A Sudden Realization

I woke up today realizing I no longer wanted to teach.

It’s been coming on for a while, really. One thing has led to another, and I just feel it’s not for me. Now, with a full time job, I don’t feel I can give teaching the attention it deserves. But it’s more than time management abilities. It’s desire. I woke up today wanting to go into my writing and editing job–to the office–and do that work and see those people. In that moment I realized I found what I am supposed to do.

I’ve been praying about this for a while too. Do I completely stop teaching? Or do I just limit what I’m willing to take on? Today felt like a clarification from God about my next steps.

I went back to teaching when I left my previous job and this storm started. It was something I knew, and I was desperate to get out of the job I was in. In a time of complete turmoil, I needed a comfort zone. Since my second year of graduate school, I have enjoyed teaching, but I always felt there was something missing. I think I know what that is now, and I’m going to go after it.

I’ve also been praying about beginning a new project. I would not have time to devote to this project if I continued to teach, and this project is something that has been on my mind for a long time. (I will reveal more when it is solidified and I have taken the steps to make it happen, but keep an eye out.)

I feel like God is leading me in a direction I have waited a long time to be led in, and I am really looking forward to what is next.

These sudden realizations can be scary, but if you have been talking to God about a potential change, it may be a sign from Him. I’ve learned it’s important to stay in prayer, even about “the little things.” He may use the little things to begin moving us forward.

So if you have a decision to make, big or small, ask God. He will provide you an answer.

We All Do It Differently

I know that in church we are told that to spend time with God, we must pray and meditate on His Word. While I agree wholeheartedly, I also feel that spending time with God looks different for each of us.

I listen to Christian podcasts on my drive to drop Belle off at daycamp and then to work. (I navigate between Journeywoman and Proverbs 31 Ministries.) I pray in the car and periodically during my day. I am currently reading through The Middle of the Messand taking notes. Every time I go on hikes and weekend adventures with Belle, I find myself thanking the Lord for not only the ability to do those things, but also for the mere existence of Belle. I find myself just speaking with Him, saying “Jesus” over and over again. I find Him in the moments I break down in tears and unexpected peace washes over me. Sometimes I find Him in the tears. Plus, of course, I go to church every Sunday.

I try to do Bible journaling. I try to read my Bible and let it sink in and take notes. More often than not, though, I fail. I go back to the same verses I have read over the past year because of the comfort they provide me as I fight this storm. Sometimes I’ll find a new verse and write it down. Sometimes I find the verse, but I just read it a few times. Sometimes I spend a few seconds reading, sometimes more.

Unfortunately, I’ve allowed life to get in the way of spending time with Him the “right” way, but I know He is present in my every day.

I know He is there because I feel peace in moments I’m a mess on my bedroom floor. I know He is there because I can discern His voice to me in moments I am doubtful, questioning, or in distress. I know He is there because of how I have changed.

My point is this: as Christians, yes, we need to spend time with the Lord. We need to find that quiet, uninterrupted time to be with Him. But it’s okay if those moments don’t look the same for you that they do for others. We are individuals, made uniquely by Him, and He knows how we best communicate with Him. So spend time with God in the way you feel closest to Him.

It doesn’t matter how you spend time with Him. What matters is that you do.

Introduce Yourself

I almost didn’t go to small group this week. I have been tired from working a full time writing job and beginning another (and my last) semester of teaching. And a few of my friends had said they couldn’t make it. So my excuses were pretty abundant. But I went anyway, and I’m really glad I did.

My church celebrated our first birthday this past Sunday, and we shared a few videos of individuals who had found our church and what the year had meant to them. In honor of that, my small group decided to share our stories of how we came to find our church.

I have shared my story with friends and at my previous small group, and since a few people from my previous small group are in this group, I didn’t want to “bore” them. I also don’t want to feel like people pity me–I’ve felt that enough in the past year, and it makes me feel even more ostracized. But soon enough, one person sharing turned into another, and we were suddenly going around the circle. As the person next to me spoke, I kept thinking just say “pass,” but when she finished–and there was an appropriate pause–I found myself sharing.

As I listened to others’ stories, I started to realize that knowing their stories is a vital component of getting to know them. Sharing stories makes us vulnerable, and that can be genuinely tough and nerve-wracking because we are baring a bit of our soul, but vulnerability is a big part of establishing community. If we are not honest and open with our community, we aren’t really in community; it’s only a facade. Telling our stories is important–they are our testimony, they showcase our “why,” and give us opportunity to build honest relationships.

So, take some time to introduce yourself. What do you blog about and why? What gets you going? What made you want to blog? What does blogging mean to you? How did you come across blogging? Is it a career for you or is it just something you do to share your story and let others know they are not alone?

God uses our stories. What’s yours?

 

 

 

 

Searching For Home

One of my biggest complaints to my husband used to be “it doesn’t feel like home.” It’s why I wanted to move apartments and even states. To him, I’m sure it felt like I could never be satisfied with what we had. To me, it felt like we were missing something, like I was missing something.

Yesterday my church celebrated our first birthday. One year ago, I walked into that church looking for hope, with a deep despair in my heart. The instant I walked in, something felt right. The minute the pastor began his message, I knew I would stay. In his message yesterday, he said that it was the first place he and his wife had felt at home. That sentiment was echoed in the videos of others talking about their year at the church. And my pen started writing almost without me thinking.

Maybe I was searching for a place to call home when really my heart was missing something else: God. 

It didn’t matter where we were, I always felt out of place. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s because I hadn’t truly accepted God for who He is: an ever faithful, never changing, good Father and Protector. I was searching for a place–and my husband–to give me a feeling that neither could ever satisfy. I needed to go to the source.

The reason I can say that so confidently now is because I would never have pictured myself where I am–not in this city, not in my personal situation, not even in my job. Yet, I feel more at peace, more content, than I have in a very long time. This church feels like home because God is there, but more because I have accepted who Christ is in my life.

Whatever you may be facing, no earthly thing will give you reprieve, will fill a hole, will make you feel like you’re home. But God can. Jesus can. He is our Savior and Protector.

Who do you say Jesus is?

The Greatest Commandment is Love

Yesterday was…chaotic, in a word. Our family is having some struggles with this move, and it has led to many tense conversations and emotional breakdowns. My soul feels tired. But yesterday’s and today’s Scriptures have helped replenish me a little, and I am leaning on my Scripture writing for guidance and comfort.

So here is another entry that will talk about two Scriptures. Bear with me.

1 Peter 1:3-9

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.”

This Scripture tells that that God sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to give us hope. Through Christ’s resurrection, we are offered “a living hope,” one that is pure and cannot be contaminated or corrupted by this world because it is in Heaven. In other words, our hope is Christ in Heaven. It also tells us that our faith is a precious thing and, though it may be tested, we should still glorify, honor, and praise God because He sent Jesus for us. Lastly, it says that we love Him even though we do not see Him.

This, perhaps, is the strongest verse.

We believe in our souls in our God and in Christ, so we love Him. And that is faith—believing in something even if you cannot see it.

Mark 12:28-33

“Then one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that He had answered them well, asked Him, “Which is the first commandment of all?” Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” So the scribe said to Him, “Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth, for there is one God, and there is no other but He. And to love Him with all the heart, with all the understanding, with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.””

Here, Jesus is telling us that what God views most important are two things: love Him with your whole being and to love others. The scribe responds that this is true, of course, but what is important is the last line: that those are “more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” In other words, it does not matter what offerings or sacrifices you give if you do not do it in love for God or love for others.

The take away is…

I am going to make a leap here to connect these two Scriptures, and I ask that you take the leap with me. 1 Peter 1:3-9 is telling us that Jesus Christ is our living hope and we should glorify God above all else, even in times when our faith is tested. Like it may be when we try to abide by the second most important commandment in Mark: love others. In Mark 12:28-33, Jesus tells the scribe that the first greatest commandment is to love God “with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength” and the second is to love others. It can be hard to glorify God when we are having difficulty loving others. (Let’s face it—we’ve all been there.) But we must.

We should love and glorify and honor God with our entire being, as Jesus commands, no matter what we are going through. Our faith may be tested with fire, but still we should love God as He commands.

I won’t lie to you: that can be hard. Heavens, that can be hard.

What about that time my grandfather became suddenly ill and passed away before I truly had a chance to say goodbye? I can tell you, I did not glorify God then. I was angry. How could He take this person from me, from my family?

What about that time my husband made a commitment that I didn’t fully understand and needed to know more about but he made it anyway? Did I glorify God? No. I cried, I yelled, I asked “why my marriage, God?” Did I “love others” in this instance? Probably not. I was mean spirited and I pushed my husband away.

And what about when my parents divorced? I didn’t glorify Him then.

But now I see the beauty in some things.

Does it still hurt that my grandfather is no longer here? Yes. But my faith tells me he is with his Heavenly Father, and what more glorious place to be than there.

I was angry for a while with my husband. Unrightly so. But God has blessed us through that decision. My husband has found his passion, his calling. He may not have otherwise. And I thank God for that. And, if it’s possible, I love him even more.

10 years later, does it still hurt that my parents divorced? Eh, yes and no. I’m over it at any rate. Old enough to know it isn’t my concern. But I am still blessed through that. How? My parents both still support me. They both still love me and care about me. My mom has gotten to do things in her career that she has always wanted to do. I get to visit more places. The dad-daughter time I have with my dad when I see him is that much more special.

My point is, we can be tested, but there is a blessing in everything, even if we don’t see it yet. That is faith—believing in something even if you cannot see it.

What do you need to have faith for? Maybe it’s a change of scenery or of a situation. Maybe it’s just that “things,” whatever they may be, work out. Maybe it’s that everything stays the same. Or maybe you need a push to love others because you have been hurt by something in the past. Whatever it may be, allow me to encourage you to never stop believing. The most important commandment is to love God and His people (“love your neighbor as yourself”) above all else.

So, today, practice love.