So I blog, but I never share the things I write in my paper prayer journal. But here is the series of thoughts I wrote this summer… and how I feel that God led me to step out of my comfort zone to leave the job I LOVE to move to a job much closer to home.
July 6, 2015 (31st birthday): God, please help me to grow closer to you this year. And to be nicer. And to yell at my kids less. And to love big. And find grace. Laugh at myself more. Ask for help more. Notice more. Help me to seek the quiet place where I can hear You. Help me to give my best yeses. God, thank you for loving me. And for putting my husband on my path to braid my walk with his. Thank you for the blessings of my boys. Amen.
July 14, 2015: God moves in big ways. This summer, the elementary school close to my house has been on my heart as a potential place for me to work sometime in the future. Currently, I commute to another city for my job. It takes me 2 hours roundtrip, including daycare dropoff/pickup. I met the principal and secretary of the school while taking the boys to a summer reading program there and enjoyed talking to both of them. Just for fun, I had timed the commute and later had a playdate at the school. [But still, there was no reason for me to anticipate an opening there anytime soon.]
Last night in my women’s Bible study we talked about discerning God’s will. We are reading the book, “Is That Really You, God?” by Loren Cunningham. One woman mentioned that every opportunity we face could either be a potential detour or God’s will for us. We talked about how it’s easier to steer a moving vehicle, so maybe we should just go for opportunities – don’t agonize over the decisions. God will be in all the places. Maybe our calling is more about glorifying God for the opportunities we are given – recognizing that the pieces coming together come from God. Another friend likened listening to God to playing hide-n-seek with a toddler – He’ll give signs and not hide so well that we can’t find Him. He’ll “stick a foot out, make some noises” – God doesn’t try to trick us, but sometimes we think He is.
“Have you checked your life lately against your original call?” We also talked about the discipline Cunningham describes of not talking about your calling until God gives permission to do so. Today, by chance, I ran into the counselor at the elementary school near my house. I made the choice to go over to her to say hi, and when I asked her about her summer, I learned that she had just gotten married and moved out near my school — really?! I jokingly told her that we should trade, since I live right around the corner from her school, and she will be commuting as well. She said, “you know, we should!” She immediately sent an email to our supervisor, and I did the same. We learned that the process to switch is quite simple – both principals have to be in agreement, we both submit a written request to transfer, Central Office approves it, and it’s a done-deal. I didn’t think I was one to overshare until today. I am bursting to tell EVERYONE how things seemed to be lining up for a move.
Can a door opening be a counterfeit? Or only if it steers me away from His will? “The will of God is doing and saying the right thing in the right place, with the right people, at the right time, and in the right sequence, under the right leadership, using the right method, with the right attitude of heart,” Cunningham wrote.
Still July 14, 2015:
After dinner tonight, my husband said he felt a push to take me on a prayer walk at this local school. As we neared the school, we almost chickened out because of the rainstorm surrounding us as far as the eye could see. As we approached the city lines, we could see that it had already rained. But we both felt like this school was where we needed to be that night. The local Christian radio station was playing “Praise You in this Storm” – my husband noticed and pointed it out to me.
The cloud formations were stunning. The lightning started during our prayer walk, but we continued walking around the perimeter of the school, each of us praying. We also talked a lot, and oddly enough, our toddler walked slightly ahead of us, not even begging to go to his favorite playground.
We found a little track around the school, and I thought about potential coaching opportunities. I started the “Girls on the Run” program at my school.
“We have about 5 minutes before the rain hits,” my husband predicted. We made our way back to the car as quickly as we could with our two little boys. As we walked, we saw a hint of pinkish/coral-colored light coming from behind the school buildings. It drew us in and took our breath away as we found the best view of the sunset right from our car.
God had used the oncoming rain to bring us back to our car at that very moment, just as the rain grew heavy and intimidating. We strapped in the kids, and the moment we were inside our car, the amazing sunset faded back to blue and the rain started. If we had been a minute later, we would have missed God’s handiwork.
But as the rain cleared once more, He backlit the clouds with the beautiful tips of coral again, long enough to grab some pictures.
We were driving home when we began to notice the sunset again. I had already remarked to my husband that I felt like God had used the sunset to wave at me after my prayer walk. He kept driving, taking a different way home, as I began to wonder what other signs God would give me. We rounded a curve and this.
The most spectacular sunset I’ve seen. Once home, heat lightning took the stage.
We have been talking quite a bit about calling in Bible study this week. We each received a bookmark listing of favorite scriptures collected from the group. I looked up the very first verse on the bookmark. First Thessalonians 5:16-18 was the reference. I read past it, and then I found 1 Thessalonians 5:24: “The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.” Last night in Bible study, we talked about hearing from God. But how do we know if it’s what God wants or what we want?? I had even wondered hypothetically about this other elementary school – should I start praying for it, or is that just something I wanted?
God painted quite the picture for me today. If God wasn’t nudging me the way a mom hints at a toddler playing hide-n-seek with her, I don’t know what to make of His miraculous signs.
God, this is in your hands. Please help me know what to do to move forward if this truly is Your will for me. Amen.
July 15, 2015:
I woke up this morning pretty nervous about the conversation I would be having with my current principal about a potential move, especially since it would follow our team meeting in which we’d be planning out the year. But instead of rehearsing what to say, I prayed that God would give me the right words to say at the right time. I felt like a MLB player being traded! I sent the principal a email to request a quick chat after our team meeting.
After the meeting, someone wanted his attention. And then he got a phone call. I wondered if this was Satan’s way of trying to get me to chicken out. (I don’t usually think of situations happening in this way, but that’s how this Bible study has made me to interpret things recently). God opened so many new doors for me today. In my meeting, I learned that this local elementary school would be building a new facility simultaneously with our new school, with identical floor plans, both to open in two years. So switching schools would not delay a new building for me. And my son would start kindergarten in a brand new school! My principal mentioned that he felt like he was in the major leagues, choosing players in the draft. The same thought I had.
Later that night, our toddler was a hot mess and was screaming for attention while I was trying to tell my husband about my promising conversations. I ended up hitting my head on my son’s metal bed frame pretty hard and lost it – I started yelling. Satan was trying to steal my joy in that moment. Would you know that the moment we finally finished our conversation, E was happy and content again!
So many doors have opened so easily – and our prayer walk last night was a bold proclamation from God.
July 16, 2015:
No news today, except that my principal reached out to the principal of the other school about the possibility of an exchange and told me that she is on vacation.
Today was a faith day. It’s out of my hands, and God is in control. I don’t feel rushed with timing – I’ll be where I need to be. And I’ll be happy with either place.
I do think about it, but I feel at peace so far. I haven’t told any of my friends yet… that scares me. We leave for vacation to Tennessee on Saturday, and I have a feeling things will have to get real pretty soon after that.
We went back to the elementary school tonight for another spectacular sunset. I wrote “FAITH” on the rockwall with chalk. Here is where I need faith. My biggest fear is that this decision is irreversible! I’m most worried about missing my dearest friends, making new friends, and the unknown.
July 17, 2015: Reading “Is That Really You, God?” – excerpts that spoke to me today as we planned for our trip to Tennessee:
“What do you want me to do now, Lord?
“in obedience he made travel plans,”
“Everything was happening too quickly and too spectacularly, and the amazing series of events was not over yet” (169).
“After such a stunning series of Bible-story-like encouragements, we had to plunge ahead with negotiations,” “I suppose God had to be so overwhelmingly obvious with me because He knew I might give up otherwise” (170).
I love my current school. My very best friends are there, and many of us went through pregnancies together. I am so slow to warm up to people that starting a new job would be way out of my comfort zone. It always seems to take me a whole year in a new place to feel really comfortable – just thinking back to when I went to college, grad school, started new jobs, churches, etc.
But 2 Corinthians 12:9 promises, “Each time He said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” Moving and being new is a weakness for me.
I do ask the “why” questions – what is my ministry that I need to be at a different school right now and leave all my friends? And then I maybe found the answer I needed to hear:
“If the guidance moves people into a deeper relationship with the Lord, then the direction is probably from God” (172)
“As divine guidance begins to unfold, it always seems to come with hard, gritty work. Gone is the thrill of the original leading” (178).
July 20, 2015: From Hebrews 11:1 (Message) “By an act of faith, Abraham said yes to God’s call to travel to an unknown place that would become his home… they accepted the fact that they were transients in this world… through acts of faith… they were protected.”
From James 1: “If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who ‘worry their prayers’ are like wind-whipped waves. Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light.”
Right now, the light is pouring down through the canopy of trees at our cozy cabin in Tennessee, where we have now been for 3 days.
“Act on what you hear: But whoever catches a glimpse of the revealed counsel of God even out of the corner of his eye, and sticks with it, is no distracted scatterbrain but a man or woman of action. That person will find delight and affirmation in the action.”
This morning I woke up doubtful, I admit, even thinking that staying at my current school would be a welcomed answer – back into my comfort zone. Not hearing anything from either principal has me doubting where I am supposed to be, so I sought God’s word this morning to get my faith in check. I’m listening to the songbirds in Tennessee, sitting in a wooden rocker on the porch with my Bible, journal, and coffee. Truly a gift. Light is streaming through the woods, and I literally just heard a tree fall!
As I bowed my head, I breathed in the sound of the songbirds. I told God I was ready to listen. The birds went silent for a moment. As I thought about what that could mean, I realized God was clearing the way for me to listen. And then the big AC unit went silent on the porch, and the songbirds went completely silent again throughout the woods. And I really felt God telling me to “stay with me on this.” After the stillness, I heard the chatter of my little boys inside the cabin, and I have to remember that my family is the reason I’m even considering this leap of faith. I’ll admit that when I woke up this morning, I wondered if God put me through this process just to see how far I’d step out in faith, just as a test. And then maybe He’d take it away from me once knowing that I grew closer to listening to Him in the process. But I continued to read in James today about this: “So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed. Don’t let anyone under pressure to give in to evil to say, ‘God is trying to trip me up.’ The temptation to give into evil comes from us and only us.”
“So, my friends, don’t get thrown off course. Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven.”
Maybe Satan is trying to have me doubt God’s plan. Trying to rationalize why I don’t have answers immediately. I’ll admit I don’t often see how or when Satan is trying to creep into my thoughts, cutting through my line of faith. But that doubt, that justification in radio silence is Satan. God wants me to put full-faith in this. And that could mean more waiting. But it won’t last forever.
God, help me to find more moments of quiet with you. To put my faith to work and give me patience in your process. Keep Satan at bay, the Satan who is trying to get me to rationalize why this plan may not be happening, at least not right away. You put this desire on my heart for a reason when you did (this summer, and especially that night of Bible study), you brought me to this quiet place in the woods (instead of our original plan to go to the beach), in the cabin of a good Christian couple — I read that your gifts are “desirable and beneficial.” This isn’t just a desire of my heart, but a gift of time with family that will be priceless. I truly believe You found me here this morning.
I am looking at some leaves on a branch of a nearby tree, and they started to raise up in the wind. And as I watched them lift and lower, the lyrics “You’re the whisper in the wind” came to mind… is it maybe Lonestar? I’m Already There? Right then, before my eyes, a bunch of water fell from the treetops right along those leaves, just in that one tiny spot.
Thank you, God, for Your counsel. The affirmation in signs that I heard and saw today. For your promise in Scripture and how it always comes at the right time, when we’re seeking Your guidance. Help me to continue to listen for Your voice. Amen.
The tree branch waved again, the crickets fired up to add a layer of sound to the songbirds’ calls, and there is music in the woods again. And I can hear my baby crying inside now!
July 20, 2015: Had to return to my treetop porch again this afternoon – we are having a beautiful storm – heavy rain, thunder, yet we are completely protected on this porch – dry, safe, and warm. The rain is cleansing. It’s not pouring through the leaves where I saw it before. Actually, there are pretty pink blossoms where I look up.
James 4 (Message): “In fact, if you know the right thing to do and don’t do it, that, for you, is evil.”
1 Peter 5: “God’s strong hand is on you; he’ll promote you at the right time. Live carefree before God; He is most careful with you.”
July 21, 2015: When I returned to my spot on the porch again this morning, my toddler asked why I was coming. “To pray,” I answered. “Why?” asked my 3-year-old. His new favorite question.
The “why” piece I may never know. I know the why on my end, but not God’s end. I read that God’s promise would be desirable and beneficial. Closer to home, and my boys could go to the new school with me when it opens in two years. I’m mostly at peace with the idea bc it has so blatantly been God’s will. In fact, if I did not listen to God and heed His guidance on this, I would be worried. I do worry about not seeing my friends on the daily. But maybe I don’t need to ever know why.
Reading Genesis 3 this morning: “If you do well, won’t you be accepted? And if you don’t do well, sin is lying in wait for you, ready to pounce, it’s out to get you, you’ve got to master it.”
July 22, 2015: Back on the porch. After my devotion about keeping my faith on Monday, I got an email from the other counselor that very afternoon! God’s timing is so, so incredible. In my faith, my walk, and in what He brings to fruition. Because I know He has a plan for me, I’m a little less-scared about the possibility of a new job. I decided to read Jeremiah 29:11+ in a different version, in the Message:
“I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out – plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen. When you come looking for me, you’ll find me. Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.”
I’ve always loved the NIV of this: “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” “I will be found by you,” declares the Lord.
I’m excited about a change, knowing that I have followed God’s lead through this process, as much as I am learning how. So I know there must be something good waiting for me on the other side. I always assumed I’d move eventually, I just didn’t realize it would happen so fast, and now! I’m hoping it will solve many questions for me down the road… God, continue to lead me to You, even as we leave this beautiful cabin today. Help me to find a new quiet time with You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
July 23, 2015: We are back from our trip to Tennessee. Lots of commotion today – emails from several people who are all just waiting on me to send one quick email to Central Office officially requesting a transfer before everything can be finalized. I drafted the email but couldn’t pull the trigger on it just yet… I still felt like I needed to know more about what I was getting into. I felt like it was still a weak line in my faith, but I didn’t want to be completely blind-sided after leaving a position I love and have invested so much of myself in over the last six years. I was so afraid something was being overlooked, something was being sugar-coated. This whole process has been way too easy!
And so… an hour-long phone call to the new school. Another phone call to the woman with whom I’m switching positions. And then a 2-hour tour of the “new-to-me” building with my new principal. I heard everything I wanted to hear. I saw why this school needs a new building, too. She kept saying that this whole thing happened so quickly and that “it must be fate, it must be an intervention.”
And this is where I can’t forget about God. In my hesitation to share the news with my dearest friends, in my excitement about a fresh start, in my fears of the unknown and in my relief over logistics and no more commute, I need to praise God for this gift He has given me. And so, I shared parts of this story with my new principal. And it is here that I’ve shared more bits of the story.
It’s not over yet.