Saturday, June 29, 2019

Surprised by Sorrow

Fascinating.

This is the word that best describes how I feel about how I've been feeling these last forty-eight hours or so. Huh.

The day before yesterday was my last day of a job I've been eagerly anticipating putting behind me for many months now. I expected to feel ecstatic, joyful, delighted, free... But I did not.

I've been a full-time, fifty-hours-a-week nanny for two little boys for the past sixteen months. When I started job hunting, I needed full-time employment desperately. Our financial situation was looking more and more grim. I applied to a wide variety of jobs, to no avail. My very last resort was childcare, something I swore I'd never do. (Incidentally, it's never a good idea to say never 😊)

I found a family who were equally desperate - their previous nanny had quit with very little warning. So we entered into partnership.

I would never say it was a bad job. Challenging, yes. Exhausting, definitely. A really charming, kind, thoughtful family to work for. But it was NOT how I wanted to be spending my time.

Time - that was the issue. I no longer had any extra time to spend doing things that mattered to me; I hardly had time to do necessary things, like cook and clean and connect with my own family. (I might argue that those "extras" were also necessities; I could feel my soul shriveling as I continually neglected feeding it.)

So I decided to take a leap. I had asked God for a job, and He gave me one. I was grateful. But it was getting harder and harder to walk in the door every day with a positive attitude. I tried to convince myself that what I was doing had value (and it did), but I came to see it as a stepping stone, a period of refining and growth and learning and testing.

I asked God to release me from it. Repeatedly. And finally, after months of asking and waiting, He did. I was ecstatic, joyful, delighted... right up until the night before my last day.

Looking back, it's baffling to see how I missed realizing it would be so hard to say good-bye. It never occurred to me that there would be a hole left from removing such a significant, time-and-energy-consuming element from my life.

I'm on day two of what I referred to as "freedom". There have been moments in the past two days where I have felt and relished it - watching the sunrise as I did some early-morning gardening, taking a long walk with no stroller to push or questions to answer, making breakfast for my own kids... But there have been poignant moments of emptiness, sorrow even.

I had asked God ad nauseam to give me His love for this family. Why am I so surprised now to discover that He in fact did? ❤

I think there's another element to my uneasiness, too. As painstakingly planned, I am now fully dependent on my own devices to produce enough income to sustain us. And that is freaking me out - another sensation I didn't expect.

I'm now pursuing employment I'm passionate about - educating about the dangers of household chemicals and offering a better way; providing guidance and direction on the path to healing and wholeness. These two entrepreneurial enterprises make me excited to get up in the morning; but the fact that I have to depend on myself for motivation and discipline and consistency and effort is daunting, to say the least.

So instead of the unfettered joy I thought I'd be experiencing today, it's a mixed bag. And instead of continuing to be frustrated with myself for not meeting my (kind of ridiculous) expectations, I will apply grace.

(Grace in sunrise form 😊)

Saturday, March 2, 2019

New Wine

It's MARCH!!!!  Can I get a hallelujah?! Even though in most of Canada we're still under ridiculous amounts of ice and snow, in some parts of the world Spring is already springing - and it makes me so happy! I can hardly wait to see the crocuses I planted last Fall peek up through the white stuff - it won't be long now! No matter how much more snow we get in the next few weeks (and we'll likely get quite a bit - fat, fluffy flakes are falling as I type 😒), Spring will still come

While I've traditionally been more of a Fall gal, the month of March and the approach of Spring has come to be very significant in my life. Two Marches ago, I experienced a miraculous healing, which radically changed every aspect of my life. (Just in case you missed it, you can read about that awesomeness here.) Still celebrating that indescribable gift!! And last March, I started the first full-time job I've ever been able to keep - both my husband and my bank account are still celebrating that one 😊 

Lover of beauty that I am, I have always delighted in all the signs of new life that accompany the approach of Spring. And now I feel like I'm participating in that glorious resurrection dance - my life has been made new in so many ways. And continues to be! I'm ecstatic to report that this March is no exception...

...but first, a little Lenten interlude... 

Lent begins this coming Wednesday. It's been my habit for several years to choose a prayer to pray every day during this season, usually with a fasting/breaking/new life theme, to prepare my heart for the soul-feast of Easter. This has been a very spiritually enriching practice for me. Each prayer has crossed my path randomly, or so it seemed at the time. I've never really sought them out, but I always recognized them as significant upon first reading/hearing. 

About a month ago, I had the privilege of visiting a much-loved church I used to attend. I was graciously allowed to sing with the worship team, which never fails to thrill my soul. One of the new songs we sang struck me instantly as "the one" for this year's Lenten journey. It's called New Wine. (You can listen to it here.) 
In the crushing, in the pressing
You are making new wine
In the soil, I now surrender
You are breaking new ground
So I yield to You and to Your careful hand
When I trust You I don't need to understand
Make me Your vessel
Make me an offering
Make me whatever You want me to be
I came here with nothing
But all You have given me
Jesus, bring new wine out of me
'Cause where there is new wine
There is new power
There is new freedom
And the kingdom is here
I lay down my old flames
To carry Your new fire today 
So make me Your vessel
Make me an offering
Make me whatever You want me to be
God, I came here with nothing
But all You have given me
Jesus, bring new wine out of me
Jesus, bring new wine out of me
I've already been meditating on these words and images, and am so looking forward to what God will reveal as I delve deeper into their meaning and significance for my journey. The "crushing" and "pressing" strike me particularly; there's been a lot of that in my life lately. Not that I know much about it, but the process of wine-making is a pretty violent one - for the grape! Crushing and pressing are not gentle actions - they imply pressure and changing of shape and squeezing out; but all for the purpose of making something new.
So that's what March feels like for me this year. I'm taking steps toward what I believe God has called and equipped me to do; I'll be listening for God's voice so that I don't run ahead or lag behind. It's an exciting and scary and tension-filled place to be - living in between the now and the not-yet. But as I learn to love the questions and embrace the stretching, I believe I'll find abundant grace and joy here.  


Saturday, February 2, 2019

The Inevitable New Year's Post - 2019 Edition (only a month late!)

Happy New Year! I know, I know, I'm a little late... but better late than never, I hope 😊 

Those of you who've been journeying with me for awhile may remember that I have always chosen a meaningful word to define the year to come - with varying degrees of success. My memory is the guilty party in this instance; when I started looking back over the years, I couldn't even remember last year's word, let alone from years gone by! This is why I write things down.

As I reviewed my previous posts, it was fascinating to discover the words I'd chosen and recall the highs and lows of each particular year. Starting from last year and going back, my last five words have been joy, impossible, all, overcomer and thanks. I'm a little embarrassed to admit that so far, this practice has yielded very little fruit. So why continue?

Well, I guess I'm a hopeful person by nature. I keep trying in the hopes that things will be different this year. But you know the definition of insanity, right? Well, instead of doing the same thing and anticipating different results, I'm going to try something new. A little thing, really, but I'm believing that it will make all the difference. I'm writing it down. But not just in this one blog post where I'll never see it again until next year. It's on my alarm clock, in my closet, on my mirror, on my whiteboard, on my computer, on my phone...

Because I really want to remember it this year. Already, this word has helped bring about some major breakthroughs in 2019. A little backstory...

For the past two and a half years, I've been dealing with some trauma from past abuse. Abuse that happened around twenty two years ago, but that I was only recently able to recognize and name. This has caused my marriage to suffer. I had no idea how to move past the trauma. I had prayed, written, seen a counsellor, started attending Celebrate Recovery... it seemed as though nothing was making a difference.

Fast-forward to mid-January. I had made arrangements to attend a discipleship conference in Calgary. I was really looking forward to seeing so many people I love and going deeper with God, while at the same time hoping that I could just leave this issue at home and not have to deal with it there.

I really should have known better 😊 Through a series of very fortunate events (for lack of a better word), I was finally enabled to let go of the fear that was holding me back and embrace all the good God has for me going forward.

It was only after I'd been back home for a few days and had some time to process everything that had happened that my word of the year occurred to me. Fearless. I can't wait to see what a difference it makes in my year!

And so, a very happy New Year, dear Friends - may it be your best year yet, full of peace and grace and hope and joy! May it also be a year of no fear