Thursday, June 27, 2013

Part 2: Transition Happening Here

New seasons are exploding in my life.  
I’ve got blue paint under my finger nails from preparing the new office and only two more days left in the old one. I have stacks of paper that will help me change my business address with all the insurance networks and folders crammed with all the pink progress notes that are coming with me. I know that I will have a chair, my desk and a loveseat to welcome my first client at 8:15 AM on Monday morning, but I’m not sure if anything else will be set up by then. I hope that all of my clients will be able to make it across the street and remember to call my new business number instead of the old one. I’m really excited about this next season in my professional life, but worried that I have loose ends that aren’t tied up.
92 days until I marry Ben and we still have to print invitations, finalize our menu and find somewhere to live. We’re praying that the weather will be sunny and beautiful because I really don’t want to spend $1500 just to have a tent and it will be tight if it rains and we have to cram all of our guests into the greenhouse off the barn. Ben and I are having long conversations and considering such things as whether or not to do a first look, when the groom sees the bride before the wedding, if we want to pick our own lavender, what kind of music we want and how many different cheeses we should offer.
These are two huge transitions happening in my life at the same time. I’m happy and eagerly anticipating these changes. But, I have moments where I feel frantic. I get really irritated at Ben for minuscule things and find myself holding back tears because I’m so embarrassed and frustrated by the ridiculous things upsetting me. All of the details of moving my office and planning a wedding overwhelm me and I feel small and vulnerable.
One of the things that God has me working on is learning how to run into the love of God when I feel afraid. I find that my tendency in these situations is to exert my strength through increasing my control over people and circumstances. Unfortunately, this only serves to increase my anxiety, which demands greater control. About the time that I’m having trouble breathing deeply, calming racing thoughts and relaxing the muscles in my head, neck and shoulders, I realize that fear and control have made a prisoner out of me. When I cry out to God to come and rescue me, He does. Every time. But, I want to do better than that. I want to let God teach me to run to Him when I’m afraid instead of exerting my control. I want to let His perfect love drive out all my fears and calm down my soul.
Let me be honest. This is happening on a daily basis right now. It’s happened at least 3 times today that I can think of. I’m afraid and my brain starts analyzing how I can fix my problem. Fortunately, the Holy Spirit has been gently, but firmly encouraging me to run to God instead of running my brain. I’m discovering that God’s peace is possible, even in the midst of crazy amounts of life transition.
Still Counting Gifts:
·         #791: Huge, white, fluffy clouds posed beautifully in the sky
·         #792: A full day of sun after 6 days of torrential rain
·         #793: God’s provision of beautiful weather for Karyn’s wedding in the midst of all that rain
·         #794: Delightful visits with extended family and good friends
·         #795: Painting with Ben
·         #796: Grace to finish well
·         #797: New beginnings
·         #798: Carrot cake
·         #799: I finally got my real ring and I love it!
·         #800: Watching Lily swim in our back yard when it was full of rain water
·         #801: Dinner with mom and Ava
·         #802: Blogging from home for a change
·         #803: We really are making progress on wedding planning
·         #804: Supernatural strength and wisdom for challenging work situations

Monday, June 24, 2013

Things I'm learning in June

I just realized that it’s been three weeks since I posted on my blog. It’s not because I don’t have anything that I’m learning or wanting to share. It’s because my life is crazy busy right now.
I have tried to dedicate Thursday nights to spending time at the House of Prayer and writing for my blog, but it didn’t work that way very well in June. The Thursday before last, I was at a really fun picnic with my new office community. Last Thursday night, I was at home spending time with my family as we anticipated my sister’s wedding this past weekend. This Thursday night, I hope to be at the house of prayer, but I will be just days away from moving my office, so I can’t really be sure.
I’m going to put as many of my thoughts from the past three weeks into this post as I can, but I know that they won’t all fit, so I will probably post a part 2 on Thursday.
One of my favorite God lessons recently: I don’t need to hoard Starburst candy. (Or anything else, really.) I’ve been feeling more financial strain recently. I’m seeing fewer clients on a weekly basis, which is normal during the beautiful summer months. But, this means that I’m generating less income at the exact moment that I’m discovering extra expenses in wedding planning and moving offices. I had noticed that I was starting to feel stingy about my savings account and obsessive about how much money I should be hanging on to in order to cover all of those extra expenses. I was having conversation with God about all of this, but not really shifting in my feelings or thinking.
I had to refill my candy jar one day and emptied the last of the Starburst candies into the jar. I prefer the pink and red candies and these tend to get eaten quickly, so I took two pink Starburst and two red Starburst to hide in my desk. I wanted to make sure that I had some of my favorites to eat later. My very next client greeted me with a surprise. She remembered how much I liked the pink and red ones and had purchased me a whole bag of only red and pink Starburst.
It was such a clear message. Jody, you don’t need to hoard. Not your Starburst and not your savings. I am your provider and I know what you need, even before you ask. Trust me. Ask for what you want and what you need. Let me meet your needs with my generosity instead of trying to meet them in your own strength.
I returned the hidden Starburst to the jar. I abandoned obsessive thinking about my savings account. I am thanking God for His provision in my life and trusting Him to take care of me.
When God teaches me through my clients. I’m not really any better than my clients are. I struggle with so many of the things that they struggle with. My anxiety gets unmanageable and I wake up in the middle of the night with racing thoughts. I have a hard time coping well with challenging circumstances and change and find that I don’t always choose healthy coping skills like running, sleeping and eating well, investing in time with God. Sometimes, I choose to eat a huge amount of ice cream, whine and complain and pretend that I’m just “verbally processing” or judge someone else so that I can feel better.
One of my favorite parts of what I do is listening to a client while also listening to God. He is so loving and compassionate. God always knows when to listen and when to speak and what to say. The more that I partner with Him, the more effective my work is. Sometimes, I find that I am also ministered to. He speaks to my clients and they share what He is telling them. It touches me. Especially when I have a similar struggle. I hear the words of life that God offers them and I get to receive them too.
Weddings really are better when God writes the story. Karyn and Dave’s wedding was absolutely beautiful. Theirs is a story of God’s love and goodness and their wedding reflected this. His captivating beauty shone right out of Karyn and His pursuing and restoring love emanated from Dave. God’s promise of giving us the desires of our hearts when we choose to delight in Him was fulfilled. Years of unanswered prayers were answered and there was great rejoicing. I could feel God’s great delight over their marriage and I think that they are preaching the gospel in the way that they love each other.
It makes me excited for my own wedding day. It makes me want to encourage the people that I know and love who are still waiting for their love stories to be written. I want to hug them and ask them to hang on a little bit longer because our God really does all things well; just look at our lives. I also want to encourage people who are already married, but don’t feel this way about their marriage. It’s not too late. Our God can do the impossible. He can restore your marriage and make it like His.
Stay tuned for part two…

Thursday, June 6, 2013

How I met Ben

I met Ben’s family this weekend and it was really fun. I was really nervous beforehand. I knew that it would be fine, but I didn’t know what they would be like which kept me from knowing what to expect. I wrestle more with worry when I don’t know what to expect. They were kind, caring and just the right amount of silly. I felt at ease with them almost immediately. I’m feeling that much better about becoming a Striker.
But, that’s not really what I want to write about. I guess it will just be an extra gift of information from me to you.
I want to tell you about how I met Ben.
I told this story several times this weekend and remembered how much I love it. Yes, I am extremely biased, but I think that we have a great story. And, I haven’t shared it here. Until now.
It was a sunny day in October of 2010. God had already given me the idea to quit my job and move back to Rockford so I could spend more time in the house of prayer and do private practice counseling. I was home for the weekend and R2HOP was having a 12 hour burn (prayer and worship). Anderson Organics Farm was hosting it in their barn and Ben was there.
I noticed him right away sitting behind the drums, wearing his green hat. I remember being relieved that I would be singing in front of him because I was less distracted having him where I couldn’t see him. We were introduced after we finished playing and I could have talked with him all day long. I actually tried. I kept finding my way to wherever he was and tried to talk to him about every single thing I could think of. I knew that my mom, my sister and anyone who knew me had noticed my unusual attentiveness to this man, but I couldn’t care less if they judged my behavior because I was so eager to connect with him. We spent most of that day together and I enjoyed every minute that I shared with Ben. My heart felt engaged and alive.
He didn’t ask for my phone number, much to my chagrin, and after two more brief encounters, he disappeared from my life completely. I was really disappointed. I couldn’t understand why God would introduce me to such a great guy and allow me to feel such connection if He wasn’t planning to develop more of a relationship between us. I looked for Ben every time I was in Rockford for at least a few months. I really hoped that he would turn up again. But, he never did. And eventually, my feelings quieted. I came to feel thankful for the experience of meeting Ben because it had given me hope that God knew the desire of my heart for great romance with a house-of-prayer man and that He was able to bring someone into my life who would stir my heart in that way. I focused on engaging in other areas of my life, where God was obviously moving, until He decided to answer that prayer and fulfill that hope.
In September of 2012, I was sitting in the R2HOP room at another burn when Ben walked in the door and onto the stage to lead worship. I was stunned to see him again. I was even more stunned that it only took 20 minutes of him leading worship for my old feelings of attraction to be resurrected. However, I trusted God’s leadership more this time around. I had to leave before I could talk with Ben and I decided to entrust all of my feelings for him to God. I asked God to decide what, if anything would happen between us and I determined to honor His decision.
When Ben and I did finally reconnect at the beginning of December, just six months ago, it was a great reunion and I was able to be my trusting-in-God-which-makes-me-unusually-calm self. And then, when he asked for my phone number through a mutual friend just a few days later, I absolutely jumped up and down and shrieked like an excited girl. God is so good and so loving.
I’m going to stop here, but I’m thinking of writing more of our story as we get closer to our wedding. I want to remind myself of what God has done and is doing. I also hope that other people who are waiting on God for unanswered prayers to be fulfilled may feel encouraged as they read about how God has been answering my prayers.
Still Counting Gifts:
·         #779: The gift of skittles
·         #780: I really like my new office and July 1 is coming
·         #781: Ben is helping me to create a cohesive theme to use in decorating it
·         #782: Hot tubs, even when they aren’t quite hot enough
·         #783: Terrible allergies tell me things are blooming and growing
·         #784: Amy had the fastest graduation ever
·         #785: I got to spend a whole weekend with Ben and his family
·         #786: Golf carts
·         #787: Laughing hard, until I start to cough
·         #788: New business cards
·         #789: Pink shoes to wear to Karyn’s wedding
·         #790: How rain makes the earth smell clean