Friday, January 28, 2011

Lessons from the Kiln

As the remaining hours of a turbulent semester of teaching wind to a close, I am in a reflective state of mind.  What was the purpose of this hectic, exhausting, emotion-filled semester of teaching and personal struggle?  What was God teaching me through the midst of chaos, frustration, and grief? 

And as I reflect, I am gently reminded to pray.  To commune with my sovereign Lord.  God recalls to my mind that He is my true portion.  He was my strength when I was completely unable to press forward and teach.  He was my comfort when I felt like a complete failure.  He reminded me over and over again that I am always clothed in His righteousness and not my own.  And ultimately that this feeling of displacement that I experienced so frequently this semester was because this world is not my ultimate home. 

I love these whispers of love when I bow my head in prayer.  These are what keep me moving forward.  Sitting at his feet and drinking in His Word...that's what keeps me putting one foot in front of the other.  This reminds me of all He has taught me in these soul-wearying months.  How I know Him as my God so much more intimately than I did before this semester in the kiln began.

Ultimately, I don't definitively know what the purpose of this semester was, yet it has reminded me and humbled me and drawn me to the Lord who is my true portion in this life.  He is my joy.  He is my hope.  My delight is in Him.  It's so easy to forget this when the pressure mounts and expectations rise all around me.  And it's so easy to forget this when I fail.  And this semester has felt like the semester of failure.  But as I close the final page on this semester on Sunday evening, I do so not in defeat, but in victory.  Victory, because my Savior lives and He has redeemed me as His own.  And because He used a rough semester to sand out some very rough edges in me and draw me closer to Him, my truest portion in this life.

So with rejoicing, I will enter into this next semester and glorify Him with my moments.  He is the strength of my heart and my portion forever (Psalm 73:26). 


Monday, January 17, 2011

1000 Gifts: January (Part 2)

As the month stretches on, I am finding myself growing more and more optimistic.  Chronicling 1,000 gifts truly does change us.  Situations and circumstances that used to discourage or deter me are now not so bad.  There are blessings in so many places and joys to be found in disappointment.  God is so good.

102.  My job which gives me endless opportunities to learn patience and perseverance
103.  The sense of accomplishment after decluttering an area of my classroom
104.  A weekend of fun with my sister-in-law and brother-in-law now that they are living in Michigan
105.  Watching my husband create a beautiful piece of furniture out of a pile of wood
106.  Don Pablos leftovers to reheat on a Sunday afternoon in my classroom
107.  A cheery lamp that a colleague gave me to brighten my desk on dreary January afternoons
108.  Tons of teaching/lesson plan ideas circling in my mind
109.  Layers of freshly fallen snow
110.  A tidy apartment
111.  A toilet that flushes
112.  A shower that streams hot, clean water
113.  A warm classroom
114.  Freedom to read my Bible without legal consequences
115.  Watching EPL soccer on a Saturday morning
116.  Internet that works
117.  XBox Kinect for a great workout
118.  Cuddling with Ciaran
119.  A washer and dryer in our apartment
120.  Sweetwater's doughnuts
121.  My sister-in-law's homemade bread
122.  The Psalms
123.  Warm scarves, gloves, mittens, etc.
124.  Dragonfruit Febreeze
125.  Energy that comes after a great workout

Monday, January 10, 2011

1000 Gifts: January

These past several weeks have flown by with so many whispers and shouts of God's love that I don't even know where to begin, but begin I must, completely aware that this list doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of His goodness and faithfulness to us.

71.  The close proximity of my OB/GYN and blood work facility (both less than 2 minutes from our apartment complex) for my many appointments I had in December.
72.  The blessing of supportive family, church family, friends, colleagues, secretaries, and students.
73.  A bouquet of a dozen roses hand-delivered to our apartment by a few of my students
74.  Encouraging words sent just when I needed them the most
75.  Joy in being a follower of Christ
76.  Joy in being a wife
77.  My husband's compassionate and tender care making me smile and feel warm again
78.  A cozy, snug apartment with glowing Christmas tree lights illuminating the darkness
79.  A slow-paced, steady routine those last few weeks of December in place of the frantic, chaotic schedule I've been keeping for almost four months now
80.  Delight in small, simple things all around me
81.  Hope/Ideas for redeeming the three months between now and when we can begin thinking about getting pregnant again (I won't deny that this has been the toughest one)
82.  Anticipation and excitement for the next boys varsity soccer season which I'm now (Lord willing) going to get to view since we won't have a newborn at home
83.  Joy in exercising without fear
84.  Drinking caffeine and eating cold deli meat
85.  My bright and cheery classroom
86.   A joy-filled Christmas celebrating the birth of our Savior
87.  My grandmother's wonderfully peaceful home
88.  Spending time with my awesome niece and nephew
89.  Lots of fun and laughter with family
90.  Tons of new Chelsea gear from my brother
91.  My new Pandora bracelet
92.  A peaceful morning looking out at the beauty of the snow-covered woods behind my grandmother's house
93.  Returning home to an apartment filled with work for me to do
94.  Strength to survive my 14 hour first day back at work
95.  Coming home from above-mentioned 14-hour work day to an XBox 360 w/Kinect all set up and Ciaran dancing in the living room
96.  Endless fun with the XBox 360 w/Kinect
97.  Long workouts
98.  The stability of a work routine
99.  Lots of fast food available when I'm too tired to cook
100.  Precious fellowship at RBC
101.  Joy in gathering to worship our great God with fellow believers and the privilege of sitting under godly teachers.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

More Like Me Again

Source:  photoxpress
 Today the sun is shining and I feel like myself again. It's been a long time since I have felt like this. After weeks of morning sickness, intense fatigue, and then the intense grief over the loss of our unborn baby on December 11th, I haven't felt like me in quite awhile. Getting back to my work routine this week and starting my new exercise regiment (Your Shape on XBox360) has been really good for me. Then getting over 13 hours of sleep last night and all of the water I've been drinking lately has made me feel so good today.

But above all, I am so grateful that I worship and serve a sovereign and loving God, who has taught me so much about himself in the past few months.  He truly is my Rock and most worthy of worship.  He is my compassionate and wonderful Healer who gives me a hope for the future and joy in the moments.  I can't wait to share my gratitude journal on Monday with all of you.  It will be a long one, so be prepared. 

Have a happy Saturday and a wonderful Lord's Day tomorrow.