Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Green Girl Granny Nanny Update: Visible Blessings



Hello from the "Granny Nanny"! 


My prayer is that your fall season is just as beautiful as fall is in Tennessee. One of my favorite things of my "new normal" is waking up in the morning before my little protege stirs, making her coffee and opening up the back door towards the mountains. I have never seen mornings more beautiful then they are in this neck of the woods. The sun shines through the giant oak trees that stand proudly in front of the mountain view, and I feel closer to God. 

In my precious "5 hour freedom Wednesdays" I have decided to write about the visible blessings that have been poured from heaven since my arrival to this new chapter of my life. My days are usually extremely busy and full, taking on the appearance and feel of being a stay at home mom, so there are so many things that happen that are certainly "blog worthy", but I don't have time to just drop the dishes, cleaning the bird bath or frying up a hot breakfast to grab my lap top and capture that moment in words.

For as long as I can remember, I have always wanted to be "ahead of the game". I want to know the answers as soon as I can, and even though I have an extraordinary amount of patience when it comes to answering the same questions every 5 minutes, I have very little patience for not having answers to problems I want to solve now, things that I would like now and dreams that I would like to come true now. I think my mother would probably testify to that fact that this weakness/desire ( however you choose to look at it) has been demonstrated in my life since the moment I exited the womb.

Since being at this new job, I've been trying so hard to let go of things that I simply can't control and don't have the resources for. It drives me crazy when I see something that needs to be changed, fixed, adapted or enhanced and I know the answer to the need, but for whatever reason I can't do it right now. About two weeks ago I finally let go and said "Ok God, we've done this before. I'm running ahead of you, and you are grabbing me by the shirt and telling me to sit down. And God, I'm going to sit down because I know that your plan is so much better then mine. So, fine. Here it is. I let go."

The result?

  • The neighbors brought over a delicious home made meal, complete with my favorite dessert ever; brownies! And not just any brownies...these brownies are definitely home made and I'm certain Betty Crocker has lost her place in my heart. This created an opportunity to connect with other people, despite the reality of being confined to a house 90% of the time. It also gave me a break from having to cook anything, while giving me fewer dishes. Thank you Jesus!
  • One of my goals since being here is to get my little lady "out and about" about two times a week. She is such a social lady, but due to her stubbornness ( something we both have in common!) it is usually a challenge to get her to get out. Her beautiful 93 year old sister lives in the nursing home in town, and I have been trying for awhile to get her out to go see her. Yesterday we did for the first time, and it was a blessing for all of us. Not only has God seen fit for granny to still have her sister and her sister to still have her, but for me to be doubly blessed with two beautiful, precious senior women. Yes, God had to take away many, many more of those lovely people for me to have these women, but the relationships that are being built within a family and in a home is far more of a blessing then I could have ever comprehended. Thank you Jesus!
  • For the first time in a very long time, I have felt very little stress. I thought that the stress that I experienced on a nearly daily basis was normal and was simply going to be my life, but for the first time ever, I'm realizing what it means to "ease into" a day and to truly be at home in something. My strengths, talents and gifts are being utilized and lessons are being taught to help me grow as a person, with minimal stress. Thank you Jesus!
  • This morning I went to a sweet, charming coffee shop down town. As I laid my devotional and Bible on the table in front of me, a barista came over and said "I LOVE that devotional!". We made a connection, and it turns out that she just moved to town as well, and has been attending a home church in town. Those odds? Only Jesus.  Thank you Jesus!
  • It is clear that through this job, God is giving me an even deeper desire to be a wife and a stay at home mom. He is teaching me how to balance my needs with taking care of someone else's, how to get in the habit of keeping up a home on a regular basis and cook food other then a bowl, cereal and milk. Thank you Jesus!  
May you take the time to sit and thank God for the visible blessings in your life. And if there are none that you can see, may you trust His heart that you will soon. God bless!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Emptied


We all have those days where we feel empty. I think it is safe to say that nearly everything that we use on this earth can become empty at some point. Even a plentiful source of something like water can run dry when you need it the most. When we are empty of something, there is naturally a little void that takes it's place.  Voids of emptiness tend to be viewed as a negative thing; it is something that is representing that something is missing. When a child wanders off to the toy aisle in a department store while her mother is not looking, the panicked void of that mother is intense when she realizes that her child is missing. Sometimes I think that is the feeling that God would like us to feel when we are empty of Him. We should feel that something is missing and that missing that something is certainly uncomfortable and at times, painful.

In my new life as a full time, live in "granny nanny" I am learning the concept of "empty" in a very new and profound way. As Christians, one of the prayers of our lives should be that Christ will "empty me of me, and fill me with more of you". Because of our humanity and the sin that results from this, we will never truly be able to be completely filled with Christ. God is the author of perfect design, and I truly believe that He designed it this way for a purpose. If we were always filled with Christ, why would we ever need to search, to hunger and to thirst to find Him and to fill that void? 

Upon this new chapter of my life, I am feeling an emptiness of self that has been quite eye opening. Everything from my sleep, to when I eat and communicate with others is all directly affected by my little protege's needs. Her needs will always come before my own, because not only is that my job, but that is love. For a long time my prayer has been that God would consistently be able to help me view my job and work place as a ministry. When we have such a view, I believe that we see and respond to things in a way that enables us to know how to truly love and serve those we come in contact with. As I have written before, the only way to produce peace and serenity is by living our lives as if they are not our own.

Yesterday around 3:00, I looked in the mirror and was a little startled at what I saw. No make up, bags under my eyes, sweat pants, zip up sweat shirt, t-shirt and a messy pony tail containing hair that is severely in need of a trim and color job.  And yet, despite my disheveled appearance, I was at peace and at rest in my heart, because I knew with everything in me that being here and taking care of my little southern stinker is exactly where God wants me to be. Being emptied of myself so that He can fill me with more of Him and enable me to do His work, is the greatest blessing we can receive as Christians, aside from His gift of salvation.

To ask Christ to empty us of us, is to admit and believe and know that there is nothing good in us that should remain there, especially if given the option to be filled with something Holy and perfect. It is being put in situation after situation of being tired, weary and tested to your limits so that who is within me can enable me to experience such a peace and fulfillment. Such a revelation and understanding has led me to an even deeper desire to be a mother, for surely it has to be a similar life. I am finding that this world that I now live in pales in comparison to climbing the corporate ladder and punching a time clock. It is a kind of "hard" that I have never experienced before, but it is the most rewarding and satisfying career that I have had thus far. May I be so blessed as to someday experience such an honorable life role.

In your emptiness, may you seek resolution by asking Christ to fill the void that He himself placed in your heart.  In your search to fill the many voids that enters your world, may it not take you long to come to the unending flow and source of Jesus Christ. And once He fills those voids, may you see it as not a void filled, but as self killed. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Peace For a Reason


I believe that where there is peace, there is God. This is a belief that has shaped many decisions that I have made throughout my life. It is a truth that I count on when I'm trying to decipher what is of my Jesus and what is of the world or a tactic of the enemy.


Like many words, the word "peace" tends to vary in it's meaning. Sometimes peace is equated with harmony and equality, something that the peace sign of the 1970's represented in a universal fashion. Peace is also described as being "chilled and relaxed", and mothers of young children have been known to attempt to lock themselves in a bathroom or a closet for some "peace and quiet".

I know that when I don't feel peace, something isn't quite right. It is a sign to me that I need to tune my ears and search a little bit deeper; A sign that I need to gingerly test the water with the tips of my toes before I immerse myself in an ocean. I do believe that as Christians we can often get too caught up in how we "feel" about God and what He is doing in our lives. This is dangerous, because how we feel is often not the truth. However, I do believe that the Holy Spirit can give us a sense, a "knowing" of something that is of Him. I also believe that the more anniversaries that we celebrate in our relationship with Jesus, the more we will able to feel and hear Him in such a fashion. Similar to a marriage of 30 years in which they have developed an intimate "knowing" of each other. A true intimacy that surpasses words.

Where there is peace, there is God.

Up until the last year of my life, I always thought that if there was peace and there was God, that it was going to be a good and desirable thing for my life. That open doors to new opportunities meant fulfilling success and happiness. Surely if God gives me peace in something, there must be a pot of gold at the end of that rainbow, right? Such was my naive perspective on God's peace. Let me share with you what I've learned:

I've learned that if where there is peace, there is God, that is where I will go and that is what I'll do. In Psalms 139 it says in great and beautiful detail that God knows us better then we know ourselves. With this truth at hand, isn't it safe to say that if God wants us to go somewhere or do something, that He would give us that peace?  If we knew that the road was going to be rocky, a heart was going to be broken, something would be stolen and hardship was on the horizon, we wouldn't go near such a path. However, what I have learned is that sometimes God gives His children peace so that we do go near that path. He knows that without that peace, we would bend to the element of our humanity that by nature wants to avoid pain, hardship and things that just plain don't "feel good". 

The peace of God is not a sign that there is no storm on the sea, but a sign that God is with you in that storm, calling you to lay your head on his lap and allow Him to shelter you with His mighty arms. The peace of God is a sign that "all is well", despite what circumstances you may find yourself in this life. 
"Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."-John 14:27
I believe that the world wants us to learn to equate peace with happiness, but truly God wants us to equate peace with the promise that His presence is constant and He will "...never leave you nor forsake you."-Deuteronomy 31:6.  

Friends, God gives us peace for a reason. Where there is peace, there is God. May you have the courage to fall into that peace as a young child falls into the arms of his mother, as a woman falls into the arms of her strong and capable lover. There is peace for a reason, but the peace that He gives knows no season. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Green Girl Update: Tennessee Granny Nanny


Oh the glorious World Wide Web!  To think that in the 1800's when people would travel and go on far away adventures, they had to wait for weeks and sometimes months before a loved one heard any news as to how they were doing and any real connection was made. How grateful I am to sit at my new kitchen table and catch all of you up on the most recent adventure that God has sent me on. At the moment my little "southern stinker" ( and by "little", I mean little. Less then 100 pounds and not quite 5'2) is napping on the couch, giving me some time to finish my coffee and compile my thoughts for this post.

Depending on who you are, you may have been totally shocked to see on facebook that my location switched from Sioux Falls, SD. to Elizabethton, TN.  Well friends, I share with you in that shock, as this new change hasn't quite made a "head, heart and body" connection. However, the fact that this new change in my life is completely and totally ordained by God suffices for any lack of "connection" that I may be experiencing at this present time.

On August 28th 2012, I lost my job as a Chiropractic Assistant. It was a complete shock, as just a week before they expressed interest in me being apart of the hiring process for the new CA position that was once again opened after the 3rd girl since I had been there was fired or quit. No real reason was given as to why they let me go, which is accurate because there were no reasons. I had been praying for quite some time that God would open a door else where, and if that not be His will, that He would give me the strength and the ability to continue to work and function in the job He had given me. Well, once again God uprooted me and clearly told me that He had other plans for me.

As I prayed for direction and listened for Gods voice, one thing became very clear: "I don't want you in a health care support occupation in an institution, I want you to go into someones home." After receiving this leading, I started brain storming how to do this. I realized that there were seniors in their home that were not ready for the nursing home quite yet, but just needed someone in their home to cook, clean, give them their meds, e.t.c.  I searched different options and posted adds on Care.com and Craig's List, but no response. On the same day that I learned that my previous employers were fighting me getting unemployment benefits, I had a conversation with my best friend who lives in Tennessee. She looked on her local Craig's List and found the following ad: "Need a babysitter for my granny. Call..."  I ended my conversation with Erin, and called the number right away. A sweet, extremely southern voice picked up the phone, and that conversation lasted for an hour. The woman expressed to me that she was looking for a live in nanny to take care of her 90 year old granny with moderate dementia. In that first conversation on the phone, I felt an immediate connection, peace and drawing to this individual and possible job opportunity. To make a long story short, within 3 days I was offered the job and within 1.5 weeks, I moved myself and all my belongings to Elizabethton, TN.

My dear friend Jenni accompanied me on the trip, which made it so enjoyable. We drove through at least 7 states in under 48 hours and stopped at some fun places a long the way. Having her with me made me feel less alone in making this huge life change, and it was such a confirmation of what a true and lasting friendship that I have in Jenni. We stayed at a hotel in Louisville, KY and I drove on from there. As I drove through Virginia and into Tennessee, it began to settle in a little bit more that I was no where NEAR the mid west. I nearly drove off the side of the road as I was captivated by the incredible beauty of the mountains and terrain of this area. When I arrived to the little white house on Massey street (which I now call "home"), Wendy ( Granny's grand daughter) met me at the door with granny. The moment I saw granny, I knew that this was God's gift to me and that I was clearly on the right path. 

 It amazes me how fast the changes in life can happen, but what is beginning to amaze me even more is that the more changes you go through, the smoother they tend to be, as Christ tends to make each transition a bit less rockier then the last. 
  
A few note worthy "changes that have taken place:


  • Cooking and day to day life: I went from hardly ever cooking to cooking 3 meals a day! Right away in the morning I have her coffee ready and make her a hot breakfast. Usually this consists of a slice of bacon, an egg and a biscuit, but recently we've switched to oatmeal and a biscuit.  We then usually eat breakfast together, drink coffee and watch the news. The rest of our day kind of depends on the weather and what she feels up to doing. She loves to sit out on her front and tend to her flowers and bird bath, and one of her favorite things to do is eat and discuss what our next meal is going to be while she is eating a meal. The neighborhood dogs love it at our place, because granny insists on feeding them any left over scraps. I am in the process of getting more scheduled activities planned for her to get out of the house and visit family, go for drives and meet new people. 
  • Since living in the south, I have had quite an education on the art of southern cooking and cooking in general. So far I've boiled cabbage, fried pork chops and made home made corn bread on more then one occasion! According to granny, my corn bread is better then hers, which is a feather that I've put in my cap on more then one occasion. I now know what "soup beans" are, and have accepted that nearly everything is fried, baked, mixed and topped with butter. Every morning when I have my cereal, she asks me "What are ya' eattin'?" and I say "cereal" and she gives me this disgusted look and shakes her head. Yes, yes...we already are getting a routine put in place. :)
  • Foreigner:  The south is truly a different culture in and of itself. It's been fascinating to listen to different expressions and I think that everyone is bent on getting me fat. It didn't take me long to figure out that I am the one with the accent! Expressions heard thus far " I'm as full as a tick!", "He's got a lot of dollars but no sense",  and "oooh Laaawd" is said, which is a lot like "that's different" or "Oofta!" in Minnesotan.  I don't know how Minnesotans get the "Minnesota Nice" reputation, because I have never met people that have been more nice then those in this area. Everyone appears to be down to earth, wholesome and kind. Family is a huge deal for them, and the family I work for is no exception to this fact.  May I also mention that a male barista at Starbucks gave me a free latte for "waiting longer then 3 minutes". Even though he was hitting on me, he introduced himself, asked me what my name was, and shared with me that he takes care of his grandma several times a week. You can't tell me that I would have had this experience at a Starbucks in Minneapolis!
           Once again, I am in awesome of God's faithfulness, provision and perfect timing. He has sent me to a "little southern stinker", and I already love her dearly. He knew that I needed her, and that she needed me. Like anything, this job has it's challenges, but nothing that cannot be dealt with with God by my side. I am absolutely blessed and floored by all the people who have prayed for me and continue to pray, those who have come along side me and walked with me through the many valleys that the last couple years have brought me. You all know who you are. I have felt your prayers moving me, lifting me and pushing me through so many of my days. God bless you.

What a precious opportunity to help enhance the quality of the remainder of her life, and walk with her hand and hand through all the trials of aging, dementia and loneliness. So much has been provided for me through this job, but the main thing that God has provided is resting in His love as I use my gifts, strengths, talents and passions to His glory. My prayer is that He will continue to empty me of me and fill me with more of Him, and less corn bread :)  Stay tuned for updates on the "Granny Nanny", and God bless you all!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Attention Single Men: It's Not a Pure Bred Puppy Dog or Job Opportunity

Dating: "Oh the tangled web we weave". Anyone who is actively on the dating scene or has ever been apart of it at some point in their lives know it is a tangled mess indeed. There are a lot of factors that men and women are up against in the process of finding a mate. Among these factors you have the seemingly irreversible left overs of the feminist movement, the insatiable sexual appetite of each individual that must be forever held "in check" for the Christian who desires to honor Christ in the dating process, and the common fleshly pit falls of being a human being: selfishness, fear and dishonesty, just to name a few.

As some of you know, I have been a member of the online Christian dating networking "Christian Mingle" for a combined total of about 2 years. This experience has been highly beneficial, as I have met a variety of really good men and women alike, formed good friendships and have been pursued by honorable and not so honorable, Christian men. I am so grateful for a site like this, due to the fact that my life has been a constant "dance of the gypsy", moving from place to place and not settling long enough to meet that man that I will marry and spend the rest of my life with. The online chat rooms on that site have been a tremendous blessing, as it is usually filled with connecting with people in a similar season of life; encouraging, sharpening and educating one another with the uniqueness of each individual. Now that I have made my positive plug and given the web site a ton of free publicity, let me get to the bottom line of this post. As my mother would say "Sarah, get to the point. Quit painting the picture!" 

It saddens me how marriage is taken so lightly in our world, but especially within the Christian community of young 20 and 30 something adults. There are a variety of hurdles that one has to jump in the pursuit of a spouse, with some of them being higher jumps then others. Sometimes it is a simply a lack of an example in their lives to show them why marriage is so important and for others it is simply a lack of education, resources and personal maturity gained in order to obtain the sacred covenant.  In this post I would like to address a trend that I am seeing with men in the online Christian dating game. Now, don't get all "huffy" on me gentleman. We women have plenty of issues of our own, of which I will fully take ownership for and of which I have also written posts of in the past. However, it has been laid on my heart to communicate a truth to men of Christ. I feel that this truth and/or reminder will benefit men and women alike, whether they are married or single, young or old.

Do you remember that old phrase "God helps those who help themselves"? The phrase indicates that even though it is a known fact and truth that God is capable of doing absolutely anything in our lives, that we cannot expect to just sit back and do nothing, waiting for Him to bless us in the ways that He sees fit. To add to this concept, I remember as a young girl trying to understand the verse Psalm 37:34 "Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart."  I used to be so confused by this verse, especially when I realized that there were things that I prayed for and God did not bless me with them. "but I was delighting in you Lord! I believe in you! Where is my blessing?!". A dear friend of mine told me that the key to that verse is praying that God would make His desires, our desires. 

I have seen an alarming trend over and over again in the dating scene. Men expect to find a woman with all the things that they have prayed to God for, but they are unwilling to accept that they may need to change jobs, relocate and/or make a financial investment/personal sacrifice in order to pursue and seek after that woman. Instead it appears that many of them settle for a woman who possesses less of the character and qualities that God desires for them, simply because she is "local" and they would rather do that then be willing to make the necessary sacrifices that it takes to pursue a Godly woman and a life long covenant of marriage.

Let's take a look at this. Marriage is a life long commitment. This is not a decision to be taken lightly, nor should it be something that is handled so "flippantly". It is not a pure bred puppy dog or a job opportunity, this is a wife for crying out loud! This is the woman that you will see nearly every day of your life. You will wake up to her, drink coffee with her, cook with her and dream together. And, just to add a little more "seriousness" to this truth, this will be the mother of your children.  It appears to me that men lose perspective while they are in search of a wife. I don't know if it's because they get lost in the casual dating scene, or just get overwhelmed by other facets of life. Maybe it's simply because it is a well known fact that men are "waffles" in how they function in life: One square at a time. And maybe there are other more pertinent squares that are taking up space in their head and heart, that make it difficult to move forward to the most important square on their Eggo.

Whatever the case may be, the truth of the matter is that God calls men to seek a wife. Genesis 2:24 clearly states this: "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh."  No where in this scripture does it say that a woman is to leave her father and mother in search of a husband, thus leading me back to the concept that I have written several times before, about how women are called to make themselves available to marriage and to respond to the pursuit of men.  The argument that I have heard from many men is "why should the man be the only one to risk things to be with a potential spouse?!". This argument has often been presented to me after I have made it very clear to them that I will not move for a relationship unless they "put a ring on it". This is my reasoning for that decision:

I believe very strongly, that the husband of a woman is to follow Christ's command that is written in Eph. 5:25 "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her." I have no doubt in my mind that God has called men and potential husbands to be a physical representation of Himself on earth, and in the covenant relationship of marriage with his wife. A husbands role is to provide, lead, guide and nurture his wife and children. Does this not mimic that of what Christ does for us in our personal relationships with Him? As such, when the woman is pursued, sacrifices are made for her prior to marriage, this demonstrates to a woman how this man is capable of fulfilling Christ's call to love their wives and give themselves up for Him once the marriage covenant is in place.

And what does a woman give in return? Her life. All of her days, her body, her soul, her gifts, talents, life history and your children. The wife is then called to support, encourage, inspire, nurture, assist and be the ultimate "help mate" that Christ enables and calls her to be.  I believe, deep within my heart, that every woman in this world  should have the opportunity to be loved and pursued in such a way that mimics how her heavenly Father loves and feels about her. Lovely, honorable, pure and worthy of sacrifices, risks and heart aches. Not only that, but that no woman should EVER settle for anything less then this. Men, we need your strength. We need you to see this truth and take hold of it, and women, we must be in prayer for these men, as they are up against so many things in this world, and especially in the spiritual realm of darkness verses light. We must never forget that satan wants nothing more then to steal, kill and destroy marriages, sexuality and family. Women, we have a critical role in this battle. Stop whining, throw aside your selfishness, put on more clothes and get on your knees. This is critical.

My prayer is that God's truth will be communicate through this post, and that "butts will get kicked" and hearts will have restored hope. Marriage is honorable and worthy. May God enable you to jump out of your comfort zone, to push past fears and above all, remind you that none of this is possible without the strength and the power of Christ within you.