Monday, July 26, 2010

Trading My Sorrows

So it's been an interesting 24+ hours. As I sit here reflecting, I am reminded of the song by DELIRIOUS and also SONIC FLOOD (I think) called "Trading My Sorrows."

(Excerpt only) "I am pressed but not crushed, persecuted but not abandoned, struck down but not destroyed. I am blessed beyond the curse for His promise will endure, and His joy is going to be my strength. Though the sorrow may last for the night, His joy comes in the morning. I'm trading my sorrows. I'm trading my shame. I'm trading them all for the joy of the Lord!" (End selected lyrics)

I have one sister who thinks I'm bi-polar and another who thinks I've never recovered emotionally from the relationship results of 2008-09. I don't think I need a medical diagnosis but could probably benefit from "happy pills" to even out the mood swings (and with any luck and God's blessing, bring an end to some, if not all, of my migraines which have increased in the last two years). That being said, I admit to having strong feelings. I'm a passionate person - all or nothing, do it right or don't bother at all, give it 100%, and go full steam ahead. This makes for some rather strong reactions to certain situations.

I want to be understood for who I am, just as I am. Sometimes I don't know who I am though. I know some of who I am, what I want, who I want to be with, etc. but don't always get what/who I want. (The current three official followers of my blog can certainly attest to this truth! LOL) I confess I doubt myself and had a friend tell me I am the most insecure confident person they know. The circumstances seem to determine which is true (insecurity or confidence). I love this song because it reminds me that there's always hope (tie in to previous post). God does not want to leave us where we are. He takes us as we are and brings us to new heights and depths in relationship with Him.

2 Corinthians 4:8-18 (New International Version) says: "We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed but not in despair; persecuted but not abandoned; struck down but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you. It is written: "I believed; therefore, I have spoken." With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak, because we know the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in His presence. All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, what is unseen is eternal."

This set of Bible verses really does remind me to trade in my sorrows and keep my eyes on the prize of eternity. The quest for freedom (from myself, my sins, my past, my doubts, my human flesh, etc.) continues! Thanks for your prayers!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Advance Planning - RSVP Required?

I am now (and always have been) a planner. I like to plan well in advance and make sure things happen according to plan. Friends and family have always commended me for my innate ability to plan big and small events and carry out the plans. I enjoy planning and seeing the project through to fruition. Advance planning makes me happy since I can list tasks and check them off as they are accomplished.

On the flip side, I find it a challenge to be spontaneous and have mild anxiety about surprises...even simple ones like surprise birthday parties or gifts that I did not preview. Case in point - my sister has planned a birthday brunch for me and I really don't want to go...not because I don't think it will be a fun time or good food, but because all I know is what time to be at her apartment. Too many questions are unanswered - what to wear, what kind of restaurant, who will be there, etc. It bothers me and I'm trying to be gracious and flexible in accepting this birthday gift...especially since she has rescheduled on me three times previously. My idea of being spontaneous is running an EMS call when the tones drop on my radio at some point during the 6pm to 6am squad duty night I am assigned as a volunteer. LOL

There have been quite a few instances where my plans did not go according to plan. I wanted to be a lawyer ever since I was a young child and that changed when I did not get accepted to law school immediately after graduation from the University of Richmond. I revised the plan to include working as a paralegal for a few years before trying the admission process again. By then, I felt God was leading me in a different direction and prayer warriors joined me in seeking God's will for my life/career. I was called to be an educator and spent four years as a high school history teacher in my hometown. I loved the challenges and rewards of my time as a classroom teacher but moved into higher education last year. I now work for a local university as the person responsible for admitting students to the various teacher preparation programs, coordinating placements for the various internships required in the programs, providing orientation and training sessions for faculty and students, and assisting teacher candidates with licensure paperwork and requirements upon successful completion of the teacher preparation program. I love the experiences this position provides and the people I work with (and for) are second to none!

That being said, I am still very much interested in my own personal education plans and potential career goals with those additional degrees (masters' and doctorate). I started on an Educational Leadership track and have encountered some obstacles to progressing as originally planned. There are some options to getting things back on track but there are also new options I had not previously considered. I could get a masters' degree in a related area of education, get my doctorate and be teaching at the college/university level. I could get a masters' degree in a related area of education, then get a second masters' degree in Ed Leadership and pursue doctoral and/or career as assistant principal/principal. I could try to seek admission to another institution's graduate program at greater personal cost and without guarantee of admission. This of course is just one example of my thoughts. Then there's also the personal questions - will I find "Mr. Right" and get married and live happily ever after? Will I have children? Will I lose the rest of the weight I have been working to shed for personal health/fitness? So much is unknown at this point and it scares me. Too much is beyond my control. Did I mention I struggle with patience and surrender?

Jeremiah 29:11-13 has always been an encouragement to me through the ups and downs and twists and turns in my advance planning efforts. God has plans for me. He knows them inside and out and they are good for me and for His purpose. The real struggle is in surrendering to His will and accepting His plans without knowing them in full. It's like being issued an invitation to this wonderful event and needing to RSVP without knowing when, where, who, what, why or how. I guess the RSVP is in being open regardless and I find this challenging...almost immobilizing. Does it make me less genuine in my faith to have these doubts, fears, and reservations?

I may not know what the future holds, but I do know who holds the future. I'm going to have to work to trust Him without reservation or in spite of my doubts and fears. He is my only hope for plans that are good and will prosper after all. Thanks for your prayers and words of encouragement and support!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Random Organization

I have recently decided that the random organization (things are there, just not where I would normally want them to be, aka in their right spot) needed to end at home and work. I've created files, cleaned out drawers, moved furniture, unpacked boxes, and yes, even thrown stuff away and donated some to others. It's a process, and it's not complete, but I had a sense of accomplishment in getting those things taken care of, and now I'm not bothered by the clutter/piles/boxes since most has been addressed. I feel like God is teaching me about being random or mediocre in life and in my relationship with Him too. This example of organization shows how much better results can be if I put the time and energy into getting it done right. I know I haven't been totally committed to God the way I once was and it doesn't feel "right."

Colossians 3:23-24: "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving."

I'm going to be more diligent in setting my focus on Him, not just the whims that come and go. Only when I give Him my whole heart will I be complete. My head knows this - I just need to put my faith in action.