New Beginnings

Beginnings are scary, endings are usually sad, but it’s the middle that counts the most. Try to remember that when you find yourself at a new beginning. Just give hope a chance to float up. And it will… -Hope Floats

Nine years ago, I stood up in front of my church, squeaky voiced and eyes filled with happy tears, thanking my church family for praying for me to get a job as a child life specialist at a hospital in Baton Rouge. I had gotten it! I was overwhelmed with joy. It was the job I’d wanted, in the city I’d wanted. I could continue going to my new church home forever and ever. I could see myself holding this job forever and ever.

It was a job I accepted without knowing the salary, without knowing how many intimate moments I would share, without knowing how many heartbreaking stories I’d become a part of, and without knowing just how much it would change my life.

I’ve grown up at this job. Between volunteering and working, I have spent the last eleven years in those hospital halls. I’ve seen people come and go. I’ve been a part of pivotal decisions and renovations. I’ve seen blueprints become buildings and dreams become realities. I’ve gotten married, had babies, lost babies, seen financial struggles, released a book, and experienced both happiness and frustration. I’ve done life alongside the most amazing coworkers, and I’ve learned from the strongest children and families. And the road, for me, is about to end.

Burn out is no joke. I did my best to fight against the statistics. I wrote articles about avoiding it, I practiced self care, I adjusted my attitude, and it happened anyway. There are a lot of factors and a lot of events that led to where I found myself, but long story short, I burned out. I felt stuck. What else could I do in my field? I prayed for answers, and answers came. It was time for a new career in teaching. I was able to enroll in classes and begin a road to certification. And as of last week, I have accepted a position as a kindergarten teacher.

It’s a whole new world. It’s exciting and terrifying. I’m ready, and I’m shaking in my boots.

One of the most inspiring stories in the Bible is in Mathew 14 when Jesus walks on water, and then invites Peter to join Him. Peter asks for the invitation. He’s ready to make a leap of faith, but he needs Jesus’ beckoning. He fixes his eyes on Jesus, and he gets out of the boat. Only when he loses his focus does he begin to sink, and even then, Jesus rescues him. I asked God to give me an opportunity to get out of the boat, and He did. I’m doing my best to stay afloat with my eyes set on Him.

I can’t lie and say this decision was clear cut. I love my team dearly. I have been beating myself up for burning out and not being stronger. But when I look to God, and I look at the bigger picture, I believe I am where I need to be. The fact that it’s hard to go says I’m leaving a wonderful group of people. In my weakness, He is strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9 says, “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (NIV)

I’m looking forward to helping kids in a new way. I’m ready to step up to the challenge of being in the classroom setting. I’m elated that I will have more time with my boys in the summers, weekends, and holidays. I’m doing a happy dance just thinking about saying goodbye to the interstate every day. There are so many good things ahead. I truly believe God allowed my flame to burn out in one area so it could be reignited in another.

I’m thankful, once again, for answered prayers. I’m thankful for new paths. I’m thankful for God’s timing. I’m thankful for the wait and the harvest that comes after. My story began with tears, and it’s ending with tears for now. I grieve the loss of such a sweet season in my life, but I rejoice for this new one as well.

“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” -Romans 5:3-5 NIV

Here we go!

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I Can’t Solve a Rubik’s Cube, but I Can Scrub a Floor.

A wise man once said, “I pity the fool”. Well, bring on the pity, because I was pretty foolish the other day. If you search through the Bible for verses on anger, you’ll see a correlation between that and foolishness. Ecclesiastes 7:9 says, “Don’t let your spirit rush to be angry, for anger abides in the heart of fools.” I was angry for a really dumb reason, too.

You ready for this?

I can’t solve the Rubik’s cube. That’s not symbolic for “I can’t make my life line up the way I want”, or “I need more organization”. I cannot make the six sides of that frustrating (child’s) toy line up. I watched tutorials, I read through step-by-step instructions about how to make it work, and it was just not clicking. 

It was getting pretty late, so I threw in the towel. I tend to think better in the mornings anyway. Daniel was still awake when I got in bed, and he innocently asked, “Well, did you solve it?”. I was less than kind. I can definitely see the connection between anger and foolishness, because I can only imagine how idiotic I sounded, huffing and puffing that I couldn’t fix a child’s plaything.

woody

About two hours later, I was startled from sleep and heard one of the boys stirring, followed by a knock on my door, which isn’t their usual entrance. I jumped up to find my youngest in primed puking position, followed by a trail of vomit, from his room, down the hall, and to the bathroom. Here we go. I got him cleaned up, got the bathroom cleaned up, and then moved on to the carpet. Guess what! I got angry that we had carpet and not hard floors. I scrubbed and I disinfected, all the while frustrated that it was so difficult and disgusting. And Daniel slept through it all. The thing is, this is not a surprise. Daniel could sleep through the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade rolling through our bedroom. He would wake up and ask where all the confetti came from. I know that he is more than willing to help, I just have to wake him up. This is not a character flaw, this is just how he functions. Instead, I chose to be mad at his sleeping habits, which are out of his control, and it landed me nowhere.

I got Harrison back in bed, armed with Pepto, towels, open doors, and lifted toilet lids. My heart was racing, and I was still mad about the Rubik’s cube because, why shouldn’t that come to mind at midnight?

Over the course of the night, my son got sick again, and I ended up sleeping in his room to avoid anymore cleanups. My anger faded to concern and sleepiness. It’s hard to be angry when your kid is feeling so helpless and puny, even if an unsolved Rubik’s cube is just a room away.

Colossians 3:8 tells us to rid ourselves of anger. God understands how we are made. He isn’t asking us not to be angry because He wants us to be unaffected robots. He knows how awful it makes us feel. If I could have vomited out anger like my child vomited out…well…we will leave it there, I would have. My heart was racing, I wasn’t sleeping, I said words that were unkind, and I was foolish. Proverbs 22:24 even goes as far as to say we shouldn’t be friends with angry people. I mean who would want to be friends with someone like that? Not me!

Are things going to make us angry? Yes. Is it normal to get angry at life’s obstacles? Absolutely. It’s good that we get a stirring in our soul over injustice or terror or wrongdoings. But toys? Bedroom flooring? No ma’am.

God slowed me down that day. I sat with a recovering child in my lap for most of it. I diffused essential oils, in hopes that whatever germ caused his sickness would not affect any of us. I re-scrubbed carpets and tiles with fresh eyes and a renewed spirit. I thanked God that his nausea had subsided. The only thing he wanted to drink was sparkling grape juice that we were saving for New Year’s Eve, but we popped that open early and downed half the bottle and a Lunchable. So classy.

It’s hard to be mad when you’re in the Word or giving thanks. A dear woman at church taught me that. She also taught me to blow kisses at people who are ugly to you. That just makes me laugh, considering she’s nearing 80. But it’s true. My anger disappeared when I was praying to God and loving my son. My anger would have disappeared earlier if I was being a loving wife instead of a grump.

Why does anger make us foolish? Because we’re stewing instead of calling out to the One who can fix it. Will He solve my puzzle? Probably not, but He will give me patience and perspective. He will give me something better to do with my time and energy. He will remind me of the gifts I have that don’t include Rubik’s cube solving.

Remember that anger equates with foolishness. Don’t give yourself a reason to be pitied. Don’t throw a regrettable fit or say words that can’t come back. The phrase “word vomit” comes to mind, especially with our recent events. It’s hard to clean up, and the smell lingers.

On that note, happy Friday, and Happy New Year! It’s good to be starting another year with you, dear readers. Thanks for sticking by me and all my mess!