Thursday, March 31, 2011

Lessons I Keep Learning

I am in the middle of a harrowing couple of weeks. Actually, if it wasn't for my friends birthday today and a few other bright spots in this month, I would be ready to write the month of March right outta the calendar. But that's another post. I am in the middle of job searching, search committee-ing and general library craziness. And quite honestly? I feel like I'm being pushed into molds, pulled in every direction and expected to be okay with it all.

Lesson of the day #1: Ask what's expected of you.

I spent some time chatting with a super cool cataloguer today. She's an enigma in the library world: she is loud. She is loud and I love it. She and I also have similar taste in shoes and from day one, she's reminded me of my good friend Rachel. So, win-win in my book! (Plus, she is the one who turned me onto Firefly, Buffy & Angel, so maybe throw another "win" in the mix!) Anyway, today she was asking me about a few things, my schedule being one of them. Most of the librarians are out at a 5 day (maybe 4.5 days) conference in Philadelphia and I am the only person in the Reference Department. I offered to pick up all the Reference Desk shifts since everyone was going to be away, because that is what I thought interns did. They picked up the slack. They did the dirty work. After all, they are *just* the intern, right?
She did not share my sentiment.
She was completely cool with me pitching in of course. We do that here; we all pitch in. I told her that I was never sure what my duties were or what people assumed I would do. I have this horrible problem with comparison. What if I'm doing it different from the last intern? What if she did it a way that they liked and they won't tell me to change the way I'm doing it? What if, what if, what if. But she said to me, "Ask what is expected of you. That way you know." Wait, it's that easy? But of course, it has to be! I wish I had realized that sooner...

Lesson of the day #2: Speak up and be loud.

Our conversation turned to the internship search. She asked for my gut reaction and I told her I didn't have one. I have participated and shared my thoughts about the applicants throughout the whole process. But now we are in the final stages and I am feeling less and less confident about my opinion. Everyone has done this before, right? They have more life experience so they can read people better. You hear it, don't you? I didn't hear it when I said it today, but every key tap I make as I write this post screams it at me: insecurity.
My super cool cataloguer friend looked at my and laughed. "They don't know more than you. They act like they know more. Your thoughts on the search are just as important as their thoughts on the search. Speak up and be heard." Now, quite honestly, both of the lessons today are ones I've heard before. I seem to need to hear things more than once for them to really sink into my brain. Maybe I'll remember them always now. Maybe I won't. But it was nice to be reminded today.
If she had been my cheerleader (aka my mom, PT, etc.) it might have sounded something like this: You -all of you, including your opinions and thoughts- are important! You have been given a brain--use it! Don't wish for or be jealous of the gifts others have been given. You have been given gifts unique only to you. Be glad of them. And most of all, you are loved.
At least, that's what I think it would sound like...

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sunday Lessons

When I get ready for church Sunday mornings, sometimes I like to jam to praise music. Sometimes I don't listen to anything. And sometimes, even though I know I am going to be hearing a sermon later in the morning, I listen to a Matt Chandler sermon.
Today was one of the "sermon" mornings.
Matt is doing a series in Habakkuk and, except for today's sermon, I'm almost caught up. I'm currently listening to the sermon entitled "American Monkeys" and I promise that will make sense if you listen to Week 7 & 8 of the series! In it, he talks about the idols in our lives (from physical beauty to fulfillment in marriage) that replace our dependence on all powerful God. He called anything that we try to control an idol. And it got me thinking: what is the one thing I am trying to control that really belongs to God?
My job. My next apartment. My future.
If I had my way, I would have a job in place already, a new apartment lined up and ready to move into June 1st. But...that is so not the case. My friend told me a few weeks ago, while we were discussing this very thing, that God is sometimes "the eleventh hour God." Not to belittle Him in any way, but often times He makes us wait, makes us freak out a little, makes us get to the point where there is no earthly explanation for the miracle He is about to unleash in your life. The last step before He moves? It's the step of faith I have to take, believing that He will move because He says He will take care of me.
I have a love/hate relationship with that step. I love it because I can throw my hands up like the prophets of old and say, "God, look at this! This is the problem. What are You going to do about it?" I realize that He is ultimately in control. It's not my plan, but His, that will bring about His glory and plan for my life. On the other hand, I hate it because I feel like I'm drowning. I can't see the two steps in front of the end of May. And not knowing scares me.
So as all of this is on my mind, I head to church. One of the passages that was used in the sermons jumped out and slapped my idol of security around a little more.
Acts 17:26 says that God has "determined allotted periods and boundaries of their dwelling place."
That means...that God knows how long I will be in this drafty apartment (which I am thankful for!). Not only that, but when HE allowed me to move here, He directed my steps. He knows which day is the last day I sleep here and the first night that I will sleep in my new apartment. And BONUS-- He knows WHERE the new apartment is!
Pastor Tim said something similar to this last week. Something about the geography of where we are and how God has a plan for it. I hear it. I want to believe it. But sometimes I guess it takes a few preachers a few different times to get it to sink into my brain.
I extraordinarily thankful for humans who don't give up on me. It gives me a taste of what it is like to have a God that never even thinks about abandoning me. And having cheerleaders like that in my corner? It makes me ache for Heaven, but it also reminds me that I'm not living life alone.
And that is an encouraging thought.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Finally Friday!

Well, it is Friday. Finally. I successfully made it through this week. I can hardly believe it.
As I was walking home Wednesday, I had a "thankful Thursday" post idea...but promptly forgot about it. Until today.
I am thankful for this lady...
She is pretty. Amazing. Pretty amazing.
Why did I notice that this week? Well, I was walking to the post office, in the rain, and passed by this old silk mill that had been turned into apartments. It was one of the places I scouted out before settling on the apartment I'm now in. I think it's a great use of the space and, in retrospect, the size is much more suitable to my needs. However. Due to the way the building was constructed, there are no windows to the outside world, unless you have an apartment along the outside of the building. The only one that was available when I was looking was, you guessed it, and "inside" apartment. No window. No outside. No way of knowing if it was rain boot or flip flop weather. Any my wonderful mother said to me, "You won't like this one because there is no window. You need sunlight and you won't get it with this apartment." And on that rainy dreary grey day this week, I knew she was so right.
The reason I went with the apartment I did?

Two great bay windows.

I guess moms really do know everything!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Rain boots & Umbrellas

Today, it is raining.

As a rule, I don't like rainy days. But today, I actually feel like living. And that realization makes me happy to be alive. Today doesn't make me feel guilty or bad about yesterday's post. I write from the places where I live. Yesterday was a hard not-so-good day. I wish I could bring you happy posts about my wonderful life all of the time. But the reality is life is hard. I'm a messy Christian on a good day, and I'll be the first to tell you I don't have it all together.
But days like yesterday make me glad for days like today. Yesterday reminded me of the pain and loss that living in a fallen world can bring. Today? Well today I'm glad that sorrow last for the night but joy comes in the morning.
I don't "do" the nice Christianese. Or at least, I try not to. I'm not bubbling over with happiness today. However, I'm no Puddleglum either. The fine line between the two? That's me. I'm not slinging Bible verses to prove that I know them. I'm just sharing with you. Pretend we are chatting over coffee. Or tea, since it's raining today. I'm glad that this particular promise is in the Bible. And today, I'm claiming it. So I'll pull on my rain boots so I can walk through the puddles, and grab my umbrella so I can walk through the rain.

Because, as one of my friends on Facebook posted today [from Eeyore], the nice thing about rain is that it always stops eventually.

(And like it says in Daniel, even if the rain doesn't stop, God is still God and I won't bow to another. [That was totally a paraphrase, tailored to my situation. Don't tell.])

(P.S. As a total side note, I have another anniversary today! Last year on this day, I received my first phone call from Gettysburg to schedule my interview! And with that in mind, I cling to the promise that He will provide for me this year too...even if I have no idea what that will look like.)

(P.P.S. I wasn't sure how I made it through yesterday. Today, I know how. Apart from the grace of God, I had friends cheering for me. I had people who knew the day was going to be hard, who knew I was suffering. They wanted me to make it through the day. Today when I talked with one of them she told me I looked good, that I looked better. That she was glad today was better. And in that moment I knew that she was one of the reasons I made it.)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

One year later...

Today was hard. I knew it would be, but I didn't think it would be this hard. Lewis said grief sometimes felt like an imaginary blanket between him and the world. Like he couldn't understand what others were saying, or maybe, he didn't want to understand. "It is," he said, "so uninteresting."
And that, in a nut shell, was my day. I muddled through, hardly taking notice of others around me. My only purpose today was to stay busy. I didn't realize it until now, but the day, and everything in it, was exactly that--uninteresting. I know it is the way of things, but I couldn't understand how everyone else was going about their life as if everything was normal. For me, things weren't normal. I wonder if they ever will be.
It wasn't until I was walking home today that I realized (or more like remembered): death isn't the end! J. isn't lost--he is more found now then he ever was! I KNOW where he is! Should that not be cause for celebration and not tears? Perhaps so.
It is funny how much goes by in a year. Jobs come and go. Birthdays, workdays, holidays. So many anniversaries, too. I look forward to the coming years when this day doesn't send me images of raw grieving. When I don't see faces and bodies wracked with sobs. When my heart doesn't break. When I can remember the life that was lived, the joy that he brought, and the hope of the redeemed.

J. I can't wait to see you again!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Testing, testing. Is this thing on?

And just like that, when I've come to accept my non-role in my own life, the Lord tests it.
After a long, exhausting day last night I head home to find my house a wreck (no surprise there...) and no will to clean it. I said, "Lord, I'm too tired. I just can't." Early to bed for me.
On my way to bed, my glasses break. Guess that phone call to the eye doctor will be made today rather than some vague time in the future.
After reading my Bible and North & South, I pray for a good nights sleep (i.e. one that does not involve me getting up at 2 and 4 am) and roll over.
And then, my phone rings. And I get some not so happy news. Not the end of the world news, but news that made me feel helpless and anxious. I cried. I prayed. I prayed some more. My mind was now wide awake and not letting me sleep. I again told God that I needed to sleep. Really really needed to sleep.
This morning I woke up and actually felt like getting out of bed! And who says God doesn't listen when we pray? But more than that, I'm am so excited to see God preparing my heart for things I cannot control. I'm not waiting for the other shoe to drop, but I am expecting something big. Not because I deserve something big or have worked for it, but because God is big. And that is something I'm really glad about. Especially today.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Serving, Staying, Moving-- I will follow

I've been listening to God's iPod this weekend. Or at least, I think I was.
It wasn't one of those times where I heard the perfect songs right in a row. This was different.
I heard the same song every time I turned on the radio. Three times in 2 days.
Message received, Lord.
The song was Chris Tomlin's "I will Follow." The chorus goes like this:

Where You go, I'll go
Where You stay, I'll stay
When You move, I'll move
I will follow You
Who You love, I'll love
How You serve I'll serve
If this life I lose, I will follow You
I will follow You.

I was doing a bit of serving this weekend, with much joy in my heart. But when I heard this song, I had to ask, "Lord, am I serving the way you want me to serve? Can you make sure that I am?" And then I caught the line, "Where you stay, I'll stay." Hmm. I'm not looking to run away or get as far away from home as I can, but I would like to look around. Maybe try somewhere new. And then I asked, "Lord, are you asking me to stay? Or am I to follow You to where you are moving?"
I could hit the list- am I loving who Christ calls me to love, am I flexible enough to be of use to Christ- but the one that made me think hard? "If this life I lose, I will follow you." If you've been reading my blog for any length of time, loss had been a big part of my life this past year. I know there is an end eventually. I know I'm going to die. But am I placing that event in Christ's hands? Will I be able to follow him through anything?
And the more I think about it, the more I don't have to think about it. What is my life without Christ? Nothing. Without Christ, I am nothing. And to some, that is depressing. To me? When I cannot be in control of every event in my life? When I can't control situations or the future? To me, knowing that Christ is my every direction, every path, every plan, everything --that is the most reassuring thing in the world. And if I have that, I can say this with certainty: if I loose this life, I still have Christ. And that is everything worth having.