Bad Day Blues

I am having a bad day. 

It’s an accumulation of numerous things totally out of my control. Things have negatively impacted me to the point that I either want to scream or cry out of sheer frustration. But, because I am at work and will continue to be with my client until 9:30 am tomorrow, I do not have those outlets of releasing my frustration open to me.

I have been told, on the rare occasions that I vent online (in other words, I am frustrated because A, B, and C), that I need to “Love Jesus more,” “I need to learn more forgiveness,” or that “this is a time to practice love more.” 

Even when I try to describe what went wrong to someone in person as I try to work through it, I’m told to get over it, or that obviously that person or situation needs more prayer.

I don’t vent much. And when I do, I try very hard, even in my frustration to be focused on the situation, not the person.

So let me just lay it out there, when you are having a BAD DAY, having someone chide you for not loving enough does not make it better. It makes it worse. 

Especially when it has nothing to do with loving someone more! Or when it is someone ELSE who is the one who is harming YOU!

I sometimes think that as a society we have split people into certain categories. Group A can complain and whine and over dramatize every little thing. Group B has to be the one to always comfort and ask questions and NEVER show that you have a bad day and make sure to buck up. On rare occasion, you have Group C that can be fluid.

I’m tired of putting that blasted mask on. I have the right to be honest about myself. I shouldn’t have to hide. I have bad days and some days are HORRIBLE. Some days blend into a week and make you feel like you can’t see the light ever again. 

But: bad days don’t mean I stop loving my family, my friends, my church, or my job. Bad days don’t mean that I’m turning my back on God. Bad days don’t mean that I hate everyone. 

Bad days simply mean that things aren’t going the way I had hoped and planned for. It means that things and people totally out of my control are negatively impacting me. It means that the verbal abuse that I can usually shake off simply got to me this time. It means sometimes it is easier to focus on this little thing that is bugging me than blow up about the big thing that no one knows about. 

I want to tell you– it is OKAY to have a bad day! It doesn’t mean you are a horrible believer or person. It means you are HUMAN. 

Sometimes I have to remind myself of this truth.

But–it is NOT okay to abuse another person (or animal) because your day wasn’t as pretty as you had planned. It is not okay to ruin another person’s day with physical or verbal abuse. It’s not okay to emotionally destroy someone just so you can feel better. That just makes you a bully. 

It is okay to expect someone to listen. Sadly, in this day and age it’s hard to find someone willing. Especially someone is is willing to not say, “Well my day was worse so what do you have to complain about?” (I cannot tell you how many times this happens to me! I swear if I can get through my story without someone hijacking it with theirs it’s a miracle!) 

Most of the time I don’t want a solution, because there is no solution! I just want someone to listen. I want to release the pressure in the cooker that is my life before it explodes. 

I honestly think we all want that. 

I am frustrated. I am having a bad day. I don’t need to be chided by someone who has no clue what else I am dealing with. News flash–no one is perfect! 

I have hope that tomorrow will be better because I have faith in the One who is creating tomorrow. I have hope that my bad day or week doesn’t equal a horrible life. I have hope that things can change. 

I have love for those people who are frustrating me because I know a God who loves me despite how annoying I can be. And I know He loves them just as much. 

And guess what? I still think it’s okay to say you had a bad day! You can be disappointed when things don’t work out the way you had hoped. You can be frustrated that people have lied to you and still love them! Your job can make you want to pull out your hair and you still have the right to say you love it!

Do something to help you smile.

If it’s wearing crazy socks, do it. If it’s petting an animal or eating your comfort food, do it. If it’s binge watching a show that let’s you cry or laugh, don’t let someone make you feel guilty for it. Go for a walk, read a book, color a picture, build a model. 

Take care of yourself. 

It’s okay to have a bad day, just don’t let it make your life bad. 

You are loved. Never forget that.

Supporting Equal Job Opportunities 

Someday, I want to plan a road trip around the nation and up into Canada, where the focus is stopping at businesses that were specifically created to give those with disabilities equal opportunities for work. 

I’ve been collecting names of these places as they come to my attention. Some are businesses created by parents wanting to make sure their growing child had a job opportunity. Others are places that are specifically made to encourage young people with disabilities to become independent hard workers. 

I’ve been looking online to see if someone else had a database list of these amazing restaurants, bakeries, coffee shops, as well as gift shops and other businesses. As of yet, it doesn’t seem like anyone else has made a list, so I thought I’d share what I’ve gathered so far.

 Perhaps you might want to grab a cookie and a cup of coffee to support these hard working adults?

Or, perhaps, you know of another buisness I should add to my list?

Bitty & Beau Coffee Shop –Wilmington, North Carolina
 www.bittyandbeauscoffee.com

Blake’s Snowshack–Denton, Texas
 http://www.blakessnowshack.com

Firefly Café & Bakery–Winchester, Virginia
 http://www.fireflycafebakery.com

Puzzles Bakery & Café –Schenectady, New York
 http://www.puzzlesbakerycafe.com

Sunflower Bakery–Gaithersburg, Maryland
 http://www.sunflowerbakery.org

Sugar Plum–Virginia Beach, Virginia
 http://www.sugarplumbakery.org

Special Kneads & Treats– Lawrenceville, Georgia
 http://specialkneadsandtreats.com

Greenhouse Inn Restaurant
Hearts & Flour Bakery
Heartstrings Gift Shop
Twice Blest Thrift Shop  –Chicago, Illinois
 http://www.misericordia.com/shops/default.aspx

Steamers Coffeeshop/Jack’s Bar & Grill — Denver, Colorado (A combined shop)
 http://steamerscoffeeshop.com

Cause Café — Fort Salonga, New York
 http://www.causecafe.net

Samples World Bistro– Long Mont, Colorado
 http://www.samplesworldbistro.com

Harvest Café — Staten Island, New York
 http://www.harvestcafe-si.org

Hugs Café — Mckinney, Texas
 http://www.hugscafe.org

Mozzeria– San Francisco, California
 http://www.mozzeria.com

Collette’s Cookies — Boston, Massachusetts
 http://www.colletteys.com

Rising Tides Car Wash– Parkland, Florida
 http://risingtidecarwash.com

International 

Bread of Life Bakery– Beijing 

Christina’s Tortinia Shop– Brampton, Ontario, Canada
 http://www.cristinastortinashop.com

Signs Restaurant — Toronto, Canada
 signsrestaurant.ca

Failure is ALWAYS an option

I hate failure. With great passion. Admittedly, I hate it so much I fear to start something just because I could fail. Looking back over the years, I know I have missed some amazing opportunities because I fear to fail.

The world has made me fear. It’s definitely not God’s doing. God wants to push me over the edge because he knows my wings will make me fly. Fear does not have God’s flavor on my tongue at all, it’s acidic and has a nasty back-taste. Where God and his promises are full bodied and effervescent.

I have been contemplating failure a lot lately. Part of the reason is that I am nowhere near where I would have thought I’d be by now. I had this amazing life planned, working in a hospital and volunteering with retirement centers around my community as a chaplain. Perhaps finally doing a little bit of traveling. I never thought that life would be taking the look of what it is right now. I never thought God would place me where he did when he seemed to fill my mind with such dreams.

My life is not bad. I am very blessed to have the job I do, taking care of a lady who is just a few short months away from turning 100. I’ve learned a lot taking care of her. I am an active member in my church as a Sunday School Superintendent and teacher, which still surprises me since I grew up in that church. To think that these people are trusting me to teach them God’s word is daunting and occasionally nerve-wracking. The responsibility is big and I am still learning. Just because I have a piece of paper that says I satisfactorily completed Bible studies in a graduate level school, doesn’t mean that I still don’t have a lot learn.

Sometimes, I desperately miss school. I miss the constructed learning environment where I could fail and learn without it it necessarily making a huge impact on my life. I miss the drive that I had to succeed– not that I don’t still have it, but it seems to be missing a focus on a set goal. Now my drive to succeed sometimes just feels like getting to the next paycheck. Not that inspiring.

Life is about failure. It’s about coming at a situation and finding a way through it. Most time, if we are honest with ourselves, it rarely takes one time through a situation. We usually have to stop and reevaluate our tools and knowledge before attacking it again, perhaps at a different angle.

God gave me dreams for a reason. I think he has given me the ways to put them into action. I just need to learn how to trust him more than worrying about my bank account.

Failure in the science world is seen as a success in many ways. Albert Einstein famously said, “I have tried 99 times and have failed, but on the 100th time came success.” Scientists don’t give up when they meet with resistance. They take notes and then tweak a variable before attempting it again. Their brains- their hypothesis–says that it should be possible, they just need to find a way to make it work in real life.

To live life as if it was a hypothesis. A possibility that could be made reality. To know that dead ends and sudden twists are great adventures that mean it could still be an amazing discovery. To know with certainty that what you know to be true still has the ability to amaze you when you discover that there is more than that certainty.

It’s interesting. I view my theological inquires- my study of the nature of God and my religious beliefs– as a human hypothesis of God. I have long believed that if I held my beliefs as such, I would be able to be willing to let God show me his true self. My feeble human words can never accurately and completely describe the Divine. The Divine cannot be contained in the failing words that I use. To believe they can, is to shove God into a box, and he cannot be contained. I read all theologians’ writings with this thought, it is their very human attempt to explain an aspect of God that they see. They are bound to make mistakes just like I am. If I have a prayerful heart and ask God to continually show me who he really is, I am less likely to be led astray by theologians whose own prejudices influence their definition of God and salvation.

Perhaps this seems to be very childish view at God from someone who has a Masters Degree in the Bible. But, then again, Christ exhorted the disciples to come like children to him, which is to say, humbly and without artifice. When those who call themselves theologians and have the degrees to back them talk of God, do they do it humbly? Or is it with a certain arrogance that says they know it all? Listen and learn from them, but make sure you always have a faith that is open to God’s guidance. When you speak to others about the God you follow, be honest, say you don’t know everything but what you do know has changed your life.

I have been blessed mightily by the theologians that God has placed in my educational/spiritual life. But, I know that they don’t know it all.

I will always need to learn more about God. And I will never know everything about my faith and salvation until he calls me to his side and explains what it really is. My human hypothesis will then be put to the test, and I much rather hear him say, “Close, but let me show you what you didn’t understand.” Rather than, “Wrong! That is not what I was doing!”

I am attempting to live life as a hypothesis. There is nothing stopping me from trying again, but myself. It’s hard to put into practice though. Human constraints whether real or imagine seem to wrap themselves around me and I hesitate. Why am I willing to do it with the most important aspect of my existence- my faith- but I’m not willing to do it with this very human existence? Failure seems to be knocking whenever I think of going off script.

Makes me want to pull a Mythbusters and blow something up before trying again.

Here’s to living life without fear! May I seek it with a full heart, because God gave me wings and is encouraging me on.

failure-option (1)

 

My shoulders are tired

Last night, I watched “Moms’ Night Out,” and I highly recommend it. I understand this woman! I won’t give it away, because you HAVE to watch it. Suffice to say though is that there are three women who are beyond stressed out with their families. One in particular just can’t get a hold of life anymore and either needs to take a night off or is going to mentally break. Fun and hilarity ensue.

Now, while I am not a mother obviously, I am on that stress precipice where I will either explode leaving emotional debris everywhere or where I will cause equal damage by throwing up my hands and literally walking away.

But, right now, I am stress paralyzed. I totally concur with the movie–it’s a real thing.

I’m not getting respite on any of my three fronts. I can’t run to church to escape the tensions at home and work. I can’t hide at home on my days off to recover from work and gear up for church. And work is no longer a happy experience where I can focus on something to take my mind off of church and home.

And before you give me the supposedly sage advice of finding a new church or job– that is not going to fix anything. The idea of running away from the blessings God has given me, is not hardwired into my DNA. The opposite is. I care too much for the people involved to just leave when things get rough.

Running away– while a nice thought when your jaw aches from biting down on the harsh words that want to spill forth–never solves anything.

I think there is enough broken relationships in this world to prove that.

I am a fixer. I am a counselor. I am a listener. I am a caregiver. These are aspects of my core personality. I can’t change who I am. It is not in me to say, “I can’t handle any more, so don’t tell me anything else!”

I have been so consumed by the stress, that I, who process things by writing, haven’t written anything in many weeks. Which, let me tell you, adds more stress because what in the world am I stressing about?! I don’t know, because I can’t write it out. Argh!!

I always like to say that I don’t worry. Worrying will not change the aspects of the future you are concerned about. Staying up late at night chewing on your fingernails won’t change how much that doctor’s bill will be. Nor will it affect the flight that a loved one will be on as if your worry will be the cushion that will keep that plane from crashing.

Nah, I don’t worry. I stress! Totally different in my book.

I don’t care if Webster’s Dictionary says worry is a synonym of stress. You can’t believe everything that is written okay?

Webster’s says that stress as a noun means: “a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.” While worry means “give way to anxiety or unease; allow one’s mind to dwell on difficulty or troubles.”

Sure, I dwell sometimes. But, everything that is concerning me, isn’t even about me! It’s about people I love and am worried concerned about. How can I be there in the moment for them? How can I encourage them? How can I represent God’s love in the tension? How is it going to affect the community, family, client?

I’m not trying to control the world. I’m not even trying to change my little sphere of influence.  I just want answers to be given so people aren’t waiting for the next shoe to drop. So I don’t feel as if I have the weight of these people’s fear crushing my back.

My shoulders are tired from the burden I carry.

The unknown is scary. We do not know how to ready ourselves for the hidden threat. We don’t know if we need the shield or the first aid kit, if we need knives or bullets. We don’t know how to protect each other from the masked intruder who is right outside our peripheral vision. That dark entity that could possibly be holding a sharp knife that is ready to rip our lives apart. We’re in a constant state of readiness, waiting for the attack. Sometimes it happens and we can expel the adrenaline. Other times, we are in the fight/flight response with nothing to do. But be ready. Be alert. Be exhausted…

Sometimes, I feel as if I gather other people’s worries, fear, concerns, hurt, anger, as an attempt to get them through the problem. As if I am trying to protect them from that sick twisted emotional bomb by holding it for them. As if I want to throw myself on that grenade in a brave Steve Rogers act, so others have a chance to live. As if sacrificing my peace of mind will keep someone else sane.

I must think highly of myself.

We, or maybe I should just say, I, get this convoluted idea that if I work my butt off, I can protect people from…well, from life. I can keep my friends from finding out that their beloved parent has cancer. I can keep my parents from worrying about their financial existence. I can keep my grandparents healthy. I can keep my brother and his wife safe in Texas from the floods. I can keep gossipers from harming my church family with their vicious vitriol. I can keep my client safe from her anxiety. I can keep my community working together for the betterment.

(Humm, psst! Ranelle, you know, that sounds a lot like worry.
Nah…it’s stress, you don’t know what you are talking about. Shhh!)

I don’t have a messiah complex. I don’t have a hero complex. I don’t have a martyr complex. Believe me, I don’t aspire to be Captain Steven Hiller who takes on the alien ship with a nuke strapped to my ship.

I KNOW that the weight of the world is NOT on my shoulders. That the happiness of those around me is not my job. I KNOW this. But, still. I have a desire to make sure that if I can, I can keep them from shedding tears. I can keep the anger at bay.

I need to live in the Swedish Proverb, “Not my monkey, not my circus.” Or in BBC’s Sherlock’s Detective Inspector Lestrade’s motto: “Not my division!”

Don’t borrow trouble. You can be concerned, but ultimately, it’s not your job to shoulder the responsibility of caring for the world. God gave me the heart to love people, but he has also told me that I have a limit on how much I can take on. It is all in God’s hands. I need to stop taking my loved ones out of his hands, thinking I can do a better job at caring for them. Because, obviously I can’t.

Where I grow weary and exhausted with the strain, God never does. Where I get exasperated and frustrated by their actions that just cause more pain, God just continues to love. When I don’t know the whole story, God does and still loves. Where I make mistakes in the course of helping, God never does. God is the only perfect caregiver there is. I am a pale broken imitation. But, still God uses me.

So, today is a day of self-health. I am dating myself. I am finally writing, here in the park on a pretty day. I am taking a breath. I had my comfort food, aka Tacos. (Yumm) And I will go watch a movie. I will go home to play with my dogs and be snubbed by my cats. I will simply be. Try to keep from mind the problems that Sunday will bring, that Tuesday will hold. I will unclench my jaw and rotate my neck. I will shed this weight and put it where it belongs, in God’s hands.

When I start to take it back, I will say a prayer instead.

I will learn how not to worry the problem like a nasty mosquito bite. Checking in on it every few minutes to see if it still itches. I will pay attention to God’s police line, where it says “DO NOT ENTER” and in smaller words “IT’S NOT FOR YOU TO WORRY” (I mean…stress.) I won’t sneak under the tape and rob my loved ones back into my hands.

If you pray for me…I would be eternally grateful.

“No one can pray and worry at the same time.”– Max Lucado

Matthew 11:28-30– “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden light.”

Luke 12:25- “And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?”

The Eternality of God & our worship

I had a hard time with getting ready for this talk for our Ladies’ Tea.
You know how hard it is to think of something encouraging to say when the last few weeks have been rather emotionally draining?
I’m sure we have all been there before.
It’s life. Life has its ups and downs, twists and turns.
It can be ecstatically beautiful one moment while being exhaustingly difficult the next.
So when I was asked to do this talk, I was greatly blessed by one of the most difficult passages I have had to study in a long while.
And it’s not so much the passage itself, but more of getting out of my own head space to think critically about this passage and allowing the Holy Spirit to speak to me.
During the last two weeks my mind has been in Tacoma with my uncle who has been the hospital due to complications following the removal of a golf ball size tumor from his brain.
It has been on my grandparents who are up there to take care of him and the fact they are not emotionally strong enough or physically able enough to take care of him.
It has been on my mom who is facing her own upcoming surgery while having to juggle her job, her parents, her brothers and her nephew. She is having to make medical decisions for her brother now.
So I had a hard time trying to focus my mind on this passage. Which is a bit funny considering what it says.
This is Psalm 90:

Lord, you have been our refuge in every generation.
Before the mountains were born,
Before you gave birth to the earth and the world,
From eternity to eternity, you are God.
You return mankind to dust,
saying “return, descendents of Adam.”
For in your sight a thousand years are like yesterday that passes by,
like a few hours of the night.
You end their lives; they sleep.
They are like grass that grows in the morning- in the morning it sprouts and grows.
By evening it withers and dries up.
For we are consumed by your anger; we are terrified by your wrath
You have set our unjust ways before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence.
For all our days ebb away under your wrath; we end our years like a sigh.
our lives last seventy years, or if we are strong, eighty years.
Even the best of them are struggle and sorrow; indeed they pass quickly and we fly away.
Who understands the power of your anger?
your wrath matches the fear that is due you.
Teach us the numbers of our days carefully so that we may develop wisdom in our hearts,
Lord- How long?
Turn and have compassion on your servants
Satisfy us in the morning with your faithful love so that we may shout with joy and be glad all our days.
Make us rejoice for as many days as you have humbled us
for as many years as we have seen adversity
Let your work be seen by your servants, and your splendor by their children
Let the flavor of the Lord our God be on us;
Establish for us the work of our hands-
Establish the work of our hands!

This whole passage is reminiscent, at least to me, of one of my favorite books of the Bible- Ecclesiastes. As you heard, it’s about the fleeting life of man, how God can simply blink and a thousand years pass away, how we live and die with but a sigh.
To some that may sound depressing, and some days it can be particularly difficult to handle.
But, like Ecclesiastes, it is also about the eternality of our God. And that is what is the true comfort.
No matter what goes on in this world- going into space or being thrown into wars, births and deaths, inventions or politics, marriages and divorce, ultimately these will all just disappear. These all just short moments in time.
Take a moment to look at your hands with me:
What do you see?
Scars & calloused, nicks & bumps .
Working hands.
Hands have the ability to heal, hurt, create and destroy.
On the body of a mother, they have the balanced ability to discipline even as they wipe away tears.
I have always had a fascination with watching a person’s hands when they talk.
Hands show life. Age and wisdom are etched into these moving appendages.
Whether they are soft with youth or coarse from work, they have the great ability to bring forth beauty.
The work of our hands though are fleeting.
No matter how long we walk this earth, eventually whatever we have created with our hands will wither and fade away.
We pack so much to do in our lives, we are always racing past where we are in the moment to plan for what is next. In that race, we lose sight of the present moment of the joy and even the tears.
We lose sight of the refuge that God has always been to us.
No matter when we were born, the only thing that has always been the same is our God.
We can work ourselves to the bone, attempting to build something that might last, but no matter how much effort we put into it, eventually, as time slips through the hour glass, it will start to crumble and fall apart.
Even though those great pyramids a half of a world away have stood there for over 5,000 years, even they, manmade amazements are crumbling away.
There is only one true refuge left for humanity, the only refuge we have ever had. Under God’s shadow.
The psalmist’s cry at the end of this psalm “Let the favor of the Lord Our God be on us; establish for us the work of our hands- establish the work of our hands!” it isn’t about making what we physically create on earth last, but rather, don’t let our worship return to us empty.
This psalm has been attributed to Moses, the Israelites are on their way to the Promised Land, but due to their sin- even their secret sins, they were forced to wander the wilderness for 40 years. 40 years for those who first left their slavery to weaken and eventually die. So that a new generation might step in to the new land without the falsehoods of the past coming with them.
God’s anger might have seemed so strong to these people, but because a thousand years is a blink of time, 40 years of his anger is not that much. He quickly lifted his wrath from his people so that they might have joy.
Moses, who had so faithfully followed God would never step foot into the land he wanted to see. Because he allowed man’s fickleness to sway him from his course.
Every day was counted by God, each man and woman lived their allotted time. They grew fast and lush but quickly faded away with just a sigh to mark their passing.
Moses’ plea here was that we might have as much joy as we have had adversity.
I could echo that plea. Sometimes it seems that no matter what you do you can never get past the obstacle in your way. The whole mountain that is just really a little mole hole is going to give you difficulty but it is the way we worship in that moment that counts.
In our moments of being humbled  we will have moments to rejoice.
God’s faithful love has never changed. It won’t change in the moments when he disciplines us so that we may grow righteous, it won’t change despite the sins we all carry in our hearts.
The only thing that never changes is God. He has always loved us, he always will. But his love is the love of a father who will not allow his children to do bad. We will be allowed to feel his anger but we will always rest in his love.
Our worship needs to reflect that.
Establish the work of our hands. Don’t let our worship be fleeting. Let our worship echo throughout all eternity with the eternal God.
We were given a great gift in our ability to worship. Our worship does not always have to be happy, it can be filled with every emotion we ever feel.
The beauty of our God is that he is so big and powerful and he knows us so well, that he can take our tears, our anger, and our laughter and find the loveliness that he always sees in his creation.
There is no set rule in how we are to worship our God.
We can praise him outside as much as we can in the pew. Some of us cannot put the words to our prayers so we just literally cry out to him, others paint or create to try show their passion for him.
He accepts all forms of worship because he has created us all in his image.
Our worship is only empty when we refuse to enter into it.
We must allow our short lives to be full of God, we need to see his hands in the moments of adversity and remember that he is also in those moments of joy.
While I highly doubt any of us will find ourselves stumbling through the desert for 40 years, we might find ourselves wandering in moments that seem like a wasteland of faith. Where it is so hard to remember that God is good.
I encourage you in those moments try to remember the joy filled ones you have had. Build off of that worship and find the strength to praise God even when it feels like it will make you bleed. Our pain and tears are a sign of worship as well.
God is our refuge. We will have moments of great joy but also moments of great sorrow. Our lives are fleeting but God is eternal.
Find peace in that.
God will never change. And he will never leave you.
Our worship will last even when we will not. So rejoice loudly in every moment of your life, and I believe that echoes of your life will be felt for all eternity because you will be worshipping the eternal God.

You know what you need to do…

so just do it!
Last night, I went out to dinner with my roommate and one of my favorite professors.
This professor has this beautiful way of cutting through all of the fluff that we wrap around ourselves to protect us from prying eyes. She cuts through to the quick and forces you to deal with the rough emotions that you are refusing to pay attention to.
We were talking about how my possibilities after college were shaping up and what was the next step.
I mentioned that I was afraid of not being able to handle the rigors of my internship. How I wanted my family and friends to see God’s grace, how I’m sadden by the quickly approaching loss of a dear friend, and how ready I am if God calls me home.
She looked at me and said with great intensity, “You know what you need to do, so just do it!”
She told me that my focus was too small. That God has called me to something bigger than just those I love, that to focus on just my family and friends was to miss what God wanted me to do with my life.
It was hard to swallow. For me, my friends and family are why I do a lot of things. But, at the same time it holds me back. Because I do not want to fail.
The thought that I might be called to something bigger? Terrifies this little introvert to her bones.
I know that God has large plans for me, but at the same time I always thought that perhaps it was what I would consider to be ‘large’—you know, maybe 20 people at most. Now I’m thinking that might not be what he has planned.
I do not know what the rest of this year will bring, much less the rest of my life.
But, I do know one thing.
Like my professor says: “Get out of your own way and do what needs to be done.”
Fear has this power to hold you in place. You can fear the trail and never see the view. Or you can fear the trail but just walk with care, and be rewarded with an amazing life altering view.
I know what I need to do. Now? I need to just do it. Step out in faith and know God will catch me.
Is fear holding me? Or is it helping me?
I just need to do it.

Provisions… Provided

This summer has been a summer of learning how to trust God to fulfill His promises to me.
As I said previously in Letting God Guide, it was time to walk away from a job I had had for 6 years, as a custodian on campus. A job that I still know I could walk back to if I decided to chicken out on trusting God. A sure job in an economy that is not the best bet for finding another job. Not only was I walking away from it during summer (very hard to find a three month long job, because about the time you are trained for the new job it’s time to leave), but I’m walking away from that sure job during Fall as well.
I’m a student. I have to be focused on school work and all the hassle that comes with that. I am way to close to graduating to start messing that up now. So not only do I have to find a job for summer, but I have to find a job that is willing to work with a student whose schedule shifts every four or so months.
Also, on top of this, I along with a former roommate, set about finding an off campus apartment. This will be my first ‘true’ living experience that is not tied to home or school. (It is a family joke because I insist that campus living is NOT ‘home’- because if I can’t choose where I live or whom I live with it can’t be home). It is time to start making where I live home.
So, obviously a lot of things were up in the air. Any other year, I’d probably be freaking out over the fact that there was no set job to go to, that there was so much money needed and no way of getting it, but this year… I took a different approach.
Because of a calmness in my heart and soul about the idea of moving off of campus— which I think is directly linked to my willingness to let God guide me– I decided to keep that feeling when looking for work.
The first week I was home, I was not looking hard, because I had to get settled again (in other words figure out what box I packed what I needed). Monday morning of that first week, a church friend who’d had a heart attack asked if I’d be willing to chauffeur him for awhile. I agreed.
Two days later, my pastor mentioned another church friend (my prayer warrior actually) needing help with her ailing husband. Now, I have 12 years care-giving experience, so of course I jumped on that! Because of who it was, no matter where I had been- I would have come home to help her. But, because God urged me to come home for the summer, I was where I needed to be when I need to be there. I helped M.A. with her husband for two and a half weeks. P.A. passed away peacefully. In the week following his death, I was able to put my internship learning into action. I meet with the family nearly everyday until the funeral and helped them set up the memorial pamphlet. I also helped serve food to over 250 people who came out in the pouring rain to pay their respects to the A. family. It was wonderful to see.
So once again I was without a job.
My Mom though had to stay off of her foot- it is in a boot- so she couldn’t drive for at least three weeks. When I was free, I became her chauffeur, getting her to numerous doctor visits and other errands. Things she wouldn’t have been able to do if I wasn’t there.
Now, we’re on the back end of her restrictions with her foot, so I was suddenly offered another care-giving job by ANOTHER church member. (Remember, my church is small! Less than 50 people on a good day) They need someone to look in on their mom a few hours a day. So it’ll be more of a companion job than actual care-giving. While not a lot of hours, it’s more than I had. And this offer comes when I only have less than a month and half up here at home before school starts!
Also, this last week (2 days before the job offer) my roommate and I found a wonderful apartment. It is a slight stretch financially, but I am confidant that it will work- why? Because God lined things up for us. It is in a safe area, actually above our campus. Nicer, newer, and bigger, than the apartments we were previously hoping we could get into. It also is on a defunct Christian college campus, so the people we deal with are actually Christian. It was purely a God thing we even heard about it, because they aren’t advertising it and they are looking for a very certain type of person to move in. If we hadn’t ran into someone who had looked at it, we’d never have gone over there! We get an renovated apartment with two big bedrooms and two full size bathrooms, a brand new kitchen as well as a large living area and dining room. All for a reasonable amount.
How amazing is this God I follow?! He has continually shown me that His plans are so much bigger than mine are for myself. If I just allow Him to take the lead in my life, my struggles will lessen immensely!
Sure, there are still a lot of unknowns around the corner. But, I have a God who has proved Himself even when He never had too. I think I can take these next few steps in faith, because I know that He’ll catch me if I fall.

Promises of God:
 “So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For the idolaters eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.”
~~Matthew 6:31-33
In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.”   ~~Proverbs 16:9

“The life of faith is a daily exploration of the constant and countless ways in which God’s grace and love are experienced”  ( Eugene Peterson )