Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Learning to put first things first

A few months ago I got a text message from Teresa, a former coworker. She shared about a girls shelter on her side of town and a woman she’d met who works there. In the summer of 2013, I hosted a tea party for a local women’s shelter. Teresa, along with many other coworkers and even some of you, contributed to that event. Since then, I’ve bent her ear on multiple occasions about my desire to do something like it again. As I read her message that day, I kinda felt like she’d just sent a little nudge my way.

I’ve had quite a few nudges in the two years since the Welcome to Summer Ladies Tea. Some supporters ask each time they see me, “When’s your next event?” My “I don’t know” response has become a bit embarrassing.

So, perched in the middle of the bed, I checked out the website and daydreamed a bit about how this could be it. This could be my next opportunity to spread Love, joy and encouragement through something as simple and girly as a tea party. Then with one distraction, I moved on to something else.

Probably back to the job search.

As of  today, I’ve been unemployed for exactly 136 days, just a bit over four months. Time flies. For the most part, I’ve stayed amazingly busy with appointments, workshops and networking events. Each handshake marks another step beyond the security of my comfort zone. It tickles me to admit, but I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. All things considered, I’m in a better place in life than I’ve been in a long time.  Still, my emotions don’t always act accordingly.

As a matter of fact, I’m absolutely certain I’ve experienced every possible emotion that can accompany unemployment. Sheer relief was up first. Then panic moved in. I shooed him away, though. Still, worry and uncertainty make appearances every now and then.

The worry and uncertainty usually revolve around the question, “What’s next.” What should I do next? What can I do next? What company should I try to do “next” (whatever it is) with?

Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. – Matthew 6:31-33

One day, in the middle of my “what’s next” stupor, I was reminded of these verses of scripture. Although “what’s next” isn’t explicitly stated, I surely think it’s implied.

“You know how this rolls, Monica. You’ve been here before. And you know what to do.”

Yep. I knew exactly what to do. I called the girls shelter Teresa told me about and arranged a meeting with the woman she’d met. It turns out she’s the volunteer coordinator – just the person I needed to talk to. In a couple of weeks, I’ll host a one hour session on journaling with what I know will be an amazing group of teen girls.

The young ladies in the shelter have been displaced from their homes for one reason or another. That’s something many of us couldn’t imagine. The shelter provides a comfortable place for them to stay. In the meantime, each girl’s case worker works to sort out her situation and hopefully reunite her with her family.

Well, it seems the presence of a little worry and uncertainty was required to move me in the right direction. Now I get to go share some Love, joy and encouragement with these young ladies, and I couldn’t be more excited.


A few girly journals for the girls

See, I’ve already purchased the journals. Each one is different, just like the young ladies I’ll get to meet.

So will you pray for the girls in the shelter? I don’t know them. We haven’t met yet, but I feel like they’re all twirling around in my heart right now. And then will you pray for me? I hope they have a good time with me. Maybe some of them will even come to adore a beautiful journal as much as I do. Beyond this, pray I’ll remember to put first things first, to focus on those things that are special to the heart of God and trust that He’ll take care of everything else.








Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Garden: Stepping Out

Ideas rolled around in my head like a sack of colored marbles spilled on a hardwood floor – there were a whole lot of them and they were moving fast. One of my girlfriends gently urged me to set a date (urged more than gentle). Setting a date meant commitment. Although, I knew I wanted to host the tea, the administrator’s delighted “yes” threw me into “Lord, what in the world did I just do” mode. I set the date, informed the administrator, but stayed in that mode for quite a few weeks.

One night, after sweating  buckets over my keyboard, a dam broke spewing the words to the donation letters. I tell you, composing those letters may have been the hardest part of this whole process. I wrote a letter for friends and family and a letter for area merchants. I solicited friends and family support by requesting a $20 donation that would be used to create what I coined as “Love Baskets” for each of the ladies at The Garden. The Love Baskets are filled with toiletries and a few non-essential, girly items like perfume samples (donated by a coworker) and MaryKay’s famous Peach Satin Hands® lotion (donated by a MaryKay rep and former school mate).

When I took the one small step of writing the letters and then the giant leap of actually sending them, it was as if I’d stepped into the Red Sea and watched the water form walls on either side. God did that, and He was definitely in charge of what was to come next.

To be continued…

Friday, June 21, 2013

The Garden: The Backstory

The backstory…

I didn’t want to register for wedding gifts. I’m so not good at “asking for things” and that’s what a wedding registry feels like to me. I’m also not good at picking things out on the spot (unless, of course, it’s really something that just knocks me off my feet). I figure you need to get married and get into a space together before you will really know what type of things you want and/or need.

Reluctantly AND under compulsion from one of my sweet sisters (thanks Michelle), I registered. I remember that day in Macy’s. I was irritable. Our Macy’s registry was quite small by wedding registry standards – filled with bath sheets and kitchen stuff. And then it happened. We finally stumbled across one thing that turbo charged my excitement.  A tea set… My sister knew my desire to host tea parties for women and encouraged me to register for it. I picked out a girly pattern of teacups and saucers and just about all the “accessories.” I’m pretty sure I saw my heart doing cartwheels and happy dances in the aisle of the china department.

Fast forward to my visit to The Garden. I knew I wanted to do something special for the women there. A tea party was what I had in mind. A tea party where I shower them with gifts and food of some sort, for no other reason than to encourage them and to let them know they are loved. Here was my opportunity to start pouring into someone else and somehow dig myself out of the hole I’d been in, a hole so narrow all I seemed to be able to do was focus on me and my sorrow.

So I shared with the administrator my desire to host a tea party for the ladies of The Garden, and she welcomed it immediately. As it turned out, a group had recently hosted a tea party for the children, yet it was the women who really desired to have one. Sweet confirmation…

To be continued…