Sunday, January 27, 2013

Let Me Be Singing When The Evening Comes!

Movin' right along - last week of January already.  It's proving to be a colder winter in North Carolina than it was last year.  We've all been immersed in our 'stuff.'  Life.  Although it is slower than it could be!  The kids not participating in any winter sports has left us with more evenings at home and free weekends.  We've discovered Duck Dynasty as a family and found some good board games.  I've taken lots of long hot bubble baths to stay warm while Charlotte has seen two Winter Weather Advisories!  Jeff's stayed warm making chili for two different chili cook-off contest.  We saw a Charlotte Bobcats game thanks to a coworker handing Jeff some tickets.  Evan had his Young Author's Day at school.  We've done some crafts and painted the man cave.  Jeff and Evan took in Monster Jam and Emily and I went to a Girl Scout Bingo night.  It's been a nice, slow January enjoying my favorite people.

I'm not sure if my eyes are just more open to seeing how God blesses us over and over or if we are just being so much more blessed lately.  Most likely the former.  

After spending six months actively looking for and applying for per diem nursing jobs and getting nowhere after the interviews, Jeff and I were kind of at a loss.  We continued to cry out to God wondering what He was doing - we need the extra money, I was taking steps to get jobs, and He was closing doors.  In late December someone I am friends with on facebook, but had only spoken to once at church, posted that she needed someone to clean her house occasionally and needed suggestions of who to use.  I quickly sent her a message telling her how I cleaned for my grandpa regularly and a few friends occasionally in Indiana and I'd love to do her house.  After discussing the details, I got off of the phone completely elated, completely praising God for the opportunity.  That, in turn made me start wondering - is this something that I could pursue and fit perfect into my schedule with the kids, Lord?  I sent an email to all of the friends I've made here.  I posted on the church women's page.  Within a day I had another couple from church who wanted me to come and clean every week!  Still looking for a few more.

I really do think that if I could work full-time I would be able to get one of the nursing jobs here - they would feel more comfortable re-training me.  Right now though...God has closed the door...for this season.  Yes, I think I might be a little sad about that.  But I'm even more thrilled about the opportunity which God provided at just the right time, one that helps us financially, and fits into my schedule perfectly.  

In July 2011 (no, that's not a typo!) we put our house up for sale in Indiana. Since that time, it's been for sale, leased-to-own ending in a broken contract, for sale again, and then a few months back some friends contacted us wanting to rent our home from us while their new home is being built.  It was perfect timing.  We would be able to take the house off the market for awhile during the market slump and the winter months.  We'd have our mortgage covered through spring!  I can not even tell you how much of a blessing it is that Scott and Lori have been in our house!  Did we want it to sell?  Yes.  We still do.  But...God provided just what we needed - and I'm positive He will continue to.

Our house will be going back up for sale on February 1st...with our friends wanting very much to make the house look perfect to show for us while they are there.  We will be able to have it for sale AND have our mortgage covered for a few months!  God has used this thorn in our side - the selling of our home - as a way to grow us in our faith.  We have had to throw up our hands and let Him have it, trusting Him in His timing, His plan, and His provision.

I can't believe we've lived here for a year and a half.  What a journey it's been.  I am excited to have joined a women's Bible study group and also a leadership group with 9 other women who I already know God has great things planned for.  Jeff is getting ready to start up with a men's group and we still do our couple's group too.  Jeff is considering HOA involvement, while I'm tossing around some more PTO involvement for next year.  I am thankful for what He is providing in these areas - connection and growth.  

I hope that months from now I can still say I'm thankful for what God is doing.  No matter what He does - what the circumstances are - we can still have joy.  We can still praise Him.  He works everything together for our good.  I am thankful for seeing where He is working and being able to point it out and claim it!  Part of the song,  10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord, O my soul) by Matt Redman, says "The sun comes up, it's a new day dawning; It's time to sing Your song again; Whatever may pass, and whatever lies before me; Let me be singing when the evening comes!"

My prayer for the coming months of house drama - Whatever may pass...let me be singing when the evening comes, Lord!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Phone A Friend

Over Christmas a friend from the kid's school PTO contacted me with some neat news.  She and her family are moving to Evansville, Indiana!  She asked if we could meet for lunch and I could answer her questions and give her the low-down on everything Evansville.  I was so excited to do so!  It was going to be fun to tell her all about something I loved and something that I felt like I could educate her on - almost like I was an expert on the topic!

My kids love to be experts on topics - like every topic.  Maybe it is something we're born with.  It's fun to 'know' stuff!  And people do need experts!  I can't help but think about the Evansville mid-day news segment, "Ask The Expert" - various local people are interviewed and take phone calls about their area of expertise. 
I've been reading this month about how to share my faith.  The best approach is probably not to be a know-it-all or come across as an expert!  Maybe it should be more like 'Phone a Friend' instead of 'Ask The Expert'?  It does seem somewhat similar to my lunch date though.  I had knowledge that my friend did not have.  She needed this information and reached out to someone she knew and was comfortable with.  I felt passionate about the topic and was confident that I knew enough to educate her on it.  Everyone has a topic that he is passionate about and can talk at great lengths on.  Have you ever gotten yourself in a conversation though and you realize you are in over your head - you don't know enough to talk about it with someone.  You get nervous and either say stuff that may or may not be true so to appear as if you do know or you say nothing at all. 

When it comes to sharing my faith...I feel like I can write my thoughts clearly, but when it comes to a conversation...well, not so much.  I am nervous that I will say it wrong or not be able to explain the simplicity of the complex nature of a relationship with Jesus.  And in these sad times, what if I bring it up to someone who is completely against acknowledging a Creator exists and will ridicule those who do believe - calling me a bigot, close-minded fool?  So, how do I become as comfortable, confident, and excited in sharing about Jesus as I can about my old stomping grounds?  And ditch my fears of being called dumb names?

Learning and studying about Him!  Talking to Him and listening for Him!  The more time we spend with Him through prayer, worship, and Bible study, church services, and in relationship with other Christians - the more we will know about Him. This creates confidence when talking about who He is.  And it's relatively easy to talk about how He has impacted your own life - you are an expert on your own life!  Before I knew Jesus I was _________.  Then I accepted Jesus as my Savior and payment for all my sins.  He has done _____________ in my life!  And now I am _____________.  I am going to be sharing a brief story following this format in a leadership class at church next week.  As I've been looking over my life, it is hard to just tell one story though!  I have SO many stories to use about how God has worked in my life - and how He still is.

It just so happens that part of my 'story' is about how God has transformed me into a more confident (confidence through who HE says I am) person who does not become crippled by how others view me and what they want to say about me.  But, I still struggle every now and then!!  So, as I pray for opportunities to share Jesus to others - I will pray for reminders of how He has freed me from that fear.  I will pray for confidence and power to flow through me and for Him to give me words.  I will pray for strength to live the way He wants me to so to be a good example and not be viewed as 'just another Christian hypocrite.'

But what I really need to pray about is that He would give me 'excitement' - that I would be bubbling over, eager to share all I know about Him to others.  Those who don't know, need to know!  They are missing out on information that is life-changing!  Just like how I can tell anyone moving to Evansville what they 'need' in order to start a new life in that town - I also have valuable information for people who need Jesus and want to start his new life with Him.  Lord, I pray that I would be excited to share my 'expertise' to those in need.
You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.(Matthew 5:14-16)