Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Are You the Carrot, the Egg, or the Coffee?

*This one’s long, but I think worth the read*

Ah Facebook…  It is both good and bad.  Today I got a nugget that I really felt the need to share.  And by share I mean more than hit the share button on Facebook, but I felt I needed to put it on my blog.

You all know I’ve been going through some adversity lately, and, I know some of my friends who are going through adversity with life changes and other things of life.

As I’m in this period of my life, this time where I’m feeling like I’m off the plate, I am often feeling a little invisible, wondering how I can bring light to the world outside my home.  I know that my primary ministry right now is inside my home.  I fight it a little, though, because I want to be more social than I am able to be right now.  I want to give to others pieces of my heart and have them trust me with theirs.  I want to be able to serve my friends more when they need a little something.  I really enjoy being able to do things for people, like bring them a meal, take them to coffee, take their kids for a little while so they can have a minute.  I find an enormous amount of joy in doing for others.  But, right now, I’m tapped out at home.  I’m struggling to make it through my own daily tasks and am unable to give out to others.  It is very difficult for me to feel this way.  I know it is a season, and I know I’m doing as the Lord wants right now, but it is still hard. 

I have often used this blog as a way to give a little emotionally to the world.  I hope to make you think, and hope that together, we can make each other better people.  It is a give take relationship, but I haven’t been giving a lot here lately either. 

As I was praying about and reflecting on some things in my life last night and this morning, I really felt  that God was telling me that I need to be present in the way that I can.  Then I read a blog post by the former chaplain for the DOK that really spoke to me about being part of a whole.  And then as I mindlessly scrolled through my main window to the world- Facebook- I read the blurb below about the Carrot, Egg, and Coffee.  And it really hit me--

There are people around me who are feeling emotionally beat up.  I can’t physically be there right now (because, let’s be honest, my two Littles do NOT foster an environment of peace and tranquility LOL), but I can write….  I need to be an encourager to the people around me.  To be more present where I can- in writing.  Finding the time to do this will prove difficult, but I know from past experience that when God calls me to do something, He finds a way to make it happen.  So, look for some more activity on here from me soon.  Smile

I hope you will enjoy this and it will speak to you like it did me. 

A young woman went to her grandmother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed that as one problem was solved, a new one arose.
Her grandmother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to a boil. In the first, she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil, without saying a word.
In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She then pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl.
Turning to her granddaughter, she asked, "Tell me, what do you see?"
"Carrots, eggs, and coffee," she replied.
She brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. She then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, she asked her to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma.
The granddaughter then asked, "What does it mean, Grandmother?"
Her grandmother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity -- boiling water -- but each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior. But, after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.
"Which are you?" she asked her granddaughter. "When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?"
Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity? Do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?
Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and a hardened heart?
Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor of your life. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you. When the hours are the darkest and trials are their greatest, do you elevate to another level?
How do you handle adversity? Are you changed by your surroundings or do you bring life, flavor, to them?

As for me, I think I have been each of the three and can be each of the three at any given moment.  I like to think I’m the coffee, but if I’m really honest I’m the egg a lot too.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Change is Life and Life is Change

Another long period of silence has befallen my blog.  It’s just another thing in the list of things that I love that I don’t have time to fully participate in right now.  The past several months have held so much change for me that I kind of feel like I’m a little lost at times.  I think I need to just lay it out to make peace with it.

The funny thing is, I used to be a person who loved change, was even excited by the thought of change.  If there was change possible, I was all over it!

And then I married my husband, and had kids and that all changed.  Hmmm…  As I read what I just wrote I realize that even the way I feel about change involves change…..

Now, I navigate change, rather than embrace it.  I’m not sure why this is the way I feel now.  If it is that I get attached to the way my life is, and change is scary, or what.  But, none the less, I navigate it.

I suppose some of my dislike for change happened more around the time when my parents divorced.  I realized then that some change involves a LOT of pain.  Some change will affect you in ways you never thought possible.  And some change we have no control over, even if we try  to.  I think, actually, that this is where my dislike for change has the majority of it’s root.  Change was no longer safe.  I came out of the divorce MUCH worse for the wear, and worse, my entire family (nuclear, and extended) was fractured beyond repair.  I still face pain related to that on an almost daily basis.  I’m not placing blame anywhere, which is another reason it adds to my fear.  I don’t even know where the fault laid in the end, and with no real person to blame, there is no solution in my mind.

A few years ago one of my very dear friends and pastor left our church to be the rector at another church.  While I was so very happy for her, the change was painful for me.  That change was only made more painful when she died just a few short months later.

Over time change has taken on a new meaning for me…….. pain……

I know all change isn’t bad.  I know in my brain that change is necessary, change is inevitable, and change is constant.  But my heart says change is painful.

Over the last year a lot of change has happened in my life.  And, I’m trying to navigate through it.

My pastor of about 10 years retired….  I’m so proud of him and happy for him, but, our church in in the search process and it’s hard.

My Teaching Director at the Bible Study I’ve attended for the last 7 years resigned.  She has given countless hours of love and dedication to CBS, and she deserves some time to rest….  but still, this was like a one-two punch for me spiritually.

Then the music ministry leader for the Bible Study told us she would not be returning and I wasn’t sure what my role was in Bible Study anymore.

Then Gregory said he wanted to attend school of some sort.  He needs more that what I’ve been able to give him, especially lately with all I’ve had on my plate.  So, we started researching schools.  When we found one, I unexpectedly felt called to put the Littles in the same school, and it came with a catch---- it is 2 days a week and I have to stay on campus.  And it is the same day as my bible study is held. 

So- I had to let Bible Study go.  I do it for my kids.  I feel like my main ministry at this time is my kids.  They’ll only be where they are for a short time, and then I can get involved in whatever I want.  I tell myself it’s only a season.  One I won’t regret.  But it’s still hard to let it go.  I cried when I sent the email.

This week one of the families in our home group are moving.  They’ve been so much more than members of our group.  They’ve served as an extension of our family.  Mark felt the calling to be a pastor several years ago, and the time has come for them to move to Virginia for him to go to Seminary.  That’s what we’re supposed to do, right?  Bring them in, build them up, and send them out?  More change.  More painful change.  I am so very very proud of them all for answering the call, as Rev. Marge said today, it is not a ministry that Mark is alone in embarking on, but one the whole family will be affected by and a part of.  I’m proud to call them close friends.

And today, in church I was asked about my commitment to something that I hold very dear.  I was asked about my commitment to my chapter for the Religious Order I am a part of.  The truth is, while I feel like I’m doing what I can for my chapter, my involvement certainly isn’t what it used to be.  As I reflected about this I felt my heart breaking again.  I never considered that I would have to leave the chapter I helped to restart.  But, I have to be honest about my ability to commit right now and it’s not good.  We will have a totally different schedule this year and I don’t really know what it holds for me, so for me to say I’ll do better in the fall would not be a true statement.  I guess I just considered my absence at the meetings another season, but hadn’t considered leaving the chapter until today.  I know that my primary focus right now has to be my family.  My oldest will graduate this year, and the Littles are in a place right now where they demand so much of me that I struggle to even give to my husband and older boys what THEY need.  There just isn’t much time for me right now.  THAT is a season.  It will pass.  There will come a time when I can do more of the things I want to do.  But now, there is more change and more pain.  *Update- I was told that there was a miscommunication with the message that I needed to  leave the chapter.  I’m not sure where that miscommunication started, but I do not have to leave my chapter.  The damage emotionally is still a little raw, both on my side and theirs, so it will take some time, but time heals a multitude…*

Change is Life, Life is Change.  I know it is.  Not all change is painful- my husband got a much deserved promotion!  That is good change, but, admit ably even that change has been something to navigate.  I trust God to direct my steps.  I trust that this a season in my life that He has called me to.   I will try to embrace where He is leading me.  Because my experience has been that God’s plan is bigger and better than any plan I can drum up.