This came in the mail today. From someone I haven't met that goes to my church. It spoke to me in such great volume. And brought a tear to my eyes.
I haven't blogged here for a long time on a consistent basis. I have been busy writing my book. Being with my family. Keeping my head above water trying to work at my day job at the university and keep food on the table. Like all of you.
For most of this year, I have heard this voice inside me say, "Who are YOU? Who do YOU think you are to be in THIS place? To say...WHAT? Who cares? Who even is listening?". I let some negative forces that breeze in and out of all of our lives, make me believe that what I was doing was just self serving and not worthy. I kept to myself mostly. I kept quiet. I just froze.
And then this Sunday.
At church. 3 different people came up to me to tell me how much they appreciated the writing I shared in our Advent Devotional book.
And today. This note. From someone I've never met who thanked me for sharing what I wrote in that devotional and what a blessing it was to them.
I pulled my notes out of my purse today that I wrote while in church on Sunday (yes I WAS listening Pastor Tim). It was about THIS PLACE. This blog of mine.
I was jotting notes that read:
Why do I journal here?
Do I even care who my audience is?
Bigger than my "biz" - there's more to it.
It's my own personal letter - to my kids, to myself, to YOU, to someone who needs to hear it today because God gave me this place.
I think I have felt guilt over pursuing success in this sewing / design industry. Guilt over working outside the home in my day job. Guilt over wanting to make a better life for my kids rather than being in the moment, content and thankful for what I already have. I think it's not enough but it is. Most things do not come easy for us these days financially with a family of 5 and my part time job and my husbands retirement. But we have enough. We have MORE than enough. I forget this so often.
I have felt vain. I have let others make me feel less than what I am. I have compared my own talents to others and wished that I had their successes.
The truth is my success in this design industry, take it or leave it, does not define me. Who I am, how I live, and my CONNECTIONS TO OTHERS does define me.
That connection to one another gives me purpose and hope and happiness and makes me feel grateful. So very very grateful for those around me.
When I let go of overthinking who I am, what I'm doing, and what's next - what naturally rises to the surface is peace.
Peace in knowing that God has a plan for me and rather than trying to define myself by my successes, I will define myself by the company I keep and the relationships that arise and the love that swells in my heart knowing that each and every day, I am HIS.
I have a purpose to serve and if I've been blessed with creativity and a joy to share and inspire it here, then I will. I will speak what comes to my mind, I will write a letter to myself, to my kids, to YOU.
I want to write. I want to write here freely. Not just about sewing. But about my life. About what is important to me. About everything in life and faith and relationships AND sewing and art and crafting and inspiration and color and fabric and nature and so much more.
Read if you'd like. Share your stories with me too. This is just a letter to me. To my kids. To you.
And that devotion I wrote for church, here's a piece of it:
1 Thessalonians 5:16–18 Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.......Let's call it a "mid-life" crisis. Or something like that. I'm half-way through my life and all I could think about was "I don't want to miss these moments". There is only just this one day my littlest will be 5 years old on November 5th or whatever day it happens to be and I don't want to miss it because I'm at work.And so, with that tugging on my heart, I started a new routine for my mornings to try and change my attitude. Everyday, on my commute to my job, to work in advising and counseling students on their career paths in the environmental sciences, I pray this prayer,
"God, please use me today to do YOUR good works. Please help me to be everything YOU need me to be today to whoever comes through my door".
I kept saying the words each day but, I didn't feel them.
Then late in the summer, I hung a cover from one of the church bulletins on my office wall that had a painting of Jesus on it that says, "Who do you say that I am?". I noticed that a lot of students would look intently at that picture and a few have opened up about how their faith life was very important to them and how they want to incorporate it into their career path. Not a single student has ever mentioned their faith to me in the 15 years I've been at the university - until I posted that picture.
One day, about 2 weeks ago, I had an attitude changing moment that rocked me. I was meeting with a student and we were discussing academic courses and plans for internships. Our appointment time was over and he says to me, "So, I wanted to ask you a question. Who do YOU say that Jesus is?". I just stared at him in this moment, with a very surprised tone, and I put my hands to my chest pointing at myself, taken aback and all I could say was, "Me?? Who do I say Jesus is? Like, ME? Who do I think He is???".
- Public school institution
- Am I being punked?
- Maybe he's an atheist and he wants to argue with me
- Can I really talk about this here?
- Am I going to get in trouble if I talk about this HERE?
In a matter of like 3 seconds, all those thoughts raced through my mind and I looked out my office window, sat back in my chair, and looked at him and said, "Jesus to me, is my Lord and Savior. That's who is to ME." I then was breathless because I had said it. Out loud. It felt really powerful to say it when questioned in a moment I least expected it. And the student responded, "Cool. He is for me too." and then we spent the next 20 minutes talking about Jesus, God, who Jesus was to other religions, specifically how He is referred to in various scriptures...and I was completely amazed.
These college students I work with are away from home. For many, church is a 2nd home for them. Like it is for my own children. A place where they feel safe. A place where they are with God. And I think, that picture on my office wall makes them feel safe with me at that moment. It calls to them a reminder of a part of their life that is the most meaningful.
I am often the person who helps a student choose a major and determine what they will do for their lifes work and I think - I know - that God has called me to this place at this time. To be with His children. Not just my own. I know that what I do here is more than a job. God is using me in unique ways with gifts He has given me to help others. For that, I give thanks, in all circumstances, for the opportunity to be His hands, to share His word. At times when I least expect it.
So, that's it. Speaking from my heart freely. I hope to be back more often with more to share.