Wednesday, March 30, 2011

a new book came in the mail for me today. i can't wait to dig into it and start reading, and to see what God has to teach me through it.
God continues to be faithful in my life despite my unfaithfulness. and i am thankful because i would not be able to make it through my days without Him.

Saturday, March 26, 2011's saturday. the sun is shining, my laundry is started, everything is picked up besides the living room, and my husband is sleeping after his night shift clinical. bliss. i love saturdays.

i probably never fully appreciated saturdays until after i got married. i didn't have a house to take care of, i only had my own laundry to do, and honestly, i didn't even care how messy my bedroom was. trust me, my parents were very thankful that my bedroom was at the back of the house :)

i did, however, appreciate saturdays bcause i didn't have to go to work, and that still is true. i love, adore, cherish, appreciate my days off work. especially after a week like i just had...

this week; oh this week. i was humbled, but not before being frustrated beyond belief. you see, working in the social work field it can be easy to become numb to some incredibly difficult situations. and i have done that in a lot of ways, but what i haven't done is forgotten that the clients i work with are still people. living, breathing human beings who are someone's daughter, son, mother, father, sister, brother, aunt, uncle, or cousin.

does that mean i think my clients have made the best choices in their lives? not usually. does that mean i think my clients are all stable enough for their children to be given back to them? not always.

but what it does mean is that my clients still have saddness, pain, joy, happiness--and that also means they have rights. and when those rights are forgotten about by other people, i get heated. when my clients are not treated fairly, i become protective.

i think what can often be forgotten is that i am capable of making all of the decisions my clients have made. now obviously, i haven't, but i could. just because i was raised by amazing parents does not make me any better than people whose parents didn't pay much attention to them. just because i have a college education does not mean i'm smarter than someone who dropped out of high school. just because i am married to a wonderful man does not mean i don't understand others' desire to be loved and cared for. just because i have a support system does not mean i forget about those who are lonely. and just because i am a social worker does not make me better than those i work with.

i don't want to pretend like i have it all figured out. because i don't. but i do want justice for those who are often looked in society, and i believe that i am to fight for that. for now and always.

Mark 2:16-17, "But the teachers of the religious law who were Pharisees saw him eating with tax collectors and other sinners, they asked the disciples, 'Why does he eat with such scum?' When Jesus heard this, he told them, 'Healthy people do not need a doctor--sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.'"

Sunday, March 20, 2011

on most sunday night's my husband will hear the phrase, "i don't want to go to work tomorrow..." typically it's said with some bit of sarcasm because my weekend has flown by and that makes me sad. but also because i know that when my alarm goes off on monday morning there will be no looking back until i am home on friday evening. on this particular sunday night, i didn't have a chance to tell him that i don't want to go to work tomorrow because he had to go to bed insanely early due to his schedule. he always says he doesn't like to start the week off tired. smart man i married, i should follow suit, but alas i am here, blogging, of all things.

so why am i blogging? well because, i REALLY don't want to go to work tomorrow. like, sick feeling in my stomach don't want to go to work tomorrow. maybe it's because i didn't work on friday and i know that means i will have several emails awaiting my reply, or maybe it's because i know my voicemail light on my phone will be blinking and there will have been some crisis that i wasn't able to respond to because i, for once, didn't check my voicemail when taking a day off work. (don't be too proud, though, i still made a work phone call.)

so as i've wrestled with this thought of not wanting to go to work and feeling of dread in knowing my alarm is going to go off and that i am going wait until the absolute last minute to get out of bed which will force me to eat my breakfast and to drink my cup of coffee on the way to work, i took a minute and asked myself a simple question; why?

now i don't really have much of an answer, but i have a couple hunches both of which i think have some validity. the first being that i have been incredibly stressed out with work (hence my two most recent posts) and with how busy my husband and i have been i just want to BE STILL. the second being the sermon at church today was about being the salt and light of the world.

now some may ask why that would have .a n y t h i n g. to do with not wanting to go to work tomorrow, but i believe that even before my week starts Satan is already trying to discourage me from being the salt and light my clients deserve to see and need to see. so this is my feeble attempt to list some reasons why i am thankful for the life i am living, even though it may be busy, to help give myself an attitude adjustment.

1. i love people and i love people's stories. being with my clients, my friends, my family, my volleyball girls truly does bring me joy. sure, it's draining at times, but i think everything has its time and place to be draining. i have been given the opportunity to love others well and beyond that, doors are opened for me DAILY to be the salt and light that Jesus has called us as Christians to be.
2. for everything there is a season. what better time is there in life than now to be this busy? two years from now if my husband and i have kids there is no way i can be involved in all the things i am involved in. there is no way if i had kids i would be able to invest as much time and energy in my workplace. there is no way i would be able to say "yes" to all the things i say yes to, so i am grateful that this is the season in my life for this.
3. He is my constant. when things get hairy during my day; i am so thankful i have Him to hear my deepest heart's cries and my most ridiculous frustrations.
4. my motivation truly is to bring glory to His Kingdom. my job, my life, my everything is not about me. it's about laying down myself at His feet daily; by the hour, by the minute and even by the second. i don't always do this well; in fact, i stink at it a lot of the time because i am a slightly OCD, control freak but i am seeking to do this more intentionally.
5. little conversations that keep me going. on friday i had a conversation with a 5 year old about the cross on my keychain one of my sweet friends gave me. this 5 year old asked me about the cross and told me that Jesus died on it. i talked with him about why Jesus died on the cross and told him it was so that we could go to heaven if Jesus was living in our hearts. and he immediately piped up and asked me what heaven was like. i contemplated for a minute about how i was going to answer such a broad question to a 5 year old, but i told him to imagine the BEST thing he could ever imagine in his life. he told me that it was to have a big house and to be able to play basketball. and i told him the heaven would be that and more. and with all the innocence of a 5 year old he said to me, 'does that mean Jesus will play basketball with me?' and smiling like a fool i answered him, 'yeah, buddy, i think that it absolutely means that Jesus will play basketball with you.'
6. seeing the Kingdom burst forth. last sunday our pastor talked about the beatitudes and about how being blessed is when God is bursting forth from your life. he continued on with it a bit today about where we see the Kingdom bursting forth in our own lives and in people's lives around us. i see the Kingdom burst forth daily; be it in a conversation that i have with a 5 year old about heaven, in talking with an 8 year old about the Jesus music that i play in my car, in seeing a mother of three grasp the concept of budgeting so she can afford to feed her family, in seeing a woman just two years younger than myself smile and laugh for the first time in weeks as she struggles with depression, in a conversation with my sweet fifteen year old friend who gave me the cross keychain that points me back to what's really important, and the list could go on and on...i see the Kingdom burst forth daily, even hourly and that is a privilege. a privilege that an inadequate 20 something year old never fathomed God would bless her with.
7. being inadequate and God using me anyway. i probably will never understand this, but i am so thankful that HIS power is made perfect in my weakness; that He has designed me intricately and perfectly as a part of the Body of Christ to make an eternal difference but that i am not created to do it all by myself.
8. that as i've typed this list has gotten easier and easier to continue and to add on to and to remind myself of the truly important things in life and what i am really thankful for.

so while i may still be dreading my alarm going off in the morning, simply because i am not a morning person, i am hopeful and confident that i will go into my work week with restored confidence and a new peace as i remember why i am thankful for what i do even when the going gets rough.

thank you God...for bursting forth in so many areas around me. may i be the salt and light of the earth you have called us to be, not just this week but for now and always.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

even though i've had a blog for three years or so, i've never been all that dedicated to using it. but recently, i've come across several blogs that i love reading. and i think that i love reading them because i love knowing people's stories. love it. now, i am well aware my blog will never be as popular as the people's i have found, but i love the fact that i can look back over all my blog entries and see how the Lord has moved in my life. and for that i am thankful.

i am also thankful that i have tomorrow off work and that my husband and i are going to finally get to spend some quality time together. time off work and time with my husband are both desperately needed.

now granted, i will only be taking 2 hours of vacation time because i somehow managed to work 38 hours in a 4 days, but i've survived. and i can't wait to go to bed tonight and not have to set an alarm. really, it's the little things in life that i get so excited about anymore.

but beyond that, i feel like God has really been challenging me lately. in college, i read a book with my beloved accountability partner and eventual roommate called Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World. as we sat in the coffee shop on campus discussing this book, i remember so desperately wanting to be like Mary but knowing that my life did not reflect that. my life reflected Martha. and my life now is reflecting Martha.

i'm wrestling with this truth. i've become accustomed to being busy. it's not an excuse but it's become my lifestyle. i was busy in high school, i was busy in college, i'm busy as an adult. i don't know how to not be busy. i'm queen of making my schedule piece together for work; i've been able to fit helping with volleyball in, i've been trying to balance my new role as a wife, maintaining a house, keeping in contact with family and friends, and trying to fit in taking care of myself. i'm used to it.

so how do i not be busy? i haven't figured that out yet, but i want to be like Mary. i want to sit at the feet of my Savior and not worry about the craziness going on around me. i want Him to teach me and i want to hear His voice. so i need to be more intentional, and i need to be willing to say no.

i trust that He knows what He is doing with my inadequacies, and i am thankful that He is still faithful.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

it's been such a long while since i've updated; i feel as though the cursor blinking at me on this screen is doing so as if to mock me. but anyway, a lot has been going on, but i'm not sure if this update will bring justice to the last five weeks of my life.

life has been crazy to say the least in these last five weeks. there have definitely been good times and there have definitely been frustrating times. i have been reminded more than ever before how much i crave control and how much i don't do well admitting when i need help. and really, for those of you who have been reading my blog for the past few months or years or who know me at all should not be surprised by that statement.

let me first start off by saying that i am so blessed with the life that i live, and that i by no means am intending to paint a sob story about the last five weeks of my life. all i am intending to do is share at least partially what i have been processing through and learning from. as well as the joys i have experienced along the way.

so, with that said, allow me to begin: God has continued humbling me in my workplace each day. i think that over the last five weeks i have been busier with work than i have been since i started working full time. while it is great to be busy and to not be sitting in the office all day, i have found more than ever my heart breaking for those with whom i work. not only has work been trying because of the number of clients i have been carrying, but it has also been trying because of the situations i have found myself in. i feel like i have this great privilege of working with some of the most forgotten adults and children in our american society, but their stories are sad. depressing. disheartening. and seemingly hopeless. i have found myself sitting in the court room thinking about how parents can get to the point of losing their rights to their children, and how the children never asked to be put into the situation they have been put in. i have found myself wanting to cry with clients who have been through more in their 7-16 short years on earth than i have been through or could imagine going through in my 24 years. i have found myself angry with the ignorance of people and angry because of people's laziness. i have found myself frustrated beyond words because of others being irrational, and i have found myself annoyed at parents who find it ok to let their babies cry.

but i have been humbled each and every day as God challenges me to love them anyway. and honestly, i suck at it a lot of days. but, because of His faithfulness He gives me the strength to get out of every bed each morning and try again. there have been a lot of days where i have been so exhausted that i don't want to get out of bed and where i have hit the snooze button a few too many times. there have been several days where i long for one of my clients to no show and there have been times where i feel like crying because my clients who consistently show up for their appointments are making absolutely no progress.

but i am reminded that, i am not the Ultimate Judge. i am not the One who it going to decide these people's fate. and, to be quite honest, i don't completely know the condition of their hearts. and the most i can actually do, is show them by the way i live my life that there is Someone i am living for. Someone bigger than myself, and Someone who is able to guide and direct my steps. so, i am continually reminded that i cannot play God. i cannot make people's decisions for them, i cannot make them do something they are unwilling to do, and i cannot save them from the choices they have made. so despite my inadequacies, frustrations, and failures i am willing to continue being His vessel in this manner as long as He tells me to.

moving on, my life has also been kept interesting as i have also applied to grad school for my Maters in Social Work. after much praying, searching, and investigating, i found a completely online program through the University of New England that seemed to be the perfect fit for me and where dan and i are at in life. i would not have to give up my saturdays for the next two years, and i would have more flexibility to continue working as well with this program. so i filled out the informational portion online, wrote my personal mission statement, got my transcripts, got my references to write letters, and had it all sent it. and, legitimately, i found out about 4 days before my application was due to UNE that IUPUI, right here in indiana, is going to be starting an online MSW program in 2012. talk about horrible timing for a slightly OCD control freak.

i think that when i texted dan that day he was probably dreading what the next few weeks would look like for him as i frantically tried to get my questions answered about what this new program might look like, how much money i could save, if advanced standing was going to be offered in 2012, if it would be worth not graduating until 2015 as compared to 2013, and probably 239285020 other questions, and in all honesty, i can't say i blame him. i don't know how anyone could stand to live with me when i am going through one of those freak out times. (kudos to my parents for doing it for 23.5 years and for daniel doing it willingly since we've been married!)

and legitimately, i did freak out. there were several times i was on the verge of tears because i hate not knowing what's coming next and i hate not having a clear answer as to what the right decision is and what is the wrong decision. and let us not forget how stressed out i have been with work. but God ever so gently nudged me back to him, quietly and patiently asking me when i was going to just trust him. and when i was going to just surrender the situation to him and start praying instead of freaking out trying to control things.

i don't have any problem admitting it now, but i was embarrassed by my foolishness and i'm pretty sure that is why it was so hard to give the situation to him. i know in my heart of hearts that if i pray and talk to Jesus about what is going on in my life, my life is so much easier. time and time again i hold too tightly to what is going on and i am blinded somehow to the freedom there is in laying situations at His feet.

so the next few days were spent making sure i was intentionally seeking His face and His desire for me. and, even as i sit here and write this about three weeks later, i don't have a clear answer as to what i am "suppose" to do. but, i can tell you that i was accepted to UNE on monday and that even though i don't know for 100% what i am going to do, i much more at peace, much more rational, and probably much less annoying to my husband, family, and friends.

so that's work and grad school for me. but there's more. (and this is why i should never go 5 weeks without blogging.) in the midst of everything i have had going on, dan has been crazy busy with his paramedic schooling. his classes on wednesdays started back up mid-january, but his 12 hour clinical shifts have also started during the week. he's also still working part-time as an EMT. and part time pretty much means he's working every day that he is not in class or doing a clinical shift. i have no shame in admitting that our schedules are nuts, and crazy schedules make it difficult for us to see each other or spend quality time together. not the picture that i had going into marriage. it has also been discovered that because dan and i don't like to spend money and because our crazy schedules don't allow for us to see our friends, we have failed epically at continuing to date since we have been married. now again, i'm not painting a sob story, because we are learning and we are improving, but for anyone who is not yet married and who is reading my blog, make dating a priority even after you get married. it's necessary and if you make it a habit right away, it will not be easily lost when life gets unexpectedly crazy. but again, Our God has been faithful in providing us with just enough quality time and fun moments together to help us survive. and He has taught us so much about loving one another well when we're tired, drained, and or emotional that i probably wouldn't trade anything that we've been through for a less busy life.

other things that have changed recently that i don't have the stamina to write a long paragraph about each of them consist of: volleyball starting back up twice a week for me (which has been simply w.o.n.d.e.r.f.u.l.), me being asked to join the missions committee at our church, me recognizing that i can be compassionate to a fault, us trying to discern God's will for us when it comes to going overseas this summer or this year in general, and i am sure several other things that i cannot think of at the moment.

but one of the most beautiful things i have continued to be amazed at over the last five weeks and the last thing i want to blog about tonight is the power of relationships. as life has changed drastically for me since i got married, the Lord has been so faithful at placing the exact people in my life just when i need them. be it my friend who is ten years older than me that listens with such patience and genuineness, my friend who i have known for over a decade that i have somewhat recently just reconnected with that understands my heart and desire to make everyone happy, my friends from college who have seen me grow and change in so many ways, or my friend who is nearly eight years younger than me that speaks just about as much truth into my life as anyone, i am blessed. and i would not be who i am today without them and their support. and my hope and prayer is that i can be the kind of friend to them that they are to me.

i am a work in progress, and i am thankful the my God is not done with me yet.
until next time, may i continue striving to live wholly devoted to Him, seeking His face in all i say, do, and think.