New Calendar, Lots of Memories

calendarcoverMy sister Nancy is an artist. She is a scrapbooker, par excellence. Last year for Christmas she made my mother, my sister Valarie, and I beautiful calendars containing poignant pictures of each person in our extended family, from young to old. Each person was specially represented by his/her birthday month, which was made more interesting because of the fact that some of the grandkids are only together a couple of times a year. Somehow Nancy managed to filter through hundreds and hundreds of family photos to find just the right ones that featured group pictures of the birthday people for each month. As 2012 rolled on, it was a treat to turn each new page and relive the moment in which it was snapped.

This year she made a surprising version of just us three Rixie sisters: “The Rixies in the 60’s.” (Kinda catchy, that title—)

Nancy’s scrapbooked exquisite backgrounds for each month — patiently chosen, cut, layered, and pasted — are elegant beyond words. My newest trip down memory lane has been elevated to heirloom status. . . . One thing’s for certain, I won’t be jotting down appointments in this calendar anytime soon!

Each photo took me back: To the house where we lived at the time; to the set of clothes I was wearing; to the event behind the picture; to the smells, sounds and sights of childhood. YES, I WAS THERE!

Funny, sweet, memorable. My best Christmas present by far, this year.

And speaking of calendars and days, God reminds us in Psalm 139:16:

All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.

In a brand new year when all those empty squares are waiting to be filled, it’s good to remember God gives us the indescribable gift of each new day. Days to use for Him, to love Him, to love others through Him.

Let’s make 2013 even more memorable . . .  for the Kingdom . . . through His abundant grace . . . and may HE receive the glory!

Lookin’ up,

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Sistersaschildren

Exit Stage Right

I turned in my letter of resignation today to my employer of sixteen years.  Come January 2nd, I will be unemployed.

I’m a remote medical transcriptionist, which means I  transcribe clinic notes at home for the Duke University Health System. With the steady ongoing implementation of the  EMR (electronic medical record) at Duke, my job is scheduled for the chopping block in seven short months. With that deadline looming, it’s been prime time for me to take stock, rethink my priorities.

I’ve been busy in the meantime — applying for all sorts of jobs, trying to make a smooth transition to whatever God has for me. But with the present state of the economy and several other factors (my AGE, for one!), no one is exactly beating down my door to hire me. I’ve been actively searching and applying to jobs, every day for six months, with very little to show for it. In this economy, I may not have what it takes to move on somewhere else and find work. Cue Discouragement.

I won’t go into the details, but lately the job itself has left me miserable. Depleted. Totally without peace. Cue Major Discouragement.

Most people would say, “Don’t be foolish, Jean. In this economy, you just need to stick with whatever job you have and be thankful for the paycheck.”  I would usually agree, one-hundred percent.

But I also know that God sometimes puts us in a miserable spot, with NO PEACE, and turns up the heat in order to get us TO MOVE. And to move in THE RIGHT DIRECTION. I am, by nature, a PLANNER. In my heart of hearts I wanted to have a place to jump TO, before quitting my present job.That was the PLAN. But I’m finding God’s plan is different, and I’m trying to be obedient. This is an exercise in faith.

God’s made me this miserable for a reason, to take me somewhere else! He now has my full attention. Our Lord promises us the Arbitrator of Peace, the Holy Spirit, to rule our hearts and point the way — my total lack of peace is God’s indicator to me that it’s time to move on.

“And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. (Colossians 3:15)

My new reality hasn’t sunk in. I’m gingerly feeling my way, trying to figure out where He wants me, and what it will take to GET THERE. Whether that means online classes, taking a break and concentrating on those things needing attention at home, or just writing more, I’m not sure.

For everyone out there who is unemployed, would you mind saying a prayer for them? A prayer for God’s peace to rule in their hearts. . . and for His wisdom to guide the way? I, for one, would certainly appreciate it . . .

Always lookin’ up,

 

 

 

Things to Ponder From the Other Side of the Hill

My husband and I mark 32 years of marriage this week, and I’ve turned 52 years old. A benchmark week. (Thinking back, I really should have split the celebratory spirit up a bit better instead of having the “Big Two” occur in the same week. Couldn’t do anything about the birthday but really shoulda done something different about that wedding date. . . )

Not to be morbid, I also realize it will probably be the half-century in which I go home to heaven. Anyway, in arriving at this age I’ve found out some things about myself:

God seems to have more to say to me now than He did when I was younger. I think I’d let myself get too distracted by work pressures, the raising of children, trying to please everyone on my list, etc. that I didn’t always focus enough on what the Holy Spirit had to say at certain times. That “still small voice” many times got lost in the hub-bub. Now I want to know and closely follow His leading. . I want to be obedient. . . I don’t want to make a wrong turn.. . And I really, REALLY don’t want to embarrass Him!

Ministry is less about what you do on Sunday and more about investing in people. If you can be kind and engaged with a person whom the Lord has put in your path, then do so. As much as possible, I’ve learned that ministry can be messy, because people are messy. Not everything fits into a nice neat box, especially when it concerns dirty, smelly sheep. (Of which I am DEFINITELY one. . .!) Learn to love people and make THEM your priority.

God’s best plans involve what you are called to do. I’m not speaking of dedicating your life to full-time ministry, although some people only think of a “calling” in this way. I’m speaking of God’s whisper to your heart, an inate bent God has put inside of you. It doesn’t even have to be technically “spiritual,” just sanctified. . . something He gave you which He can multiply many-fold, like the fishes and loaves, through which He be glorified. It may be something you’ve enjoyed for a while, or something you discover later in life. Whatever God has called you to do, you will find He’s already working out the details to use it for His Kingdom. (Romans 8:28, Ps. 37:4)

There are different seasons of life, surely as autumn’s leaves fall. We must understand where God requires our focus at that time of our lives, and do it to His glory. I have a house of twenty-somethings who are learning to spread their wings and fly, so I naturally have more time to write than someone with a house of little ones, or with a spouse/elderly parent who requires round-the-clock care. I’m learning to go with the flow, and not beat myself up for things I think I should’ve done better in the past. Now my goal is to simply be where He wants me to be. . .and living fully in that moment.

May our Lord Jesus receive all the glory!

Lookin’ up,