It’s been quite a week. In an attempt to remember this amazing journey, I wanted to document the events of this past week. I pray that in glancing back… perhaps you can see God as clearly as I have witnessed.
To begin, I’ve had a chance to visit my past. If I’ve been amazed at anything, it would be this:
God never wastes anything. No relationship is unimportant.
My husband wrote an outstanding post on relationships, and it seems to be the theme of the week for both of us, for this is what was celebrated this week. Every day we are given opportunities to set aside our agendas, and step into a short, or in-depth, conversation with those around us – strangers, friends, and acquaintances alike.
Here’s a rundown of my week in a nutshell:
Monday – Met with a friend for lunch. We both happened to be unemployed at the moment. When we first met, 5 years ago, she was experiencing a crisis. I both saw and heard a rare passion in her despite the circumstances in her life. In a nutshell, we walked through the muck and mire together, facing real life with no immediate answers. I watched her hang onto hope like no one else I knew. And she was fierce, and she wanted to change and grow in the most beautiful and desperate way. Today, we sat across the table from one another, at the same table where hearts were poured out with tears, and we laughed and we shared from a bond that comes from seeking Christ in the hard spots. We listened, we analyzed like always, 2 hours flew by too fast, and I left floating on air. A time seized, a moment cherished, a relationship forged deeper.
Tuesday – I attended a Bible Study. I knew I wouldn’t be able to complete this study as I awaited my time to go back to teaching, yet I felt (for the first time) the freedom to attend while I could. I loved it. I sat and reveled in the discussion time. I chuckled at the wisdom and spit-fire of our 86-year-old leader, yet I somehow knew it would be my last time. For lunch? Met with two more friends. We haven’t had a chance to meet like this for about a year. These two friends are very special to me. Over the course of almost three years, a group of about 8 of us committed to meet to share in the deep places. We met once a month, in each others’ homes, after our young kiddos went to bed. And we took turns, and we shared, and we prayed, sometimes until 2 in the morning. This group fostered healing. Healing from our pasts, healing in our present situations, healing in our marriages, and healing in our parenting failures. We went deep in the most sacred ways. If asked, we would all point to this season as instrumental in shaping who we are today. And today, we met for lunch, simply to catch up – mission trips, new homes, new schools, new churches, life has moved forward, and God has called us into different seasons. And I will be forever grateful to Panera for fostering this chance to meet.
Wednesday – I woke today and checked my phone. I noticed that another friend had a need for help. I checked in with God, and I knew this was the new plan today. It was a provision financially. It was an opportunity to spend the day with a family I have grown to love, a family that has taught be about accepting differences in way that flushes freedom through my veins like I’ve never experienced before. It was perfect. My body had a chance to rest, then use the evening slot for a run.
Thursday – Yesterday, I had made plans with another long time, partner-in-ministry friend whom I haven’t seen in several months. She too had felt God asking her to spend her time in a different direction. I just so happened to check my email and read that the Ronald McDonald house was in need of one more volunteer. Yep, me. So off I went. I no sooner walked in the door, when I was greeted by the friendly maintenance director with a special job to do. I was needed to allow an outside source access into the rooms for a maintenance check. And then I met Daisy, a darling beagle who wore a work vest. Very curious. As I soon would learn, she was there for her sniffer. A specific sniffer, in fact. One that was trained to sniff out bed bugs. No lie. And so I accepted the job. And because I did, because I simply stepped in to the “next”, I had a wonderful chance to talk with several families as they waited outside their rooms. In a word, priceless. Talk about gaining some perspective. Truly a gift. And then, I got the call. The call from the School for the Deaf. They received my paperwork, and they asked if I could come in and start teaching tomorrow. Yes, tomorrow! And thus, the next…
Friday – My alarm sounded at 5:45 am. Actually, I awoke a few minutes before. Again, God has allowed this past month to be a great adjustment period because Austin has needed to leave earlier for school. Today was my first day of returning to the classroom in over 9 years. Wow. But truly, I’m just viewing this as a new season. I wasn’t nervous. Strange for me. I just did what I’ve been doing for a while, doing the next. So I started browning the meat to make sloppy joes for the crockpot, I warmed up soup for the kids lunches, I packed myself a lunch, and we sat down for breakfast and morning scripture readings like we have been. And all the while, Austin is asking me questions, and our conversations were surprisingly cool. And then I drove to school, and I used my car time to pray. And I pulled into the parking lot, a very different person than had driven onto that campus in 1998. And I thanked Him for all that He’s allowed me to see. And I kept taking that next step, all day. I followed the teacher who has stepped in for the maternity leave before my paperwork cleared. He reminded me of the deaf gentlemen that I team taught alongside for four years. I watched his language and interactions with the children, he patiently answered many questions, he introduced me to each child with such kindness, and he gently waited for me to warmly greet each of my previous co-workers and reconnect as to the passing of 9 years. And it felt normal to me. And I was so grateful to be there. And Aaron did a bang up job at home. And we celebrated the evening together at a Zac Brown band concert. And I marveled at all God had allowed this week, knowing full well it would end in this fashion. (And my friend from Monday received her call, and she starts work next week!)
Today – My children are wonderful. They love well. Emma saved a flower for me from her flower dissection in class on Friday. She was the one who literally cheered for me as I announced my first day of work. They know the sacrifices, and they celebrate for me anyway. Brynn returned home from school, and embraced me in a way that only she can, her love language – authentic, real, soul-sweet. Austin asked me if it was hard to teach. He asked me about how I communicated with the deaf students. He wanted to know if math was difficult for them (his favorite subject). And I tucked each of these treasures in my heart as I headed out for a run, at 7 am. I originally planned to run this long one yesterday, but that plan changed. And of course, this plan was even better. For 3 hours and 20 minutes, I enjoyed the ride. Seriously. I didn’t have an urge to stop. I didn’t need the short-term water breaks to simply survive (I actually was so in tune to a message on my iPod that I didn’t drink until mile 10). The weather was so cool I didn’t need to be concerned. He sustained me. I didn’t really experience my normal pains until mile 17! I felt a rhythm, and I seemed to lock in, and simply get lost in my thoughts. And oh my, God reached me with His messages – straight to my soul! I am SO pumped as to what the Lord has in store for Aaron. My heart has finally caught up to my head, and I am all in if He so chooses to lead us into ministry. Steven Furtick, pastor of Elevation Church in Charlotte talked about the story of Elijah and digging the ditches in preparation for when God would sent the rain in a time of drought. Pete Wilson, pastor of Crosspoint Church in Nashville spoke of reckless love, and a time of family serving became so clear. He shared a life-changing story from a woman in an African slum, and it reminded me of my trip to Honduras. And I not only ran 20, but I ran 22. And then I stood for 3 hours as a timer at Brynn’s first swim meet, and our dinner plans changed, and I cuddled with the girls, and it was perfect. His perfect plan.
And tomorrow will have more plans, and I’m looking at my first week of working full-time in a career that I have been given the passion to pursue. It is a provision, one that God has actually ordained from the beginning of time, I just didn’t know it. And now I see it, well, this moment anyway. And my heart rejoices. And I have peace, in spite of, and despite my circumstances. And instead of worrying that I will mess up my students with my ineptness, I look forward to asking and learning from the Lord, all that he has in store for these special children in these moments of their life. Perspective.
And it all comes from glancing back…
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.