Saturday, May 21, 2011

In a Week or Two

Everything could change in a matter of weeks.  Rumor has it, my post-August employment situation is looking pretty grim.  We should find out soon how (or if) government funds will trickle down to our program.  It is a bit discouraging to face unemployment after being hired only a few months, but it would make the decision to relocate much easier.  If we keep our contract and I stay, I will have to live alone in this already lonely city. Either way, I will be moving out of my apartment soon.

I find out about the Forge in a couple of weeks. If I am offered the one open position that's left, I still have to decide whether or not I will accept.  Strangely enough, I am not worried. I'll just wait patiently for once and save the freaking out for if they accept me!  I am not entirely sure I would accept their offer, because of my financial situation, but I can't even imagine the depths that I will grow if I am granted this opportunity.  However, that's not for me to know right now.

Then, there's China. Oh, China. How I miss thee! Rickety bicycles and cheap vegetables and language-barrier-enhanced adventures. Even the smell. I drove by a pile of burning trash today and felt ridiculously nostalgic. I always have in the back of my mind the idea that I could go back and teach English for a few years. Do some traveling this time, too.  But if that is for now (or ever), I just don't know.

Those of you who envy my freedom, I have one thing to say to you. You have NO idea how scary it is. So many options! I could do anything I want. What do you do with endless possibilities and nothing to hold you back? How do you figure out what YOU want to do? Most (normal) people have responsibilities to consider, like a husband or kids, someone to take care of.  I don't have to do what's best for anyone but myself. But I don't know what's best for myself.  After High School, the socially acceptable (and NOT optional!) choice was college. Choosing a school was easy- I picked the first one I visited. It helped that my best friend chose it first. And I got a scholarship. See?  Easy.  Then, there was China. That one just sorta happened.  And even when I got back, I ended up here because of my sister. 

"Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." Psalm 46:10

"Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, 'This is the way; walk in it.'" Isaiah 30:21

I'm ending on that note, because I know that I can do nothing more than I have already done.  Now I just sit and wait a while, and hope that no matter what happens, God will be glorified in me.

Monday, February 21, 2011

God Knows What

These days, I'm living the desert life.  I have the occasional pity party, when I wonder if I'll eventually become the forty-year-old cat lady who dotes on her nephews because she never got to have kids of her own.  But on days like today, I realize that I've been looking at things all wrong. Again. 

This is not a "be happy, even while you're lonely" post. Rather, I just felt overwhelmingly grateful to have a God who made me exactly who I am, living out the exact life I'm living today.  And I realized that, no matter what my life holds after today, I am always never the same.  I am ever-mystified and captivated by the God who weaves everything together so intricately.  The God who speaks through random conversations, books written by authors I'm not sure I even like, losing someone dear to my heart, even email subscriptions to cheesy women's devotionals.

The God of the Universe has opened my eyes to see that more and more people are going to think I am foolish as my heart and mind are transformed into the likeness of Christ.  I have always assumed that my life would get easier as I learned more about God, because He is good.  That's what they tell you in church, right?  Follow three steps (if the pastor is clever, they will all start with the same letter, or rhyme) and you will see the "blessings of God in your life."  Or maybe it's that God is your comforter and your protector, so if you just "trust in Him," no harm will come your way and you will never be lonely.  But when God's blessings don't look like blessings, and I feel the pangs of loneliness creeping in, does it mean that I'm doing it all wrong? Some people may consult their check-list and tell me yes.  It would be obvious that if I read my bible enough times a day, or pray enough, then God would give me peace. If I "give my problems to God" then I wouldn't struggle with them anymore.  But what about Paul's thorn in the flesh? What about Job?

It makes me think that I am wrongly motivated.  The "if, then" method of thinking is completely self-centered.  Brittany is the most important part of the equation and what happens to Brittany is the ultimate goal. I want peace. I need to pray until God gives it to me.  I want to get married. I need to pray until God either gives it to me or changes my heart to not want it anymore.  How has loving God turned into a list of formulas we use in hopes to get what we want out of life?  Maybe sorrow will teach me to be more like Christ.  Or maybe being completely overwhelmed with work and not knowing what to do will help me rely on God, which will make me more like Christ.  Jesus was about 30 and single (according to most scholars) and basically homeless (as in, roamed from town to town healing people and preaching) when he started His ministry, worked a normal job as a carpenter before that, and clashed with most of the leading religious people of His day.  Yet, I want a good, steady job pursuing my passion, a comfortable home, a reliable car, nice clothes, a husband to adopt a whole slew of children with, and zero adversity. And I want these things because that's what I've been taught to want.

This post turned out a little differently than I had hoped. All I really meant to say is that I started reading "Searching for God Knows What" by Donald Miller.  It's an incredible book, if you can follow his tangents.  If you've made it to the bottom of this, then you can.  I would pick it up asap because it suggests an entirely real way of approaching the Bible.  A way that is more truth than "if, thens."

Friday, February 11, 2011

Can I do this?

This is what I have asked myself all week.  Well, after I stopped asking what exactly my job IS.  That, I still haven't exactly figure out.  But the real question now, and only time will tell, is- can I do it?  I'm not entirely sure.

Can I be brave enough to go into some legitimately scary neighborhoods?
Can I handle working with people who may try to take advantage of the services I am there to provide, without judging them?
Can I take care of myself in a situation where I don't know what to do? 
Can I overcome my anxiety and work with complete strangers, in a town I'm unfamiliar with, not knowing really how to help?
Can I, a single white girl with no children and not many responsibilities, empathize with families who come from what seems like an entirely different world?  And will they like, or even respect, me?

All of these things and more, I'm almost entirely sure that I can't do on my own.  If I make it (another) week in this job, it will be because I have a God who gives me EXACTLY what I need, as I need it.  Because right now, I'm scared to death!  Scared for my own safety (not that I would put myself in a dangerous position purposefully) but especially scared of failing miserably.  But, my God is a God who provides, and He provided this job.  So I am confident that He will take care of me and will make something out of this. 

Next week will be WEEK 2- my first real week in the field.  And I have no idea what I'm doing.  Time to put my big girl pants on.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Rose-Tan and Rambling

   I was informed this morning that, according to my birthday, I should surround myself with the color rose-tan and that I should write.  And what better day to start writing again than today.  Today started easily, which, for any of you who know me personally, is a phenomenal improvement over the sluggish dragging of myself out of bed that generally occurs.  We'll call this my big victory for the day.

   Today is also the first day of the rest of my life, or it could be.  I started my new job.  And I think I'm going to love it.  The more they talked, the more they thought they would scare me away.  But I was soaking it all in quietly while my heart wanted to gush with excitement.  So.. details.  My caseload? 18 families, give or take.  Salary? You could argue it's low, but compared w/ what I've had in the past, I'll be living in extravagance!  What will I be doing?  Good question. I'm still figuring that out, but basically it looks like I get to help people learn how to help themselves out of life stresses and challenges that make parenting difficult. It's flexible, and I get to use who I am to help them reach their goals!  Plus, the girls in the office seem great upon first meeting and I'm looking forward to getting to know some of them better.

   I come home from the excitement of the day, only to find in my mailbox a long-awaited package from one of my dearest friends in the world.  And not only was there new book to read, but the most perfect letter.  Don't you love when someone knows exactly who you are and still thinks you're great? It was such an encouragement.  And it helped me to see that even as I struggle, God has been using me for good.  We can all be exactly who we are, right now, no matter our shortcomings.  Because we were created exactly as we are for the things that surround us this very moment.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

A little late night delirium

6 weeks left in this country, and I'm wondering about the future.. and other things. I wonder if I've changed. I wonder where I'll go and what I'll do. I wonder if I'll find an income when I get back. I wonder if my kids at the foster home are over their chicken pox. The wonderings go deeper, but for those you'll just have to wonder for yourself.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

He is the answer you are looking for

I'd love to say that I was searching for God when He found me, but the truth would tell you that I was whining. I wanted God to rescue me from a flood that was assaulting my life, and if He wasn't going to do that, I was going to run from it. Inconvenient reality of living in China: you can't run far when you're broke and the most complicated sentence you can form is "Please give us one big bottle Sprite."

You might guess that (more out of sheer impossibility than good judgment) I decided not to run. But I was still staring up at those treacherous clouds with, we'll just say, a bad attitude. Rain sucks, mud sucks, life sucks.. you get the picture.

Then 2 days ago, even though I had done nothing to warrant the gift, He gave me peace I almost forgot was possible. God came down and slipped some solid ground under my feet. Turns out that's all I actually needed.

The thing about solid ground is that rain is still assaults it, and the wind continues to blow over it. But it provides a foothold. A quiet, steady assurance that I really DO believe what I believe and my striving is not in vain. When I've completed what I've been designed to do, I will become a shining display of glory.

In the words of Job:
"But if I go to the East, He is not there;
if I go to the West, I do not find Him.
When He turns to the South, I catch no glimpse of Him.
But He knows the way that I take;
When He was tested me, I will come forth as gold." (Job 23:8-10)

You know, if I had just stopped staring up into that pouring rain with wide, angry eyes, it wouldn't have hurt so much. Even amidst the worst troubles, there is a place you can look to ease the pain. And it isn't where you're prone to look.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Love, in exchange for being forgotten.

I've been trying to think of how to describe what I am thinking, but it keeps coming out wrong.
It's a crazy kind of love, to love an orphan. You pour your heart out to a child with no family; no dad to carry them on their back and no mom to read them bedtime stories or kiss their forehead when they're sick. You hold them when they're 2 months old, with such tiny hands they barely fit around your finger. You watch for their first smile, listen for their first word. You nervously prop them up to sit, lure them toward something shiny when they learn to crawl, and hold their hand while they learn to walk. You chase them and sing to them and read to them and make funny faces at them. You know where they are ticklish and which toy is their favorite. You start to love them like you would your own.
Then, just as it should be, they get to go home. And just as it should be, you feel like a piece of your heart leaves with them. Someone else will pick up where you left off and love them for the rest of their life. 
The hardest and greatest part is that they'll never know you existed.