Saturday, May 19, 2018

Blooming Where I'm Planted

It's Springtime here in southern Ontario, and the woods are full of the most exquisite wildflowers - so many different shapes, sizes, colours, textures and scents, all thriving out there in their own unique ways. It makes my heart sing. ❤

I've been thinking a lot lately about my life and what I want it to look like; more specifically, how to really bloom where I've been planted. Having been employed as a full-time nanny for three whole months now has given me a new perspective on many things - I appreciate my family, the weekend, any chance to visit the restroom unaccompanied, and any time off so much more than I ever did in the past, when I was either unemployed or doing very flexible church work.

(My work family is travelling next week, which leaves me with NINE WHOLE DAYS OFF! I really want to make the most of them, rather than having the time pass me by as I play Word Cookies on my phone all day. Thus this post... )

I guess I can admit now that the first six weeks of my new job were really dreadful - not the work itself, necessarily, but the adjusting to a new schedule and the exhaustion of my new responsibilities, the novelty of getting dressed EVERY DAY and wondering what awful, unexpected thing I would face next. I felt that my new employers had VERY high expectations to which I would never, ever measure up.

But eventually, everything fell into place and I realized one evening that I wasn't completely spent at the end of the day, that I actually liked the little people I was hanging out with, and that my employers genuinely appreciated my efforts to nurture their children and manage their home. (AND we were able to pay ALL our bills EVERY month - hallelujah!!)

So, while I don't mind my nine-to-five life (actually 7:45-4:30☺), it's got me asking hard questions about my talents and desires and dreams and goals.

Questions like: What am I really good at? What brings me joy? What's my purpose here, really? What would I do if money wasn't an issue? How do I go about building a life that glorifies God, serves others, uses my gifts and satisfies my soul? (And pays the bills...) What would that look like?

When I look at my current situation, it does indeed meet some of the above criteria. For that, I give thanks. However, as I look towards the not-so-far-off finish line of this particular season (July 2019), I'm inspired to consider how I can enhance the present in a way that will lead to future God-honouring satisfaction, fulfillment, and joy.

I'm beginning to formulate some answers to the big questions, but it's still a mystery to me how I might fit some of these joy-giving practices into the four or so hours I have each night between getting home, cooking supper, spending a little time with my family, preparing for the next day and falling into bed.

How do you do it? Are you living the life of your dreams? If not, why not? If so, how? How do we bloom where we're planted? I'd love to hear your stories. ❤



Saturday, February 24, 2018

Nanny

I've spent the last few weeks job-hunting (again!). I applied to a wide variety of jobs - ice cream scooper, online tutor, insurance underwriter, copy editor, retail sales management, farm hand... and the list goes on.

I was getting desperate. (I mean, farm hand - really?)  Our family finances were looking worse all the time. One day, I stumbled upon an ad for a nanny position that led me to a website full of them - so many people looking for childcare!

Confession time: even though I have an education degree, and even though I've worked for many years in children's ministry positions, I have always thought I hated working with kids, and would always say, "never again!" when a job would inevitably come to an end. 

However, I've recently realized that negative voice was really a symptom of bipolar disorder - which, thanks be to God!, seems to be a thing of the past. That realization, coupled with a bit of insight gleaned from a recent sermon at my church, led me to give working with children another shot. I started applying for daytime nanny jobs in my area - and there were so many!

A couple with two little boys, who had suddenly lost their previous nanny due to health issues, contacted me. I met with them the next day, and was hired.

I work Monday to Friday, 7:45am to 4:30pm. My primary job is looking after the boys; I'm also responsible for cooking and cleaning. So far, it's been good. I've connected with the kids, and I foresee that there will be lots of joys along with hard work. I'm optimistic about the future with them.

My work hours, which are excellent, also mean that I no longer can see my own boys off to school or be there when they get home. My husband has taken over morning duty, and the kids are old enough (and responsible enough) to be on their own after school.

I have to admit, this was an unexpectedly hard pill to swallow. I've always had flexible jobs (or no job) which enabled me to be at home with my guys. I never really appreciated that incredible blessing and privilege until now. It breaks my heart to know I can't send them out the door with a prayer and a hug in the mornings, nor greet them when they get off the bus in the afternoon.

But this experience has also helped me really understand the value of the service I'm providing for this family. It's not just putting in time - keeping the kids alive until their parents get home 😊. I'm essentially a substitute parent, loving and training and teaching and disciplining and protecting and guiding; providing a measure of peace for parents who feel the same way I do when I have to leave my boys. 

I've promised this family a year. After that, I'm starting to sense glimmers of a broader plan. I feel like God may be leading me back into the educational system. When I graduated with my B. ED. waaaay back in 2001, I had determined there was no way I could be a teacher. With the bipolar diagnosis still years away, I blamed myself for all the ways I was lacking as a potential educator.

I'm starting to see things differently now. Ah, we never know what wonders God has in store - this path has had so many unexpected twists and turns. I'm grateful for each one; each one has held surprising beauty and treasure and good. I expect no less of the future; I forge ahead in confidence and joy, trusting the One who leads me on.


Monday, January 22, 2018

Sacred Space

Sacred Space
January 22nd, 2018

You draw me by Your kind embrace
Again and again to this sacred space
Water flows and wild birds sing
All Earth bursts with praise for the King

A sanctuary amid the trees
A secret place where I can see
With eyes afresh and heart ablaze
 Your tender love for me, always

Winter white and springtime green
Summer’s heat and Fall air keen
Each reveals a lovely part
Of Your vast and pure and joy-filled heart

You whisper to me in the wind
Your love You never will rescind
Though I may doubt and question why
Your love, it reaches to the sky

That You would fill this earthy place
And You would manifest Your grace
To one poor seeker, weak and wild
That You would call her “Daughter, Child”