Monday, December 31, 2012

Adieu 2012 and OneWord2013

I'm sitting in a hotel room with two sleeping children, who are not my own, on New Year's Eve 2012. Typing from my heart, just my thoughts.

What a difference a year makes.

2012 has been, well, a year. It's had it's ups and downs. It's been full of change. I started the year as a pastor, and I end the year having completed my first semester of nursing school. I'm in a good place. I feel strongly that I am where I am supposed to be, doing what I'm supposed to be doing.

The last 6 months have been incredibily fulfilling as a mom. I have been able to spend so much time with my children and in my home. We had a ton of fun this summer. I was home every morning to get them off to school (and drive them every other week-yay for neighbors to carpool with). I picked them up from school all but one day a week. I missed sports practices and some bedtimes while in class, but my time as a mom increased exponentially.

That's what this transition for me has been about. My kids. My family. Giving them all of myself. Not forgetting about myself or losing myself, but giving them what they deserve. I struggled with that balance as a pastor. I struggled to "turn off" and just be with them. There was always too much to think about or worry about. Always too much going on that I couldn't detach from. Much of this is just due to my personality and my heart for people--not the specific job itself. I look foward to caring for people in the medical field, but then being able to hand off the chart to the next shift when it's time to go home.

If I were to pick a word for 2012, it would have been FAITH. We walked in faith, stepped out in faith, and are living by faith! Leaving a secure job and changing careers at 35 takes a lot of faith. Figuring out how to pay for school and for life (without a job) couldn't be determined until I was already in the midst of it all. We couldn't plan ahead. We had to trust, and step out in faith. And God has provided. And will continue to.

Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed...
being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. Romans 4:18, 21

In 2012 I learned more about being God's instrument, about laying down my own desires and not looking for credit or recognition. I learned about forgiveness, redemption and restoration. I watched friends walk through horrific times and through some of life's most joyous occassions.  I learned to give thanks more, look for gifts of grace and to embrace the bitter and the sweet. 

"When life is sweet, say thank you and celebrate. And when life is bitter, say thank you and grow.”  (Shauna Niequist, Bittersweet)

For the past few months, Hebrews 6:19 keeps showing up in things I read and see. I wrote about this verse a few weeks ago. 

"We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure."

For 2013, I choose HOPE. Hope for my future. Hope for the rest of nursing school. Hope for what God has planned for me and my family. I want to BE HOPE and GIVE HOPE. The hope that is in Christ. I want to instill this in my daughters that no matter what, eternity is what matters and we have hope in Christ, no matter what life brings us.

2012 was a year of a lot of personal growth in my life, my soul and my faith. I feel like I am aware more than ever of how messy I am and how selfish I can be. But being more aware of these things is growth. And now in 2013 I want to use that growth to change things around me--and to change how I handle things in life. I need what's on the inside to pour out. And sometimes that is the hardest part. The first and most important place that starts is in my home. With how I am raising my daughters and how I love my husband.

Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist was perhaps my favorite book of the year. Here are a few more quotes from it that continue to speak to me.

“My life is a story about who God is and what He does in a human heart.”

“I believe that suffering is part of the narrative, and that nothing really good gets built when everything's easy. I believe that loss and emptiness and confusion often give way to new fullness and wisdom.”

“When things fall apart, the broken pieces allow all sorts of things to enter, and one of them is the presence of God.”

I am believing, I am HOPING for amazing things in 2013. I know that there will be pain and suffering. In fact 2012 ends in sorrow for lifelong friends who lost their mom unexpectedly today. She was a part of my growing up years and very treasured. I read somewhere that joy and pain are like two side by side tracks in life and we jump easily between the two. And even in pain and sorrow, we have HOPE, which is the anchor for my soul. Hope in Christ. Hope that does not disappoint.

Happy New Year Friends.

I also hope that 2013 brings me more time to write and sit in this space here, embracing the day.

Friday, December 14, 2012

a hope and an anchor

Kids for days in my house this week.

I've been helping out with a 5 week old foster baby.

The neighbor kids run back and forth with my own every afternoon.

My 3-yr old nephew has been over a few times this week too.

Not to mention my own precious 3 daughters.

Today at one point I had my 3-yr old, my 3-yr old nephew, our 3yr old neighbor and his 2 month old sister and the 5 week old. I absolutely adore kids, especially the littles and mothering is one of the things I do best. It's almost like a love language for me. I haven't accomplished many tasks or done much cleaning, but I've been loving babies and by that, loving their mamas and daddys too.

Something that many Connecticut parents won't be able to do tonight. While I hold and feed and rock babies, my iPhone goes from Facebook posts, to Tweets, to news sites. The depth of tragedy, the grief only builds.

Jesus be near. Be near the brokenhearted. Bring your peace. Bind their wounds.

Jesus IS near. He is near the broken hearted and his presence bring peace. But that doesn't make the pain or the grief any less. It just means he walks beside.

A few weeks ago our church started a series about end times. {Saying "our church" is a bit odd, since we are attending a different church from where I worked. The change, the freedom to slip in and out, a different style of church, has been good for all of us. A part of my heart will always be where I ministered.) Anyhow, it's not your typical "this is when the rapture is happening" sermon. It's more about how we respond to hopelessness and trials that come in life and that will only increase in times to come. I believe the Bible; and things will continue to get worse in our world.

Today as I've loved babies, and prayed for parents who won't hold their babies again, the words of past messages echo in my mind. I pulled out my sermon notes, to be reminded again.

That death is not the end. It is only the beginning. These innocent children are safe in the arms of Jesus. I believe that with all of my heart. And the adults who lost their lives, I pray someone shared hope with them. That they heard the Good News that death is not the end and they can have eternity in heaven.

My heart aches for the families tonight. My heart aches for the friends and family of the shooter. He was clearly an ill, disturbed individual and the pain of his loved ones is a unique one.

But the burning message in my heart is one of hope. It hurts, oh I know it hurts. And it will for a long time; forever. But we have this hope. We have an anchor for our soul in these times. You too can have this same hope and anchor.

From here

Christ the Lord. The Emmanuel. God with us. God with you. God with me. Jesus shows up. He will show up when the world ends, but he shows up when it feels like our world is ending.

Cling to this hope and anchor. Share this hope and anchor with those around you.

This is our burden. This is our call. {See here} We don't know what each day holds. We don't know what is going on in the lives of those around us. They need the hope of Christ.

Pray for those who grieve. Blessed are those who mourn.

Have hope. Be hope. Give hope.

An anchor for your soul.

{if you would like to listen, this is the particular message ringing in my heart, but parts 1 and 3--see the bottom of linked page-- are almost as inspiring and challenging. I'm looking forward to part 4 this weekend.}

Thursday, December 6, 2012

it's a Christmas miracle

My last post was October 16.

So here are some words.

I'm sitting on the couch in a blanket, for a one hour reprieve from the day, the week, the month, the season, the semester. I'm watching The Voice with Lilybug. I watch about half an episode every other week, which really shows what life is like. Because that's one of the few shows I watch.

I truly have nothing to complain about. I am incredibly blessed. The Lord is so faithful and provides what we need in time, in finances, and more.

But that doesn't mean the days aren't full. I have some small papers, a group project and a final on Monday and another final on Wednesday. Then I am done with my first semester of nursing school. I am excited and thankful. Since my program is accelerated, we have a summer semester and just a few weeks off of school at either end of the summer. But we have about 6 weeks off between Fall and Summer. Cannot wait!!

Christmas has not come to our house yet, something my children aren't too happy about. It seems like people are getting trees and putting up decorations earlier than ever. Ya'll are making me look bad! Maybe we'll get a few decorations out this weekend, but it will probably be next weekend before we have a tree.

This morning I was able to volunteer for three hours to help kids shop in the school Holiday Bazaar. Miss Rose's class came while I was there, and I wasn't sure whether she'd want me to help her, or if she was too cool for that. I was pleasantly surprised that she was excited to have me help her pick gifts out and she wanted me to help her friends too. I am so grateful that this season in my life is allowing me to be a little involved in their school, to get to know a few more family's. I finally know some mom's names!

I am exhausted this week. I had a 10 page paper due on Monday and class that night. My nephew hung out Tuesday and then I had class again, and did more homework after I got home. Yesterday I had to get a presentation ready on my 10-page paper and also take Gracie to the dentist for fillings. Then school again. And school requires a one hour drive to and from.

Today I squeezed in my workout before I went to volunteer at school. I'll be back to pick the kids up, homework, dishes, laundry and picking up. When Bean gets home from work, I leave to go to a babysitting job.

Really I want to be curled on the couch in a blanket for hours, watching Christmas movies. Actually, I want a new couch first, because ours is broken and uncomfortable.

My husband and my kids are my priority in life. I'm pursuing one of my dreams in nursing.

One day at a time. Embrace the day.