Tuesday, April 23, 2013

He Spoke....I (finally) listened & obeyed

I should be sleeping; this month is nothing less than insane, and my alarm will go off in less than five hours to start yet another busy day. So, I should be sleeping, but I have a story to tell. I wanted to tell it two months ago when it started, but the timing wasn't right. I wanted to lay it all out two weeks ago, but things kept getting in the way. Earlier today would have been good, but I didn't do it. I planned to put it off for a few more days. But...God! :-)  I am finding the more I obey, the more I am blessed, yet more is required as well. Rest will not come until I least start to tell the story he is beautifully writing in my life.

The problem is...I'm not sure where to start. Pardon me if I jump in somewhere in the middle and muddle some of this. If you've read any of my writing, this will not be unusual for you. If you're new here...welcome, and I apologize in advance for my writing!

Note: If you want the short version, or the 'news' just skip to the end. To get the bigger picture, continue:

To say I stumbled into a career in Higher Education would be putting it mildly.  As I remember it (keep in mind this was more than a couple of years ago - ha!), I didn't want to leave college and get a 'real job' after undergrad. The thought scared and paralyzed me. I had visions of Sports Administration or Sports Counseling graduate program but didn't know the first thing about finding a program.  (Mind you...the Internet was around...but not nearly to the extent it is now.)  At the same time, I was just getting established in an amazing group of God-pursuing friends, was helping out a lot with Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and overall was in a good place personally & spiritually. So....I took the easy route. I stayed where I was, found a degree that I could kinda sorta maybe mold into what I wanted it to be, and took out a plethora of student loans to pursue a graduate degree.  Two years later, I was the proud recipient of a Master of Science in Counseling & Student Personnel in Higher Education. Huh? Exactly.  A month later, I landed my first 'real job' at the University of Kansas and my career progressed from there.

There were signs of discontent and a roller coaster of passion all along the journey spanning four really great jobs and over ten years. There were stretches of days, or even months, when I loved what I was doing, but something was always missing. In Higher Ed, we are always encouraged to publish and present what we are working on. I never had that desire. That is just one example.  It is also imperative in Higher Ed that you network across campus and in the community. There were times were I was great at that, but more often than not, I would prefer to work with those around me and stay within my department.  Not to brag, but I feel I have always been good at my jobs; I just did not consistently have the passion and drive to reach the next level.  Knowing what I know now, it all makes sense. 

In the back of my mind I have always felt like I was in the wrong career field, but I never knew what I 'should' be doing, or what I wanted to do that I would be good at (and could make a living doing).  Let's be honest, reading books, lounging by the pool, and trying different recipes off of Pinterest aren't exactly gonna pay the bills ha! When I moved back to Texas three years ago, I was contemplating a career change, but stayed the course - and honestly, because a job basically fell in my lap. I even turned it down and still ended up with it.  God has a sense of humor, ya know!  (Side note: Looking back now, yes, I can see many reasons He put me in this position, but one of the biggest things I have learned is that sometimes God moves you so he can change someone else's life. As Matt Chandler lovingly reminds us oh so often...It's not all about me!)

The past two years have been hard, professionally. It used to be that work was easy and interpersonal relationships were difficult; two years ago that flip-flopped.  Work suddenly got hard - and not in a task or project kind of way. In a passion kind of way. I just didn't have it anymore. Do not get me wrong, I LOVE my students and enjoy the work I do, but again...something was missing. 

In early Fall 2012, I remember sitting in my Home Group and mentioning more than once that I wanted and needed a change, but didn't know what I would do. I explored Human Resources, and other education positions, but none of them felt right.  I even had an interview for an incredible job at a private college in the area, but knew as soon as I walked out of the interview my heart wasn't in it. In January of this year, I sat with the same group of girls and told them that I knew God would provide for me, and I felt like he was telling me to step out on faith and fully rely on Him for the next step.  Um...hello, do you know me?!? Type "A", Plan every minute of my day week life me? Yeah...that wasn't so easy. In fact, I at the time I told them this, I hadn't even put all that together in my mind yet, much less verbalized it to anyone. They heard it for the first time at the same moment I did...yet it all made sense. But it wasn't easy.  I avoided God for a few days after that - I mean, what else was He gonna ask me to do?? So, in all logic, avoiding Him was the answer. Or not.  For days after that I would make the hour drive into my 'real job' each morning and dream about how I could quit that job and find a job I loved.  Then....
....it finally happened.

...I listened and I (finally) obeyed. And aside from about 2 minutes of panic, I have not felt scared, nervous, anxious, or worried. 

So, on February 21, 2013, I turned in my intent to resign from my career.  After discussion and negotiation, it was decided my last day would be May 3rd.  (aka a week and a half from now!)

The day I resigned I had absolutely no clue what I would do starting May 4th.  God did, but I didn't. And you know what? That was perfectly okay with me. I can  truly say I trusted him to provide for ALL of my needs in a way I never have before.

You know what I've learned from trusting God like that? Two main things - (1) He will bless you - it may not be the way you want, but He is faithful, and (2) when you trust him and He blesses you, He requires more of you as well.  I can't wait to tell you more about both! But...I'm sure you're wondering what I will be doing with myself after May 3rd....well....I will be working in the golf business. Took me long enough to figure it out, huh?!?  What exactly that will look like at first is not set in stone, but eventually I hope to be doing programming and teaching lessons. 

God is GOOD, friends. That is not simply a comforting phrase or cliche...that is the TRUTH. Rest in it.  I'll update more soon on the next steps and some really cool ways I have seen God through this process.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

52 & 7 (and Happy New Year)

For the past couple of years, I have spent the later half of December re-evaluating the previous year and setting my personal goals for the following year.  The goals are always well thought out, and pertain to long term dreams/goals, but to be realistic, they are often focused on where my life is in that particular moment. 
For some reason, I did not do that toward the end of 2012.  I blamed some of it on my year feeling like a failure (notice I said feeling).  I didn't really reach any of my goals for 2102, and to be honest, when I look at the surface, it seems like my life has actually digressed instead of progressed.  And that in and of itself was depressing enough to make me not want to look any further, and discouraged me from setting any new goals. 
Then came Jon Acuff.  If you don't know (of) him, you should get to know (of) him!  He is an author and blogger, and the master behind "Stuff Christians Like" (http://www.jonacuff.com/stuffchristianslike/), and one of my favorite books Quitter (http://www.quitterbook.com/).  In any given day, this man and his writing make me laugh so hard I (often) choke on whatever I'm drinking - and inspire me to be better and do better.  So, naturally, something he wrote this week set the tone for my next 52 days - and hopefully all of 2013!  You can read his post here - but the premise is that you take seven core areas of your life, and set goals for them for the next 52 days.  52 days is so much more doable than 365 - at least in my mind! And its makes so much sense - because as he says
"In January, you have no idea what July holds or what September will be like or what
 storm will rock your shores in November. But you press on, and make
your biggest decisions when you have the least information at the start of the year."
 I can do this! And I'm excited about it! So my first 52&7 (which goes Jan 1 - Feb 21) looks like this:
Bring lunch to work 4 out of 5 days
No new clothes/accessories
No new golf equipment (this will be the hardest, trust me!)
30 min of physical activity 4x week (not including golf)
Yoga at least once a week
Send 1 encouraging note/card a week
Return friend's phone calls within 24 hours
"Be present" - wherever I am, whomever I am with, be in that moment and not playing on my phone, etc.
Limit TV to 1 show a night
Write more
Complete Level 2 of HH PRO Certification
Respond to all work related emails within 24 hours
Spend one day each with Sadie & Andrew
"Be present"
Complete daily readings of "Jesus Calling"
Follow along with my church on the Season of Prayer readings
Complete personal study of Isaiah
The great thing about setting goals 52 days at a time? They're not as lofty and feel much more realistic.  I read a lot every day, and come across numerous great ideas - but I don't follow through on them.  I read this one as soon as I got to work yesterday, and it was so fitting, because you see, as I was driving to work yesterday, I was thinking and praying about the year ahead and how I am jealous that others have said they had a word or scripture for 2012 and were able to see God move in that particular way for them that year.  As I was driving, the words INTENTIONAL DISCIPLINE came to me.  If you know me, the intentional part is par for the course; the discipline thing....scares me crazy! So Intentional Discipline it is for 2013.  The scripture part, I'm still working on.  I'm excited to see what God does in the next 52 days and throughout 2013, and I'm excited (ok, and a little apprehensive) to see what Intentional Discipline brings.