Friday, April 30, 2010

Confession 97: Stuck

I've been job hunting recently in lieu of our upcoming move. I have to say, and forgive my lack of eloquence, job hunting SUCKS!! I'm not sure how much more my self-esteem can take!! I don't know about other states, but the economic crisis is just now hitting the education system here in Missouri. Kansas City laid off over 300 teachers, and other districts in the surrounding area are having to get rid of positions as well. As we're moving about an hour or so outside of Kansas City, this is not a good sign.

I've put in three applications for teaching positions and only had one interview. I've contacted principals within a forty mile radius of where we're moving, only to find that there are just no English positions to be had out there. And, I'm also discovering that I'm not really qualified to do anything else--or so it seems to me. My Master's degree is in Christian Education which prevents me from doing much other than teaching, but prevents me from getting teaching jobs because school districts would have to pay me more than a new teacher fresh out of undergrad.

God keeps speaking to me about faith through Bible study, friends and family. He must think I have a lot, or else something would have opened up by now. :-) It's so hard to look into the future and see nothing coming together!! It's not that I think things won't work out, per se, because I know they will. It's just the waiting and wondering that makes it hard to breathe sometimes. Jeremiah 29:11 keeps going through my mind--God has a plan and purpose and he will see it through.

God will also forgive me for snapping at my husband, yelling at my kids, and plopping my pretty red-headed with a temper to go with it boy down on the floor to scream for awhile while I went to lay down for a few minutes. :-) Luckily, he's 22 months and won't remember this incident at all, while I will take it with me to my grave, I am sure.

Anyway, the moral of all this is that, although God has been shutting a lot of doors lately, he will eventually open a window. The question is whether or not I will be able to fit through it!!

Blessings and Peace,

Monday, April 26, 2010

Blog 96: Monday Re-cap

So, I've decided that Monday's are going to be my Beth Moore "Revelation" re-cap days. Not that the rest of you signed up for this study, but it is my blog so you'll have to bear with me. :-) God has been speaking to me so much through this study that I just can't help but share!! Here are some of the key points from Beth's discussion on Revelation chapters 2 and 3.

1. God cares about the local church. Whether you worship in a huge mega-church, small-town church, or are building a church-start--God is THERE and he CARES about what's going on in your congregation. Even if you can't see him, he is walking through the halls and aisles of your church. So, whatever you're facing in your congregation, know that God sees it too.

2. The book of Revelation is about conquering. As children of God, we are conquerors. Yet, as Beth said, to be a conqueror, you have to have something to conquer. We all face challenges in life, yet the thing to remember is that we are not bent under those challenges, we are conquerors of them. We stand on our challenges, not under them. As Christians, we are called to overcome.

3. Like the church in Ephesus, we can forsake our first love-the God who created and sustains us. We forsake God by actively sending him away or by passively letting him slip away. The latter really convicted me!! Busy Mom syndrome hit anyone else recently? Loving God should be our first priority (see Mark 12:28-30). It is only in loving God that we are capable of loving others.

4. The antithesis of forsaking is forgiving. The same root word is used in each. In order to forgive, we have to send away what we are holding onto into the hands of God. And remember, God's hands are both affectionate and avenging. Also, God does not just love, HE IS LOVE!! So when we love, we are closer to God. If we truly love God, who is love, we HAVE TO love others. I've blogged about the power of forgiveness in my own life recently, and I can tell you, it is truly a gift of God. Beth stated, "You will either hang onto unforgiveness or to your first love, but you cannot hang onto both." We have to let go.

5. Finally, Christ called the church at Ephesus to do three things: remember, repent and return. Remember your calling, repent of your sins, and return to those first things.

Blessings and Peace,

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Confession 95: God is Immovable

I have a wonderful devotional book my mom gave me entitled, 10 Minute Time Outs for Moms, by Grace Fox. I cannot tell you how many times God has given me a Word through this book! This morning was no exception.

Over the past few weeks, since Chris and I were told we were being reappointed, our life has been less than stable. The most difficult part for me has been resigning my teaching position at a school I dearly love. This school has been my community for the past three years. I have built deep relationships with students and teachers, I have grown as a professional, and I have loved every minute (almost) of what I've done. Not only am I giving up a good job, which comes with the territory of being a United Methodist pastor's wife, but I'm struggling to find a new job in an educational field that is just now feeling the full brunt of the economic down-turn. Our new home is about 45 minutes outside of Kansas City, where teachers are being laid-off left and right. People who have teaching positions are holding onto them and schools with open positions are looking for candidates who don't cost a lot--not veteran teachers with graduate degrees.

I've spent the past few weeks spending hours online frantically looking for a position. I had an interview in the town we will be moving to and was feeling pretty hopeful. It was out of my content area, but nothing I couldn't do. The high school in our new town is about two blocks from our parsonage, so I thought God was surely working everything out beautifully. That is, until I got an e-mail that thanked me for applying but told me they'd hired someone else. I think my heart fell to my feet at that moment. Not only did I discover I did not get the job, but that they'd had over 40 applicants for this one position! I can't repeat the exact words that went through my head at that moment, but they definitely involved lots of variations of crap! I had one other option that didn't pan out and all of a sudden I felt myself veering down that path of hopelessness. My husband and I asked each other: "What are we going to do?" "How are we going to live?" "God, what are you doing? Can't you just make this work?"

And in the midst of that, this is what I heard...

"I know the plans I have for you. Plans to prosper you, not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

"I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted." Job 42:2

"Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed, says the Lord, who has compassion on you." Isaiah 54:10

"Because of your great love we are not consumed, for Your compassions never fail. They are new every morning. Your faithfulness is great." Lamentations 3:22-23

"Those who trust the Lord will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before them, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands." Isaiah 55:12

"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging." Psalm 46:1-3

I hope these verses bring you as much peace of mind as they have me. God is immovable and steadfast, no matter how unstable and changing our lives can be.

Blessings and Peace,

Monday, April 19, 2010

Confession 94: Brothers and Sisters in Arms: Literally

Last night was week two of the Beth Moore Revelation lecture series. Needless to say, the woman did not disappoint. We discussed how to live lives that invite revelation from God, how that we have to be able to change our conceptions of Jesus in order for him to be revealed to us, and how God can be transfigured before us. One of our discussions centered around a statement Beth made regarding living lives that invite revelation.

Beth reminded us that as Christians, we have God dwelling within us. God is in our breath, our blood, our bones. As Christians we are, as Beth stated, "flesh of Christ's flesh and bone of Christ's bone." In that sense, as believers, we are all related. We are true companions together with Christ. Beth's phrase was that we are "sisters together with locked arms". As Christians, we should be united, one body, not divided by differences in worship style, baptismal beliefs, religio-political tendencies, or petty squabbles about who should bring what casserole to church supper. We should be a force united!

The picture that immediately came to my mind when Beth was talking about sisters with locked arms was the early suffragettes, standing together in front of the White House, arms locked in solidarity with their "Votes for Women" sashes and picket signs. We have a proud tradition of standing in solidarity with one another in the U.S. Look at the Civil Rights movement, the early labor unions, the anti-war demonstrations. Each of these movements brought Americans from all different walks of life together to join arms and fight for the rights of others. And each time, in each instance, they won.

What is most interesting to me is that, in this country that has been born on the backs of people coming together for a righteous cause, we, as Christians, do not band together in solidarity to fight for our cause. We do not lock arms together to fight for the Kingdom of God, we lock arms against each other to fight about infant vs. adult baptism. We allow the Fred Phelps' of the world to form picket lines at the funerals of soldiers yelling and chanting all sorts of unholy things. We allow self-righteous men to promise people healing of anything and everything if they make a sizable donation to their "ministry". We complain to one another when the media gives a negative portrayal of Christians, when the government passes more legislation that makes "under God" a politically charged phrase, when prayer ceases to be a privilege at public functions.

I wonder what changes could come if we would truly join arms with one another and fight for Christ in this nation and this world. I'm not saying we should storm the steps of the Capitol demanding the Ten Commandments be posted in every school across the country. I don't think that truly makes a difference in anyone's faith. But what about fighting for causes of justice, and being unified about it? Why does Bono do a better job campaigning to end poverty than we do? And why are we not fighting to change our image for the better? Instead of separate denominational video commercials, how about an inter-denominational video that promotes and supports the diversity of Christianity? Imagine people of all different backgrounds and walks of life--a wizened older man, a young woman with a nose ring, a tattooed biker, a college basketball player, a doctor, a sanitation worker--coming onto the screen in your living room and simply saying, "I am a Christian."

One of the things I've truly enjoyed about becoming part of the pastor's wife blogosphere is seeing so many wonderful ladies from all sorts of religious backgrounds living their lives and facing the same challenges anyone else might face. I see so much more in common than I see differences, and I think there is such a power in that commonality, especially the commonality of our love and devotion to Jesus Christ. Just something to think about on a Monday morning. :-)

Blessings and Peace,

Friday, April 16, 2010

Confession 93: Shifting Sand

I've been listening to Caedmon's Call's "Shifting Sand" lately. I sort of feel like that's where I'm living right now. I'm posting a link to a YouTube video of it. Faith is hard sometimes. Thank God for grace!!

Blessings and Peace,

Monday, April 12, 2010

Confession 92: Revelation

I just started a new Beth Moore lecture series on the book of Revelation. I was a little hesitant. I mean, Beth Moore and Revelation? Really? Actually, most of my hesitation revolves around the fact that the book of Revelation has always freaked me out a bit. Growing up, Sunday school teachers always talked about Revelation in regard to "the end times" and all of the horrible things that were going to happen before Christ's Second Coming. It was more a scare tactic than an in-depth study. But, I decided that if God had placed Revelation on the hearts of others in the congregation, then God must be wanting to say something.

I was pleasantly surprised by the first session. I learned that the word Apocolypse actually translates to an unveiling or a disclosure. How could I have missed that in two years of seminary? Revelation is a new revealing of Jesus Christ to us through the apostle John. It is communicated through figurative language so that each generation may find their own time in the reading. (The aforementioned comment was actually from our facilitator Karen, but I thought it was brilliant.)

Throughout the ten week study, Beth Moore challenges you each week to pray and seek a new revelation of God in your life. I must confess that asking God for a revelation makes my stomach begin to squirm in anxiety. It's been my experience that if you ask God to reveal himself, he will, and you'd better be ready for anything! I'm always afraid that God is going to pull me into some sort of life-altering decision, upset the careful balance I've worked so hard to create, and send me scrambling for a foothold which he always provides, but not until after I've fallen for a bit. But I'm going to do it, because I feel like God has some things he wants to tell me. And really, I want to hear them.

The other challenge Beth presented to us was to give up something that has been holding us back for the ten weeks of our study. We read from Revelation 1:4-5 in which Christ is described as the one who loves us, has freed us, and has made us to be a royal priesthood. She asked us to imagine a life free from whatever binds us, whether it be fear, anger, compulsion, bitterness, etc... and to put it down for just ten weeks throughout the course of the study. I've been pondering this for a bit, and I'm not sure what I need to put down. I think, as always, it's the need to have things worked out. It all goes back to the need for THE PLAN. There are a lot of things up in the air now for me, and I need to just let go and be at peace with that. God will work it out in his way and time.

I also need to let go of emotional eating. It's become a bad coping mechanism. When my kids are driving me crazy, I need to forgo the ice cream and instead, allow myself five minutes of quiet to re-center. Instead of a big, greasy, cheesy pizza at the end of a long week, I can take my kids on a walk or to a park, or sit outside on the back porch after the kids are in bed and have a glass of wine with my husband. I need to let my body be and do what God designed it to do. Easier said than done! :-)

So this is my journey the next ten weeks. I'm praying it will be a productive one and one that allows me to grow closer to God. I would encourage you to pray for revelations these next ten weeks as well, then let me know what happens. I love seeing all of the amazing things God can do!!

Blessings and Peace,

My Family

My Family

My Family 2

My Family 2