I know what you’re getting…

This year for Christmas, I’m turning the kids’ playroom into a ‘maker space’. As preschool is long past, the building blocks and baby doll strollers are just taking up space. Now that the days of elementary school are here, new hobbies have arrived. img_9070

B likes to work with his hands, often to the detriment of household items. The kitchen whisk has been untwisted, his alarm clock met an untimely demise, and several remotes are  remotely useful now. To save our sanity and his college fund, we are just giving him his own construcIMG_0012tion/destruction space.

D likes to craft, write, draw…and be generally artistic. She draws on paper, pillows, bouncy balls, doors! While we have had to establish some boundaries for her crafting, we have also realized that art is her hobby. She also needs a place to work out her talents.

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Bizarre storage unit, before it got some lovin’

Sooooooo, rather than giving them more toys to scatter throughout the house, this year, we’re giving them space. I bought a card table for $10 at a yard sale for him, and for her, I repurposed a table from elsewhere in our house. I found a bizarre storage unit and some pegboard in my parent’s basement to use for housing the kids’ respective supplies. After a trip to the dollar store for little storage containers and labels, and a trip to the hardware and craft stores, badda bing, badda boom…Christmas is on its way.

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Notice the space, not the dangling monitor, which has since been removed

This project has been in my mind since September. I’ve been slowly gathering materials, planning layout, removing old toys, cleaning the empty space, and waiting for the big set-up night. The kids have NO idea this room makeover is coming. They think I’m just on some crazy cleaning spree. Now that they’re home for Christmas break and antsy for something to do, I am more and more convinced that this room of creativity is desperately needed. I’m so excited for them…and I can’t wait for Christmas morning!

A thought occurred to me today as I was buying the final item for the room and considering my own excitement. Is this what God feels like when he’s waiting for things to fall into place in our lives? Is he watching us and saying “Just a little bit longer… and things are going to change for the SO MUCH BETTER.” Does he smile at our restless talents, knowing that they have specific purposes in the future? Does he bite his holy lip and suck in his holy breath when we are on the verge of making a decision that would really just postpone our happiness? Does he keep certain events a secret until the time is right because we would probably interfere if we knew too soon? Does he say to himself, “I really want to tell you what’s coming, but it’s just not time yet”?

Thimg_9419is year, I’m as eager as the kids for Christmas morning because I know they’re going to love what we have planned for them. And now, I have a new perspective on how God sees us when we’re in the waiting times.

The prophet Jeremiah had an incredible message from God for His children in exile (ch. 29) God told them to build homes, plant gardens, get married. He knew what was in their future. He told them to settle down and chill out a bit. His ultimate plans weren’t ready to unfold  just yet…and they wouldn’t be ready for DECADES! Verse 11 has this promise: For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” He wanted his people to maintain hope and trust in him during the waiting times and believe that he had  really good things planned for them.  13 When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart, 14 I will let you find me, says the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations…”

I struggle to keep my holiday cheer for a few weeks when life is going well, much less maintain my trust in God’s goodness for decades! This project has given me his perspective briefly, as a reminder that he always has good plans in mind for us.

I hope that as the ‘new room’ becomes a part of our lives that I’ll remember the excitement I had in knowing what was coming for the kids…and beaming at the thought of it. And I hope that I remember that’s how God views the plans for my life. He beams when he considers my future and my fulfillment.

Psalm 37

3Trust in the Lord, and do good;
    so you will live in the land, and enjoy security.
Take delight in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord;
    trust in him, and he will act.

 

 

 

Anticipation

The weeks leading from Thanksgiving to Christmas are full of anticipation. Screen Shot 2015-02-06 at 10.45.18 AM

Kids counting down until the magical morning arrives.

Parents checking online orders and hoping for timely deliveries.

Ministers preparing for each meaningful Advent service.

Teachers, police officers, postal workers, garbage men, retail clerks…all kinda wishing the best but enduring the worst of the holiday hype.

Anticipation. Waiting and hoping.

I snapped the picture below at the local garden store on November 25. The Christmas tree delivery was due the next day.

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I loved the depiction of eager expectation. Little metal posts extended like open arms, waiting to hug their trees. They know what’s coming, and they know it’s going to be good.

Likewise, the buds on this Christmas cactus are preparing for their days of glory.

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Once a year, they share their beauty with the world around them. Their tiny nub of a bud slowly swells with natural enthusiasm and explodes a bloom of brilliant cheer.

Christmas can lose its thrill for adults. We know all the gifts…few surprises there. We have to shop for the gifts, wrap the gifts, hide the gifts, assemble the gifts…and clean up after the gifts. This season can turn into a season of toil instead of joy.

But let us not lose our anticipation. With the disappointment of adulthood also comes the wisdom that it’s not all about Christmas morning. It’s about what happened that night. It’s about the journey, the baby, the news…none of that was very thrilling to the adults involved. They were burdened with the journey, labored with the baby, and confused by the news. But they knew there was a  deeper meaning of it all. It meant change was coming…for the future world.

Let us reflect on what is to come, not what is happening now. It’s not about the present(s), it’s about the future. We don’t know what that holds. That’s still a surprise…and God is going to take care of that! Let us lift up our arms and hearts to receive that good news. Let us allow our hearts to swell with natural enthusiasm…and explode with brilliant cheer.

Watchful waiting. Eager excitement. Anticipating Advent.

Dear me of tomorrow,

Dear me of tomorrow,

By this time tomorrow night, you may know the answer you’ve been waiting a week to hear…whether or not you got the job. They said they hoped to have a decision made by ‘next Friday’, which is tomorrow. Yet, as dubious as your feelings have been this week, you question whether or not the decision will actually be made by their deadline.

You’ve doubted your answers to the interview questions, especially #10. But you counter that doubt with the fact that you had your own thought-provoking questions for them. You’ve wondered if you came across strong enough to handle the job, and you counter that with ‘Bob knows me…he knows my capabilities…he’ll speak up for my strength’. You’ve hoped that they haven’t interviewed anyone else more qualified…and you’ve comforted yourself with the 16 years of experience you have under your belt. You’ve pondered if they really liked you, and then you remember that they sought you. You’ve questioned yourself many times ‘Am I making this opportunity out to be a ‘dream job’ when it really isn’t?’ But then you wisely compare it to your current job and the other one for which you interviewed just the day before this interview. You know this job. You’ve done this job before. This is a dream job…and it’s okay to want it.

Oh, me of tomorrow…I can’t wait to meet you. I want to jump up and down and hug you and cry with you and celebrate that phone call. I want to grab you by the shoulders and look you in the eyes and say ‘I knew it! I knew it was the perfect job for you!’ I want to call friends and say, ‘I got it! Praise God! I got it!’ and do a happy dance. I want to see the sparkle in your eye  that has been hidden for six years and that wry smile that is so perfect for this job. I want to start the organizing process of what goes to your new classroom and what stays home and what finally gets thrown away. And I want to start that with your sparkly eyes and your not-a-secret-anymore smile tomorrow night…after that call comes.

And, me of tomorrow, if that call doesn’t turn out to be what you so hope, then remember all the other times.  you’ve thought you had something pegged only to find out later that you were wrong, wrong, wrong. I’ll be here if that happens, just as I have been in the past. I’ll be here with a cup of tea, some tissues, probably some cookies, and some reassurance that it’s okay that it wasn’t meant to be. Because if it wasn’t meant to be, then something else is…something greater for you. And you’ll know that it’s all true and not just trite.

Precious me of tomorrow, you are an amazing person borne of amazing experiences, full of life and love to share with the right recipients. And just as you have waited for tomorrow to come, you can indeed wait for the perfect situation in which to find fulfillment. It will come. I promise. I know…because it always has before.

Love and admiration and patiently waiting,

The you of today

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Expectantly

It is with expectation that I put my interview clothes on

on my day off.

With expectation I keep my phone at the ready,

With expectation I write down the questions I have

about the new workplace.

In faith, I go about my errands,

Trying not to drink too much caffeine, IMG_0024

Realizing I could really benefit from some gum,

Jumping a bit when the phone rings (Hi, mom).

I know the real call will come

I know they will want me to ‘come by when you can so we can talk’

And I want to be ready.

I am ready.

Broken and waiting

I am empty & awaiting refilling.

I am tired & awaiting renewal.

I am hopeless & hopeful.

I am broken & still whole.

I have the Spirit.

& He will work.

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Isa 40:28-31

28 Do you not know?

    Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
    and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary
    and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.

Watched pots

A watched pot never boils, they say…oh, but it will eventually, if you stand there long enough watching. And if you’re willing to waste that kind of time. And if the heat is on…

Clicking on my inbox doesn’t make that desired email come…but it might come eventually. If I sit here long enough refreshing. And if I’m willing to waste that kind of time…And emotional energy.

Staring at my phone won’t make it ring…but it will ring eventually. If I wait long enough. And if I’m willing to waste that kind of time…And emotional energy.

I’m waiting for some news…and it hasn’t come yet. And I find myself obsessively clicking on my inbox, glancing at my phone, beginning to wonder if the news is ever going to come.

While all around me, prayers are being answered…operations are going successfully, meetings run smoothly, finances are settled peacefully, arguments are ended amiably…

Pots are boiling…given their fair share of time and heat.

*sigh* The time is in abundance here…I guess I’m feeling the heat…And I reckon I should pray instead of wasting my time and emotional energy.

James 5:16-18 reminds me…The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with. Elijah, for instance, human just like us, prayed hard that it wouldn’t rain, and it didn’t—not a drop for three and a half years. Then he prayed that it would rain, and it did. The showers came and everything started growing again.

It’s the waiting

It’s the waiting that’s the hardest…

The imagining is easy.

I can dream it’s all roses and sunshine and coffee and doughnuts…

I picture the colors, the scents, the enthusiasm, the rush…

I’ve lived it before and loved it so dearly.

But now…

there are no colors…it’s all gray

there are no scents…it’s all air

there is no enthusiasm…just nothingness

the only rush is in my impatience…

I know fulfillment will come,

but for now…

it’s the waiting that’s the hardest.

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photo credit: www.keithcraft.org

Dreams deferred and fulfilled

Sixteen years ago, I began my teaching career in a little rural town in central Virginia. I taught in that community for seven years…seven great years. I grew up so much during that time. I moved out on my own. I learned to balance my budget, my time, my commitments, my friendships. I gained so much experience as an educator by listening to the veteran teachers and sharing ideas with the other spring chicks. It was a fantastic formative time of life.

I drove back to that little town yesterday to buy a car. The previous owner lived there, and it was easier to meet her there than ask her to travel the thirty minutes to my town. As I drove back down those roads, the memories rolled in my mind. That was the road where my best college friend lived…she stopped talking to me when I went out with an ex of hers. Down that road was where a dear godly peer lived…she gave counsel to me when I was single and lonely. That long, empty stretch of road with the inspiring view of the mountains…that’s where I used to wish and hope that Mr. Right would come along and we would go hiking in those mountains together. And that little gas station was where Mr. Coulda Been stopped to make a call on a pay phone that one night we went for a long drive together…that was before everyone had cell phones. Oh, and in the back lobby of that school, my very first school, woo-buddy, I got a kiss from a short-term guyfriend that knocked my socks off…that was before schools had security cameras.

Back then, back when…so many of my memories had to do with waiting for Mr. Right, dreaming of him, wishing he was at the next intersection of life. Miles upon miles of road were shadowed with hopes deferred and daydreams clouded over.

I wish I knew then that it was all going to turn out just fine. I wish I’d had the faith to let go of my hopes and trust that God knew what was going to be the best for me. Those were the years of time that I could have traveled to see friends and family members. I could have worked some pretty unique summer jobs. I could have pursued further education then (instead of squeezing it with family time!) or participated in mission trips. I could have done so much instead of wasting my time on worry. Worry didn’t give me any more days to life, money in my pocket, photos in my albums, or stories in my heart.

On the return trip to my city yesterday, I looked in the rear view mirror and saw our new family car, filled with my dreams fulfilled. My amazingly patient, tolerant, and wise husband. My charming, athletic and goofy son. My precocious, adorable, and beautiful daughter. There were going to come to me in their time anyway. In God’s time. Nothing I did made them happen any faster.

My dear, precious, youthful peers…don’t waste  your time as I did. You will fall for the wrong person a couple of times, probably. You will cry a lot, probably. You will wish someone was a little different so that he would be just perfect for you, often. You will wish that it was all really up to you…but it’s just really not. No matter how hard you hold on to the control of the situation, you can’t really control it. It’s in God’s hands. That’s maddening, I know. But guess what…the rest of life is too. You will always find yourself waiting for something…a new job, a new house, the money to do whatever…The sooner you accept the harsh, inevitable truth that you can’t do anything about the timing, the easier the waiting will be.

You are beautiful. You are charming. It’s not you…it’s the timing. So use the time wisely. It’s the only time you get. Where will you travel? What will you create? Who will you befriend? What will you learn? I’m excited for you because I already know that your dreams, which may look different in a few months anyway, are going to come true…in their own time.

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Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life. (Proverbs 13:12)

(Notice it doesn’t say ‘the same desire being fulfilled that you hoped for’…

a desire fulfilled’…so go fulfill some of your desires!!)