Pieces of Me

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

He loves me

Growing up, I always knew I wanted to be a teacher.  It wasn’t until High School when I realized I was being “called” into the ministry.  I wanted to teach and share the love of Christ at the very same time.  Lutherans, in particular, put a lot of emphasis on the “call.”  You are either being “called” into the ministry or you’re not – you’re just meant to work and serve in other ways.
For the longest time, I really and truly believed this.  I had friends who went off to college to become teachers and doctors, lawyers and accountants, and although they were Christian, I for some reason believed that  they were not in the ministry – they would serve in their churches, but not in their daily lives.

Teaching at a Lutheran school was a great experience for me.  It was a challenge and it wasn’t always easy, but I am blessed by my time there – still to this day.  It’s fun to be “friends” with my former students on Facebook.  I see their daily lives and think, “Wow, so and so really has done well.”  Or I see how the Lord is using my former students in amazing ways. 

Now that I have been “out of the ministry” for some time, I have realized that no matter what I’m doing, I’m still ministering to others.  Taking my kids to school, I’m ministering to them.  Spending time with my students at preschool – even when we aren’t singing about Jesus?  Yep – that’s ministry.  Kissing my kiddos booboos and giving them hugs to lift them up.  Total ministry.  I celebrate every day. I am blessed every day just by my daily activities.

I was having a conversation a few months ago with a friend from church.  I told him that someone had mentioned to me that Cayden was meant for the ministry – he says some pretty profound things about Christ and forgiveness – and he’s only 6 (okay, in 3 days he’ll be 6).  His response to me?  “Cayden is in the ministry.  We all are.  All the time.”  And he’s right.  Cayden ministers to me daily when he practices forgiveness with all he comes in contact with – our dogs, myself, his sister, his friends.  Forgiveness is not easy for a child, and yet Cayden is filled with it.  And he shares it with everyone. 

We are called by Christ to share His love with everyone we meet.  We have each been given different talents and gifts by Him.  And it doesn’t matter if we use them in a classroom or at playground, what matters most is how we use what we have been given.  Even though I am not in a typical, everyday classroom where I teach religion, I am touching the lives of those around me.  And whether I realize it or not, I am ministering to their needs.  I just want to be like Jesus.  I want others to know Him.  Not as some scary and powerful Lord who can take away everything in the blink of an eye if he wanted to.  I want people to know the Lord who weeps with me, celebrates me, and loves me, not because I’m perfect (because we all know I’m not), but because He made me.  

Our pastors reminded me this Sunday (and yes, me personally, but it was for all to hear) that our God doesn’t just wait for us to worship Him.  He doesn’t sit around and take notes on who sings better or is serving better than another.  The Lord celebrates YOU.  You!  Not just His Son, but YOU and me.  It’s in His word, Zephaniah 3:17
The Lord your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.
I don’t know about you, but I do know that there are times in worship when it take every ounce of my being to not fall on my knees in praise and adoration for my Lord.  And there it is, in His Word, that he is singing for me.  Because He made me. He loves me.  He loves me.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

My Place in this World

Recently, I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting on my life.  In particular, the season of life I am in.  I’ve always seemed to know exactly where I’m supposed to be in life, what I’m supposed to be doing, and what direction I’m heading.  Now I’ve come to a crossroads.  And although I’m not scared of the what’s next, I’m very cautious when I begin a new journey in my life. 

I like to have it all planned out.  I like life to be very scheduled.  I didn’t used to be this way.  I don’t know exactly when I became such a planner/scheduler, but it’s now very hard for me to let go of plans and just let the spontaneous happen.  I start to get anxiety just thinking about times when my plans for changed at the drop of a hat.  And even in this moment, I am now just giving and letting go.  Giving the reigns to my Pilot.  And I’m not worried at all.
In 2003 I gave up my professional teaching career to stay home with my sweet baby girl.  I didn't give up teaching.  I just stopped being paid for it.  And in that decision, it was almost like I wandered around lost, for the next 5 years– with my husband - until I stepped back into teaching, only at a different level - Preschool.  During that time, we no longer had a church home.  We no longer served in a ministry at all – or so we thought.  Staying home with Hannah and eventually Cayden became my identity.  I never took time for myself.  Everything revolved around my children – they were my everything. 

I found MOPS – a complete Godsend.  An opportunity to connect with other moms and begin serving again.  And for several years – 4 to be exact, I served other moms and their children and my God at the same time.  I made lifetime friendships and my children now have lifelong friends – in their short lives – they will remain close to all because of an amazing ministry.  And yet, something was still missing.
During this time, Stephen and I were both struggling internally and spiritually with what it means to be a Christian.  I’ve actually decided that my identity doesn’t lie with that term.  I love Jesus.  I love him in a way that makes my body tremble when I think about how much I love Him.  And yet the term Christian, unfortunately, has so many negative connotations that come along with it.  I’ve been there.  I’ve heard it.  “Christians are hypocrites.  Christians are judgmental.”  And to be honest, I am a hypocrite.  I’m a liar, and even at times, I’m judgmental.  I don’t mean to be, but I know it happens. 
I also know that I’m covered by His grace.  And forgiven.  And made clean.  And I strive every day to show that same grace and love to those around me.  It doesn’t matter where they are in their life.  I love them.  Believer.  Unbeliever.  Confused.  Lost.  I don’t’ care.  I love them.  And I pray for them.  If you’re reading this, I pray for you.  Daily.  My prayer is that everyone sees and experiences Christ and His love like I experience it.  I don’t deserve Christ’s love.  But He gives it to me.  I don’t deserve His forgiveness, and yet it’s there.  And I am so thankful for it.  I am who I am because of His grace.  And the grace the people in my life give to me.  And during this time, the Lord led us to worship with an incredible body, The Well.  He allowed me to reconnect with a special friend and so our new journey began.

No matter how hard I try to be, I’m not perfect.  I take on too much.  I am forgetful.  I strive to be perfect in everything and beat myself up when I don’t.  I need those reminders that say to give myself some grace. 

I’ve been reading several books and spending lots of time in prayer.  And I’m ready for whatever the Lord gives me.  I want to give Him everything.  I am willing to leave it all behind – give it all away – to follow Him.  My identity is in Him.  I am His child.
And what’s amazing, is that after the worship gathering at The Well today, I finally opened up about my internal struggle with Stephen.  And he admitted to me that he’s being convicted in the exact same areas.  What is that for both of us?  Confirmation.  It’s time.  We don’t know exactly what that means for either of us 100%, but we do know that we are both right there – ready to glorify Him – together.  It feels amazing.  It’s so peaceful.