Friday, November 13, 2009

Smoke and Mirrors

Last Friday night, Brent and I were sitting on the couch, watching TV, per our usual Friday night routine, but I was not enjoying "Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives" as much as I normally do. As I thought about my upcoming weekend of work and chores, I was plagued by my perfectionist nagging voice. I was thinking over what exactly is wrong with my life, as I so often do. There is something missing.... what is it? Everything is not "just so", and it drives me nuts. Let's see... I should lose ten pounds. Do better at my job. Spend less time working. Be a better wife. Get more friends. Have a baby. Get another dog. Spend more time at home. Spend less time at home. Read more. Pray more. Be more involved in church. Volunteer more. Talk to family more. Blog more. Rest more. Get more furniture. Get more clothes. Paint the bedroom. Go to more social events. Get more couple friends. Decorate my half empty house. I mean, look at all these people in my neighborhood/school/family/city... they have it all!!!

It's enough to make you crazy.

I was in the midst of beating myself up for all of those things when my wise husband said, calmly sipping his margarita, "What's wrong with you?" Oh, please........ if only we had enough time to go over the list! But I just said, "I don't know. I feel weird. Like - dissatisfied." Then he laughed at me and said, "Yeah... so what? Don't you know that you will never be satisfied? You're not SUPPOSED to be satisfied. Ever. Because the world is not our ultimate satisfaction. We will be unsatisfied to the very end." Silence. For some reason, that was like a really profound idea for me at that moment. I think I knew that in my heart, but it certainly has not been real to me lately. Of COURSE I'm not satisfied. I could (and will) dwell forever on what is missing because what is missing is Jesus. We can gain satisfaction by growing closer to him in life, but we will never really have our longings fulfilled until we are with him.

My friend Kristen wrote on her blog today about the "smoke and mirrors" of the world. That we are constantly lured by everything under the sun, thinking it will satisfy us, but it NEVER DOES. And we keep going back, like crazy people! Brent & I talked about a few standout examples of this principle: people who have "everything" but really have nothing. People who have all the world has to offer but are still unsatisfied. It makes total sense. So after that conversation, I still have nagging longings and thoughts about how I need to be "better", but I'm trying to make peace with that little voice and channel it into a longing for GOD instead of, say, furniture.

In a somewhat related decision, I decided to take today off of work. I told myself that I needed a day to "get it together". Ha... yeah right! Don't worry, I realized before it was too late that there was NO way I was going to get my life together in one day, but I still decided to take a day off, just to rest my weary mind. All in all, it was an uneventful day, but I felt a calm and a peace and didn't long for anything except a day of rest. Here are the things I'm grateful for today:

  • Waking up at 8:00 instead of 5:30
  • Starbucks skinny caramel latte
  • Driving in silence - I hate morning radio
  • Going to the Nutcracker Market, looking at everything, and buying nothing. And that being OK.
  • A fantastic mother-in-law
  • A nap on the couch
  • A long evening walk with the best dog in the world
  • New songs on the ipod shuffle (I'm significantly behind the curve, but I am seriously jamming to Pussycat Dolls & Miley Cyrus. Yeah, I said it.)
  • Listening to Christmas music right now as I type this (even though it's not after Thanksgiving yet... you can't make me stop.)
  • Fajitas on Friday night

I will continue to pray that you and I will not be fooled by the smoke and mirrors of the world. That we would enjoy the great things in our lives, but not try too hard to get it all together or get more stuff. Here's to trying...!


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Full Circle

Have you ever had a full circle moment? I haven't lived a lot of life, but I have been lucky enough to have several full circle moments. A full circle moment, for me, is a moment where you have a beautiful, satisfying sense of completeness. It's when things literally come "full circle". You're back where you started from, but somehow it's way, way better. Full circle moments have a wonderful complexity that only God can orchestrate. They cause me to think back and be in awe of what God has done.

When I have a full circle moment, there are two thoughts in my head simultaneously: (1) NO WAY this is actually happening to me. (2) Thank you, thank you, thank you Lord.

I've been lucky enough to have several full circle moments lately, so here are some examples.

Full Circle #1: Six years ago, I graduated from college and made a crazy decision to move to Houston, get certified, and teach in the inner city. I had NO IDEA what I was doing. I repeat: NO IDEA. I hope I didn't do any irreparable harm to the kids in my class that first year. I SUCKED. But, something kept me going, and I loved learning about teaching. A few months ago, I sat in a huge ballroom and won a somewhat prestigious teaching award for the City of Houston. Pretty sure that was not my doing.

Full Circle #2: As a senior in college, I put on my horrible black suit and walked up and down the business career fair with sweaty palms and resumes in a leather portfolio. I talked to the recruiters and thought I would never get a job, much less get to where they were. One month ago, I got to stand BEHIND those very career center tables, but this time, I was recruiting for YES. I got to encourage the very people who were me not that long ago.

Full Circle #3 happened just last week. First, the background: When I was in middle and high school, I was in choir. I had some visionary choir directors who started a great tradition. Every year, we had a Christmas party. But before the party, we always went to a local nursing home to sing carols to the residents. I started looking forward to the nursing home more than the party! I don't think it's my life calling or anything, but I really enjoy working in nursing homes. After high school, I started a small ministry in Dallas where my friends and I sang at about 7 nursing homes each year before Christmas. After college, I got busy and never really did it again. Fast forward to now. At YES, kids are required to do a certain number of community service hours. We actually take a school day each six weeks to have kids do service. This year, each teacher is sponsoring a project that they are passionate about. We then take a small group of kids with us to do service. For me, the natural choice seemed to be a nursing home.

Last Wednesday was our first service day. I was REALLY nervous about bringing 30 seventh graders to a nursing home. I had all kinds of disaster scenarios running through my head. I tried to prepare them the best I could, but I kept my expectations reasonable. My teaching partner, who knows me well, said to me that morning, "You're going to cry today." I adamantly denied that prediction. Once we got to the nursing home, the kids just did beautifully. I could not believe that the very same kids who made me want to tear my hair out the day before were treating elderly people with such compassion and patience. THEY TOTALLY GOT IT. We played games, passed out cards, and talked with residents. All was going well, and I was holding it together. Until... they passed out songbooks. The activity director was like, "Oh, we love to sing here! We have a sing-along every day. Would your kids want to sing with us?" Do we want to sing with you???? Um..... yeah!!!!!!!!!!!!! I took one look at our kids holding songbooks for elderly people and singing songs, and I completely lost it. I suddenly had a full circle moment, and the tears rolled. My teaching partner laughed and said, "Told you so!" but they were such happy tears.

The kids are so excited to go back next month, and now have tons of ideas about what we can do for the residents. Thank you, thank you, thank you Lord! The way you orchestrate things in life is beyond my comprehension, but I am so grateful.

Now TELL ME these pictures don't melt your heart just a little bit.

Look at the picture below and take a guess as to the lady's former profession. You guessed it: Music teacher. You can't make this stuff up.

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