Grace is when God gives us what we don't deserve.
Mercy is when He doesn't give us what we do deserve.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The road to wisdom

"I just love your wisdom..."

"You are so wise, you should hold a discussion group..."

"I see wisdom growing in you..."

It seems lately that almost anyone I spend a significant amount of time in conversation with eventually says something about my wisdom or how wise I am.  I kind of thank them for their kind words but beyond that it just kind of frustrates me.  I don't feel wise.  I don't think that I have a ton of wisdom.  In fact, I just don't see in myself what they apparently see in me.  It's not that I don't think it's there... I mean obviously after multiple people have said it to me I can admit that they are all seeing something in me that I am missing.

Two weeks ago, my friend Shannon contacted me.  It had been a few months since we had done more than the quick Facebook catch up on each other's lives, so I settled in for a long chat.  I congratulated her on having 3 young children placed with her for Foster care and she updated me that she was almost ready to adopt them.  I was very excited for her.  I know how strongly she felt she would have more kids and God found a way to fulfill that in her life.  When we got around to talking about jobs she shared with me that she is almost finished writing the business plan for an orphanage/ group home and in January she plans to start applying for grants to fund it.  She is really feeling this is where God is calling her.  I was flooded with this indescribable mixture of joy, pride and excitement for her.

She then told me something that has stuck with me and that has really been weighing on my heart.  She said that when she thinks about this, the only person she know for sure she wants working with her is me.  Me?  Seriously?  Yep- Me.  She loves my wisdom, my heart for children and the compassionate way I offer counseling.  Wow.  She said she just keeps coming back to me and that at first I would be working with the kids in a sort of counseling/care-giver role but since it would be the early days it would also involve doing a bit of whatever needed to get done.

At first I was really excited.  I mean, it came completely out of nowhere but it seems like the perfect melding of my work counseling troubled teens and basically raising kids for the last (nearly)7 years.  When I think of the genuine needs of these kids she would be reaching, I am filled with awe that I would get to bring them healing & love.  The thought of less pay (because I am fairly certain this would be less pay) barely gave me pause.  What I have instead been hung up on is self-doubt.  I can recognize my limitations, I know that I only have my BA.  I know that I am snappy when over tired.  I know how deeply I am wounded by injustices done to kids.  I know all the nights I sat up crying in outrage for the teens I used to counsel.  I know the nightmares I used to have for weeks (and occasionally still do) after reading the case files of how they were beaten, molested, sold for drugs or whatever their personal histories were.

So now, I sit here feeling like she has more faith in me than I have in myself, and yet...

I know that if she gets the funding and this becomes a reality I will go.  I know that while the Robbs may think they need me, these kids actually need me.  I know that I would pour everything I had to give into them and be blessed beyond measure by simply having had the opportunity to do so.  I know that I have a heart for kids and it will break me in beautiful yet painful ways.  I know the power of a loving adult in an orphan's life because my Mom's parents were both killed when she was one.  I know that while I am aware of my limitations, it is within those limitations that God can work his greatest miracles.  I know I will go and somehow the less money, the self doubts, the whatever elses really don't matter.  Bringing healing, giving love, sharing joy, offering security.... that's what matters.

When the time comes, I will go.

And maybe, at the end of the day, that is it's own kind of wisdom...

Monday, October 11, 2010

Unexpected blessings



"Oh yeah, our system is down, we can't process debit purchases, you have to do it as credit."



The manager comes over and tries to run a system over-ride.



So, they suspend the transaction and move it up to customer service.  I am on my phone texting Carley to let her know that the card is being declined.  She is in a case, so she can't really help me out.  She does tell me it is a new card and they just activated it yesterday but there should be plenty of money available.  I tell the manager I was fairly certain I had plenty of money in the account but I could see if Jeremy would transfer more.

"It's not declining you for lack of funds.  The system is not able to recognize that the card is a debit/credit card.  It would be like trying to buy your groceries with an iTunes card."

OH.  Crap.  Now what?  How much cash do I have on me?  I just ordered a bunch of stuff because I get paid on Friday, how much money do I have in my account?  Can I pay for it and have them pay me back?

After dropping Hailey off at school Monkey and I ran to the grocery for Carley.  He happily pushed his mini cart around and helped find the groceries in the store.  We didn't have much to get.  He happy waved at everyone else in the store and chattered with the workers.

The whole time I was dealing with the inability of the card to process, he was playing quietly beside me.  Which was a blessing.  Murphy's law would have you believe this is when he would be acting up and adding to the stress of the situation.  So, I was very thankful for this huge blessing.

Little did I know an even bigger blessing was about to occur, and isn't that the best kind of blessing?  The kind of blessing you don't expect or even see coming.  Those blessings that take you completely by surprise and have you walking away with a smile.  What I didn't know was that the woman in the check out lane behind me was about to buy the groceries for me.  I never could have anticipated the feeling of wonder that washed over me as she handed the cashier her card and told me she wanted to buy my groceries.

She explained that last week she had the same thing happen with her card while she was at a gas station and a gentleman came over swiped his card and told her to fill her tank.  I asked her if I could get her address and send her a check because we had plenty of money in the account, but she declined and asked for a hug instead.

Her parting words were, "We're all in this together and have to look out for each other.  Next time you see someone in need help them instead of thanking me."

Pay it forward.

Every once in a while God surprises me and I walk away feeling like I just received a giant hug.  That was what happened to me today.  There was no reason for Carley's card not to work but the blessing wouldn't have been possible any other way.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

I'm not Superwoman

but sometimes I feel like I have to be.

And it sucks.

I have basically lived on my own since just before my 18th birthday.  My parents have always been supportive, but while still 17 I moved to Germany and I haven't lived at home since.  In fact at most times I have been at least a six hour drive if not a 14 hour flight away so while my parents can give me advice on what to do they can not physically help me with anything.  Like most things, this has it's pros and cons.

I can change my car's headlights on my own.  I can assemble my own furniture.  I have developed a great relationship with  my car's mechanic.  I have learned how to take care of most basic repairs or at least have someone I trust I can call.  I have moved myself more times than I want to think about.  I even attached my headboard to my bed frame all on my own.

There is a great feeling of pride and accomplishment that comes with doing these things on my own.  I love knowing that under most circumstances I've got it.  I look at friends whose parents do almost everything for them and I wonder what will happen to them when their parents are no longer around.  What will happen when they have to figure it out on their own?

I know we are never truly alone if we have God in our hearts and our lives.

It's just there are times I wish I didn't have to do it all on my own.  I don't want my guy friends to yell at me for never letting them help.  I don't enjoy having to figure out how I am going to make it all happen or get everything taken care of.  I really didn't appreciate being broken up with because he wanted a girl he could save.

Because it's not that I don't ask... I do ask.  It may not be often anymore, but I do.  And usually when I reach out needing help, I find that there is no one available to give it.

  • I spent an entire Saturday from 7 am - 6pm pulling up Bermuda grass, planting plants and mulching my "yard".  It was hot and exhausting work, but I did it all on my own.  Neighbors walked past, friends knew what I was doing and not one of them was available to help.  For the next few weeks, I received compliments and heard, "I would have helped..." but they weren't available on the day I was doing it.

  • I found a gas grill for my friend M on and promised the lady I would pick it up by noon Saturday.  I sent our mutual friend BB a text message about helping and his response was "When and Where" yet a few hours later he kept trying to switch the day to Sunday.  I ended up calling M and the two of us took care of it.  BB was all upset because he said he would help us and then we didn't let him, but he kept wanting to argue about when to go get it and that was one of the few points that I couldn't alter.  

  • This past week on Thursday I found a lady who was getting rid of 2 TVs, a 200 CD changer, a receiver and the speakers.  I tried contacting anyone I knew who had an SUV to help me because I was really hoping that I wouldn't have to take the car seats out of my car.  Of all the text messages, voice mails and emails I sent out I didn't receive any help.  I ended up taking the car seats out and clearing out my trunk.  When I got to the house I carried it all to my car and got it loaded in.  I did receive one text message back hours later that night after it was all over.  

It's not that I resent having to do it on my own, I just hate the accusation that I don't ever ask for or accept help.  I ask.  I would accept if it was offered.  The problem I have found over the years is that the guys I know like to say they would help but rarely are they actually around to offer until I have taken care of it on my own.  I try really hard not to paint all guys with that brush, but I have also quit asking them for help in most situations because it sucks when it's offered but without any follow through.

I wish I had someone who could help me.  Someone who would be strong when I wasn't.  Someone I could trust to handle things for a while so I could just let go.  I make a million decisions a day for the kids I work with from what to feed them to how to explain God to them.  It would be really nice to come home and lean on someone else's strength for a bit.  When I didn't have to have all the answers, let alone one answer.  There are days I will go from 7:30 (when my bosses leave for work) until 5:30 (when they get home) without talking to anyone over the age of 4.  Then I come home and maybe talk with some friends on the phone or read a book, but I long to just sit on the sofa and have a discussion with an adult.

I really hate the notion of a guy saving a girl because I think it sets up an unhealthy dynamic where resentment will grow.  I don't feel I need a guy to save me from my life because I think my life is pretty great.  I just wish I had someone to share it with.  And as much as I long to have someone I can lean on, I want to be able to support and nurture their spirit as well.  I want to encourage them and cheer them on when they have a bad day or are feeling worn out.  I'm not looking for Superman and I'm not looking to be Superwoman, I just want a man of faith and character who I can partner with on this journey.

And who can help me pick up a bunch of electronic equipment and set it up so I don't have to be frustrated by it ;)