Work

All posts tagged Work

The Gracious Hand of God

Published July 12, 2017 by Dawn

“And because the gracious hand of my God was upon me, the king granted my requests” (Neh. 2:8).

God has used this verse to put some wind back into my very deflated sails this week. I’ve been living with a very big disconnect in my faith. You see, I have great faith in God. I believe His word is true, from cover to cover. I believe He is the same today as He was in olden times. I believe He has done great things, making all things from nothing and other such miraculous things. I don’t question His ability. I do, however, question mine.

When the Lord spoke specifically of His will in my life, I was immediately ecstatic. I was Isaiah, hand waving violently in the air, “Here I am! Send me!” I have willingly submitted myself to studying scripture hard-core, knowing that God’s call is directly tied to His Word. In short, I was ready to be used, willing to be prepared, but sadly … unwilling to really believe God could do what He wanted to do through me. You see, I know my flaws. I know my sin. I know my SELF, and she’s not very talented, smart, capable, likable … the list goes on and on. Everything I thought God needed me to be to accomplish His will just isn’t in me naturally. Naturally, I’m a mess. Don’t try to console me … I don’t need it. Why?

Because the gracious hand of my God is upon me.

Oh goodness. This verse. So powerful. So empowering. You see, I have faith in God. Not in myself, but finally, I can see that faith in me is not necessary. I just need to recognize that God’s hand is on me. God can take this foolish mess that I am and do something that I could never do on my own. Because God can do anything. With His hand on me, so can I.

“With God, all things are possible” (Matt 19:26). Do you know how many times I read this verse, but apparently just now am able to believe it? Something clicked. The Lord kept bringing Nehemiah 2:8 to me over and over this past week, and suddenly, this verse is REAL. I know my God can do all things. I know without Him I can do nothing. But suddenly, I KNOW that with His hand on me, all things – every dream, vision, heart-cry He encourages – are possible.

I am going to try again. I am going to pick up my bruised ego (and throw it away) and go back to being about my Father’s business, trusting in Him. Knowing that succeeding at His Will is ultimately about my connection to the Vine. I simply have to stay connected. Stop being distracted. Stop allowing Satan to taunt me with fear and lies. Acknowledge my deficits while also acknowledging His infinite wisdom and ability. I just have to be an empty vessel willing to be picked up by my Father and filled to overflowing. However it comes out is however it comes out because the gracious hand of my God is upon me.

I hope you know, though, that although this blog is a little me-centered (it’s my pep-talk), it’s about all of His children who are holding on to a dream. You might be tight-fisted with a bleeding heart right now, desperately wondering how you are going to do what God is asking you to do. Let me help you relax, dear friend: you may not be able to say, “I’ve got this!” but God is! He just needs you to be willing and obedient. If you have turned your back on those promises because they have exasperated you for so long and you can’t stand to look at an unfulfilled Word, I just want to encourage you. It’s not by your might, or your power. It’s by His Spirit. Reconnect, because God still wants to use you! Don’t lose heart anymore, church. The gracious hand of our God is upon us!

The Open Door

Published February 6, 2016 by Dawn

See me. Tell me who I really am. Conquer my insecurities. Give me comfort in your hands. Tell me how you really feel. Reveal your heart to me. I want to know you. Really know you. You have cornered me, isolated me. Now speak, and give me ears to hear. I am dunb without your help. Overwhelmed. Insecure and unsure. Set me free from this grip, break the chains that bind my heart and mind. I’m still struggling to be sure of things. Accepting doubt though the Word is deep inside of me. I’m wasting time because I’m not sure if I can do this thing. I don’t see doors opening, so I still feel bound. Unworthy. Unable and incapable. Broken. In truth, I’m so weary. So tired of trying to figure out what’s wrong with me. Walking but getting nowhere. Talking but reaching no one. Thinking I’m being faithful, but creeping toward faithless because I’m waiting for you to RELEASE me. I don’t even know what that looks like but here, where I’m at now just burns me up inside. I’ve eaten so much of the Word and now I feel it intestinally, burning me up, beggin to be free. Come save me.

I wrote all of this last night in prayer, just listening to all that’s inside and letting it come out. I was writing it on a posterboard, free writing my thoughts and feelings because sometimes, I have to see them. In response, the Lord gave me a visual that I also drew on the posterboard. It was a picture of a caged bird crying. But the saddest part is that her back was to the door, and she had no idea it was open.

Maybe there is an open door, and things are wide open before you, but you haven’t faced it. You want ministry to look a certain way and because they don’t, you stay bound and unsatisfied. You are waiting for release, but not accepting that you are free already. Praying for something that’s already been done, and not walking through the doors you can see because things on the other side don’t look like what you envision. Ministry opportunities that look a lot like every day life, that go undone because it feels too normal. People you disregard because you aren’t sure how they “fit in” to the plan God has for your life. But what if all that God is doing is what He has called you to, and He’s asking you to do the normal and mundane while He prepares you for the bigger and better things? What if His will is quieter than you imagine, and happens inconspicuously while you live it up like Jesus, walking through whatever open doors God puts before you?

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Published June 4, 2014 by Dawn

I have been working with a nonverbal autistic student for two years, and the experience has been quite the enigma. Some days were the hardest days of my life, while others were rewarding and deeply satisfying, both spiritually and emotionally. I have also learned some of my greatest lessons while working with her. Such as how to love someone who attacks you everyday, how to hold in things and hold back when you’d rather respond or react. I have learned how to act in wisdom instead of in the flesh. All of these truths are priceless to me in my walk with the Lord as He molds me, and I feel very blessed to have learned them, even though they came at a high price. A painful price. A terrible price. But a necessary cost to become more like Christ.

The lesson that has been heavily on my heart the last few days, however, is one I learned within my first six months working with her. A violent six months; she literally beat me up everyday. When I took over as her para because she was moving up into the high school, I was introduced to her and given the practical instructions of working with her. Mind you, I don’t have experience in special education. It was just my job. You know, the necessary thing you only do because you feel the need to eat. In truth, this job is so far from the dreams in my heart, being there is a constant act of submission. I know God put me there. I struggle most days.

Anyway, back to the lesson. She was beating me up everyday, and I couldn’t for the life of my figure out why. Then it happened one day: someone asked me how my day was going, seeing my haggard look, and I began to tell them how awful she was being and I looked over at her to relay my exasperation, only to catch her rolling her eyes and snarling at me. And like a fist to the face, it hit me: I have disrespected her everyday since the beginning by talking about her like she’s not even there.

I had taken the cue from her former para, been told her mentality was that of a toddler, and completely disregarded the person stuck inside her disorder. I had discussed her dysfunction everyday with coworkers like we were sharing recipes, right in front of her with no regard to her feelings. No wonder she was beating me up everyday! She couldn’t stand me! If someone was walking on my heart everyday, I’d react in much the same way.

From the day on, I have kept a proverbial hand over my mouth and treated this girl like a person capable of understanding and feelings, and the behaviors have become so minimal, when they happen, I am completely caught off guard. Not to mention that the really extreme behaviors such as head butting and screaming have stopped completely. This poor girl has put up with rude people her entire life acting like she’s stupid. Clearly, she is anything but.

I’ve been thinking about this life lesson in relation to how we treat God. How we talk about Him like He’s not in the room. How we disrespect Him like we disrespect others when we talk behind their backs, hoping they never find out. I’m so convicted. How about the mockery we make of His timing when we’re unhappy with the way He’s handling things? Or the hateful things we say when we don’t understand what He’s doing? Or the way we question His authority in the affairs of this life? I’m not too proud to admit I’m guilty. In fact, I’m not proud at all. I’m deeply ashamed at the way I treat my Father. The way I treat my Husband. The way I treat my Best Friend. I’ve spent the last year of my life straining to hear His voice and I wonder, would I hear more of Him if I disrespected Him less? If I held my tongue and loved Him enough to trust Him with my life?

Jesus, I’m sorry.

Starting Over

Published November 19, 2013 by Dawn

I spent several hours yesterday writing a chapter for a book I’ve been working on for years. I haven’t written anything new in quite a while, although I have spent a lot of time editing what I did have down. Many, many hours over the years working on this book. I confidently said, “two chapters away from done!” and got to writing again and was very pleased with the way the Holy Spirit smoothly wrote a whole chapter in those few hours I gave to Him yesterday. When I was finished, I went through the painful process of saving my work. I say painful because I have always went above and beyond to save my work to multiple places so that I don’t lose it. I’ve read horror stories of authors getting careless and losing entire manuscripts. I can’t even wrap my mind around how awful that realization is. Or I should say I couldn’t … I found out yesterday. Didn’t have to wrap my head around it, because it became my reality completely without my permission.

I opened my online files to peruse some of the older chapters to fine-tune them, which I do often because when I’m not writing, I still like to be moving forward on them. I was shocked to find that the chapters I had saved were not the last version I had revised and saved. Not even close. They were old. Like, the first draft of each chapter. I was sick! I was so upset. I just sat there dumbfounded until sobs overtook me and my kids looked at me like I had lost it. They both immediately got concerned and began to hesitantly inch toward me asking me what was wrong. I couldn’t even say it. My book, what I thought was very polished and almost finished, was gone.

I can’t even express the feeling of despair that hit me. How am I going to start all over? I’ve been writing on this one book for five or six years. I’ve put so much time, at the expense of sleep and fun and food, to write this book that I felt was God’s divine plan for my life. I just knew I was going to get it done because He gave me a vision for it, burned it into my heart and fed it to me line by line … how could this happen?

I looked up into Heaven and this intense peace settled over me. My spirit all the sudden had a calm reassurance: He’ll do it again. All the sudden, I just knew it wasn’t up to me this time. It’s God’s work. All I have to do is be obedient, He’ll do the rest. He’ll inspire and teach and work through me. For the first time in writing, and aiming for finishing a book, I have this deep sense of freedom in it. It’s His. I don’t have to carry the burden of producing something for Him. He is going to produce something through me.

Perhaps there are others out there who are starting over. And maybe it’s something much bigger than writing a book. Maybe it’s starting over in a new place, with new people, or with a new purpose. Whatever it is, you recognize the anxious thoughts: “How am I going to do this?” May I suggest you place that burden on the Lord, and allow Him to carry you. While nothing is more daunting than starting over, it can be a beautiful thing. Each new beginning comes with fresh wisdom and a fresh opportunity to embrace God and invite Him to walk with you. He can enable you to do what He is calling you to do. Peace be with you!

Opinions are like …

Published November 15, 2013 by Dawn

My kids were airing their opinions rather freely one day to the point that I just couldn’t take another minute of their bickering back and forth over their thoughts and feelings. So I got really philosophical and began their first lesson on opinions: “Opinions are like …” They thought I was going to say something profound, and in fact, it was profound. You know the saying … It’s true, isn’t it?

Today at work, I was sitting in one of the lounges waiting on my students to finish something, and feeling rather chatty, so I struck up a conversation with a new face sitting at the table next to me. I don’t know why I was so vulnerable to the thoughts flying around in my head but I expressed most of them without thinking and ended up in the middle of the worst kind of foot-in-mouth situation. I probably offended the poor guy. Three minutes into our first encounter, and his first impression of me probably was not a good one.

To make matters worse, I remembered my time in the Word this morning and one particular verse that really stuck out to me today: “A fool delights in airing his own opinion. (Proverbs)” Yep, He tried to warn me … Thanks, Lord, for the heads-up. Sorry, I didn’t pick up on it like I should have.

The truth is, and I realize this might sound like my opinion, but I don’t think it is. I think it is truth: our opinions aren’t really worth much. They are so subjective and perception-based. I’d rather hear someone’s discernment in a matter than their opinion, because then, it’s more about the Spirit speaking than us. Our opinions have so much power in the lives of others, but most of the time, change with maturity and sometimes, with the wind. And I don’t know about you, but my opinion has revealed my foolishness more often than not, whereas, when I let the Spirit lead me in speaking to people, I don’t have these problems.

Orphans and Widows

Published September 17, 2013 by Dawn

When I was a little girl, I was most perplexed over the way things always seemed to break in my hands. Almost like they were broken before I even touched them. I was always getting in trouble because things broke the moment I laid a finger on them.  And so I grew up thinking I had a way of destroying things without even realizing what I was doing.

I have carried this curse with me into adulthood. I bought a toaster from Wal-Mart a few months ago and when I went to try it out, I realized that it was all jacked up on the inside. I was annoyed and slightly amused, but with a little finagling, got the toaster to work despite its malfunction and decided to keep it rather than go through the headache of returning it. That broken toaster makes me breakfast most mornings.

A few weeks ago, I had to buy a new wax warmer for my scented wax cubes, and when I opened up the new one, I pulled out from within it a bag of glass shards that had once been a light bulb. I was irritated at the lack of quality I find increasingly at Wal-Mart, but decided rather than return it just because the bulb, I’d replace the bulb and get on with life. So that’s what I did. I’m smelling the wonderful after-effects of that decision even now, as I type.

What I am not enjoying is the scratching at my back door … some stray cat abandoned it’s adorable kitten-child on my back doorstep and my children have coddled it all afternoon. Now that it’s time to come in, neither they nor the kitten can let go of each other. My momma heart is breaking, because while I do not want this poor orphan, I am having a hard time not wanting this poor orphan. Now that I think about it, I am literally sitting here purposefully hardening my heart to keep from bringing this wretched, flea-covered ball of love into my house. Logic is warring with my heart!

I said all that to say this: I don’t know if my curse is that I break everything I touch or that I am attracted to broken things. Or that broken things are always crying out to me. What I do know is this: I understand her pain and loneliness, sitting out there on my stoop crying out for the ones who gave her attention and affection. My daughter looked at me with tears in her eyes and said, “Do you know what it’s like to not have a mom? She just wants to be loved.” My heart broke! I must be cold to sit here, enduring her agony as she cries out to me from the cold, dark outside.

This cat is crawling into my heart from the other side of the glass. And I want it to be okay. I just don’t want fleas! Not to mention, what will my rabbit think of a tiny kitten sharing his domain? These are all the things holding me back from allowing this humble little beggar into my home …

All these thoughts are justified reasons to say no in my own mind, to turn off the lights and go to sleep despite the desperate pleas of a baby kitten to be let in. And you know what bothers me most about that? If that were a person, I wonder if I would come up with similar reasons to turn my back on their need … Oh Lord, I hope not. Because this is the work that pleases God: To look after orphans and widows in their distress. Not to pray for them from the other side of the glass, but to take them in and care for them. Despite whatever reasons you can come up with to not do it, this work pleases Him. He watches over them and sustains them, and when you join Him in His work, you have truly joined Heaven’s ministry.

Father,

Please help us to be open to Your will, despite our excuses to maintain our own comfort and dignity. Lord, help us to see the needs of those around us  and to respond in a manner worthy of the calling You have placed in us. Give us the willingness to set aside our agendas and to be obedient to what You placed in front of us. May we comfort those with the comfort You have given us. Let us be a blessing to You by blessing those around us.