Reinventing myself

I read an article last year called “Reinventing Yourself: What you should know before setting out in search of a new career.”*

It made me think of all the different hats and titles I’ve worn during my adult years. Here are a few of them.

  • Stay at home mom and domestic engineer
  • Older adult college student
  • Secretary and Paralegal
  • Drama team co-leader
  • Office manager
  • Member services director
  • Professional organizer
  • Referring travel agent
  • Mary Kay consultant
  • Music teacher
  • Caregiver
  • Administrator

As I look at that list, I perceive that life keeps changing. Duh! It’s so easy to see that looking backward but not so easy moving forward into it at a new turn in the road.

Sometimes a dead-end forced me to branch off toward the unfamiliar and scary. At other times the prospect was a dream I had never dared to pursue.

All of them took courage I didn’t think I possessed. Many times I felt I was drowning because I didn’t know what I was doing. Often I prayed for wisdom and to learn quickly.

And I found that courage comes when we do what we fear.

I’ve learned more from the journey than I ever did in the classroom. Some things can’t be taught, only experienced.

Each hat I wore brought knowledge I would not trade, though some I certainly would not want to relive.

As an old commercial reverberates, “You’ve come a long way, baby.” And I guess I have.

I expect, and rightly so, that there will be more roadblocks, more dead ends, more Ys in the road, more choices and hats to try on, more days to learn and grow.

The fact is, I never invented or re-invented myself at all. I am a project in the making, a vessel of clay that is continually being molded and conformed, mended and repaired.

God’s hand moves the wheel of my forming, using the good, the bad, and the ugly to make me more and more into the image He wants.

It is the model of Jesus He is pressing for.

I am His project and He is committed to complete it.

I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6, HCS)

At this place on my journey, I am confident of this: God will do what God will do. He is the sovereign Lord in charge of all of creation. If I try to resist His remaking of me, I will find myself kicking against His plan, not a place I want to be.

There is surrender in this process. A daily call to crucify my flesh and its desires. A continual seeking to know His will and the courage to walk in it even when I am afraid.

What kind of hats have your worn?  Which hat are you wearing now?

How is your journey going?

* Kentucky Living, February 2011

Hello 2012

 It is the last day of the year, and I can’t say I’m sorry to see 2011 go. It has had its rough and rugged moments for sure.

For me, the week before New Year’s Day is usually spent in a flurry of activity. I immediately begin taking down and putting away all the Christmas decorations. Since we only had a tree this year, that didn’t take much time.

Almost as if an alarm goes off inside me, I want to clean out, de-clutter, organize, and put this house in order. I can’t explain it other than I was born this way.

So I begin to go through drawers and closets with a vengeance. I toss a lot of stuff wondering why in the world I’ve kept it so long. I rearrange the stuff I want to keep. Sometimes I have an epiphany as I find something I’ve wondered about for a year.

At year’s end I also evaluate the last twelve months to see what’s been accomplished. And I begin to think of the goals for the new year and how I want to spend the next 365 days.

But this New Year’s Eve, I don’t have the same urgency to make a list of things I want to get done in the house and the garden, the items I need to purchase, the exercise program I hope becomes a habit, the books I want to read, or the places I would love to go. Because of 2011, I’m not so sure about my goals for 2012.

There were so many things left undone this year because of unexpected events in Sweet William’s and my life. Things did not go as scheduled.

I’m sure at some point I will again make my lists. I am a list person. What can I say.

But as midnight of December 31, 2011 approaches, I want to be in a position of humility, on my knees with my face to the floor in total submission to the Sovereign God who controls my life and all that occurs in it.

I am not my own, after all. I was purchased at a very high and precious price.  God has the right to do whatever He pleases with me. Year 2012 will be guided by His hand, and His purpose will prevail.

I pray the prayer that never fails:  His will be done. I am simply the instrument in His hand to accomplish His goals.

Happy New Year, my friends.  Thanks for taking this 2011 journey with me.

Leave your comments.  They are always a joy to read.

Stretched to the limit?

One of my favorite blogs is written by Ann Voskamp.   Her words dig deep furrows into my heart.   They shine a light into my soul.   Letters that form into thought pictures make me consider how I am living my life.

I am feeling stretched this Christmas by my circumstances, by my “withouts”, by my not-your-normal-Christmas

And so Ann’s words touch a tender place in me.  I hope you will follow me to A Holy Experience, especially if you are feeling stretched to the limit this holy season.

Christmas Blessings to all of you, my friends.

Did I forget anyone?

The desire to give gifts during the Christmas season can leave me with a list that keeps getting longer as I think of one more person I’d like to buy a present for.  But have you ever had someone give you a gift when you didn’t have anything for him or her?  It can bring a bit of  embarrassment to be left holding a lovely gift without being able to reciprocate.

Last year a sweet friend gave me an interactive kid-friendly “What God Wants for Christmas” box, an object lesson with a story book to go along. The premise of it is to share with children how God gives us many gifts as they open surprise boxes with nativity characters in each. Then the story book asks, “What does God want for Christmas?” The last box has a mirror showing the face of the one looking in the box, which is exactly what God wants – you and me.    

The gift made me think about giving something to Jesus for Christmas.  After all, it is His birthday.  What present would He desire?

And I prayed this prayer last year as I recorded it in my 2009 journal:

Lord, I know I would like to give You a present at Christmas.  What could it be that You desire? You have no needs for You are complete in Yourself, the I AM, the self-existant One. What do I have that You have not given me already? You own it all, and You own me. I am twice owned. First I was made by Your hand, so says Psalm 139. Second, I was purchased by Your blood as recorded in 1 Peter 1:18, 19. What can I give to You?

A song came to mind, a song my one and only son, Travis, sang when he was just a wee boy, written by Timothy Matthews in 1876. It goes like this:

You did leave Your throne and Your Kingly crown when You came to the earth for me.

But in Bethlehem there was found no room for the holy family.

O come to my heart, Lord Jesus! There is room in my heart for You.

 Leslie Leyland Fields wrote:

Let the stable still astonish; straw-dirt floor, dull eyes, dusty flanks of donkeys, oxen; crumbling, crooked wall; no bed to carry that pain, and then the child, rag-wrapped, laid to cry in a trough.

 Who would have chosen this? Who would have said: “Yes, Let the God of all the Heavens and earth be born here, in this place”?

 Who but the same God Who stands in the darker, fouler rooms of our hearts and says, “Yes, let the God of Heaven and earth be born here – in this place.”

And I pray this prayer today and for the coming new year:

Oh Lord Jesus, there is room in my heart for You, all of it.  I withhold nothing from You.  Anything I may have closed tightly and locked away; rooms that are cluttered and closets that reek of sin; hidden hurts and bags of burdens, I give it to You.  Not much of a present, I think. But it is what You want.  Foul and dark and unlovely as it is, so unworthy of Your glorious presence, I open it completely to You. Fill it up to the full with the wonder of Your person, and transform its meanness to be a holy sanctuary.

Your daughter,  Amen


Please let me know what you can give to Jesus for His birthday.  I love reading your comments.

Immanuel – The strong God with us!

I love listening to Christmas songs whether it be on the car radio, through the computer at work, or on the stereo system at home. I have an eclectic collection of Christmas CDs. I begin playing them soon after Thanksgiving – but not before. You know how I am.

Some of my favorite Christmas songs are the ones that declare the name of Christ as Immanuel (sometimes spelled Emmanuel). You can probably hum and few bars of your favorite song right now.

Do you recall this one? O come, o come Immanuel, and ransom captive Israel.

One carol made popular by singer Amy Grant says,

Immanuel, Immanuel, Wonderful Counselor

Lord of life, Lord of all.

He is the Prince of peace, Mighty God, Holy One.

Immanuel Immanuel!

Matthew 1:23 tells us, “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God with us’).  (NIV)

Immanuel, God with us. I can rest in that proclamation, lie down and sleep peacefully, walk with courage during the day knowing my God is with me.

I love discovering new things in God’s Word, nuances to meanings of familiar passages. Recently I found out the word Immanuel literally means “the strong God with us”. Now that gives it an interesting twist.

The strong God came to be with us through Jesus.  At the same time, He showed His humility, strength under control, by taking on the nature of a servant, being made in human likeness, and found in the appearance as a man, so says Philippians 2.

  •  The strong God, able and willing to provide salvation – yet coming in the form of a helpless infant child.
  • The strong God, not afraid to call a hypocrite a hypocrite – yet letting the little children come to Him.
  • The strong God, fearlessly clearing the temple of buyers and sellers – yet allowing Himself to be touched by bleeding women and prostitutes.
  • The strong God, speaking the Word of God with authority – yet speaking not a word in His own defense at the mockery of a trial.
  • The strong God, calming the stormy sea – yet having to be awakened from sleep because His humanity was weary.

The strong God, Immanuel, is with me, with you even now through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. I am encouraged and strengthened by His grace to carry on.

Fellow traveler, the strong God is with you today.  And whatever you tomorrows may bring, the strong God will be with you there also.

Let us walk in the faith and confidence that this one Word, Immanuel, promises.

” . . . And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age,” (Matthew 28:20 – NIV).

To the threshing floor of surrender

” The quickest way for anyone to reach the sun and the light of day is not to run west, chasing after the setting sun, but to head east, plunging into the darkness until one comes to the sunrise.”   —- Jerry Sittser

Chapter 3 of Ruth tells of her trip to the threshing floor.  It was night.  She was alone.  She walked into the unknown, plunging into the darkness in hopes of a sunrise.

The threshing floor in ancient Israel was generally on a high place surrounded by a low stone wall.  The floor was often where bedrock was exposed.  The newly harvested stalks of grain were spread on the stone, then crushed, breaking open the husks.  The husks were tossed into the air allowing the breezes to blow and separate the chaff (the part of the stalk not good for food) from the kernels of wheat and barley.   This was called winnowing.   Until the winnowing process was complete, separation of wheat from chaff, the grain was not ready to provide nourishment to the body.

Sounds like a painful process for the wheat.

There is a threshing floor experience for each of us, a time when God calls us to turn loose of things that are often familiar yet are hindering us from being all He wants us to be.  We cling to those things as if they are necessary for our lives, feeling we simply cannot live without them.

The threshing floor, then, becomes a place of separation and also surrender.  It is risky to go there, and it is dangerous.  It is also necessary.  We will  not leave the same as we came.  The wind may be a breeze, or it may be hurricane gales.  It is meant to strip away what is not fruitful in our lives.  After all, offering nourishment to a dying world is part of our purpose.

I’ve had my threshing floor experiences.  God reminded me I was holding  on to what I thought was my security, things and relationships, when He wanted me to cling to Him only. As painful as it was, it was a turning point for me.  I had nothing left but God, but I found out He was enough.   

Ruth went to her threshing floor only after she had discarded her widow’s garb, that which had become her identity.  She came in humility, nothing in her hand.  She came with the intent to lay down her life and her future before Boaz. 

God asks us to relinquish what we cling to, what we think will bring security.  Eventually we find there is no security except in Jesus Christ.  He alone has what we are longing for:  a hope, a future, and a place of rest.