on the other hand…

Someone told me yesterday

“I see God in you and in how you treat other people”

Wow.  What an amazing compliment.

I honestly don’t think I’ve ever had anyone say that to me before.  How great!

On the other hand (and once I stopped celebrating and patting myself on the back) how… convicting.

It is rather convicting that I have lived 41 years on the globe claiming to be a Christian and not ever had anyone say that to me before.  Mostly because I haven’t deserved it before now.  I have always had a caustic mouth and a quick temper.  Not the kind of person you would want to place in a customer service position.  But I refuse to get down about it.  There has never been a time quite like this in my life.

  • I have taken a huge pay cut.
  • I am dealing with an endless line of ticked off people every single day at work
  • I am processing a mound of non-stop, tedious paperwork.  Paperwork that involves MATH no less!  Yes, that’s right I spend all my time going through taxes now. 
  • I am getting not nearly enough sleep.
  • I get to see my family for a grand total of about 30 minutes at night before I fall on my face and beg for sleep.

And yet in all this…. I am happy.

Coming into this job I knew that it wasn’t my dream job.  So I asked God to get me excited about it. 

Lord please, you know me, help me here.  Make this meaningful.  Make it a joy to come to work.

and He has. 

Through many details I can’t even begin to enumerate here, God has changed my mind and heart to the point that I see this job as meaningful and a chance to bless loads of people every day.  Each new phone call makes me smile and gives me a chance to make someone else smile, or laugh. 

And even though the schedule is tough I am finding joy even in that.

The 30 minutes I get with Ginny at night is concentrated Ginny time.  I enjoy her in ways that I didn’t before when I thought I had loads of time to spend with her.  In this season I know I only have time for the giggles and wrestlings and ticklings.  So that is what we do.  Last night we danced to two rounds of “Elmocize” and “Grover’s Dance-Along” videos.  I was silly.  Ginny was silly.  And I was completely in the moment with her in ways that I didn’t do very much of when I thought I had all the time in the world.

The 15 minutes I get to talk to my husband in the mornings over coffee leave me wanting more.  He is so much fun to talk to that I drive away each day yearning to stay and just spend time with him.  Talk about something that will kick-start a relationship that had started to become too “routine”  Martin is funny and sweet, and helpful and it kills me every morning to say bye bye and drive away.

So even though I am not in a season of hardship, I am in a season of living beyond my own ability.  I wake up every day KNOWING to the bottoms of my boots that I must have God to get me through the day.

So it really shouldn’t suprise me at all that for the first time in my life, someone has said that they see God in me.  I can’t make it through the day without Him, so…that tracks.

blessings rain down

After talking in my last post about the job loss, I figured it was about time to tell you how blessed I am in my new position.

I am working again.

Have been since the first week of February.

The hours right now are a bit hard on my family (7 a.m. to 7 p.m. most weekdays plus Saturdays) but it is deadline season in academia and we knew it would be like this. 

but I’m happy.

Am I happy because I’m back at Emory?  Well, yes I am thrilled to be back at  Emory University.  It feels like coming home.  I have been here for over 10 years after all.  I even got my old parking space back.

Am I happy because I enjoy my actual job?  Well, yes I do like my job.  I work in Student Financial Aid and it is inspiring to get to be part of the process that allows kids who couldn’t otherwise afford it to get to come to this great school and be a part of Emory.  Some of them are the first people in their whole family to even go to college. 

But the real reason I am happy is very simple, though it is hard to explain without sounding hackneyed and corny.

I am happy because I am convinced to the depths of my soul that I am sitting right where God wants me to be.  

and that, even on this rainy, yucky Monday morning makes it easy for me to say

 “Thank you Lord for this pretty day.  Bless me to be a blessing to someone day”

it was a total shock

When I lost my job back in October it was a total shock.  Martin had lost his job to a lay-off as well just a year before.  The temptation was to try to figure out what we did wrong. Did God want us to move? Become missionaries?

Why was this happening to us?

Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t all a disaster.  Many good things came out of the lay-off.

I got to spend loads of precious time with Ginny.  Nothing can replace these months I have had with her.  Just being with a joyful, bubbling two year old can be such a joy.  Okay it can be a headache too sometimes, but mostly it has been a fun-filled time that I wouldn’t give up for anything.

Through the crossroads ministry at my church  I got to examine my work style and what I really needed to look for in my next place of employment.  Instead of just hoping for a good fit, I learned how to do my part to achieve that goal.

I met amazing people through the various interviews and got to spread sunshine and a small taste of hope to a lot of people through my consistently, deliberately cheerful facebook and (mostly)blog posts.

Joining Bible study on Tuesday mornings and Aerobics on M-W-F was a huge treat for me.  I was getting to do all those things a stay-at-home mommy does.  And I loved it.  We got to play with our neighbor’s mom’s group and  I seriously started to wonder if perhaps God was saying that I should stay home.  Lord, was this the message?  Should we cut back our budget and struggle through with just Martin’s part-time salary?

Not quite ready to give up on the dream of going back to work, and to keep myself current in an office environment, I started volunteering at my church.  Just basic administrative tasks, but they were things that needed doing and allowed me to explore the possibility of one day working in a church office.  I like the thought.  So Margie, when you retire, just call me, okay?

Was that the purpose of my lay-off?  to move me in a new direction?

In the early days of my lay-off I even got the chance to witness to my boss.  Well witness is perhaps the wrong word.  I didn’t share the gospel story with him per se.  But I got a chance to BE Christian in my response to the layoff and all the processes that followed.  He constantly marveled at my calm and said that I was taking this whole mess far better than he was himself.  And every single time he said that,  I got to look him in the eyes and say “God is good. I believe that He is in control and that I will be fine”  I said that to him so many times in fact that it got down to a kind of short hand where I would just look at him, smile and say one word.  “God.”

What a privilege that was.

But was that the purpose? Was that the reason for me to be layed-off?  So that I could be this witness of calm and joy during a storm to my former boss?

I don’t know.

I may never know.

But here is the key to the whole thing

I don’t need to know.

It is enough for me to know that God is good.  I can trust that God did have a purpose in my job layoff and that it was all about HIS Glory.

wanting the microphone

I’ve been wishing for a chance to speak publicly about some recent events in my life, and at the same time I’ve been ashamed of that desire.  Part of my southern upbringing is to suppress all hankering for publicity.  So every time I caught myself wanting to speak up about some recent blessings I would firmly squash the desire by telling myself that it was rude to brag.  But what I was failing to comprehend was that the publicity I wanted was not for myself.  I don’t want to brag on my own accomplishments. 

I earnestly yearn to brag on my God. 

The God who brought my family through the struggles of infertility. The God who abundantly blessed us during both my husband’s layoff and my recent job loss.  The God who has showered me in loving mercies during a time that most would see as a severe trial.  Sure, I do have a public forum.  I write a blog, but most of the folks in my church don’t read blogs and I find myself wanting  my congregation, my home church to hear about my God and the wonderful things He has done for me.

Even the psalmist had this same longing.  Look at Psalm 116:17 – 19

To You I shall offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving
and call upon the name of the LORD
I shall pay my vows to the LORD
Oh may it be in the presence of all His people
In the courts of the LORD’s house
In the midst of you, O Jerusalem
Praise the LORD!

So, in an effort to break out of my overly-southern, rigidly-polite heritage and offer public praise to my Lord, I now submit a sacrifice of praise in the form of a psalm.   I’m not a poet, so forgive me if this is a little rough.  It is from the heart and that is all I was trying to accomplish.

When I cast myself down and wept
Lain down on a bed of sorrow
You comforted my heart
Your peace, O LORD flooded my mind

When I wandered in darkness,
angry and filled with bitterness
You sent words of comfort
you gave a song to my throat
and fierce joy to my limbs

My God will fight my battles
You allowed earthly powers to triumph over me for a day
but granted me the grace to look
mine enemy in the face and
bless Your name

My oppressor has acknowledged
You O my God.
The power of Your hand has been visible
even unto him who has struck me down
You caused him to weep
in bitterness and to bless your name
You have allowed my oppressor to see
Your favor for me.
He has witnessed the outpouring of
Your blessings on my house and my lands

O LORD my God
May Your name be praised
May my speech and the labor of my hands
Be nothing more than a window to You
Protect me LORD from everything
except Your Glory.

May I never cease to sing Your Praise.

Try writing your own psalm to God during this Lent season and see what happens.