#WhoIAm part 2

September 17, 2005. Changed. My. Life. 

I was in the middle of my graduate studies at Old Dominion University.  Truly half way, feeling on top of the world.  New job, new home, new beginning at the place we call “home”.  That Saturday afternoon after class, I decided to go get my son his Halloween costume early.  I had just found out that week I was pregnant and was afraid I would feel the tiredness setting in, so wanted to get it done. 

I picked my son up from Gramma Jane, which was six miles from my new house.  We were singing while I drove, windows and sunroof open, enjoy the beginning of fall.  We had just decided that hamburger helper was for dinner.  Then it happened…

I was traveling 55mph and a car ran a stop sign.  We t-boned that blue taurus, spun and flipped and ended on our side.  The details over the next two minutes are still fuzzy, but somehow I unbuckled myself, unbuckled my son and hoisted him out of the window.  There were several people there by now and they just grabbed him and the EMT’s were already on the scene because they happened to be within hearing distance of the wreck.  I couldn’t get out, but they eventually got me out of the back of the Explorer. 

We were both rushed by ambulance to the hospital, but I heard mention of med-flight for the people in the other car. 

At this point, there was so much of a whirlwind occurring that I really was just secured to a board and kept hearing the word “trauma”.

By God’s miracle and protective hands, my son only received a bloody nose.  No. Injuries. At. All. 

I was admitted and had several internal issues that took months to recover from, a cane, neckbrace, etc. I had a few complications with my spleen and leg, but  my precious baby was also unharmed.  Yet another miracle.

But, the drive and passenger of the other car did not make it. 

I received state awards for being saved by the seatbelt because of the severe nature of the crash, but sustained non-life threatening injuries.  I was on the news, interviewed, etc.  But it felt WRONG.

I found out later that the people that died were missionaries in the area that were not familiar with the area.  The stop sign and intersection that this occurred now has flashing lights and speed bumps. 

Although I was 0% at fault, the guilt still eats at my soul.  However, I now know that God had a reason for me to live that day.  He had a reason for my son to live that day.  His reasons gave me a daughter 8 months later.  No more questioning for me.  Faith was all I had.

This is when my true journey with Christ began.  I have made it a priority in my life.  I have to pass the intersection of this accident several times each week, and it is still hard.  I think I still think about that wreck every day.  But with God by my side, His grace saved me and continues to save me every single day. 

#WhoIAm

My story…

My story….It isn’t special, extraordinary, or even heart wrenching.  Just my story. My journey through becoming a Christian and believing that Jesus died for me and my sins.

I did not grow up in a Christian, church attending home.  My parents were not against it, we just did not go to church, nor did we really talk about it.  I did not really hear a bible story until I was an adult.  Never even owned a bible.  My dad was a high school football, basketball, track, and baseball coach and every Sunday, he worked to plan for that weeks games.  My mom felt like a single mom a lot, but she did well.  Emphasizing church and the bible was not top on her list of surviving.  I blame no one, but I can totally relate to those who are new Christians and the intimidation of the bible.  People quote scripture, talk about stories, sing songs, and I’ve got nothing.  No childhood warm and fuzzies appear.  Again, no regrets, no grudges, just a different way of life.

During college, I started to feel a pull to read and understand it all, but I enjoyed partying, being social and being independent, so attending church was never a priority.  In fact, I would say that there was a point when I had no clue, so I just never thought about it.

Once I graduated and got married in 1997, my husband and I were feeling the pressure to attend his childhood church.  But when we attended, I was always “Matt’s wife”; not Jodi. It was a small rural church so, I had no real people to relate to and we once tried Sunday school, but some participants clearly had other agendas and I witnessed arguing and debating that was very uncomfortable.  We soon moved away from the area we called “home” and never attended church except for Easter and Christmas.

So, at this point in my life, married and no kids, the exposure I had to Christianity and attending church was either nil or negative.

Fast forward to 2005.  My son was a bouncing toddler and kept me busy.  My father in law, grandfather in law, and dog had all passed away from cancer within three months of one another.  We moved back to the area we call “home” to be closer to family.  Once again, feeling the pull to attend church, we started to attend regularly, become involved with children’s church and the youth group.  This is where I started to learn the bible stories and feel like I was getting it, but still lots of questions in my mind on how God could truly achieve all that he had claimed.

Questions.  LOTS of questions.  I needed faith.  But clearly I didn’t have it because I questioned so much.

September 17, 2005. Changed. My. Life.

The Right Time

The Right Time

 

So, how many times have you turned down something because it was the wrong time?  How many times have you thought about writing that card or sending that handwritten note, but it wasn’t the right time?  How many times do you intend to read your bible, but the time was not right?  How many times did your brain flip through twelve thousand great ideas while you were showering, but it wasn’t the right time?  Or, how many times have you meant to say something encouraging to someone or thank them, but time ran out?

 

I know…me too!  Too many to count and it is certainly a daily occurrence in my life.  It’s not something I am proud of, but sometimes it just seems not the right time, or honestly,  I forget. 🙂  That mental to-do list has failed me yet again!

 

But know that you are not alone!!!  Time is down-right precious to me and just about every minute of my waking hours are planned out and NOT because I am OCD about planning – I’d prefer a much simpler, stressed less life, where my timing is ALWAYS right. However, I know better and know that I have to do the best with what I have and always look for those divine appointments to be radically obedient to Him.

 

Waiting for the right time to say yes to God, could take an entire lifetime if I allow those wheels to spin too long and look for the excuses as to why the time isn’t right.  That is why I must embrace the “here and now” and seek out every opportunity to serve Him and glorify His name.   When I hear His voice nudging me, do it.  No regrets, no questions, no fears of embarrassment. Period.  What if He thought about us in that way?  What if He was only obedient to us when His time was right?

 

I know this may be a total direction shift, but do so in knowing that we are His.  Nothing tangible we have here is really ours – it belongs to Him.  It’s our perception of these “things” and how we use them to glorify Him with the right time and the actions we take to serve Him say yes to God.

 

Here is a song I’d love for you to hear.  Read and re-read the chorus with our discussion about saying Yes to God fresh in your mind.  Is your time now?  What are you waiting for?

 

 

If you are waiting for the right time,

the right time will fly right by you,

Always planning,

never moving,

always praying,

never doing.

It ain’t living if you are just spending your life

waiting for the right time.

STRESSED-LESS

STRESSED –LESS is my goal in life!  Who wouldn’t want that?!?!?  But taking this journey is both scary and exciting at the same time.  But more than anything, the timing of this study, couldn’t be more perfect because of this year, I have had some doubts with my professional life and just after reading chapter 1, I feel this book is speaking to me in a tremendous way!

My Story:  I am a public school teacher by profession – teaching first grade, special education, and most recently a reading specialist.  Over the 10 years I spent in public education, I was stressed. Plain and simple.  Could never get it all done and the looming stress of testing would keep me up at night!   I would use the phrase “If only I had….” (ironic that was one of the reflection questions) I felt validated by working towards degree after degree thinking that is what I needed to get the answers for how to get it done.  WRONG!  I loved the challenges and the learning, but in reflection, I realize that this was my way of validating my lack of “getting it all done” – one more degree or class and I would have the knowledge, right?!?!?  Hence, the biggest realization – this constant running or challenges were creating gaps between my family and more importantly, a gap between me and God.  So, a year and a half ago, I decided something HAD to change.  I could not go on trying to wear too many hats and keep it all going, plus keep my sanity while doing it!  I felt the push to start a new mission with my church that involved preschoolers and a tutoring program.  Since the inception of Busy Bees Learning Center, I have had too many doubts/stressors to list – ranging from not enough kids enrolled, to the paychecks being less than half of my previous salary, to most recently (due to GROWTH) who to hire to help with the overflow! Fast forward to today, God’s is great!  This was the best thing I could have ever done and I am reaping the rewards by being able to focus on Him each day, all the while sharing the word with children and families that may not have ever had the chance to learn about God. 

So, now that you know more about me, my goal is simple:  To continue on my trek for a stress-less life, one step at a time.  I feel that I am on the path with my professional life by putting God first, now it’s time to take charge of the rest of my life.  I am confident – more than ever – that allowing God to take the stressors from me and focus on His word, I can do this!

It’s Controlling Me!

Ok, so, my fancy-schmacy iphone is to blame!  No, really, it runs me so much that I keep that thing in my pocket at all times – in fact it fell out of my back pocket and into the toilet just this week!  (and in case you are wondering, yes… the water was clean!) So, it runs me, alerts me, distracts me, entertains me, and lets me do shopping!  It’s a great thing, right?!?!

I wish I could say yes, but I know deep down that is doing more harm than good.  So, how is this controlling for me?  Well, I had to think hard about this, but what it is doing is allowing me to use the crutch of my phone to determine priority levels of certain things.  For example, I get a text message and I feel the need to reply right away, or I get an alert from facebook that someone has written on my timelines – GOTTA SEE WHO THAT WAS!  Or even my newest favorite app – Poshmark!  (consignment store shopping from my phone!!!!!)  Meanwhile, as I am checking these things – to remain informed of course – I lose out on things that God has put splat in front of me.  I could me spending more time in my bible, in conversations with my children, husband, family and the list goes on and on and on…

Going forward, I need to use these “shiny” things for the tools they were intended for and not let this control me!  Trust me, I have had these days where I think I literally could not live without my iphone but in writing this, I think my life would be much simpler without it!  I would be forced to have that quiet time or be free from distractions! 

As I move on with my day, a verse keeps coming to mind….Proverbs 19:22  Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.  Just another reminder that God is in control, despite how I may act day to day.  So, time to get on track and put God first, eliminate the distractions and let God control everything!

Skipping.

Skipping.  Skipping. Skipping.  When was the last time you skipped?  When was the last time you even thought about skipping?  If you are like me – you never think about it and you never do it for various reasons, to include the amount of energy it takes, fear of having an “accident”, or even the awkwardness of starting and stopping.  Regardless of the reason, we just don’t get around by skipping!  But, have you ever watched kids and their skipping?  They do it on the playground, across a parking lot, in a store, everywhere!  When I saw my daughter start to do a quick skip across WAWA with her drink in hand, I just stopped and smiled – so carefree and so innocent.  She didn’t care that it was crowded with people. She didn’t care how she looked or even that she was carrying a carbonated drink; albeit the lid was still on.   She was just happy, and decided to skip.

I wish I was more like that – carefree and energized.  As I watched her go ahead of me and I was smiling, a thousand thoughts ran through my mind – be careful, wait for me, watch out for that person – but then I stopped and just said to myself – I want to be more like that. Carefree and energized.  Why not, right?

Then I thought, that is what Jesus wants us to do.   Give him all of our burdens and he will handle it.  It may not always be the answer we want, but he will handle it for us.  You see, we as adults, parents, etc, we try to manage and control as much as possible within our lives.  But we must face it – we cannot control everything.  Curve balls occur daily in my life and I am sure I am not alone.  But when we try to control and manage everything, we waste our much needed playfulness and our energy on things of negative nature.  Just think – if we directed our thoughts on all things positive – no matter what – how much more carefree and energized would we be as parents?  As neighbors? As families?  I am currently reading a book – Unglued.  It is an amazing read and it really makes you relate to others and I keep saying as I am reading – yep, that has happened to me.  Definitely makes you think about your reactions to others and makes you realize that others are right there with you, but what makes the difference is the attitude you display – alone and with others.

From now on, I will try to skip more often.  I want my positive attitude and energy to shine through the bounce in my step and I will carry myself as the “light” I am charged to do as a Christian.  Will you join me?

Focus Verse:  Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding – Proverbs 3:5