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.

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Great Eraser

Sometimes I flash back to past sins, past decisions that lacked wisdom and past seasons of overall questionable judgement (despite the best intentions) that have shaped my life. I don’t know why I do it. I promise you it’s totally involuntary, and it always seems to happen at the oddest moments.

Like at 1-ish in the a.m. when I’m in bed and should be trying to get some rest. Has this ever happened to you?

It happened to me just the other night. I was laying in bed, grasping at sleep as if trying to catch the wind in my hands, because my mind had other plans. As soon as I closed my eyes, there it was. An entire season of my life – a season filled with painful relationship rejections, poor choices, and misguided faith – began to flash before me as if on the big screen. If only this had been a real Hollywood production, I could graciously accept my Academy Award for best actress, deliver my eloquent and heartfelt acceptance speech and exit stage left. But nooo…. The scenes playing in my head were real. The participants were not actors and there are no golden statues for the role I played. Guilt and shame tend not to feel much like awards.

The onslaught of negativity threatened my sleep, my peace and even my identity. My brain struggled to reach for God’s word.

…He blots out your transgressions…

These words popped into my head. I remembered the scripture, but I couldn’t recall exactly where it was in the bible. So, I jumped up and grabbed my phone from the wall charger. With only 17 or 18% battery life remaining, I googled the scripture verse
then thumb-typed, like a mad woman, the makings of this blog post in my notepad app. I had to capture this blessed revelation before it disappeared. Sure it was late, and I was super tired. I’d found the scripture for myself. But I figured I’m not the only woman whose mind sometimes turns against her. I know I’m not the only one who endures the albeit occasional yet brutal brow beating by past sins and general less than stellar moments. I figured someone else, one of my other girlfriends out there, may need to be reminded of (or maybe even learn of for the first time) this promise from God just as much as I needed to be reminded of it myself. Someone else may need to know that there is a great eraser.

So there it is. If the Lord has promised to wipe away my sins and remember them no more, then I’d wager (if I were a betting woman, WHICH I am NOT, but IF I were… ;-)) He doesn’t want me dwelling on them either – voluntarily or involuntarily. And His perfect will is the same for you, too.

Do your past faux pas still occasionally try to rear their ugly heads and taunt you today? If so, how do you deal with them?

P.S. If this post blessed you, pass it on. If you know someone who may be blessed by this post, pass it on.

Letting My Light Shine, Part 2

Have I told you how much I enjoy reading your comments? I really do. Whether you’re reiterating a point, presenting a different perspective or sharing a page from your own life, I love reading your thoughts. In those brief moments, my imagination transports me to a quaint, eclectic little tea room nestled somewhere in the heart of the urban sprawl that surrounds me. There I sit, sipping hot green tea from a porcelain antique tea cup – with my freshly manicured pinky in the air – while laughing and talking with a good friend. I just love it!

Ok, back to reality…:-)

Check out what a few of you had to say in response to my Letting My Light Shine, Part 1 blog post a few weeks ago:

Becky confessed: I can shine bright to the world, but too often I snuff out my witness in tired, crabby moments at home. Of course we’re all human (fallen) but you’ve reminded me that “before men” also means “before your children” or “even when no one is looking.”

Now isn’t that the truth! I’m sure we all could make that confession. Raise your hand if you’ve ever been guilty of being a flood light to the world outside your door but just a night light, at best, before your family, friends or those closest to you? Guilty as charged, right? I know my hand is up.

Michelle shared this beautiful story:  When I first read the scripture, I immediately thought about my run this morning in the fog. There was another lady running with me but, ahead of me. At times, her body would turn into a mere silhouette, only to disappear from my eyesight all together. During those moments, I had to say a prayer and trust that if I keep running I would eventually see her up ahead. It wasn’t until she turned around to stop and check on me, that I could see the head lamp she was wearing shining through the fog. Life is sometimes like that. There are times when you can’t see your way through and you feel like you’re alone. Then someone comes along with the spirit of God shinning through.

Those last two sentences alone speak volumes of truth, don’t they? God, through His word, has charged us to be that lady running in the fog with the head lamp on.

Deborah said:  What I took from that (Isaiah 60:1-3 is the “that” she’s referring to), and from yours is that we need to bring light to all we encounter, whether in deed or with words, or through God’s word. We should always strive to brighten someone else’s day, not dim it by focusing on our own desires.

I love her last sentence so much. I remember when I read it I had to stop and just soak it in. How many times have I not been the light of Christ someone desperately needed to see because I was too consumed with me? Too many to count, I’m sure. There are probably too many times to count just today alone. Thanks, Deb, for the reminder.

Elisa asks: the question popped in my mind, “why are we so timid when it comes to letting our light shine?” Is it because we are truly thinking of self?

Uh oh…there’s that nasty four letter word: SELF! Didn’t Deborah just finish checking me about my SELF?? Geesh… You guys are a tough crowd. As God would have it, this leads me right to the doorway of my shortcoming in the area of letting my light shine. Recently, the Lord used a situation on my job to expose how my entanglement in the thoughts, opinions and approval of someone else can drastically overshadow (if not completely extinguish) any flicker of light I could be to the world around me. My rude awakening was that it’s so easy to become “timid when it comes to letting our light shine” if I’m more consumed with what others may (or may not) think about me than I am with what God has challenged me to do and to be to those around me.

LIGHT.

Whatever did we do with the sweet song we learned as kids? “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine…. Everywhere I go, I’m gonna let it shine….let it shine, let it shine, let it shine!”

I challenge you to let each others comments soak into your heart and mind today. And may we all go about our days looking for opportunities to be God’s light and let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

P.S. Feel free to drop by and share a “light” story with me. You know I love reading your comments.