Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Target Practice

In December as I was having lunch with a friend, she threw out a question,  "Would nursing be what you would do if you could work and do anything?"  I feel like the correct answer should be "absolutely" - I mean, I went to school for it and have kept my license current and had just finished the continuing education hours.  I take a lot of pride in saying that I'm an RN.  It took a lot of work.  I enjoyed it while I did it.  I feel like I'm important when I tell people I'm a nurse (that's probably a whole other issue!)  But to be honest - it scares me now.  I have forgotten everything.  Except how to care.  Seriously, I was asked a simple question during a girl scout meeting the other night about head wounds and I wasn't sure of the answer...talk about embarrassing.  Luckily Emily wasn't embarrassed.  Whew!  Back to the question my friend posed:  I answered her honestly and said, "I'm not sure that it would be.  If I could do anything for work - it would be to have a little shabby chic boutique store and make my little painted signs."  But I really felt like that was a far-fetched idea.

I interviewed for another nursing job in December and I still haven't ever heard anything back - which is fine.  Yet, it makes me kind of sad.  I know that every year I don't work is one more year removed from the skills and makes it more likely that I'll have to take some kind of refresher courses in order to ever get back into it.  Yes, the money would be good.  But is that what I'm being called to do right now??  I'm not so sure.  I feel like being available to my family is THE single most important thing I can do.  And if I'm gone 8-9 hours a day I don't know that I can be what I need to be for them. Every nursing position door that I've managed to get my foot in since we've been here has been shut.  Not sure it is the answer.  And it doesn't make me excited to think about going back.

So, this month I've looked into the prices of renting booths to sell my handiwork.  There aren't many openings even though there are lots of shops and the rent is pricey.  I didn't even know if my stuff was cute - I'd only given it as gifts and you never know if people actually like it or are just being nice!   I decided to put pictures on my facebook page <---(click on that to see them) a week ago showing what I make and I started selling them and taking orders immediately!  I didn't even have it completely thought out and people were asking how much and whether I took orders!  Joy just flooded me.  I truly enjoy painting and making these little signs.  Yay!

Now...I wasn't able to start selling these signs without being intentional.  I've wanted to do it for a long time but hadn't done anything about it.  I finally took some steps and got it done after the conversation with my friend when I actually voiced my desire.

Last February I read a book by Anne Ortlund called "Disciplines of the Beautiful Woman."  It wasn't my favorite book ever.  But, I was very much challenged by the author to write down my LIFE PURPOSES, my LIFE GOALS, and my YEAR GOALS.  She pointed out the importance of writing them down.  There's something powerful about it.  It's intentional.  Once it's on paper I can review and revisit them and see them.  I can pray over them and ask God if it is still what He wants of me.  I made my life purposes more general like: Give generously, Trust blindly, Grow continually, etc.  My life goals are more specific like: go on a mission trip, write a Christian women's book, etc.  My year goals are very specific and are more of baby-steps to getting to my life goals at times: Continue blogging and praying about what to write, make daily time with God non-negotiable, etc.  I've loved having these written down so I have direction.  I re-wrote them in January this year and tweaked them a bit.  I pray over them often.

Seems like once God speaks to you about something, it comes up everywhere, right?  "If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time."  I've heard this quote a lot, but I was really convicted the last time I heard it said by Pastor Kevin.  SO true.  What am I aiming for?  What is life about?  Is it just getting up, going through the motions, hopefully having a few good moments, going to bed, doing it all over and over and over?  What am I trying to accomplish?  Mine and yours main life purposes should be to glorify God in all we do and to become more like Him.  If I haven't thought about it or written it down - been intentional  -- am I going to 'hit the mark?'

I am reading "A Confident Heart" by Renee Swope for my women's Bible Study right now.  Renee says, "When we don't know what our heart's desires are, we tend to spend our lives fulfilling the desires of others."  Ugh...what a waste!  I want to do what God wants me to do.  And what brings me joy too!  She adds, "But just as a target is designed to narrow the aim of an arrow, God uses the desires of our hearts to narrow the focus of where He wants our lives to make a mark for eternity."  I want my arrows to leave marks not just whiz around hitting nothing.  But if I don't have anything to aim at - what do I expect is going to happen?  If I don't know what the desires of my heart are??  Well, start by asking God.  He will reveal it.  It made me smile so big when my heart desire came to fruition with painting my signs and selling them!  My heart desire of writing my thoughts and feelings out became something I could do just by sitting down and doing it.  My heart desire of encouraging became something I could do just by taking the time (intentionally) to write a text, email or card out to a sister.

Our new lead pastor, Pastor Shane, (yay!!!!) talked about the importance of  family values a couple weekends ago.  He reminded us, "If we are not intentional to set our values then others around us will do it for us."  It was a great sermon showing us how powerful culture can be on our households.  If we do not talk about what our values are with our children - then the world will tell our children what their values should be.  That. is. scary.  He closed his sermon with a challenge to each of us to go home and establish our values as a family - beliefs that guide us as we seek to glorify God.  Some hints - be specific/not generic, support each value with a Bible verse (God's authority), and write the values out and hang them up (as a reminder and for accountability).

Sunday night the four of us sat down and discussed what we'd like to have as our family values.  We came up with six "We will..." statements that we supported with scripture and hung on a decorative tree thing in our hallway.  We decided on these values together and agreed that we all need to help each other stick to these values.  It had never even crossed my mind to do something like this.

So, this has been a lengthy post, one I've been wanting to write all month.  I've meditated on these subjects for weeks now and it has flowed out through my fingers so quickly.  A lot of times I still feel like I'm wandering around aimlessly in this life - wondering what I'm going to be when I grow up; wondering if I'm really doing what I'm supposed to be doing.  I'm so thankful that God has shown me over the past year how important knowing and claiming and writing down what my purposes, goals, heart desires, and family values are.  And when I'm feeling like I'm not quite hitting the mark or feeling aimless...it doesn't really come down to whether I'm a nurse or I clean houses and make crafts...am I glorifying Him and making Him greater?

John 3:30  "He must become greater; I must become less."


Thursday, January 9, 2014

Taking a Break from the What-If's

I was reflecting yesterday about howI used to spend large amounts of time worrying about things that had already happened.  Like...how I could have reacted differently in situations.  Or I replayed hurtful words from others over and over in my mind.  I was stuck in the past and was wasting time and energy on things that I could not change.  Over the past years I've gotten a handle on this with God's help, not to say I don't find myself dwelling on the past at times, but I'm not wasting away my years by obsessing about the past.  I'm moving on, confident of the hope in Jesus, forgiveness and grace lavished by Him...

So why did I start thinking about what I used to do?  Because I found it kind of weird that now I'm doing the opposite - I'm worrying about the future instead of the past.  Recently I've found myself throwing large amounts of time toward thinking about and planning out future scenarios - how things are going to play out...I'm not exactly obsessing or myself sick on it, but I'm spending a lot of time thinking about it..and worrying about how things will work out and all the details it will ensue - being the planner (aka control freak) that I am!
“You can’t worship two gods at once. Loving one god, you’ll end up hating the other. Adoration of one feeds contempt for the other. You can’t worship God and Money both.
“If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don’t fuss about what’s on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds. 

“Has anyone by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? All this time and money wasted on fashion—do you think it makes that much difference? Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them.
“If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.
“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.  (Matthew 6:24-34, The Message)
This passage (I know, it's long, but it's SO good in The Message version!  Don't you agree?)  I've read many times and it just came to mind.   Well, the last verse is actually what came to mind - and I had to google it because I couldn't remember where it was.  But the first verse about not being able to serve two masters/gods is interesting...it mentions money but you can replace it with anything - in this certain case -- 'my own control' must be my god...  Ouch.  Jeff and I both had job interviews in December and we've not heard anything yet.  I have planned out/played out every scenario in my head of what happens if and when or if not and is it right or wrong?  Yet, we've not been offered anything yet.  And just this week there has been a buzz about school redistricting.  We moved into this particular neighborhood because of the schools that our children would attend.  We are on the line of moving to a different school - which would still be a good school, but not nearly as acclaimed as where we are.  This also could cause our house value to plummet.  The school board has not revealed which neighborhoods will be affected - this will happen next week.  But, of course, I'm scouring the numbers that they have released, researching the potential schools we may end up at and thinking through all of the things this might mean for us.  So...much of my last week or so has been useless.  Useless in the sense that all those thoughts I've had could have been filled with prayer for us or others or praise for what God has done or is doing.  I can not do a thing by getting worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow.  None of us are even promised tomorrow.

The part in the above scriptures "What I'm trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God's giving."  I need to hear that!  Relax!  I can look to the future and be prepared and see if there is any action I can take, but beyond that - the thinking and worrying -- it's useless.  I'm worshiping 'my own control' instead of turning these situations over to God who has complete control and knows my future.  Do I trust Him with it?  I know I sure do make a mess out of things often when on my own.  And so many times my knee-jerk reaction of what I think we need is not really the best for us.  He promises to be there to help me when hard things come.  I trust Him, but I need help with my unbelief, Jesus!!  So, what am I doing with today?  Am I wasting it by dwelling on the 'what if's' or the past?  If so, then I'm unavailable to be used by Him.  Today I choose to fill my mind with praise that God has me in the palm of His hand, He has good plans for us and He will be there in hard times.  I choose to fill my mind with prayers of 'how do you want to use me today for your purposes, God?  I choose right now...this moment...not yesterday or tomorrow...and I relax.

Image courtesy of dan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net