Lining a Milestone in Silver

The 9th was my 30th birthday. 30 years on this little planet that is hurtling through the cosmos. 30 years that go by unnoticed by most of the 7+ billion people on this blue marble, but for a small group that means the world to me.

I was thinking about milestones, how society says that by each ‘stone’ we should be ever so far in our life.

Medical milestones at a young age cause anxiety with parents when children don’t start sitting upright on the time dot, or speaking, or walking.
When we hit 13 (at least in America), we decree we are ‘Teen’ and more responsibilities are heaped upon our shoulders.
When 16 comes around with jangling keys, we fight for freedom and worry our parents.
18 decrees us ‘Adult’ by the law, and we are kicked out of the safety net of our high schools into the scary world of work and college.
Then 21 comes around and suddenly everyone sees you as a true adult and urges you to drink up and flash that license as proof.
It’s time to sow your wild oats and party hardy, until you are 25, now it’s time to start calming down and looking for someone to spend your life with.
And now you are 30. Now you should be settled with a loving spouse, have a few little munchkins running down, have a respectable career and basically have your life set.
The next years will run by a bit predictably, but not poorly, you’ll buy a house, have grandkids and dogs running around that house.
Retirement will come at a suitable time, where you can still go on adventures and see the world, where you can babysit your great grandkids that you spoil rotten, much to the bemused annoyance of your grandchildren.
The twilight years will of course be kind to you and your spouse, and you will slowly slip away from this little world, entering into the peace of heaven, while leaving a family of loved ones comfortable and happy.

But…what happens if you don’t make those milestones?
Are you a failure?
Does society judge you for not succeeding at their arbitrary decrees?

I can easily tell you what I have not succeeded in, what milestones I have missed: marriage, kids, home, dog, successful career that I went to school for, a nice saving’s account, and a newer model car.

So basically…everything I have failed at, right?

One can easily paint their whole existence a failure, if they just focus on what society says we should be doing. I found myself getting caught in that riptide when I was bearing down on my day of birth. I started comparing myself to my friends: those who are about to get married, others who have children, one who had gotten a home, others who are in their dream jobs and making a comfortable living or are working in their God called ministry.

I had to knock myself out of that spiraling mindset. There is never an end to it. You can just keep tearing yourself down and listing how badly you are dealing with your life. Or, you can start seeing what you ARE doing, and how amazing your season of life truly is.

Every person is gifted with seasons. If you are familiar with Ecclesiastes, Solomon talks about a ‘Time for Everything,’ and it starts at 3:1 with this verse, “There is an occasion for everything, and a time for every activity under heaven.” Now, I like to believe this ‘time’ is not dictated by society or our culture. Because having the nameless mass that changes the fads, in charge of my milestones is a little terrifying.

So, I believe God is in charge of my seasons, my times. Sure, freewill plays a part in how we react to what is going on in our life, but God also places us in certain places in the world for a reason. So that we can dig deep and blossom brightly in the darkness.

With my mind on that thought, I pondered what I have succeed in and I attempted to list out 30 triumphs for my 30 years on this earth:

  1. I have a Masters in Divinity from an accredited seminary!
  2. I have surpassed all of my old IEPs and have left my doubters in my dust!
  3. I am a Sunday School teacher for the ladies of my church, and have been so for the last 3 years, helping give them the tools to dig deeper into the Word.
  4. I have been recently chosen to be the new Superintendent of Sunday School.
  5. I am very active in my church, and my opinion is respected.
  6. I am an encourager, really working on listening to that little voice prompting me to reach out to someone who is hurting.
  7. I am getting really involved in Joni and Friends with various ministries: collecting wheelchairs for Wheels For the World, Family Retreat, and having gone to Global Access Conference recently.
  8. I am a respected Caregiver, all of my job opportunities since I was 14 came from word of mouth. I actually just got offered a job for 2 years from now, because the lady liked the way I took care of my present client.
  9. My clients always know that they have me firmly on their side for support.
  10. I had the opportunity a few years ago to actually lead a workshop at my college on disabilities.
  11. I finished and passed my ‘thesis’! A 73 page paper that I worked on for 8 years!
  12. I spoke at a workshop for the satellite showing of The Justice Conference at my school.
  13. I am writing on this blog as well as short stories.
  14. I’m learning not to be a perfectionist and having the fear of failure keep from doing something.
  15. I’m not shying away from debates nearly as much as I use to.
  16. I worked on my screwed up ankle for three months which gave me the ability to pay for my apartment for the last semester of college while I was laid up.
  17.  I am known for my level of work ethic.
  18. I am constantly becoming more comfortable speaking in front of people.
  19. I have, through the grace of God, learned how to be more honest with myself.
  20. I have also with his grace, managed not to be swayed by from my personal path by other people.
  21. I’m learning how to really listen to God’s prompting and act on it.
  22. God is giving me ways to use my spiritual gifts, in places and ways I never thought possible.
  23. My education has not ended, because I am constantly learning.
  24. I am constantly digging deeper into the Bible.
  25. I’m dreaming big and planning a possible Retirement Center in my valley. Who knows, right?!
  26. I am learning how not to wait to do something I really want to do, simply because I just don’t have enough money, I can still have fun.
  27. I’m going to go to Disney with a group of friends, thanks to their generous birthday gifts, which means I will be taking my first true vacation!
  28. I will be skydiving in June thanks to my parents! Crossing off something from my bucket list and facing one of my fears.
  29. I still have a great relationship with my parents and I count them as my closest friends.
  30. I am constantly learning how to trust God more with my life.

I might not be where I thought I would be, but I am further than I thought I could be. My life is not my own, God owns it and he has different plan for me than my little checklist.

Overall, my life is good, and I am thankful for the last 30 years on this little blue marble hurtling through the cosmos.

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A Crossroads on a Precipice

We all make plans. Even those of us who like to shoot from the hip and make rash decisions, ultimately make plans. I think it’s built into our DNA to plan for the day and our lives.

I probably like to plan a little more than my average friend. I like to know where I am going and how long it might take. Throughout the last few years I have had a plan of where I think I’ll end up in the long run. Chaplain in a hospital. It’s why I thought I went and got my Master’s, it’s what I’ve seen myself doing for quite awhile.

Now, it seems as if God is starting to reveal a different plan.

When we get so caught up in our little charts of how our lives will go, we tend to lose the awareness of how God is doing his own planning. Right now, God is removing my blinders.

I have made the decision that I will be going to the first ever Joni and Friends’ Global Access Conference and I think I’ll get a better grip on where I’ll go from there.

To be honest, the idea of change scares me too death. I hate the idea of failure. I’ve had so many of shakes with failure in school, even though I was able to surpass that thanks to God. The idea of possibly walking away from a solid job to do a ministry that doesn’t pay? The idea of trusting God to provide financial care?

Nope, no reason to to be worried.

So I continue to pray and ask that God reminds me continually that the only thing I need to be concerned about is doing God’s will. Right now, I am continuing to work as I get ready for February’s Conference and spending more time on my knees as I wait for God to show me the rest of the road before me.

I’m stepping onto the crossroads on the precipice. Indiana Jones’s style, the crossroads- well, bridge- is invisible, and it’s got to be in trust and faith Indy

that I make that first step. It’ll be a doozy, but I know it will ultimately be worth it. Just got to force my foot to move first.

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And as always, prayers are desired as I make that step. 🙂

Check out this amazing conference that will be held in California! Global Access Conference

7 years later…and the questions that come

For seven years I was on the same campus. Through my bachelor’s degree and then through my master’s, I walked the same grounds, sat in the same classrooms. Not only did I go to school on that campus, I worked on it, and lived on it.
For the first time, I do not know what is going to happen in the Fall. Am I scared? Oh, yes.
Do I have any clue on where I am going to be living, be working, or where I am going to be serving? No.
I am eager to see where I will be, but admittedly, I am afraid of what is going to happen.
I always like to have a plan. I like to know roughly what is going to happen when. So being on this darkened road, where I don’t know what is around the corner, there is uncertainty.
I have to do CPEs still- Clinical Pastoral Education (basically an intense internship at a hospital). I need to do a minimum of two units, but need to think more of doing four for a better chance at a job. It costs money to even put in your application without the surety of getting a spot. Then there is the tuition on top of that.  I’m concerned, considering I don’t even have a job at the moment.
I have heard the internship described as a boot-camp for chaplains. It’s a place where multi-faiths and multi-cultures come together and dissect what we do, when we do it, and how we do it. So it is not just others of your own belief system debating what we should say, but from all walks of life. Also, just because you are a chaplain does not mean you  have the go-ahead to talk about your faith openly.
First of all, I am excited about being in forced interaction with other faiths. I believe that there is something that can be learned from any person on this earth if you are just willing to be taught. It does not mean that I will accept their theology, but perhaps I can learn how to be more focused in my spiritual life, or more caring, by talking with those who follow other doctrines.
Secondly, I am glad to have this chance to be in a ‘safe’ zone in some ways, that I won’t just be tossed in a hospital and expected to swim. I can just imagine how much damage I would cause.
Thirdly, I am terrified. I have spent the last seven years on a campus where the professors, the staff, and the students, have poured into each other with love and encouragement. I have had struggles with difficult personalities, yes, but I knew that when I looked at someone on that campus, I was looking at a fellow sister or brother in the Christ we follow. So to be in an arena where you do not know how things are going to happen, how people will react to the way you minister, or your faith, is scary. To be at the point where this internship will either make you or break you in the career that you have worked so hard for- terrifying.
So here I am. Seven years of paper cuts, sweat, tears, smiles, and prayers, have come to a cap and gown with a weird Master’s hood and the beginning of a journey. I do not know if God is guiding me to start my CPE right now, or to work for a bit so I can have some money to live off of. I am unaware of what is around the darken corner on this road, but I do know God is in control. I am putting myself fully in his hands as I look at CPEs and jobs, because I know his plans for me are so much bigger than anything I can attempt to come up with. I have until August to know for sure, because that is when my apartment lease is up. Will I continue to live with my roomie because I found a job (or a CPE position)? Or will I move back to my parents to commute to a hospital?
This August, for sure, I will be volunteering for a week at a Joni and Friends family retreat. So maybe I will make some awesome connections there that will be sending me somewhere totally different?
In Spring, I will be back at my campus, but this time to be a co-teacher with the Dean of the Seminary, on my Biblical Perspectives of Disability class. Seven years of working on that paper is finally coming to an actual class, hopefully a lot of people will come. So maybe I’m not done with the school yet, maybe God still wants me to be involved? I do not know.
A lot of questions, a lot of prayers, a lot of uncertainty, and praying for more trust. God is in control. I trust that God has only the best plans for me, because he will not lead me somewhere to only abandon me. For the last seven years I have lived in faith, and in faith I will step out while God unfolds the journey before me. But, in that faith, I still covet your prayers, because having someone pray for me is always good.
We’ll see what happens this summer and how God works. I know it will be amazing.

Letting God guide

Letting go of a sure thing for something that is not set in stone is so scary!
I was led to make the decision to leave my job of 6 years on campus to find another job. I was also led to finally move off of campus after those same 6 years, to make a home with a former roommate where I can actually start to feel like a real adult. 🙂
I moved home for the summer to do an internship for three months and find work for three months. Both of which are unknown and I need to find before the first of June.
I also have no apartment (my roommate and I are looking into this still) and no new job to go to in August.
But, I’m not panicky. I get momentary stress, but ultimately I have this peace that is hard to explain.
In the last 6 years, when I thought about changing jobs or moving off of campus, I got worried. I actually started to have panic attacks twice. I was where God wanted me to be at that time. I had thoughts that I could take control of my life, when I had allowed God to have that power, and I was reminded about that aspect before I made a mistake that I would regret.
This time, at the end of the semester I let my boss know that I wouldn’t becoming back for Fall, and I felt eager. Eager to see what the next step is. Eager for the chance to get out there among non-campus people and see how God is moving to bring people to Him.
The idea of living off of campus is the same thing. Of becoming neighbors with all types of people and living out my faith so that people might become curious of the God I worship.
I made the choice to let God guide me where He wanted me to go. I decided that I wanted to be fully invested in His plan for the world, and for His plan for me– to do so I have to allow him to guide me in all aspects of life, not just the big moments.
It’s hard to remind myself sometimes to wait for the guidance that I know is there. It’s a lesson of trust. Sometimes I succeed in waiting for that guidance, sometimes I fail. At this moment? I think I’m succeeding. I have a possible internship and a possible job.
But prayers are always sought after! 🙂 God’s got a plan for me, I know that, but He also shows me the way by people who pray for me. How thankful I am once again for fellow believers!
How are you doing with letting God guide you in your life?
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Course Correction with God at the Helm

In the last week I have been accepted into the newly made Master’s of Divinity in Chaplaincy program at my school.
I can hear God laughing.
You see, I’m very excited about the new program and I have the knowledge that this will be extremely helpful in my career. But, I was SO close to graduating with my Master’s of Arts in Pastoral Studies (MAPS). So close! I could see the finish line.
Now…that finish line is yet another year away.
It’s a blessing that this program is even being offered- especially before I graduate, thus causing me to have to pay for a whole new degree, rather than just switching and adding a couple more classes. Which, believe me, graduating THEN finding out about the new program? That would have so depressing and annoying.
Even the idea of the program being offered while I was still here in school? Totally a God thing.
I had started out my Seminary career as a Master’s of Divinity in Pastoral Studies (M.Div) with an emphasis on Chaplaincy student, but had to change programs midway through the first semester. My arch nemesis, i. e. the Greek language, was winning the battle.
God gave me a little bit of hard earned clarity during that semester. When two professors come to talk to you, at different times in the same day, without discussing it; to tell you to get out of Greek now, you listen.
Both professors, one of them being my Greek teacher, told me to get out while the getting was good. My stubbornness was starting to bring down my grades in my other classes. Because I was so stressed out and working so hard to finish my Greek homework, my other classes were bearing the brunt of it.
So, with a disheartened attitude I withdrew from the class and changed my program.
While technically the MAPS program is a better program for the Chaplain training, hospitals prefer the M.Div. If two people were applying for the same degree, most hospitals choose the M.Div. Even though the MAPS is technically better due to all the counseling classes (The language requirement for the M.Div shows perseverance supposedly).
I started to question my understanding of God’s will for my life. I started to question if I was reading His leading right. So many questions that I struggled with that first year! I loved the classes I was attending, classes that I wouldn’t have been able to go to in the M.Div., but still, I wondered.
Now, a total of three years later, I am at the end of my MAPS program and just needing to do my internship. And God shows me the course correction that I was unaware of. So many things lined up when they shouldn’t have! All because God has his hands on my life.
I came in on the Advanced Track- I should have graduated within 2 years.
• I had to stay full time, but classes I needed weren’t being held until a different semester, than the one I was presently on.
• Classes that I took as electives- to stay full time- worked perfectly into my new M.Div Chaplaincy program.
• The very fact that because it took me 3 years to finish a 2 year program, I am still in a place to do the new degree.
• The fact that a professor mentioned it in passing.
• That it had just been passed through committee and they were allowing people to switch that very day.
• That I was accepted into the program so quickly and easily.
Because I had allowed God to steer my life as He saw fit, He lined everything up for me. Even though I was still disheartened over not getting the M.Div I thought I had to have, he was guiding me to something so much better!
He knew the plans He had for me. He kept me from so much stress and heartache, as well as failure, so that I would be ready for His next step.
How amazing is my God?!
I’m eager to see where this new M. Div will take me, I’m eager to learn and put into practice what I’m learning.
I can make it one more year to stay in accordance with God’s plan for me. This is what I was waiting for. These where the signs that I needed to have my eyes opened.
God gave me what I thought I needed, but the way I needed it.
And the best thing?
The new Master’s of Divinity for Chaplaincy doesn’t have Greek!