Monday, January 27, 2014

Be Careful When You Fast


Who knew that on the first day of my fourth annual 21 day fast, the Lord would hit me with an idea so out of the blue that I shook it off, thinking surely he must be mistaken?

For a few months now, our middle school class at church has been without a teacher.  And in that period, they've been floating back and forth between helping with the smaller kids and attending older youth classes (and feeling extremely out of place---there's a big difference between a fifth grader and a twelfth grader).  I'm close to a couple of these kiddos, and I could almost feel their sense of "I'm lost!" as I watched them at church week after week, but it never once occurred to me that I was the one that should do something about it.  

On January 5th, I started a 21 day fast that I've done for the past four years.  And boy was I surprised when I sat down in church that morning for the worship service . . . it was as if God Himself hit me over the head with a big banner:  "MIDDLE SCHOOLERS."

Come again?

Surely not me, Lord!  Brian is helping in other areas and I would need his help--I would never be able to handle it myself!  And then, of course, I was reminded of my own words----it's not for me to do alone. And certainly not for me to do in my own strength.  These kids needed a teacher.  They needed someone to invest.  Even more, I needed to be pushed in my ministries at church instead of always falling back to music as my primary way of serving.  So after another week of fasting and making sure that I had really heard God correctly, I agreed to take on the fifth, sixth, and seventh graders at our church.  And you know what?  It.  has.  been.  fabulous!  Sure, we're still in the honeymoon phase, but  the kids have shown up, they've participated, and we're all looking forward to building our little class into something quite special.  

So be careful when you fast.

Or you just might get a little more than you bargained for.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A Reason for Every Season

Seasons of interest definitely define certain time periods in our lives.  As a growing teen, I was consumed with the cheerleading and water skiing season.  Seasons in my adult life have included teaching, scrapbooking, and photography.  (Not to mention the monster season of taking care of a critically ill child).  And as per my personality, I have pursued each season with gusto, consuming all knowledge that I could about that particular subject.  When I do something, I tend to do it all the way--sometimes a good thing, sometimes to a fault!  No matter, when I see a particular season coming to an end, I find myself mourning and questioning all of the time and resources that I've poured into a particular hobby or job.  

If you are only a blog reader of mine, and you don't know me personally or aren't friends with me on Facebook, you probably haven't realized that yet another season has started for me:  the essential oil season.  As I was struggling to find my spot in the professional photography world, I took the plunge into using Young Living Essential Oils for our family.  This was something that I had been looking into for a while, and when I bought our first oils in July, I had no idea the doors that were going to open up.  At that point, I was praying for God to give me some kind of direction for my photography business, all the while not wanting to let it go because of all the time I've put into it.  As we started using the essential oils and seeing positive results, I instinctively knew that this was a path that God was leading me down.  But what of my other endeavors?  Leave them behind?  Try to do it all at once?  

As I talked to Brian about the thought of saying goodbye to my photography business, he reminded me that all is not wasted.  The skill set that I bring to the table when it comes to marketing essential oils is one of good photography and good design skills.  Skills that create fliers for my classes that look like this:  
And while driving home from yet another one of these classes Monday night, I had a good laugh at God's perfect timing and planning.  He does nothing by accident!  Here I am, a user of essential oils.  I've decided to sell them, which means I need to both market and teach others about their uses.  Hmmm . . . does anyone else see where I'm going with this?  

A former teacher. 
Skilled in photography and design.
A heart for families like mine with health issues that modern medicine can't fix.

It's all being woven together in a beautiful design!  All of the talents He has blessed me with coming together to spread the word about God's healing oils!  Not a single moment spent in those other endeavors wasted.  All that time spent scrapbooking, I learned so much about design and layout.  Class after class and photo shoot after photo shoot, I'm an expert in shooting and editing.  My teaching skills?  They're a little rusty, I admit, but I've been teaching since I could walk and talk (just ask the stuffed animals and shoes that represented all of my students in my childhood classroom) and it's all coming back to me in an easy way.   


I am still doing photography, but I've simplified a few things about the business that will free me up to spend some time working on these classes.  I couldn't totally give it up yet, because I truly love "shooting people" and seeing their reaction when they see themselves in beautiful light and surroundings.  

It is so unreal sometimes, these paths that God leads me down.  Sometimes with resistance, but always with faith, I keep following where He leads.  Where once I couldn't hardly breathe without having every moment planned to a tee, I now look forward to the next big thing He will push me towards. 

There is a time for everything, a season for every activity under the heavens . . .  
Ecclesiastes 3:1

Friday, January 17, 2014

Grace . . . So How's That Workin' For Ya?

So as predicted, the ungraceful monster in me has already reared it's ugly head. I was doing good. And then, of course, LIFE happened. I've lost my cool a couple of times (nothing like the old days), but in both instances, as soon as they happened, I recognized them for what they were: a direct attack from Satan to steal my peace.

Not as an excuse, but just as an example . . . . . . this is a sliver of a conversation I had with a nurse at the hospital the other day that almost sent me over the edge. (I don't know why checking Clayton into a clinic that he has gone to at least four times a year for the last ten years is so darn hard!)

[She was asking about his meds--the ones that the other clinic we had just visited an hour before had just asked about and checked in the computer]. Her: Can you tell me his meds and doses? Me: He is on 750 mg of Keppra twice a day Her: Well, I need to know the ml so I can figure how many mg he is on. Me: He is on 750 MG twice a day Her: But how many ml? Me: 7.5, but I'm telling you the actual dose so you don't have to worry about "figuring" anything Her: What else? Me: He is on Baclofen, 20 mg a day Her: But how many ml do you give him? Because that will tell me how many mg Me: I'M TELLING YOU the mg: TWENTY. Her: Well, I have to know the ml so I can calculate the mg. Me: (banging my head against the wall, FOR REAL, I Was), you asked me the DOSE, I told you the DOSE. If I told you the ml, that means nothing unless you know what the pharmacist compounded it at! I'm TELLING you the MG! Her: Well, no offense to you, but not all parents know the dose, so I have to ask the ml. Me: BUT I KNOW THE DOSE, so forget the ML! And she was super impressed that I knew how much his wheelchair weighed by heart. Seriously lady, this AIN'T MY FIRST WEIGH IN. Do you know how many times we've done this??? And in the ENT clinic, the triage nurse wanted me to list all of his surgeries (remember this is just an appt to get sleep study results). I said, "from birth?" She said yes. I said "let me dig out my official list and you can make a copy." "Well, I guess I can look them up in the system." NO DUH! WHY ARE THEY FOREVER TYPING INFO INTO THOSE COMPUTERS WHEN THEY NEVER REFERENCE THEM?

These grace-tests???

I hope they aren't signs of how the whole year will go.

Thursday, January 02, 2014

The Year 2014

I've never been one for New Year's resolutions.  At least the specific ones some people set.  But I do always feel like a new year brings a clean slate, and a chance to recharge and restart.  I might be behind the times, but this is the first year I've seen online conversations about "words" for the new year.  I've never really given thought to christening a year of my life with a theme of sorts, but I admit the thought was intriguing.  However, coming up with an actual word would be the trick!  What if I picked something I couldn't live up to?  What if I picked something completely contrary to the year God had planned for me?  

But as we drove home last night from dinner, (a dinner that had been paid for by an anonymous stranger in the restaurant), the word became clear in my mind's eye.  

Sounds quite spiritual doesn't it?  

There are only about a million problems with this being my word of the year . . . for starters, I'm less than perfect when offering grace to others.  And graceful is definitely not a word I would use to describe myself.  In fact, as soon as I saw the word in my mind, I starting making excuses for why I could never live up to a "Year of Grace."  

But therein lies the twist . . .

I'm not supposed to be doing it on my own!  Living a grace filled life is not about me doing it in my own power, but completely about God's grace flowing through and out of me as I learn to dwell in the Holy Spirit.  And is living gracefully contrary to God's will for my life?  Certainly not!  If I am to become more like Him, then receiving and giving grace is most definitely a part of that plan.  

I admit that I am scared even putting this out there for anyone to see.  I know those close to me will read this and about a month from now wonder where the grace is when my temper flares up.  I'm praying that with God's help those moments will be non-existent, and that I will be able to truly focus on living GRACE-filled.  

This is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.  Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  
1 John 4:10-11