Jar of Clay

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You Find Change When You Move

ChangeI’ve been away from my blog writing for a couple of months and I hope you will forgive the absence as I have good reason. I’ve been moving to a new area closer to my children. It took just about the entire two months to plan, prepare, and move. I’m now done. I found some change in the process.

Did you know a man can collect a ton of stuff in forty-three years? Yes, I know a ton is two thousand pounds. And I went through every ounce of it.

You may not believe this, but I found a leather bag full of change in his closet. Several hundred dollars worth. If you are going to hoard something …  I found other things, too, in the house and elsewhere. Tools and other guy stuff. Some items I didn’t even know what they were used for. Some I did. What was I to do with fifteen hammers?

I had a yard sale. Mostly my husband’s tools and guy stuff. Filled up his sixteen-foot utility trailer and sold stuff for two days. That was certainly an experience. For those who came from another county and did not know my husband or of his entry into Heaven, it was a little confusing. They couldn’t figure out what his career choice was. There was welding equipment, lawn care equipment, pipe-fitting tools, home repair tools, hunting and fishing equipment (the big stuff for hunting in the mountains or fishing in Alaska. My husband didn’t play). I finally told them he was just an all-round guy. They couldn’t understand why a man would allow his tools to be sold and asked if he was on a trip or was I just mad at him. I said, “Something like that.” Then I told them where he’d gone and they apologized. No need. It was a trip. Plan on making it myself when the Lord calls. They bought his stuff anyway. It’s good stuff.

I still have his gemstone cutting and faceting equipment if anyone is interested.

Then there was my ton of stuff. I found clothes I forgot I had. And didn’t need. Some things only worn once. I asked myself, “Why did you buy all that?” My answer, “I liked it in the store.” (Don’t shake your head. You do it , too. I’ve been shopping with some of you!)

I have downsized. That means I got rid of a lot of stuff I don’t need, so that the smaller house I now live in has room to walk around in.(Don’t look in the garage.) Everybody needs to move once or twice in their life. Very refreshing. Makes you go through your belongings and decide what’s meaningful and what is not.

I kept the important stuff. The things he gave me or I gave him. The furniture we bought and used together. The pictures and the videos. Anything with a precious memory attached.

My life has changed dramatically in the last ten months. My husband’s sudden departure brought on a river of change for me. I retired from public school teaching and moved to a new area. It’s been a bit of a challenge to get everything done and wrap my head around all of the change, but by God’s grace I am moving forward.

I still love him very much. That will never change.

Transforming

Photo credit: philipschwarzphotography.wordpress.com
Photo credit: philipschwarzphotography.wordpress.com

You were enjoying life,
Doing what you do,
Moving along,
When
Suddenly
Everything just stopped.
Life as you knew it
Changed.

This was not your choice
You didn’t want this.
It’s uncomfortable
and sometimes dark.
You take one day at a time.

You’ve turned into mush.
In fact,
The thin wall around you
Is all that’s holding you together.
The world that was,
Is getting dimmer.
A new normal persists
And tries to take over.
The future beckons you
Forward.

A framework begins to take shape,
The Creator’s hint of a plan.
It was there all the time.
You rest in Him
Realizing His plan is perfect.

At the right time,
when all is in place,
You will emerge
From this covering,
A new creature.
Stronger than the one
Who entered the cocoon,
You will be mature and capable
Of flying.

I Didn’t Plan for That

As most of you know, teachers plan. Extensively. One type of plan is a curriculum map. We map out the entire year to make sure we cover the skills our students need to be successful. The idea didn’t start with us, nor are we the best at it. It started with Him. God plans.

…I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. (‭Jeremiah‬ ‭29‬:‭11‬ MSG)

Sometimes the way is easy. We can see pretty well. We kind of know what to expect from life. We may need to shift our backpack to the other shoulder at some point, but it’s lightweight and easy to carry, so no problem. Like hiking down a shady country road. Pure joy. Great to be alive. Suck in that fresh air!

Country Road

Yes, life is good, until…

A mountain pops up, seemingly out of nowhere.

Oh, we kind of saw it coming, but we ignored the horizon, hoping we were wrong.  We weren’t.

“You need surgery.” or

“It is cancer, I’m sorry.” or

“I don’t love you anymore.” or

“Your position has been cut.” or

“I’ll see you in court.”

Whatever the catch phrase of the mountain, now we have to face it.

Walking here is not so easy. It’s rough, and sometimes we fall down, or tumble backward. Even the most lightweight backpack gets heavy. The light is dim; the air, foggy.  It can be scary.

Kenai mt3

We want to quit, just stop and sit down. Pretend there is no mountain.

But… then we’d be stuck.

No, we have to keep going. We look around for a path.

We pray more, seeking Him, wondering where He is in all of this.

He answers, “I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. (‭Jeremiah‬ ‭29‬:‭11‬ MSG)

What a relief!

God doesn’t abandon us just because our scenery changes.

And though He didn’t put the mountain there – it is the natural result of a rumbling, ever-changing world-

He is not surprised by it. He knew it was there. And… He planned for it. Even if we didn’t.

His plan may involve mountain removal.  He could guide through the mountain pass, or maybe even reveal a path around it. Whatever the plan calls for.

He knows exactly what we need to be successful, and if we will follow where He leads,

His plan will give us the future we hope for.

Handling Disappointment

There I was, minding my own business, doing what I normally do the second week of summer. As I am a public school teacher, I was doing teacher stuff : planning for next year, reading material pertinent to my teaching assignment, thinking deep thoughts about how to improve attendance. We teachers are never really off for the summer, we just let go of one group of kids and spend the summer planning for the next group. I had heard wonderful things about the group coming up and visualized the amazing learning activities that would be going on in my classroom next year.

The phone rang. It was my principal. She reminded me that at the last faculty meeting she told us she may make some changes over the summer. “Do you remember ?”

“Umm, yes… ” (Gasp. Oh, no! What is she doing? Surely she is not going to change MY teaching assignment! I’ve been doing this for a long time! I love what I do!)

“Well, I thought about you teaching Language Arts at a different grade level. I’m having you and Ms. XYZ swap teaching assignments. She will loop up with her students and you will drop in and teach that grade. Same subject area, different grade. What do you think?”

The tantrum-throwing little girl in me was screaming, “No, I do not want to do that! Why can’t you just leave me where I am? I’m happy and comfortable. Besides, I’ve already made big plans for next year.” But the fully-grown professional woman in me stifled the brat and said, “I trust your judgment. You know what is best for our school. I’ll do whatever you want me to.”

“I appreciate that. Come in sometime soon. We’ll sit down and discuss the details, okay? You’ll be great in that grade level. Matter of fact, you could teach any grade level here. I have that much confidence in your abilities.”

“Thank you.”

“See you then.”

“Okay, bye.” I hung up and cried like a baby.

In the midst of the pity party that followed, I began to pray. Well, whine to God would be more accurate. “God, why is this happening? Was I such a failure as an eighth grade teacher? Why didn’t she just tell me what I need to work on? I didn’t ask for a move. Did Ms. XYZ? Why should she get what she wants?” At this point, negative thoughts were pummeling any positive reasoning that tried to intervene. I felt like a total failure. (BTW, Ms. XYZ and the principal are good friends of mine and didn’t deserve those negative thoughts.)

A few days later, while trudging through my daily chores, still depressed over the phone call, I stopped in the kitchen, poured a glass of 100% grape juice (good for you when you are stressed) and went out onto the back porch. My negativity came right along, dragging behind me like a five-foot-seven string of toilet paper stuck to my shoe. Plopping down into the cushioned porch chair, I continued to wallow. All of the planning I had done – out the window. Are the students I will have mature enough for the way I run my classroom? Definitely have to change the rigor. I have to change everything. Everything.

A wave of “I’m a failure; why else would she change me” hit me again and the tears fell. I closed my eyes. “Lord, help me. I kind of feel like Joseph when he was sent to prison. He didn’t do anything wrong, but yet he had to go to prison. Everybody I work with is going to look at me and ask why she changed my assignment. They are going to know I failed. I don’t even want to face them.”

PRIDE. Big bold letters flashed in my mind. (I’m a visual learner.) I agreed. And repented. Humble Pie is good for me, but I don’t like the taste of it. “Help me to accept this assignment, even though it’s a disappointment.”

DISAPPOINTMENT. Again, big bold letters. “Yes, Sir. That describes my state of mind right now.”

I watched as a hand separated the letters, moving the DIS to the left. My Counselor said, “Drop the S. Drop all the negative Stuff you’ve been thinking, all the lies you’ve believed about yourself since she called.”

“Gladly.” I watched the S swirl down and out of sight.

“Add VINE, because you are going to grow through this experience and reach some you would not have otherwise. If you will stay in the Vine, you will have fruit, good fruit.”

That excited me. DI + VINE. Right there on the stage in my mind were the words DIVINE APPOINTMENT.

Jaw drop. Worship. Tears of joy. Grateful, thankful heart.