Sunday, May 31, 2009

Greetings from . . .

Much to my chagrin, I made an ironic observation this past week. We have a cat. Her name is Jetta and she is very much her own animal. She is not like our Jack cat who would allow us to scoop him up and nuzzle him. She pretty much does her own thing and believes she is blessing us with her presence if she simply passes through the room we're located in. And while Jetta has a list of things she does not appreciate (like nuzzling), there is one thing that truly freaks of her out: the car. We've been back and forth between Mississippi and Florida several times in the last eleven months. Each time, Jetta is packed away in the pet carrier and secured in the rear of the vehicle. Nevertheless, she proceeds to meow her protests. For hours. Like for eight of the eleven hour drive. When Robert was driving to Florida by himself back in March, I called every few hours to check on him and in the background I could hear Jetta fussing with a monotonous stream of "meow, meow, meow, meow".

The funny thing is, Jetta hated Mississippi. She loves our house in Florida and the familiar territory. When Robert arrived at the house and let her out of the carrier she was happy as could be. She recognized home and rolled around on the sidewalk to show her appreciation for being there.

Listening to Jetta's protests on the drive back to Florida earlier this week, I thought to myself, "If you would just shut up already, I'm taking you to a place you'll like better. You'll be happy when you get there. Trust me!" I was suddenly struck with the realization that I'm a lot like that stubborn cat.

Although my last post promised that I would find joy in whatever direction God sent us, the realization that we would have to leave Mississippi hit me hard. I wept, grieved, and questioned God. I have never prayed more or sought God more than I have in the last few weeks. But when God's will was revealed, I failed to embrace it gracefully. We sat in our home church this morning and I just cried. This was the same place I cried over leaving eleven months ago. Now I was crying because God had sent me back? I think my grief has more to do with not understanding why. A large part of my rebellious nature wants to demand an explanation from God. And I grieve over the fact that my heart is like that. I want to understand things, not necessarily trust God. Could He have something better planned here for us? I fail to see that even when I know how good and gracious He is by nature. I tend to just sit there and meow my protests from the backseat. Pray for me.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
-Proverbs 3:5-6

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Seeking the Source

The end of the school year is always a whirlwind for teachers, but I have mixed emotions this time around. I have been challenged more professionally, mentally, and spiritually this year than in any of my other years of teaching. I have found God in the challenges that came with relocating to Mississippi.

One of my sweet colleagues noticed I was a bit quieter and introspective today at lunch and commented, "Leslie, I can't imagine what you'd be like if you didn't have all these pressures on you. I wish you hadn't had to struggle with the transition." I assured her that they were more of a blessing to me than I could ever be to them (so true), but I was thankful for the struggles of the past year. It's important for me to remember where my strength and security resides. I wouldn't trade this year's challenges for anything.

School will be out in eight days. In eight days I will know if we're moving back to Florida or staying in Mississippi. My heart is torn over the possibilities. Not so long ago, I was missing our little house in Florida. I was missing our friends. I was missing our home church. I was missing the familiarity of our routine.

Nothing went smoothly when we moved here. We lost our beloved cat Jack. Our original housing plans fell through. We had one financial set back after the next with unexpected medical and mechanical bills. I searched for God where I couldn't make sense of things. He used the challenges to draw me to Him slowly. In the midst of the chaos, I found He was the only stable thing. Clinging to that security gave me great liberty and I came to love that which drew me to Him, good and bad.

Ten months later, I love teaching here. I love my colleagues. I love the community I serve. I love the possibilities I see for orphan ministry here. I love Mississippi. For quite some time I cried out and begged God to give us a way to stay. And then I considered the possibility that this calling to Mississippi was just for a season. Perhaps it has been a learning experience and a temporary bit of Utopia. I stopped asking to stay and started asking for His will to be done. I understand now that I will only find joy and security in His perfect will - and that is good enough for me.

So for those of you so inclined, please pray that God's will would be done in the next few days and that I will praise Him for it - whether that send us back to Florida or keeps us in Mississippi.

Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD
And whose trust is the LORD.
"For he will be like a tree planted by the water,
That extends its roots by a stream
And will not fear when the heat comes;
But its leaves will be green,
And it will not be anxious in a year of drought
Nor cease to yield fruit.
-Jeremiah 17:7-8

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Good Things Come to Those Who Wait

Hannah's current favorite singer is Taylor Swift, so when I heard she was coming in concert I was poised to purchase my tickets through Ticketmaster the moment they went on sale. However, history repeated itself and the show sold out in minutes before I even got my call through (just like the Hannah Montana concert in Orlando last year). I was disappointed because Hannah's birthday is this month and I knew she would have loved to go. I've checked eBay and Craigslist over the last two months, but the tickets were going at scalper prices and I simply couldn't and wouldn't go there. And then earlier this week, I got an email from an individual who had three tickets and wasn't going to be able to make it. It was almost too good to be true, but we worked out a deal that got us into the concert for almost half the face value of the tickets!!! The gentleman overnighted the tickets to us and I presented them to a half hyperventilating, dancing Hannah and Kristina. The girls and I headed to the Gulf Coast for the show on Saturday night. Kellie Pickler and the group Gloriana opened for Taylor Swift. The seats were amazing, the show was amazing - we couldn't have asked for a better night!