College Visit

Where I See God
Journal #30: College Visit

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Matthew 7:7

“God,” I prayed. “Give us reassurance that this is the right school for our daughter. Amen”

After a two weeks of e-mailing back and forth, my daughter finally had her appointment to talk to the college department in which she wishes to study.  She had a few questions about her potential studies, as well as, for Financial Aid and the school’s Honors College.  Early last Friday morning we climbed in the car buckling up for the two hour drive to her appointment.

On the way we discussed the questions she desired to ask, went over some introduction skills, and settled in to talk about the rest of life; primarily, her upcoming Homecoming plans.  Google maps led us straight to the Admission’s parking lot.  We walked in to meet her Admission’s councilor.  “Perfect timing,” he said as he greeted us with a smile before shaking our hands.  “Let’s head over to the Rehabilitation Sciences Department.”

A nice walk across campus and up three stories on the elevator brought us to my daughter’s desired area of study.  The Admissions councilor had answered Honor’s College questions on the way over, so our checklist for the visit was quickly being completed.

Introductions were made to a potential future professor. We then sat down to listen and ask questions.  My girl, started off slow but determined and clear spoken.  We were thankful for the prompting questions from the professor.  When finally he asked her what she was really after.  Confidently she explained her dream and her idea to use this degree for her undergraduate studies.  The professor smiled at her and said, “Wow! I don’t think we’ve had anyone with that dream before. Your path is very well planned out.  I think this would be a great starting off place for you.”  She smiled and listened to what her course work would hold and how the program could be adjusted to get her not only a degree, but also prepare her for the next step.

My daughter thanked the professor before we walked out the door to head for the Financial Aid office.  Three steps outside the professor’s office she released a sigh of relief.  “I feel so validated, Mom.” Her hope filled words fueled her passion for her dream.  At that moment, I felt a calming reassurance pour all over me. Mission accomplished.  Prayer answered.

Heading home we listened to music while she napped in the passenger seat.  I smiled and thanked God not only for the answer to our prayer but also the opportunity to see my girl take steps towards fulfilling her dream.

Advertisements

A Beautiful Moment

Where I See God
Journal #29: A Beautiful Moment

“but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often.” Luke 2:19 NLT

Brenda worked at the computer entering attendance records while I assembled booklets for a Wednesday evening study.  She had overheard a conversation I had with a friend who was teasing me about the dread of upcoming empty nesting.  When out of the blue, this sweet little seventy-something year old spoke these gentle words. “I loved it when we had simple days.  When my kids would tell me they were happy just because they were playing at the park or eating ice cream.  I treasured those moments.  I just wanted to drive onto Heaven in my station wagon because those moments were so special. I wanted time to stand still.  Those memories make me happy now that they are raised.”

I wanted to break down and cry right at that moment as I heard God speaking to me through this beautiful woman.

I have moments I’ve treasured just like that tucked away in my heart. Like when we took a Saturday afternoon to go fly kites up at Tyson Park and the kids giggled running around without a care.  Or the game nights where we played Uno and Yahtzee while eating brownies just thrilled to be together.

This sweet woman was sharing with me the purpose of those treasured thoughts.  Remembering joy.  Even in those times when life has moved on.  The very fact that I have those experiences, are opportunities to celebrate while creating new special memories each day as I continue forward in life.

Today was a beautiful moment as I learned a precious lesson. Joy isn’t ending just because a season is.

Remembering

Where I See God
Journal #28: Remembering

“I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.” Psalm 77:11

My mom said it would happen.  And it did.  I tried to prevent it by moving on and filling up that space, but it still happened.

My Facebook post read, “After my son’s wedding last week and getting my daughter started in her senior year, I put my house back in order and headed out to an amazing conference.  This morning a very somber emotion fell right on top of me.  Truthfully, I’m not sure I understand it other than 1) it’s the approaching change of a life season and 2) a slowdown moment after I’ve been running so long.  Curious about other moms who have experienced solemnness after life changes.  Any advice?”

Why after such a joyous and fun-filled event would depression dare to flatten me?

I realize that after many mountain moments people end up in a valley, but I had worked so hard to avoid the valley.  Scheduling a conference to follow the wedding was my attempt to move on gracefully.  My jump start to get back in gear.  However, it didn’t’ work.

I needed a moment to lament.  To mourn the change and remember how God has gotten me through things before and will continue to do so in the future.

Scripture tells us to remember the “miracles of long ago,” reflecting on God’s goodness.

My husband asked me what I wanted to do for date night. Honestly, I was longing to reminisce about where we’ve been and remember what it took to get to this point in life.  We took it a step further and perused around in the Forester visiting in order all the homes we’ve lived in since moving to Northwest Arkansthorntonville.1as almost twenty-five years ago.  Our very first residence is only a few blocks away from our current location, but the other three took us on a tour of our area.  We laughed at memories, teared up thinking through when we brought each kid home from the hospital to the little house on Tradition Avenue and reflected on the challenging moments God used to create amazing moments in our life.

We ended our date at a local pizza joint daring to dream on what our future might hold.  It was a beautiful evening that allowed me to lament the letting go of a season with one of my children and celebrate the times we have ahead of us.

In a Thorntonville Wedding

Where I See God
Journal #27: In a Thorntonville Wedding

“‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh,’ So they are no longer two but one flesh.”  -Mark 10:7-8

We woke to the smell of coffee and the hush of groomsmen sleeping on our sofas, extra beds and an air-mattress.  My husband showered quickly sneeking out the garage door to pick-up Chic-Fil-A.  After taking turns to shower the groom and groomsmen made jokes about how the bridesmaids were probably eating a breakfast casserole while they were enjoying their tray of Chicken-Minis.

IMG_0540

The morning was calm but filled with laughter as the guys plotted funny schemes to potentially pull off during the wedding.  Dressed in navy they loaded cars and headed to the church, right before we figured out our son was wearing his dad’s suit coat instead of his own.  Quickly we dressed to go make the exchange hoping we’d get there before he attended his “first-look” in a jacket that was a little too large for him.

Arriving at the church we couldn’t help but get a little emotional.  The bride’s family had decorated the church and reception area beautifully.  Every detail was personal. We made the jacket exchange and then took time to walk around the reception area enjoying the photographs and personal touches.  Soon it was time to line up for the wedding.  My son pulled me aside to give me a handkerchief he’d had embroidered for me. Tears fell from my eyes as I hugged him.  The handkerchief was immediately put to use.

As he escorted me down the aisle, I couldn’t help but smile.  It was such a beautiful moment.  Twenty years of raising him, five years of him dating his bride, and eight months of planning brought us to this treasured moment.  “God,” I prayed, “thank you for each second of this man’s life.  The proud moments, the hard moments, the well moments, the sick moments.  Every second, I give you thanks.”

The groom took his place in front beside the pastor, as the groomsmen and bridesmaids entered one by one. A soloist sang, “For the Beauty of the Earth,” as an attitude of worship and thanksgiving filled the atmosphere.

Then the music for the bride’s processional began. Everyone turned to see the bride, but I couldn’t help but watch the groom.   He was so proud, so excited and so ready for this very moment.  This precious moment with family and friends.  My husband and I joyously watched as my son married his beautiful bride before God and congregation. My momma heart exploded with giddy happiness.

With “I do’s” said the ceremony was celebrated with congratulations, lots of hugs and cake with punch (and butter mints made by the bride’s grandmother. Yum!)  Simple as that, the wedding was done and a new marriage came to life welcoming a new Thornton to Thorntonville.

5 thorntons

 

 

Guilt-free Service

Where I See God
Journal #26: Guilt-free Service

“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16

This morning I walked into a friend from church.  It’s been awhile since I’d seen her and I quite literally walked into her.  I was on my morning stroll around an area park while she was on her morning power walk coming from a perpendicular path, bumped into each other. We continued on together catching up on the part of life that has happened since we last saw one another.

She’s an amazing woman, filled with humility and God’s spirit.  She began to share about a ministry on her heart when… it happened.  Part of my heart yelled, “CAUTION: Guilt ahead!”

She spoke about our church’s involvement in a beautiful ministry that helps the homeless community in our area and their need for more volunteers.   Time and time again my husband and I have prayed about serving in this particular ministry, but have felt the Holy Spirit say, “There is somewhere else I need you to serve.” So we’ve served where we have been led, trying to help the ministry in other ways than time and service, like financially and giving of supplies. However, when this ministry is mentioned, I get a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach followed with condemning thoughts of… “Kysia, you aren’t doing enough.  Why aren’t you helping with this ministry?  Don’t you like the homeless?  Are you being selfish?”

I recognize those are not thoughts from God.  I also know that anyone serving within the ministry mentioned, wouldn’t say or ask them.  So what is it about me and that ministry that is in such conflict?

I know the answer.  It seems like a ridiculous answer to me.  Yet, it is a common one.  Simply put, I feel guilty turning down service opportunities. This particular ministry I know needs a lot of help. Like baseballs in a pitching machine, I continually throw accusations back at myself tearing myself down because my energy is being used elsewhere.  I start to view the service I am already a part of as unworthy or at least, not as worthy to God.  A big fat lie.

Here is the deal.

  • We can all be part of ministry but we can’t all serve in the same area. There is too much ground to cover for that. We are members of the body called to different areas. Gifted in different ways. (1 Corinthians 12:5) There are vast opportunities in many areas of service.  Which is why it is so important to ask God, where He can use us most effectively.
  • As long as we are staying faithful to God, we are not going to disappoint Him. Serving God isn’t a pyramid sales opportunity where there are levels of power and worth. In fact, “there should be no division in the body [of Christ], but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.” (1 Corinthians 12:25) We are on the same team.  I’m even on that team when I’m not working in the ministry my church offers, but instead in a different area of ministry.
  • If we are going to compare our service let’s keep in mind what Jesus said to Peter when he was trying to compare himself to John. “What is that to you? You must follow me.” (John 21:22b) We are each to follow Jesus. Even when it looks different than what our brother is doing.
  • We are to encourage each other and build each other up as we do our work. (1 Thessalonians 5:11) Even if someone else’s work looks different, we are to encourage onward nearer to God.

This afternoon a friend called in a bit of a panic.  She had broken a prop she was planning on using at an upcoming special event.  She wanted to know if I could help her fix it.

When she rushed in the door she said, “I don’t know what to do and I’m not good at fixing things.”  I said to her, “There are lots of things you do really well, let me do what I do well.” Taking the large pieces of pottery, I was able to reassemble them and glue them back together so the piece could still be used for the event.

As she left to get to her next destination, I thought about what had just happened.  Two people – one gifted in selecting beautiful items for staging events and one person who was good at fixing broken pieces working together to get something done.  That’s the way ministry works. Different gifts, different callings working together to advance the kingdom of God.

There is no guilt in service, only work. As, I parted from my friend after our morning walk, I stopped to pray for her.  I also prayed for the homeless ministry for more people to volunteer.  Then I let that “caution: guilt ahead” go.  God’s given me a job and that is where I need to focus.

Gift of a Prayer

Where I See God
Journal #25: Gift of a Prayer

“All the believers were one in heart and mind.” Acts 4:32a

My meeting with the rehearsal dinner location, hadn’t gone so smoothly.  It was the first time during this wedding planning season, I had really felt nervous about the plans I’d made for the special dinner.  Then my contact with the restaurant stopped returning my calls.  My nerves amped up even more.  Wedding guests of family and friends were already invited to this particular location. I felt frustrated and nervous.

After I’d shared my fears with my future daughter-in-law, she handled me exactly the way I needed to be handled.  She offered to pray for me right in that moment.

I walked away from that conversation with a lot more than calmed nerves over a rehearsal dinner.  God gave me several other reassurances.

  1. My son’s fiancé knew where to take her problems.
  2. She wasn’t afraid to ask God boldly.
  3. God allowed me to see this amazing young woman take action with her faith. Her gift to me of prayer not only helped me breathe and surrender the moment, it also gave me a glimpse of the foundation my son’s marriage is about to be built upon.
  4. God showed me how He had been faithful to answer my prayers about my son’s future wife being someone who would love and serve Him.
  5. Since God had answered that prayer, He wasn’t about to “not answer” a prayer for strength and help through a stressful situation.

I walked away encouraged.

Today, I had another meeting with the restaurant.  It went smoothly.  Everything was back on track for the upcoming dinner.

Gratitude replaced fear.

Even though the mishap caused some stress, I’m am very thankful for the opportunity to receive such a blessing from my son’s fiancé.

A prayer answered, a blessing received.

Connection

Where I See God
Journal #24: Connection

“I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts.”  Psalm 119:45

With the school year schedule off, I’ve had plenty of time to process thoughts.  Summer has created a much needed slower pace for our family.  Dinners have been later, as evening meetings are minimal; family activities have increased with game nights, movie nights, and just sit around the table to talk nights.

However, there is one area I don’t want to slow down.  My time with God.  While I totally enjoy the extra time with my family, I’ve noticed that I’m not very peaceful when I leave God out.  Spending God time has to be a priority in my life. It is through this time with God I’ve learned some valuable lessons.

A number of faith pieces have come together in my life puzzle this summer. Pieces like a new understanding of trust, plus being able to see how God goes before me to prepare routes each day.  I’m experiencing peace like I have never experienced before.  More now than ever I’m seeking obedience with my Heavenly Father.  It’s refreshing.  Deep breaths are coming more naturally.  Joy is growing fruit deep within.

Truthfully, I’m not desiring to go back to the way things were when school starts back.  Curiosity of “Is this peace possible during the school year?” brings hope of living differently.

For that to be a reality though, I know there are things I’m going to have to give up.  This doesn’t mean becoming lazy, like some summer days imply; instead it will require truly evaluating everything I take on by asking God for discernment. Outside of my work what activities are most beneficial in serving God, my family, and my community?   Where am I needed, most effective, and joyful? Through listening, waiting and searching for God’s answers a unique connection is being formed.

I’m seeing God in connection. Connection flowing through work and living spaces. Connection in God’s word, in prayer, in relationships with friends and family, as well as in moments of slowing down to seek Him. Fast paced living may be necessary from time to time, but connection doesn’t thrive in that pace.  Nor does freedom. Nor does joy.

That’s the largest piece of my puzzle.  Finding out that as my connection with God increases, my freedom does, too. As does my joy.