  I am one of those highly sensitive people.  I am a true melancholic introvert (as in the personality type) and stress easily over my own perceived imperfections.  After Michael and divorce, those things just hit the fan, and anxiety turned to full fledged panic.  Right now, I am in the middle of weaning myself off medication, which was very much my saving grace.  I'm nervous that it won't work.  Nervous that I will end up back on them.  Nervous I'm perpetually flawed.  But I know perfect love drives out fear.  I know God is good.  I know even in His presence, the bad is used for good.  With that knowledge I am called to trust.  I choose to believe that God has the power to heal me from never needing medication again.  If he does that it will be for His glory alone.  I choose to believe that if he doesn't He has a reason for my continued struggle with anxiety.  I know He loves me.  And love like His covers it all.

My assignment is pretty simple.  Yet it is also very full.  It isn't the kind of assignment that will make me known in popular circles.  That's ok.  I know that this is where I am, this is where I am called to be. I can't do it all, but I can be faithful with what I am called to do.  In the parable of the talents, some were entrusted with many talents, some a few.  Yet, all those who were faithful with their talents were told 'well done' at the end.  I may have just been entrusted with simple talents, but whether my talents are big and mighty or small and mundane, the point has always been to be faithful with them.  And that, I can do :)

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Reflections on Grace

I'm sitting here listening to rain softly fall on my window panes, and I'm once again reminded of the good and beauty around me.  I don't have time in real life to sit around and post incessant pictures and blog posts like I want to.  Or I choose not to.  Life has become this amazing, beautiful thing lately.  I am enjoying savoring every moment, drinking it in full.  Who am I these days?

Grace has transformed me from a doer to an acceptor.  I don't feel the need to cross off every single thing on my to do list like I once did.  I feel satisfied that at the end of the day, I have done a job that (albeit imperfectly) was done with my heart focused on Christ and His glory.  I'm content.

Grace has transformed me from rigid to fluid.  I have never really been one to go with the flow in many senses.  I am not one for conflict, but my own personal agenda being messed with used to send me into a tizzy.  And now I just find myself stopping and saying "ok God this is the situation.  You brought this change for a reason.  I don't know why, but help me walk through it."  And those major problems become even smaller than annoyances.

This week I noticed a change in my students- just more off task that normal.  But I reflected and prayed and pondered.  And realized maybe I needed to restep up my number of positive interactions to the same level as the first few weeks of school.  It's an attitude and focus shift that has 100% to do with me- not with my kids.  And when I went to school the next day, I was able to completely return to the blissful joy of teaching with my students.

The past 2 days have been just fantastic.  I feel beyond blessed.  Yes, my children sometimes act like 6 year olds.  Silly children :)  But grace is always there for me to ask for and then impart to them.  Grace makes all the difference.

It's so interesting, especially being in a school and hearing so many conversations about child behavior, how often we just don't have grace for the child.  We are so egocentric really in our own adult behavior we forget that a child is really just a child.  How short 6 years on this planet really is...  How tiny those little fingers trying to write on the lines really are...  How even at 29 I struggle with impulse control when I want to talk to my neighbor in the middle of church or staff development, and yet I think my kids have lost their minds when they do this same thing... Silly me... I have grace for myself, but can forget to have grace for the little ones.  Or how often I lose the bill I need or my keys or forget to turn off the curling iron or leave my shoes lying in the middle of the floor.  Simple things an adult should be able to handle, yet I do them all the time.  And yet still forget my own imperfections when staring at a little child's messy desk and missing writing paper.  Or how many times I have gone to my team leader to have her restate directions I should probably remember... Yet wonder why on earth my kiddos ask me to repeat directions 5 times in 5 minutes.

Grace.  It really is reality.  How foolish it is for me to forget how my life and existence is completely and entirely wrapped up in His grace and the grace of others.  How can I not share this grace with the least of these.

I have so much right now that I am thankful for.  My time of peace and rest and pure joy continues with each day I spend on my new campus, with my new admin, with my new team.  I am so thankful for all God is going to teach me this year.  I am so thankful for His purpose in my life.  I am so thankful that life really is 1000 gifts that keep on giving.

The Lord always gives me verses for my school year right before I start.  They don't always make sense initially.  Here is what he has given me this year:

Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army.  For the battle is not yours, but God's... You will not have to fight this battle.  Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you... Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.  Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.  ~ 2 Chronicles 20: 15, 17

I'm not sure what that verse will mean this year.  I do know that for all the 1000 joys of my new school, there is a whole lot to learn.  New school culture.  New perspectives.  New personal dynamics.  New ways of viewing the same expectations.  New grade level.  New standards.  I do find great encouragement knowing that God in His Sovereignty placed me in this exact culture with this exact new set of colleagues and this exact set of children.  And more than anything, I know he did it for my good.  And I know that if God is grace, then all these things that seem hard are really just opportunities for His grace to flow in and His grace to flow out.  Each moment is filled with the holy.

That just blows my mind.  The moment of fear- God's there.  He's holy and good.  And because of His presence- that thing that wants to overwhelm me is actually holy and good.  If only I lock eyes on Him and allow Him to lead.  My heart overflows.  Oh friend, taste and see that the Lord is good.