Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Unexpected Turns

When I graduated from college I hated that I had a degree in Early Childhood Development with a teaching certificate K-12.  I just wanted to be a certified Elementary teacher (I realize of course it is totally different now).  When I went on job interviews I would have to explain the degree and I was always frustrated by it. But of course now I can look back and see how that was God's hand!! It was precisely the degree and training I would need to run a preschool!
 Fast forward five years and we are settled with an 18 month old in North Jersey, I am working a church with my best friends (Jeff and Kari Gibelius - Jeff was the head pastor).  I love my job, we love our friends . .  but our family is going to expand and our tiny little townhouse can barely hold us.  So after months of house shopping and finding nothing we could afford in a school system we liked, Kevin made a bold proposal, "We need to move to South Jersey."  WHAT?? But things are good here, all is well, you have a job and so do I, I couldn't wrap my head around it.  But after a lot of prayer I realized he was right. We put out resumes for Kevin and put our house on the market (I was going to be a full time stay at home mom-HA!).  Within a week he had two job interviews (one of which is the job he is still doing 7 years later) and we had sold our house. God seemed to be opening all the doors - so we just had to walk through in faith.  Of course now I can't imagine life anywhere else.
 I could tell a similar story of how I started at Hope . . . tried going to the church I grew up in  but it wasn't a good fit any longer, went to HOPE loved it.  Long story short, about a month later I was working  at HOPE using everything God had taught me at the first church.  I would never have had the knowledge or confidence to take on Children's Ministry at HOPE without my experiences growing the children's program in North Jersey.  And then he led me to the Preschool and every step of the way, through every trial (and there were many) God has provided the right person, mentor, staff member; He is eternally faithful.
 I guess I share this to remind myself and encourage you - He knows best.  I would never have plotted my life this way, but I thank Him daily that He knows better than me! Even facing the toughest trials, nights of tears, painful goodbyes, He was abundantly faithful and I am so blessed. Sometimes I just need that reminder, need to look back on God's faithful track record and know His is the road I want to be on.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The ultimate soccer parent

The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.
Zephaniah 3:17

I love this scripture and have a hard time believing it all at the same time.  I mean I get that God is with me and certainly believe that he is mighty to save.  Those I don't even have to think twice about!  I can even wrap my head around Him delighting in us, I can picture him smiling down when we are singing praise songs, or when we are doing something particularly "holy".  But the reality is it isn't just then, He has made us exactly who we are and we bring Him joy just because. We are His and He is ours, and just like I will watch my girls just being (playing together, enjoying an ice cream, giggling over a joke, amazed by a new discovery), God takes those same pleasures in us.  In fact, the very next thing the scripture tells us is that he will quiet you with His love. Those days we are beyond ourselves, the days we work ourselves into a tizzy, the days we feel alone and misunderstood . . . . .His love is enough. Just like a mommy's hug is enough for the bumped knee, His love is enough to quiet us.

It is this last part I find almost unbelievable, He will rejoice over you with singing. What??? No way. I cannot even wrap my mind around the fact that the Lord of Lords, Creator of the Universe could ever, ever, rejoice over me with singing. Some other translations say with "shouts of joy".  So, God is in the bleachers cheering me on?  He is watching me like a dad at a soccer game, shouting words of encouragement and celebrating my victories? Wow, I can almost hear it, "Keep your eyes on the ball Heather, you can do this", "Watch his elbow, he is playing dirty", "Pick yourself up, your not outta this game!" And shouts of pure joy when a battle is won, His word is shared,or a temptation avoided. Can you imagine the celebrations of a life lived for Christ when we arrive in heaven?  Talk about bleacher clearing, gatoraide dumping, champagne popping! That will be a celebration worth a lifetime of training, sacrifice, skinned knees, and play books memorized; to stand before the ultimate soccer dad and hear, "Well done my good and faithful one."

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

I Don't WANNA!!!!

So obedience seems to be the lesson of the day.  Everywhere I have turned it seems God is trying once again to impress upon me the importance of being obedient.  Sometimes I find that obedience is easy - a choice I want to make, a passion I get to follow, an activity I enjoy.  But, I was also reminded today of how utterly painful obedience can be as well.  God tells us in Isaiah, "Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”  You promise to lead us, but all to often I don't want to listen, you say turn to the left but I think the right looks far more interesting; or turning left would require me to let go of something I desperately want to hold tight to. There have been plenty of times that I have tried desperately to convince YOU that my way can work with your way.  But I have yet to see my plans prosper, instead that usually ends in pain, or a watered down version of what you want for me, empty.

But it is not just that I try and merge His perfect will with my imperfect desires, no I am also the queen of timing. Time and again Jesus called out to people to, "Follow me", only to be met with a list of things they wanted to do first.  I am certainly guilty of this-  my timing Lord, not Yours.  I fall into the trap of thinking I can figure out or dictate the timing that would be most appropriate.  Even as I type this I wrestle with timing, how quickly I want things done! But I know that God's timing is perfect, even when I wonder if He really does know what He is doing! 

So again, it all comes back to obedience. Am I willing to trust Him, when it is not my idea, not my timing and it all seems crazy to me?  Yes, I am.  I may have to commit my will to His again and again, moment by moment, but I want to be where He is leading.