Moving Summer

This summer’s move was not supposed to be this hard.

When it’s the third time moving back into your house, you kind of expect to be able to put things away fairly quickly, get things in order without too much trouble. After all, I should know where everything goes. I mean, my husband and I are pretty experienced at doing this move-in thing, and we expected it to be a breeze. I expected to have everything finished by the end of July leaving August to actually get to enjoy having my husband home, go camping/hiking, and be fully refreshed and relaxed for the school year.

orange plastic container on brown wooden table

Long story short, we experienced delays and obstacles even before the packing began, lived for a month in a hotel with 3 dogs, and had to make major renovations/repairs that continued weeks after we moved into the house.  All these circumstances caused unpacking to be put on hold well after we typically would have had all the boxes already discarded.

Just when I thought we were making significant progress, there was another water event that caused me to have to repack and redo the items we had already put in storage. It’s amazing how much water one load of laundry can spill onto the floor.

nature water blue abstract

This summer, I put into practice Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” Actually, knowing the full context, “ . . . for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content – whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or need. I am able to do all things through Him who gives me strengthens me.” (HCSB)

Today is the first day of school in our neighborhood. School has unofficially started for me as well. The house isn’t finished, and now I no longer have the luxury of time devoted just to getting things settled. And it would be easy to feel overwhelmed with all that still needs to be done.

However, all along this school journey, I have seen how God has given me the strength and perseverance to do the work required. As I look forward to this school year, and another planned moving summer right after graduation, I will continue to trust that He will continue to provide just what I need.

I refuse to allow the anxiety I feel over all the work still unfinished to consume my time and thoughts. Instead, I will take out time each day, in some small significant way, to remember His faithfulness and give thanks for each new day. I can expect God to hear my prayers, to show His love, patience, and faithfulness.

I recognize that this summer’s move has been full of delays, and at worst, inconveniences. Many others may be dealing with much more serious issues. Scripture is full of encouragement, and it can apply to all kinds of personal trials and adversities. We are often disappointed and disheartened by circumstances and relationships that don’t work out as we expect. But we don’t have to stay stuck there.

sea dawn sky sunset

Here are a few of the verses I try to remember to stay positive:

“Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (HCSB)  Philippians 4: 6 – 7

“Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”  Matthew 6:34

“Because of the Lord’s faithful love we do not perish, for His mercies never end.  23 They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness!  24 I say: The Lord is my portion, therefore I will put my hope in Him.   25 The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him.  26 It is good to wait quietly for deliverance from the Lord.”    Lamentations 3: 22 – 26

Moving Back

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Our family is moving again – as was planned.  This will be the third time moving back to our house, to a “home base” as you might call it.   If you’ve followed my blog from the beginning, you would know I began writing this  blog when I faced major upheaval in significant areas of my life (The Rock Tumbler), and that I move frequently (See About and Let Me be your Home).  ‘Where are you from?’ is never a simple question to answer.  The short one is ‘Texas’, or the place I last lived.

Due in part to my life’s frequent relocations, building a community of friends is a challenge because it takes time to develop enough shared experiences, to build trust, and to get to know people.  I’ve learned how to get involved just enough to not be too lonely, to appreciate those people who share of themselves, and who allow me to share with them.  It’s a vulnerable state of living to always be the “new girl”.

I just want to share two quick things here that I’ve learned while living in Williamsburg, Virginia.  This small, retirement community, centered on America’s colonial history, is quite relevant in today’s modern world.

First, I’ve learned how important it is to maintain one’s health now, so that I can still kick butt when I’m 70 and older.  Just because there are a lot of older people here does not mean people aren’t engaged in athletic activities, like running, yoga, cycling, and so on.  Watching women several decades my senior working out with better strength, cardio, and endurance was inspiring.  I want to be that person when I get there.

Second, the Christian community here is thriving, and God is moving across so many lines.  I attended the Williamsburg Community Chapel (The Chapel), and the opportunities to engage across the community are phenomenal – intergenerational and racial diversity are celebrated assets.  One such opportunity is a collaboration with the Historic First Baptist Church of Williamsburg.  This church was officially established in 1776, by slaves, and is still vibrant and active in the community.  These two churches are working together for the Williamsburg community to make things better.  I had the privilege to attend and meet several members of this church last summer and was overwhelmed with the spirit of unity among their members.  I am so encouraged to witness how God is moving in these two amazing churches, and I imagine the impact this collaboration will have on their community, and throughout the Christian family.

As we leave the small town of Williamsburg and return to the crowded and fast-paced Northern Virginia area, I wonder what the next year will bring.  It’s another short-term and temporary move.  I know how easy it is to get caught up in work and worries, to not engage with others on a meaningful level. We’ve lived there several times, and each time is a new experience.  Things change so quickly, that each time is like moving to a new place.  Will old acquaintances be welcoming?  Will I need to start new?  I expect it will be a mixture of both.

Pastor Travis Simone of The Chapel wrapped up the sermon series of the Kingdom Mission by talking about what partnering with God looks like.  To my amazement, he pointed out that the mission involved partnering and leaving.  I’m leaving Williamsburg, but I’m leaving having been strengthened by the community and partnership of the many believers at The Chapel and others in the community.

I’m moving back to Northern Virginia.  We typically stay only a few years at a time, and that hinders the ability to create lasting friendships.  Each time has had a significant atmosphere and set of friends/experiences.  I wonder what God has planned for this next stay.  So, I’m moving back while still “moving forward in faith“.

Holding It Together

Jesus Holds All Things Together

I am grateful for a small break in my classes to be able to write another post. Over the past several months, there have been many papers to write, tests to take, and an “Intensive” week where I was actually staying on campus in a dorm room with a roommate. Ah, just like old times!

I found myself in a true identity crisis last year when the expectations and plans for the empty nest period of my life suddenly evaporated. After taking a season to mourn my lost purpose, I started this blog to share what God has taught me, and continues to teach me, about His faithfulness, His trustworthiness, and His loving-kindness while remaining open to what God’s plan was for me. With the encouragement of my husband, I am now working on a master’s degree for school counseling. Going back to school after more than 20 years has been just a little bit intimidating.

During the months since, with each class and assignment, there have been times when I felt like I wasn’t able to do what was required in the time frame given. When moments of doubt, weakness, and insecurity take hold, it can be difficult to continue giving my best effort. Yet, I know I am not alone, and the only way to fail for certain is to give up. I can’t give up.

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Every adventure and challenge calls for perseverance. But this perseverance only comes when I believe that Jesus knows and provides what I need. And, when I’m only getting a few hours of sleep, isolated from my family and friends, dizzy from staring at the computer screen for hours on end, struggling to make a complete thought, much less an intelligent sounding one, it is easy to give in to the fear that I can’t do it. That this was all a mistake.

I remember having similar thoughts and feelings in my earlier college days. Back then, I didn’t have the level of faith and experience to fully trust God. My confidence, faith, and belief wavered, and while I got through school, I didn’t feel like I had conquered and achieved a victory.

This time is different. I remember and hold onto faith that this task is part of the plan God has for me, and I am able to get through it even when it’s hard – with an expectation of a battle won. He knows what I need, and He sustains me. He holds me together. Sometimes, it is just by the act of a simple prayer thrown up in desperation, and other times, it is in the sweetness of my husband, one of my children, or a friend encouraging me. But through all of it, I find just enough strength to press onward.

You also may be going through a difficult time where things seem to be falling apart or too difficult to manage. But, if you know Christ Jesus, you may allow yourself just enough faith to believe that the One who spoke the world into being is sovereign, and He holds all things together. His plan is bigger than what we can see right now.  He doesn’t show us the whole plan, but He will help us through today.

**I wrote the above last week, before everything happened in Virginia. It may seem our country is falling apart, but let’s remind ourselves of what is true.

John 1:1-2 Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

1 In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He was with God in the beginning.

Hebrews 1:2-3

In these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son. God has appointed Him heir of all things and made the universe through Him. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact expression of His nature, sustaining all things by His powerful word. After making purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.

Colossians 1: 15 – 17

15 He is the image of the invisible God,
the firstborn over all creation

16 For everything was created by Him,
in heaven and on earth,
the visible and the invisible,
whether thrones or dominions
or rulers or authorities—
all things have been created through Him and for Him.

17 He is before all things,
and by Him all things hold together.

Someday List

I wasn’t going to post anything today.  However, I really want to share a couple of thoughts from some things I’ve heard and experienced that I think you will find interesting. Again, I find it amazing how God moves among His people.  Only He can put things together in a way that cause so many variables to connect at just the right moments to meet just the right needs. Like when you hear just the right song when you’ve just been praying about a particular need.

If you’ve been following my blog, you know I began writing when my expectations for this season in life were suddenly blocked.  It is an obedient act of faith to write publicly about my faith, the struggles I’ve overcome, and to do it without really knowing where it’s heading, or who is receiving the message.  My main hope is that my obedience is a blessing to those reading it.

My dreams and desires have been altered.

As a mom, as a teacher, as a friend, there is nothing more exciting to me than seeing the ones I love grow.  When I was teaching, we had something called a “Someday List.”  It was a list of books students wanted to read in the future and didn’t want to forget.  I have in my mind a “Someday List” of prayers and dreams.  More than a “Bucket List” of activities to do before I die, the “Someday List” is a list of prayers I’m waiting to see God answer.  I don’t know if I will see everything resolved the way I hope, but I know I have to have faith and cooperate with Him.

Right now, what I previously believed of my ability and dreams is being stretched in  directions different than I ever imagined.

Some of you may have dreams on hold.  You may have dreams which seem unattainable.  Or, you may have some dreams which have been dashed.

One of the big things on my prayer “Someday List” is for Christians to become stronger in our faith, able to stand against the cultural tide moving against us, and to be able to reach those who need Jesus.

This past Sunday was the last in our church’s series on Obstacles to Movement. Each Sunday began with a personal testimony video. Today’s obstacle was culture, as in living in a culture that is opposed to God. As soon as I heard the video, I knew I wanted to share it with you. The descriptions of cultural obstacles are poignant.

Obstacles to Movement: Ben Robertson from Williamsburg Community Chapel on Vimeo.

Our pastor, Travis Simone, followed with a sermon with practical applications using Jeremiah 29 as an example.  You can follow the link to the sermon here: http://wcchapel.org/watch-listen/chapel-media/preacher/travis-simone/

He did suggest a book which he recommends.  I haven’t read it yet, but I expect to soon; To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World by James Davison Hunter.

Then in a podcast I heard about pursuing dreams, a book was mentioned several times.  Since the impetus of my blog had to do with certain dreams and expectations being dismantled, and some of you are either waiting or going through something similar, I thought I would share the title with you:  The Dream Giver by Bruce Wilkinson.

So, I give you the start of a book Someday List, but also the idea to think about a prayerful Someday List of dreams.  The books and videos are relevant towards the theme of why I am writing this blog – living out one’s faith in purpose and action.

What’s on your “Someday List?”

 

The Rock Tumbler

Changes hurt.  Unexpected changes are especially prone to cause fear, anxiety, confusion, and doubt.

I thought I knew what I was supposed to do at this point in my life.  I was prepared for it.  I worked out and prepared my timeline as young as 17 years old.  I worked out that when my children were grown and responsible enough to not need me at home full-time, I would begin my teaching career.  Texas offered a life-long license, and it would be okay that I would start later.  But, it hasn’t worked out the way I planned.

God is doing something; changing what I expected to happen, and I am fighting against fear, anxiety, confusion, and doubt.  I want to trust God.  I really do.  He knows I like to plan.  He knows I need some sort of road map to feel like I know where I’m going and what I’m doing to feel a sense of security, even if I don’t know where I will be.  My security and comfort has been in that plan.

One of my friends suggested I read “Wait and See” by Wendy Pope.  She and several other friends are in a similar place of being almost Empty Nesters.  I didn’t get the book at first because I’ve spent my whole life in wait and see moments.  Then one morning, I was being completely honest with God about how I wanted to trust Him, but it was kind of hard because I felt so in the dark.  I was grieving over the loss of not only one major purpose, but also the second purpose of teaching which I had been patiently waiting to happen over the course of 20 years.

He reminded me of an activity I had done with my most recent class of 3rd graders.  A student brought in a rock tumbler and the materials to produce actual polished rocks.  I was more than happy to find a way for us to make it work.  Reading through the instructions, I was surprised at how many weeks it would take, the different grades of grit that had to be used, and at how slowly the tumbler turned.  We proceeded to find a place where the loud tumbling wouldn’t interfere with the class and dutifully followed the plan.  We barely had enough time to finish before the end of school.  The class and I were thrilled at the results of the polishing.  Each student got to take a shiny rock home.

God, in His gentle way, reminded me that although I may not see the changes, that although it is painful and slow, He is working.

Now, as I am reading the book, “Wait and See,” I feel more hope and some structure to the work God is doing.  Sometimes it is quiet, sometimes loud, and sometimes the grit has to be changed to work on smoothing the rough edges even more.  I am waiting to see what He has planned.  As God breaks off the rough edges and polishes me, it still hurts as I feel the grating at times, but I am willing to endure patiently.  I can more easily trust Him and His promise knowing the result will show more of Him in me.

rock-tumbler

O Lord, I will honor and praise your name,  
    for you are my God.
You do such wonderful things!
    You planned them long ago,
    and now you have accomplished them.     Isaiah 25: 1

The Lord will work out his plans for my life—
    for your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever.
    Don’t abandon me, for you made me.         Psalm 138:8

For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.    Ephesians 2:10