Friday, April 29, 2011

today is one of those days that my insides are bursting with anger at the injustices i am surrounded by everyday. legitimately. i tried to let it go on my way home from work, but it just wasn't happening today. over the past two years i've had to learn how to let things go or i wouldn't be able to sleep at night.

i guess it was just one of those weeks that i realized how fragile people are. how broken some people are. how unfair some peoples lives are or have been. how unrealistic some people's expectations are. how lazy some people are. how disadvantaged some people are. and the list could go on and on.

and i hate that i cannot do anything about it. other than be there now. of course, of course i recognize that being there now is doing SOMETHING but i can't change the past for any of these people i work with. and it breaks my heart that i can't. it breaks my heart that when i asked a young girl if she could say anything to someone who has hurt her very badly, her response was, "why did they have to ruin my life?" that there was so much truth to that.

it makes me angry when i talk with some parents about their children they just expect them to turn out well behaved, and they refuse to take any responsibility for the fact that they need to provide consistency, love, support, and boundaries. and then when their children start showing negative behaviors it is always someone else's fault or they need to be medicated, and when it is all said and done they refuse to put forth the effort to give positive or negative consequences and change the environment they have created for their children.

sometimes i just have to say to my friends who work in the same field, "ARE YOU KIDDING ME?" just because i can't take the ridiciulousness any longer. seriously, ARE YOU KIDDING ME!

unfortunately, though, i'm not kidding and the situations i deal with daily are not jokes. far from jokes actually.

and on nights tonight where i feel angry, frustrated, disheartened, annoyed, and dumbfounded i think about the story in the Bible where Jesus was angry that the people had turned His temple, His house of prayer into a den of thieves. His anger was righteous, and He over turned tables. and the situation He was dealing with was definitely no joke, but i wonder to myself, did He ever think, "ARE YOU KIDDING ME?"

i suppose that will be one of the questions i ask Him when i meet Him face to face. but i can't help but feel like my anger is righteous, so i guess until then i will just have to pray He helps me handle it in that manner...and that He gives me the strength to endure.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

t-minus 7 days until v-a-c-a-t-i-o-n. halleujah. seriously, i don't know when i was this excited to go on vacation. but I. CANNOT. WAIT.

i realized last night that for the past two weeks i haven't been home before 9:00 p.m. now, in my college days, that was probably a pretty normal time for me to get back to my room but now-a-days it is very abnormal for it to happen for it that length of time. and i couldn't handle it anymore. so i did something i don't normally do and made it so that i could be home after work. such a good decision and one that i probably need to make more often, but i suppose i will cross that bridge when i get there.

regardless, can i please just tell you how thankful i am for the people God places in our lives?? i know in my last post i talked about my husband and my sister, but i have so many other amazing people in my life. and last night, i had dinner with one of them. she may only be sixteen, but she is by far the wisest and most mature sixteen year old i have ever met in my life. she processes life as if she was my age and even though we are in completely different stages of life, she listens and speaks truth and challenges me in ways she can't even comprehend. and it is uncanny how many similarities we have. seriously, it's crazy. but beyond that, one thing i love about her is her hunger to learn more about the Lord and grow in her relationship with Him. such a blessing to be watching her grow. and even more of a privilege to watch her grow through some of the most difficult obstacles that have been placed in her life. but i walked away from dinner last night, not only thankful for the refreshment it was to have a conversation with her, but i walked away from dinner last night humbled that God allows me to be a part of people's lives and places them in my life at exactly the right time. i like to think God knew i needed her just as much as she may have needed me. He is so faithful.

on another note, my fabulous mom gave my husband and me an Easter basket this year. she is fabulous for more reasons than that she still gives me an Easter basket, but it had a CD in it called "Freedom" where the proceeds of it went to the International Justice Mission. i have been obsessed with it. specifically one song by Sara Groves titled "When the Saints". i'm pretty sure i listened to the song non-stop from the time i left marion until the time i pulled in my driveway on monday night. i went to bed with the song in my head last night and woke up this morning with it in my head. look it up, listen to it, it's amazing. pinky promise.

but anyway, this song, has reminded me of my passion for overseas work and my longing to be there. sometimes i feel like that's more needed that i realize. but, regardless, it excited me, and it excites me to think of the future. not in the way that i am rushing into it, but in the way that i am looking forward to how God can use my passion to expand His Kingdom in an even different way than He is now.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

life is busy. my husband likes to say i've been busy my whole life and i don't know how to NOT be busy. unfortunately, he's right. i hate when he's right. but he is 110% right about this. now, i probably won't tell him that to his face, but at least i've admitted it! and after this weekend, i feel like i'm just begging life to slow down.

but i'm trying to learn in the midst of the busy-ness that Jesus is still present. and on this resurrection sunday, it serves as a good reminder that HE IS ALIVE. what a privilege it is to serve a God who is alive and moving and One who chooses to live among His people. it is so different for me to think of the people i encountered in India who serve gods of the darkness. and it is so sad for me to think of the people i work with daily who do not know what a Mighty God there is who is just drawing them near to Him and loves them infinitely.

anyway, it's been awhile since i posted pictures, and in my desire for life to slow down, i decided that i need to slow myself down. so here i am, taking time to write about two of the most important people in my life. first....

my adoring husband. never in my life did i fathom falling so deeply in love with someone. these past 8 1/2 months have been so wonderful. of course, though, there have been frustrating times; times where i needed alone time and in adjusting to sharing a house with a man it was difficult to find. times where i hated having to utter a word in the morning but being married to a morning person forced me to; times where i have felt like a failure as a wife and times where our communication was not effective. but, the frustrating times have definitely been outweighed by the enjoyable times. times where we have laughed so hard we've cried over something ridiculous; times when we have both compromised and watched tv shows we normally would never imagine watching. times where we have talked and have shared our deepest dreams and desires; times where we have had to communicate effectively and have grown from it. times that we have worshipped the Lord together. times with our families and friends, times spent hosting people in our house, and times where we are just able to be together with no agenda. i love him, and i love that we are journeying through this life together with intentions of bringing the most glory to His Kingdom.

and second, my sister. this weekend we had her baby shower and it was such a blessing to be able to celebrate her and my soon-to-be niece. like all siblings, my sister and i didn't get along the greatest growing up. let's face it; the reality of it was, being the younger one i wanted nothing more to be exactly like my older sister. well, having someone trying to tag along at all times couldn't have been much fun. but, now that we're older and age doesn't seem to matter, i am so thankful that our fun memories out number the fighting memories. we might be polar opposites on so many levels, but my sister knows me better than most people and i wouldn't trade her for anything. i am so excited for her to begin her newest journey as a mother, and i am thankful she is going through it first so that she can teach me all the tricks of the trade that she learns. but, truthfully, i can't wait until we are walking through it together. i can't wait for our kids to be friends and for them to grow up knowing how much their moms love each other. and i am more thankful than words can express of how the Lord is moving and working in her life.

anyway, as i wrap this up, i am reminded of how blessed i am. and as i am thinking about going to work tomorrow, i am hopeful that i can take this thankful attitude with me through each day. chances are, i am going to need it. but i know He will give me the strength to endure.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

i've been meaning to post the past two days now and it's never happened. and after over a 13 hour day at work, i decided that i just needed a sentence of two to bring me back to reality and the important things in life.

i am so thankful i serve a God who answers prayers when we least expect them. prayers that seem to go unanswered for many years, and then BAM.

yes, He is just THAT good. i'm humbled, i'm rejoicing and i am so thankful.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

i feel like i was missing out on something for nearly 22 years. coffee. as i just made a cup for myself this afternoon i was reminded of when i started actually liking coffee; the summer of 2008, my first summer in india. the two girls i traveled with had gotten sick of chai tea and were dying for coffee. since i couldn't refuse the coffee that was given to me and our thattha typically stayed in our apartment with us as we drank our coffee or tea and ate our cookies and cashews, i had to choke it down. but eventually, i ended up liking it. mmmm, it's sweet goodness. well it's only sweet because of the creamer, but still, it's sweet goodness.
anyway, happenings of the week:
1. i got to hold a precious week and a half old baby who weighs less than 5 pounds at work this week; talk about being in HEAVEN. and lucky me, i get to go see her three times a week now! i love babies.
2. one of my favorite work friends said to me this week as we were headed to transport kids for a visit, "how are you? you don't seem stressed." i think that might have been one of the biggest compliments i received this week. and one of the most glorious parts of it; i didn't feel stressed this week.
3. i had a meeting wednesday night for the missions committee at our church and my last client that day called and cancelled his visit with his kids, so i was done earlier than expected. well, with gas being $3.99 a gallon, i decided i would just kill some time at the mall instead of driving all the way home and then back in to church. poor choice; i should have just spent the extra gas money instead of the money i spent at the mall. i did get some great deals though. love that.
4. i got to talk with one of my most beloved friends on the phone on my way home from work last night. i love her, and i love how refreshing our conversations are. even when they aren't about anything serious, just laughing with her brings me joy.
5. my books for grad school came in the mail today; i am excited about this new adventure. i might have to remind myself of that several times in the next two and a half years, though.
6. my sister's baby shower is next weekend, and i truly cannot wait to celebrate her and my sweet niece who will be here before we know it!
all in all, it was a great week, and i am blessed beyond all measure for His faithfulness in my life. i am looking forward to what He has in store for me next week, but before next week starts, i will continue finding joy in the simple things.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

one of my favorite things is hearing the sounds of a train going down the tracks on a still night blowing it's horn. something about that is refreshing to me. perhaps it is because i have been able to hear them like that nearly my entire life from my parent's house. another one of my favorite sounds is the second hand ticking on a clock. when i was a little girl, i remember spending MANY nights at my beloved grandma's house. and when i would curl up on the couch to go to sleep i fell asleep to the ticking of the second hand on the clock. i am thankful for the vivid memories i have.
but why i am writing this post is because i feel like to some degree i've been slightly "complainy" in my last few posts about work. the reality is they have been truthful, but i think it's worth noting when something good happens at work as well. today i was suppose to have an ending visit with a client who has been very successful with me, but i could never really tell if she enjoyed meeting with me. she was always very open and honest (hard to come by) and incredibly willing and eager to learn (even harder to come by). meeting with her was definitely a break in my day. if you've ever seen the movie Life as We Know It, and you remember the part where the social worker talks about grabbing a coffee on her way to meet with her clients and talks about meeting with them being like a mini vacation because they are good clients; well this is a similar situation for me.
regardless, when i talked with her about it potentially being the last visit i heard her say, "i don't really like that." i kind of brushed it off and reminded her of all the progress she has made and encouraged her to keep it up. and to make a long story short, we had another meeting where we were together tonight, and i found out that i would actually be continuing on the case for a period of time. to which she said, "oh good, i love working with elizabeth."
my heart was warmed. spirits lifted. and i thanked my God for the fact that He allows me to be a part of people's lives such as hers. what a privilege; i truly will never know the impact i have on this side of Heaven, and because i trust Him to guide and direct my steps and to give me strength to endure along the way, i am more than ok with that. but i will give Him the praise that is due for little reminders like i was given today.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

i love weekends; thoroughly love weekends. i especially love weekends when the weather is lovely. i usually am a fan of winter; well, not necessarily a big fan, but i usually don't mind it. but this year, i just need to say; i. was. SOOO. over. winter. dreary days, unsafe roads, freezing temperatures, wet boots--over it all.
and then this weekend happened. sunshine abounded, temperatures soared, and i was refreshed. simply marvelous. and i'm going to go ahead and choose to not acknowledge the fact right now that it's not going to be as warm this week and that rain is coming. but, now that i've had a taste of the goodness of summer again, i'm anxiously anticipating its arrival more than ever.
beyond the weather, though, this week continued to challenge me in ways i never could have imagined; i also think i was reminded of a couple important lessons.
the first being: i am eternally grateful for the parents i was given, and i am blessed to be so close with them to this day. my parents taught me a lot of things, instilled a lot of great morals in me, encouraged me to be whatever i wanted to be, but what my parents helped develop in me that stood out to me this week was my work ethic. from a very young age i can remember helping my dad in the grain set up, riding in the tractor with him, and going to help out in the veal barn. i remember sunday afternoons were the days that my sister and i were required to pick up our bedroom no matter how much we hated it, and as i look back helping out around the farm and having to do chores around the house truly taught me motivation and responsibility. now that i am 24 years old and have a full time job, those small lessons my parents took the time to teach me, have made the w.o.r.l.d of difference in the way i do my job now. and i am so thankful for that. working hard at my job is legitimately draining, but i know it's worth it.
and i know it's worth it because of the second lesson that i was reminded of this week. that being, i work for God and not for man. that truth can be so easily forgotten and probably has been forgotten by me for a number of weeks.
the reality is, i don't work by my own strength. the other reality is, He is the one who has given me the gifts to do what i do. people often say to me, "there is no way i could do what you do," or "it takes a special person to do your job," or "i just don't know how you do it." truth be told, i couldn't do it without Jesus walking with me side by side every day, i'm no more special than anyone else who He has created, and i don't know how i do what i do besides He works through my weaknesses.
so, despite the frustrating (extremely frustrating) week i had (again), God still was faithful in the lessons He taught me and the encouragement He gave me. i'm hopeful that this week won't be as frustrating, but i know even in the midst of the frustrating moments my God is still moving and helping to shape me into the woman He desires. so i'm here to say: whatever it takes, Lord, to make me fully Yours. thank You for Your faithfulness now and for the fact that i know You will be faithful in the years, months, days, hours, minutes, and seconds to come.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

today was one of those days at work where i was reminded of why i do what i do. april is prevent child abuse awareness month; for a social worker who works with families and children this month especially weighs heavily on my heart.
a lot of the time, the reality is, i don't see any progress made by any families that i work with. that is frustrating and draining. but, today there was a lunch held in Grant County that talked about the state of Grant County's children. the unfortunate truth is that indiana is ranked 8th in the nation when it comes to child abuse and the frequency of how often children are having to be removed from their parents care.
to me, that is sad. the privilege i have is that i work with some of these parents and children who are often just considered just another statistic. like i said, sometimes there is no progress made by parents when it comes to regaining custody of their children but i have to some how find hope in those situations. and i tend to think of that hope in the light of the children and the new futures they can be given by finding lasting families. there aren't always happy endings, very rarely are there happy endings actually, but i firmly believe that if i am able to better one person's life, my efforts are not in vain.
i need to be reminded of that every now and again.
i know that as stressed out as i often am with my job, as tired as i often am with my job, as annoyed as i often am with my job that one day i will look back and see how doing what i do has shaped me into a better person. and to be quite honest, i am sure that when i am no longer doing exactly what i am doing i will miss it.
so for now, i will relish in the hugs that i receive from the children, the few thank yous i hear from the parents, and the simple truth that sometimes all someone needs is someone to believe in them.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

wow, where did march go? i cannot believe that it is already april; however, i welcome april with open arms longing for warmer days and anxiously anticipating summer so that i can spend my weekends soaking up the sun in my parent's pool. but until then, i will enjoy each day i am given.
i mentioned in my last post that a new book had come in the mail for me; even though i am only two chapters into it, it definitely has forced me to start thinking even more about the way i am living my life. the book is called Having a Mary Spirit; Allowing God to Change Us from the Inside Out. it just so happens that it is the sequel to the book i read with my accountability partner in college Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World. and i love it.
in a lot of ways i feel like i can relate to the author, Joann Weaver, on quite a few levels. desiring to be perfect, being goal driven, longing to serve others, forgetting about taking care of oneself, and wanting an intimate relationship with Christ are just some of the ways that i feel like i can relate to her in just the first few chapters. i found a couple sentences towards the end of the first chapter that explain what the entire book is about, "Having a Mary spirit is about our attitude toward what God wants to do in our lives. The spirit behind the response makes all the difference."
now, i don't know about you, but i'm pretty good at being ok with the reality that God has a plan for my life and that sometimes my plans don't line up with His. but, when those times happen, i must admit, my resposes and my attitude aren't always the best. but i long for a Mary spirit, and i long to be like Mary who was willing to sit at Jesus' feet as her sister Martha busily rushed around trying to accommodate Him. but both of those things require an often thought of ugly six letter word; C H A N G E. Joann sums it up well why it's worth changing, though, "I can't imagine anything more terrible than getting to the end of my life only to discover that God had so much more in mind for me--more freedom, more joy, more peace, more true effectiveness. And I had missed it all, simply because i refused to change."
so, while sometimes asking the Lord to change us can be scary, i will be completely vulnerable and say i am doing just that. i'm not going to miraculously have a Mary spirit or miraculously be more like Mary than Martha, so i know i have to change. is there potential for it to be painful? absolutely, but i know with all of my heart, changing will be help me in all areas of my life and most importantly it will allow me to have more intimacy with my Heavenly Father.