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Archive for August, 2010

Enjoy day two of our very special Labor Day Celebration series here at Given the Time!

What is your work?
I am a  para professional in a local public school system.  The definition of  para professional  is, “A trained worker who is not a member of a given profession but assists a professional…”   God equipped me long ago to come along side people to “serve.”  He was very kind to provide a venue for me to be a functioning member in our community after my children were raised and earn a small paycheck doing it.
How did you get into this career?
In order for me to get a flavor of what life was like for my children when they transitioned from Christian school to public school, I signed up to be a substitute teacher aid at the new school they attended.  In a short period of time some people there commented “you know you are really good at this.”  I just said thank you.  It wasn’t long before a position became available in that area and those same people suggested me to apply.  After talking with my husband as to the pros and cons for our family that working would bring, I did apply and go through the full process of interviewing for the job.  When offered the actual position I again consulted with my husband because it was truly a change in our household.  We decided that God was allowing this for good as a way to be “salt and light” in the community and as a way for me to be in touch with what life was like for youth (we were youth sponsors at Community Bible Church) and also to provide a small savings account for future college expenses.
What are some of your favorite things about your job?
Some of my favorite things about my job are:
A.  Giving other people of all ages and professions a “boost” to help their perspective be brighter and their load lighter.
B.  Experiencing variety in people and classrooms for learning for me.
C.  Having to “stick to it” for a nine month period of time and see the fruit come from that.
D.  Giving young people a vision for a better place than where they are at currently that they couldn’t see on their own.
E.  Meeting people on the street that I’ve interacted with on the job.
What challenges you in your work?
A.  Just getting there.  In the beginning I didn’t have my head around working.  It was like pulling teeth every day for a good three months to get out of the house.  Once I got there and became involved in the “helping” I was always very glad I went though.  Truly I am never excited about leaving home even for vacation.
B.  Students who feel hopeless are a challenge for me.  There are students who have truly given up already in middle school.  To come along side them and put wind under their sails again takes a lot of patience, time and sometimes hard consequences for them before they are ready to make a different choice.
C.  This one is a challenge and a blessing:  After having spent a considerable amount of effort with students and getting familiar with what works in teaching them to let them go and trust the Lord to take them away from me and allow Him to be the source of their teaching has been good practice for when I had to do it for my own children leaving for college.
Can you give examples of God’s faithfulness in regard to your job?
There have been family trips that I’ve thought were extravagant but I’ve “submitted” to and asked God to use.  Low and behold the destination of our family trip has been a unit of study in social studies class I helped in that enabled me to bring visual aids, pictures and tell real cultural stories that helped students make their study more personal.
Where do you find inspiration when things get hard?
Colossians 3:17 : And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. This verse  helps me not get bogged down by uninteresting work or unkind, childish or human reactions to me.  I know if I keep after what the Lord calls me to do eventually fruit grows even though it takes a long time.  My inspiration also comes from watching others around me work hard.  Additionally it comes from having watched so many children “grow up” and change 180 degrees from a destructive place.  Knowing them has helped me not give up on others.
Is there a lesson you have learned?
Always keep relationship priorities straight.   1.  God  2.  Husband  3. Children  4.  Work.  When I get my priorities mixed up nothing works right.  When I keep them in order God uses me in mighty ways!

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In the two weeks surrounding Labor Day, Given the Time will be posting personal stories rather than our usual Sunday blog and Daily Devotionals. Each woman interviewed has a career and has experienced God’s faithfulness first-hand.  Enjoy!

What career has God given to you?

Heading for college in the mid-sixties, career options for women were somewhat limited to nursing, education or two year associate degrees.  Of course, there were some who took the less traveled path into science or business. I selected education as a career choice and reflecting back over my 42 years as a classroom teacher and at present, a school administrator, I have no regrets.

Have you always wanted to do this?

I knew I desired to stay in education however, following a number of years in the classroom my inner voice, which I now know as the Holy Spirit, led me to step out and enroll in a master’s program for school administration.  This was not done lightly. Having completed one master’s in Special Education a number of years earlier (before kids), commitment and time factors were significant issues to consider.  Close friends in the profession were supportive and encouraging but there were a few who thought I was nuts.  My husband, who at the time was also a teacher, convinced me to move ahead with Cindy’s New Adventure.  “All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.” (Proverbs 14:23.)  Talk alone wasn’t going to make anything happen so in 1984 I took the plunge, enrolling at Eastern Michigan for my third (and last) degree. I finished in 1987.  A family member inquired as to when I planned to begin my Ph.D?  Thankfully, the Lord held my tongue! In 1988 I accepted my first position as an elementary principal.  I have been blessed over the last 23 years thriving in a new career within a career.

What about your career causes you to be passionate about it?

In His wisdom the Lord knew I was one who needed room to take on challenges, be creative and comfortably “think outside the box.”  I am unafraid of leadership as well as the challenges on a daily basis that are attached to my responsibilities. I am passionate about my students and how they are supported, educationally and emotionally, by all staff.  I can and will continue making a difference for kids and their families because I am in a position to do so.  Working with an excellent team of professionals allows us to create an environment that focuses on achievement, address concerns and laugh often.  Outside of my 12 to 14 hour “daze” I can appear more serious and reserved than the “real me.”  I’m just resting up for my next day’s adventure.

What challenges have you faced?

At the top of my list are long hours and 100 miles a day back and forth to work. I have meetings that may start at 7:45 AM, 4 PM or 6:30 PM.  Educators spend hours of personal and professional time outside of their classroom/building responsibilities which are job related. I am not an exception.  However, as they say, “it goes with the territory”.  Other challenges: troubled students/families, dividing time between what needs to be accomplished and what others want you to accomplish, changes that effect instruction or support services due to lack of funding, as well as mandates from the state or federal level which make no sense at all and are not responsive to what is best for kids.  I pray frequently!

How has God shown Himself faithful to you in your work?

There was a brief period a few years ago when my attitude took a slide of sorts.  Our new (now former) superintendent created a working environment that was confrontational, devisive and counter-productive in terms of collaboration. My CBC small group helped me immensely to bear the stress and burdens faced at work. Through their prayers and supportive conversations, God continued to provide the daily strength needed to make it through.  So, all things considered, I would say that over the years, as a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, with the power of the Holy Spirit, I am uplifted.  God enables me to do what otherwise may be difficult.  He keeps me in the right frame-of-mind.

How do you stay inspired?

Each day is filled with something or someone different.  On my way into work I always make a call in to discover if a new adventure awaits me (or us).  Instead of ‘problems” we refer to them as “new adventures.”  I have lots of time to ask the Lord for his presence and wisdom throughout the day.  I listen to Christian music and books on tape in my car. And, always, I have the best students who make me laugh all the time.

What piece of advice can you pass on to other women in the workplace?

Enjoy the fact that you have the opportunity to make a difference for others and that includes those you work with.  I firmly believe that the Lord has placed us in positions where our talents and gifts can be used for His glory.  Find joy in what you do and what you have accomplished.  And if  the Holy Spirit is nudging you to take a new road or challenge, such as a new job or further education, GO FOR IT!

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As a little girl did you dream of what you would be when you grew up?  What was your favorite future career choice?  It is funny to remember those dreams, and some of them may have even come true.  I considered being a teacher, a missionary,  a doctor, a cop, a pastor, an astronaut, a wife and a mom…the sky was the limit!

Do you ever still dream of what you will be someday, perhaps when you hit a new season of life or when finances allow some extra freedom to pursue a new career?  I find myself there too sometimes.  Truly God has given us  many unique gifts to contribute to our society and we as women have a desire to make a difference.  That is something worth celebrating!

In honor of  the approaching Labor Day holidays, Given the Time will post an interview each day getting to know different women who have made a variety of career choices.  These women have learned firsthand the rewards and blessings found in their career as they make use of their God-given gifts and talents in our world.  They have also learned some good lessons along the way as well and are willing to share their insights.  

We invite you to join us over the next two weeks for these conversations and encourage you to pass this site along to other women in your life.  Do you know a younger woman who is still dreaming about her future?  Consider passing this site address along to her as well…the interviews will give her a snapshot of 10 different career choices:

www.giventhetime.wordpress.com

Have a great week!

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Transitions – the mere mention of the word can bring about a flood of emotions. Some are painful, some are fun and exciting. Most of our life is journeying from one transition to another. Remember going from 8th grade into High School?  There was the big moment when you moved away from home for the first time, or the day you brought your firstborn home from the hospital. Or how about showing up the 1st day at your new job? Each new experience brought about changes, produced growth and allowed God the opportunity to work something new in our life.

A simple definition of the word transition could be stated as a passage, movement, or change from one position, stage, or concept to another. Many times I would just like to skip the transition part and just get there! So many questions seem to arise as I anticipate a big transition in my life. My first reaction honestly is usually fear. How will I handle that issue or what will happen if this or that doesn’t work out?  Left to my own imagination, I have created a lot of drama that creeps in my thoughts and steals the joy!

This year I have had the opportunity of transitioning from having high school students in our home to the “Empty Nest” stage of our lives. Knowing it was coming did not lessen the fear of the unknown or wondering how I was going to handle my emotions through this. As I started preparing ahead of time, my husband and I signed up for some classes together through the community education program in our area.  I cleaned out the closets with each of my children and had a garage sale to move along the no longer needed items. I assisted each of them in getting ready for their new locations and pictured them having fun and meeting new people in their dorm or new apartment setting. Anyway, as I’m working through the details of getting everyone set, I realize that God wants so much more from me than just a smooth transition from one stage to another. He wants to be a part of every detail of the transition, from the planning, to the end results. He just wants to be with me!!  He promises to never leave me or forsake me! He actually is refining me to have a deep yearning desire to be with Him. God wants to me to invite Him into the journey and not worry about how I am going to handle everything. Jesus is in the business of handling my life and I can trust Him to take care of the details even if I don’t understand what is going on at the time. Wow – how refreshing! I can relax in Him and enjoy the ride, even if it gets bumpy at times.

I love the imagery of John 15- the Vine and the Branches. From verse 5 ,as Jesus is speaking to His disciples in preparation for His death and resurrection He said,” I am the vine ,and you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit, apart from me you can do nothing.” This verse implies a union and fellowship with Christ that supersedes any relationship we have here on earth. We don’t have to give into fear or anxiety because if you have confessed with your mouth “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved-Romans 10:9. Being saved means that God will never leave you or forsake you, not only for our time on earth, but for all eternity.

Transitions will still be a part of our lives,we are constantly in a state of change in one area or another. Some transitions are also more difficult than others, those that involve loss of a loved one, death of a dream,or possibility living with the consequences of a wrong decision.

Whatever transition you may find yourself in, even if you are in the middle of troubled times, invite Jesus into all your transitions-He so desires to be with you – His beloved!

For Daily Devotionals  Monday  through Friday of this week related to the topic of transitions in our lives, click here.

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I grew up in the church.  You could say that I was born in the church really.  I don’t remember a time that I wasn’t in church on a Sunday morning or Wednesday night AWANA.  And while this wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, you could call me a poser…a pretender if you will.  If you could have looked up the definition of a Christian Poser you might have seen this: someone who knows all the answers about the Bible, God, or even Christianity but doesn’t believe it…and you would have seen my picture.  But that was then.

My journey started in middle school, when I attended a small Christian school.  Something inside of me just clicked when I was in 8th grade.  I had been told that no one could make me do anything I didn’t want to do, and I took that to the extreme.  I didn’t want to go to church, nor did I want anything to do with God.  I refused to pray when asked to do so.  My prayers: out the door.  Of course I still helped out at AWANA…my mother was the director.  But I really had no desire to be involved with anything God-related.

High School came, and my mind-set was still the same.  I went to a private Christian high school, but God was still pointless to me.  Church was boring.  I slept through Bible class, and the days I was awake, I looked forward to finding every loop-hole in my teacher’s lesson and starting debates.  Freshman year passed, and that summer, I went to a summer Bible camp in northern Michigan.  The speaker was good, but the boys were cuter.  He did one lesson though, that stuck with me for some reason.  It was on the Ten Commandments and about how they applied to real life.  I thought that was cool and came to the conclusion that I had to work to get God’s approval and His love.  When I got back from camp, I had a little break down crying out to God that I knew I was a hypocrite, but I couldn’t just give my life to Him.  Why would He want anything to do with me?  The sinner and imperfect person that I was?  This started the whole “I’m going to be perfect” phase of my life where if I wasn’t perfect, God wouldn’t like me.

Sophomore year came, and the idea of being perfect came with it.  I don’t think I’ve ever pushed myself harder or laid on the pressure so much.  This year, I looked forward to Bible class, because I knew that was when I could show off how perfect I was, never letting on to how broken I really was.  The first lesson we were studying was actually the book of Galatians and the first topic was perfectionism.  Way to go God.  It wasn’t until the end of the unit that I finally made the connection that yes, I am not perfect and I won’t ever be.  But God loves me the way I am and there’s nothing more that I can do to love me more than He already does.  I asked to go to the bathroom and stayed there till the end of class.  In the bathroom, I gave my life to Christ.  I gave Him my desires to be perfect and asked Him to show me how much He loved me the way I was.

From that day on, life has never been the same.  God has constantly proven and shown to me different ways in which He loves me.  While there are days that I slip into my “I have to be perfect” mode, I’m always reminded that I am a Child of God, redeemed and summoned by Him to do great works, and nothing can change that.

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“Dear God,

I hope you are big enough to run this world. My burdens are more than I can bear. I am scared and afraid. I have and will continue to fail you in this life you have given me. I hope you are big enough to accept my imperfections. I hope you can handle my worries because I can’t and I truthfully don’t want to. My spirit is crushed. My burdens wash over me and drag me into a deep despair. I have fallen short and cannot get myself though life without the support from you and help of others. How, God, am I to begin to face this day. So I pray, God, please be big enough; this world is too big for me.”

These are a few of the emotions and thoughts that have wandered and still wander into my mind, heart and spirit over the years. I have had these since God first touched my life when I was around 6 or 7 years old. My question was and still is, “God are you big enough”?

With every challenge I face I find myself still asking the same question, and God still remains faithful by answering that question with a “yes.” Sometimes it came through nature, like watching a Monarch butterfly develop from caterpillar to beautiful butterfly in 3rd grade or when I was younger through television shows like Rudolf The Red Nose ReindeerSanta Clause is Coming To TownCharlie BrownDr. Seuss and even Pippi Longstocking.

Even as time passed, yes, God proved faithful. Sometimes by using friends and family to answer my question, or even circumstances.

As an example the year I was expecting our youngest son a drunk driver hit us. Then 2 years later, on the very same weekend, a newly licensed teen driver hit us. The loss of 2 cars in that short period of time put a significant financial strain on us. God again proved He was big enough in providing for us.

We have lost parents and family due to cancer and other diseases.

I have experienced job failures and the struggles of finding new ones.

God knows our financial stresses and pressure of providing for our family, emotional as well as physical needs.

He has been big enough when relationships have been strained, tested and don’t meet our needs.

He was there the night our family experienced an intruder to our home.

He has carried my challenges of depression, anxiety, motherhood, and being a wife.

Even now the newest challenge, breast cancer and the treatments that come to bring healing. God has always been big enough – I know this because each and every morning the sun does rise. Not by my will, or any others, but by His.

You must understand as that small child I believed that someone or something had to keep that sun coming up everyday because it always did. I believed then that humans had the power to keep it from rising. Yet, everyday, God proved and continues to prove He was the one keeping the sun on its course.

So is God big enough?

God is big enough and has proven that to me, all these years later. Has my faith grown? Yes. Is it still challenged? Yes. Am I overcome with the desire to give in and not care about my relationship with God? Yes. Is God big enough to handle that? Yes. Am I glad? Yes.

“Thank you, God, for being big enough  for I can be honest and say I am not. Thank you, God, for showing me by the rising of the sun everyday that you are big enough. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1),…not me.”

Love,

your child

The Daily Devotionals this week remind us of how big God is and of his great power.  We hope you will join us!

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When I was asked to share my story I was hesitant at first, even said I didn’t have an important enough story to share.  Later I felt God telling me that I was created in His Image, He loved me, and that each and everyone has a story that is important.  So here I am.

I grew up in a home with parents who never attended church.  My parents never denied there was a God but never spoke of God.  When I turned ten my parents went through a bitter divorce and from then on I lived with my mom.  During that time my relationship with my dad stopped and that was very difficult.  I became very angry and bitter towards him.  I did finish school, earned good grades, had good friends, but still felt angry, sad, and alone a lot of the time.

I eventually married my husband and although we acquired a lot of material processions and had a good marriage, I still felt an emptiness inside.  During this time I began noticing people entering my life who had something special about them and they began talking to me about Jesus.  Although, some of them had difficult circumstances in their lives, they had a sense of peace that I didn’t have.  One day I was listening to a Christian speaker on the radio that was recommended to me and I finally understood that I needed to surrender my life to Jesus.  I prayed right then and asked for forgiveness for my sins and for Jesus to come into my life.

That was twenty-one years ago.  I can tell you that my life has been very different since that day I opened my heart to Jesus.  Before my relationship with God, I depended on people for my happiness and I realize now I was very self-centered.  Whenever a difficult time arose I always felt alone, even if I had the support of family and friends.  That wasn’t enough.  There was always something missing, an emptiness.  But once I accepted Gods free gift to me that changed.

I have continued to have difficult times in my life.  I lost a baby during pregnancy, have gone through difficult financial problems, and lost very close family and friends during a short period of time.  Most recently my husband became suddenly very ill and almost died and my mom is ill with terminal cancer.

I am sharing this with you because now when hard times happen I never feel alone. God didn’t promise me a life without hardships but He did promise me I would never again be alone.  Joshua 1:5 says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.

When my husband became ill I did not know if I would see him alive again.  I drove alone to the hospital but I did not feel alone.  I called a couple of friends and asked them to pray for my husband.  Later I found out the news had spread quickly and many, many people were praying.  I experienced a peace that day that is difficult to understand.

Right now I am watching my mom battle cancer for the third time and it is very hard.  But, not to long ago my mom surrendered her life to God and I now have the assurance that I will spend eternity with her in heaven.  This gives me tremendous peace.  I also see the peace my mom has with her illness and death.  She recently told me she is not afraid to die.

I know that hard times will continue but I am so thankful that I can talk to my Heavenly Father anytime and anywhere.  I know He is always listening and He loves me unconditionally.

Being a wife and mother I have had the opportunity to share this great gift with my husband and children.  It has been a blessing to see them develop a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and I am thankful to see them growing in their faith.

I want you to know that this free gift is available to each and everyone of you.  This gift can not be earned.  All anyone has to do is ask.  John 3:16 says, “ For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Click here for Daily Devotionals related to this story.

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