Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Discouragement

One of the devotionals I read recently talked about the most effective tool in the enemy's toolbox.  This tool is one common to everyone and one that debilitates, to some degree, all who pick it up or even happen upon in.  I hate to admit the number of times, I too, have fallen to the pull of this tool.  To be honest, I've been holding it firmly in my hands with a white-knuckled grip lately.  This tool and I have gotten to know each other.  There are some days where I can't see how life could function any other way.  Then there are days where the freedom of a victory causes me to set the tool down and walk in the blessed assurance that all is right and good in my life.

Discouragement is a mighty tool of the enemy.  People I am so discouraged right now.  It feels like one step forward and two steps back with things. In fact, I have begun to question whether having goals and dreams and desires is even worthwhile.  Most especially when I am trying to teach my Littles that in order to become who or what you want to be you need to work hard at it and have faith in the process. I have these people who are looking up to me and yet I am struggling to keep it all together.  Honestly, I just want to give up on it all.  Who was I kidding?  If I was ever meant to be a teacher I would have worked harder decades ago despite the circumstances of my life at that time. I just would have.

To top it all off, I have been diligently working to find a new line of work, something that keeps me busy, spurs a level of excitement within me, and pays the bills.  I must admit, the more jobs you apply for, the easier it gets!  I think I'm beginning to master the art of catered resumes and pointed cover letters.  I may, to some degree, be a bit straight forward, but I am honest.  If I can't get them to call me, the least I can do is tell them straight away why I am a good fit for the role - it is what the cover letter is for, right?! In all of this applying, I have also reapplied to schools (colleges/universities) who have recently opened up more adjunct roles.  I've gotten no calls or emails.

I know it has been said the waiting is the hardest part, and it truly is. I have no doubt the Lord is making me wait simply because there is something I still do not know.  There is something I still have to learn.  He is still working to make me the best teacher He can.  I have to bank on that reality or else the weight of the other possibility is simply too much for me to handle. I am not so naive to think that all childhood dreams come true, but for some reason, I was hoping that just maybe this one could happen. So, in the waiting, I will keep praying, keep reading, keep learning, keep becoming the best possible version of myself for that moment when the Lord finally lets me become a teacher.

Perhaps maybe this is the lesson I am to teach - He has our best tomorrows planned.  He has the best things in mind for us.  He knows us better than we know ourselves and He knows the best role we are to hold in this world which will light the path for our eternity. While I am waiting and keeping-on, I will have to have faith He is not finished with me yet and that His timing is the best timing. And someday, when I get the honor of becoming a teacher I can look back and see all the work the Lord was doing and realize He had it all under control - I just had to set the tool I was holding, aside.

Have a blessed day,
- M

Sunday, July 30, 2017

The Forest for the Trees

There comes a time in life where you expect to have finally arrived.  What that arrival looks like for you is wholly dependent upon the thing(s) that drive you.  Me, I wanted to have a career I cared about and a feeling of self-worth.  Before you click off and chose something else to read, hear me out on this.  I have long maintained my favorite book of the Bible is Ecclesiastes; it still is.  I love that book for a myriad of reasons, but most of all because the author got it.  He just did.  Solomon was a great guy.  He had more wisdom than anyone else in all of history and yet still had issues.  I love the story of how he became the wisest person to ever be.  When he came into power, so-to-speak, the Lord asked him to name whatever it was that he wanted.  He could have the cattle on 1000 hills, he could be stronger than any man alive, he could, well, be anyone and anything.  Instead, he, in all his humbleness, simply asked for wisdom.  And it was in this request, he gained all other things.

But the problem with 'the things' is that they never filled him up.  They never quite got him to the place where he was completely and totally filled to the brim with happiness, contentment, and peace in life.  In fact, he quite vehemently stated all of it was "meaningless".  That all the toil and work and striving brought about nothing but more pain and strife and emptiness.  That each and every situation, desire, temptation, struggle, success in life was nothing new - it has all been seen and done and experienced before.  Sadly, the only thing new about any of it was the time frame in which it was occurring and the peoples in which it was happening to.  In some regard I find comfort in that, in others, I want to yell all the more loudly.

Where does all this fit into the "arriving"?  This morning while reading my Bible and doing my devotionals it dawned on me where I am in the timeline of my life.  I have had the opportunity in the recent past to work with some kids who have just entered the next phase of their lives.  These are kids who will be entering their first year of college in the fall and have their whole lives ahead of them.  These kids are equally cloaked in promise and ignorance. It has been a joy to listen to them share (when asked) what their dreams are and what they want to study.  It has been an even greater joy to listen to them express, with all their youthful wonder, what they want to be when they grow up and what impact they want to have on the world. I remember being that kid once.

As I have listened I have also encouraged them to stay strong and to not give up on school even when the temptation to work more or study less comes along.  I've tried to encourage them to stay focused on their goal, rather than the smaller wins that come in between because to lose sight of what they want is like missing the forest for the trees.  (They didn't understand that analogy, but it was apropos.)  While each of us starts life out with different driving forces and different factors that imprint our lives, we all have an opportunity to arrive.  Sometimes, it takes many years.  Sometimes, it happens straight away.  And sometimes, it doesn't happen on this side of eternity.

In any case, I am most certain, the meaning of it all is directly related to the perspective you give it. I didn't have the opportunity to begin college straight out of high school.  But I did have the opportunity to put myself through school and in doing so gained a greater appreciation for the education I paid for.  After receiving my Associates, I continued on for my Bachelors, and then most recently my Masters.  All of these taking a span of 12 years or so to complete.  While not the best timing in many cases, I think the life lessons gained along with the formal education were perfectly timed. I have hopes of returning for another degree, I don't know what degree or what subject matter just yet, but I have a great passion for learning.  I have an even greater passion for teaching.

So how does all of this fit?  Simply that life, while meaningless in bits (trees), has an ample opportunity to give you something magnificent to look at (forest) as a whole.  Isn't God so good?

-M



Sunday, July 23, 2017

My Dog

This morning while I was out on my run I got to talking with the Lord.  Let me start there. Anyone who has read this blog for any length of time knows how much I love to run, for those who are new to this, it's kind of another thing I do.  Any how, since my injury...self-medicating...stubbornness...final relenting to go to doctors...and surgery later...phew that is a mouthful, I'm back at it.  Slowly, of course.  Ever so painstakingly slow.  You may be wondering how any of this has to do with my dog.  No, she is not a runner.  LOL.

Anyhow, during that time of talk, I started thinking of Miss Clarabelle.  Look at her face.  Just look!  Isn't she beyond precious?  She is the most loving, loyal, fluffy, funny, energetic, and adorable dog in all the world.  (Yes, this is tinted with a slight hue of bias.)

During this talk, it was brought to light the similarities between pet ownership/relationship and that of a person's walk with the Lord.  No, really.

In the beginning, this precious little fluff ball, who fit into my hands, was simply too much.  By that, I couldn't put her down.  I wanted to hold her and cuddle her and make sure she had everything she needed.  I think that is the way when we first get to know the Lord.  We are so gung-ho.  I know I was.  I couldn't read enough, get to church enough, study enough, fellowship enough - you get the picture.  It was simply too much (in a good way, of course).

Then as Miss Clarabelle started to grow a little more, and I didn't have to worry so much about her being safe, I spent a little less time doting on her and more time going about life. Now, I never ignored her.  First of all, one doesn't simply have a Maltese and NOT pamper, spoil, dote...it is somewhat part and parcel. However, the consistency and intensity of the doting was simply not necessary.  Work with me here when I say, in our walk with the Lord, there are times when we think the consistency and intensity aren't necessary. However, we couldn't be more wrong.  In fact, when we get to that point, it is when it is all the more important.

Which leads me to the next thought.  After the painstaking toilet training process, Miss Clarabelle is still a subtle tell. We never got to the bell on the door trick, the bark at the door command, or any other audible notices.  No, this precious little girl will come up to you, sit, look, get up, walk in a circle, and sit.  It is all so cute.  In fact, if you are new to knowing her you will think all she wants is picked up and held, petted, talked too, played with, etc.  However, that is not the case.  Sadly it took, and ashamedly still takes, the trained art of listening/watching intently.

I think this is the same with the Lord.  He doesn't always sound a gong, yell out a command, or provide any other audible notice. No, he uses the still small voice.  And if we aren't in tune with that voice we are going to step into a little piddle or poo.  Sometimes it is fresh and sometimes it is a little older (meaning it catches up to us).

I know there have been times when Miss Clarabelle has been telling me she needs let out and I have been so caught up in what I am doing I have missed it or even flat out ignored it (naively thinking if she can only wait a few more minutes...).  Later, after I find it (shes not so good at hiding her duty) and she is punished I often wonder who is to blame.  After all, I was the busy one. Then I thought about all of the times I've stepped into some really big life messes, some while fresh, and some not so fresh, all because I was so wrapped up in doing it my way I missed hearing (or even worse flat out ignored) the voice of the Lord telling me the way to prevent it.

Such a simple analogy this morning. It amazes me the ways the Lord uses the non-complex things in life to teach me things. I guess there is a reason why DOG can be and has been used as an acronym for - Depend On God.