Saturday, November 29, 2014

the one where I

I am not a finisher.

Not even close. I'm an IDEAS girl. I love to create and find new things and develop and plan... but I rarely finish.

One of the biggest areas this nasty habit emerges is in my reading life. I used to say I wasn't A READER. Your reaction to that statement probably has something to do with my degree in English or my 7 year run as an English teacher, but that's another discussion for another day. Last year I set out on a quest to become A READER. It worked. But it did not resolve my deep-seated issues of being a non-finisher. I'm currently in the middle of reading 6 books--with a stack of about as many on deck.

From time to time, this finishing issue starts to get to me. It's like a bad habit that I'm constantly looking to break. Last Tuesday was one of those times. I sat down with a fairly free schedule for the day and decided to finish as much of my "currently reading" list as possible. (Truth be told, I felt guilty about a book my sister-in-law had let me borrow and thought I could return it to her over Thanksgiving.) Goal set.

Don't you know where this is going? Here's what I read that afternoon...

from You're Made for a God-Sized Dream by Holley Gerth

Heather didn't ever think of herself as a "stay-at-home" mom. She respected and admired women who made that choice. Yet it was clear she had an incredible gift when it came to designing and God had called her to DaySpring. Still, as Micah grew and a daughter, Lily, arrived as well, it seemed she heard a new call too.
She sensed God whispering that for this season, he wanted her to be able to focus more on being a mom. We talked about that transition many times over lunch. Heather wrestled with it intensely. Even when she made the transition, she confessed that it was much harder than she imagined, although it was what a part of her deep inside really wanted too.
She had two God-sized dreams that seemed to be in conflict with each other. Heather says:
It took some time to adjust to the idea. Those first few months were very hard. Then one day a quote stick out to me. It said, "You can have it all--but you can't have it all at once." That changed my perspective. I began to think of my dreams in terms of seasons. For now, I knew that the God-sized dream of being home with my kids was supposed to be my main focus. That was a dream that didn't come naturally to me. My other dream, of fulfilling my creative calling, had always been there, and now it seemed I needed to pursue it differently. For a while I stepped away completely from that dream but then gradually began doing freelance work and finding other ways to express that desire of my heart. In a few years, both of my kids will be in school and my God-sized dreams will change again. I used to think that dreams stayed the same all of our lives. Now I understand that they change right along with us and what God has in each season....
Our lives shift and change. Seasons come and go. Our dreams do too. But through it all one thing remains steady: the God who put those dreams within our hearts in the first place.

The end of that hit me hard. Did you catch it? It's probably a personal issue, but I definitely read this sentence in there:

"In a few years, both of my kids will be in school and I will go back to the job I loved."

And as I finished the sentences that followed, they just did not seem cohesive with that idea. So I reread it.

HAH. Change. "... and my God-sized dreams will change again." Come on. Really?

Sometimes I feel like I'm waiting for my life to go back to how it was when ________.

I always say that somewhere in the back of my mind I expect to go back to Olivet Nazarene University. I think about walking across campus and Darin riding up next to me on his bike. I think about soaking up knowledge in the halls of Burke or late night study sessions at Denny's. I think about going back to a time when spending a Saturday in the Windy City was normal and life was oh-so-simple.

Other times I assume life will return to being two young newlyweds with the world before us. Traveling together, making some of our very first real world decisions together, having nothing and no one but each other to take care of each day.

I'm not saying I wish to go back to these previous lives. I love my life and regret not one bit of it. It's hard to explain, but I actually just find myself assuming that we will see those experiences again someday. And we won't. Which is okay. But we won't.

My current dilemma leaves me thinking about when I'll go back to teaching. And when I imagine it, I imagine it perfectly like it was in the past. This will never happen. And I know this, but I've been stuck thinking about it for quite some time. Until I read this story from this book I had carelessly not finished. And oh, how I needed to read that very story on that very day.

Life won't go back to what it was. Ever. I'm working on that idea still. I am frequently asked if I'll go back to teaching next year or maybe when Jackson goes to school. I never know how to answer this. It usually depends on how my day is going. Things going well? I might not ever go back. Tough day? I'm going back next year. But I think God is trying to tell me that I will never just "go back." There's a different dream at the end of this one. Who knows how close it will look to anything I've done in the past.

More importantly, I'm not to the end of this dream yet. So I'm praying and waiting and listening and hoping to find contentment and peace with where God has me right now. And some days, I really see it! I'm working on the others. [Deep breath out.]

Monday, November 3, 2014

Dear Mady Jane, You are LOVED.

"And he told them the wonderful Story of God's Love -- God's Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love."  [The Jesus Storybook Bible]

Dear Mady Jane,

I've been thinking about you quite a bit lately -- about my job as your parent, about the unbelievable amount of new things you are learning, about who you are at your very core (and why). You are five and a half (we know that "half" is oh so important). You have entered the world of Kindergarten. You are making friends on your own. You are buying lunch in the cafeteria. You are using words like vertices and investigation and circumference and gratitude. You are reading -- everything. Your rate of change is incalculable right now. It's crazy, really. And scary. SLOW DOWN, Child! I can't keep up, and you know I have a slight need to control. ;)

As my head spins and I try to do all the best things for you, I am constantly hoping that we can give you the best foundation for what God has for your future. Your future is b-r-i-g-h-t, girl. You are intelligent. You have enthusiasm. You love people. But most importantly, you know Jesus.

I know I fail often, but I have been repeatedly reminded lately that my parenting is an important piece of what could shape how you view God in the future -- the struggles you might have with faith or the things that will come easily because you've experienced them through us. Oh, how I pray the comparisons will be more than the contrasts. I know it is my job to provide you with an example of love -- "Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love." I adore the way this description of God's love is repeated in your Storybook Bible. And I adore, even more, that you quote this portion every night from memory as we read.

Do not forget that love, Mady. I will try to show it to you as often as humanly possible, but, girl, I am just not quite good enough for you to experience the depth of love that you deserve. Please realize that this is the difference between us and God. He can do that. Perfectly. So when you doubt your awkward-middle-school self... when the high school hormones are flailing... when you question what you're supposed to be doing with your young adult life... when you (some far far away day) become a mother and feel completely inadequate... I pray you will hear an echo of your sweet five-and-a-half-year-old self and remember His "Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love." Because that, Madelyn Jane, is His gift for you.

Jesus, thank you for your perfect love. Help me to be an example of that love. Help me to never stop, to never give up. Keep me from breaking, failing. And when my love does break and fail, help me to pick it back up, that it may be always and forever. Only through you.