Friday, January 23, 2009

As I Stand in the Crossroad

Standing in this crossroad, I wonder which way to go. And I ask my Father, Abba, which path do I take? Which way do I go?

It is not the path. It is the step. And the next step is the simple, obedient, necessary thing.

And there, beloved, look for Me and you will find Me.

And so today, I did not answer any job ads. Instead I fed my sweet baby some of my oatmeal from my plate and watched as he smiled and made little boy sounds as he skillfully (for a 2 year old!) scooped all the oatmeal from his plate. When I scooped him another portion from my plate he said what sounded very much like "thank you, granma" -- and there, Abba, I saw Your face.

And today I went to the ShopRite with the last of the money from last week and I filled my cart. It was enough, under $100, under an hour (an old shopping goal of mine that I had not met in years). And there, as I payed and got change back, Abba, I saw Your face.

And today I had lunch with Gabe, my dear brother. He encouraged me and drove me and paid for my meal. He joked and smiled and ate what was left from my plate. We talked of You too, Abba, and I thanked You there for him and his love. What a wonderful gift was there for me, Abba, when I saw Your face.

Your face, Abba, is everywhere I go! The opportunities to minister is not just in a church, but in the store, at the restaurant, in my own kitchen. Keep me alert to see them, as I take the next step of obedience to You each day, as I praise You and thank You and trust You even moment by moment!

It is not the path, but the next step You will light for me, and as I go, I will find myself with You, Beloved, and it will be the right path.

Isaiah 42:16
I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.

Monday, January 19, 2009

He showed up just for me!

I have been doing ministry for a while, so at this point, I just expect God to show up for those occasions. Even though volunteers sometimes have to cancel and technical problems occur and kids get sick, God always shows up.

Even when I started my job at the homeless shelter, and God gave me a passion and power, mercy and love for the people who I met there, I figured, well, I was in a homeless shelter! Of course God showed up for me.

But this week, as I collected my self, sorted through my emotions and Christmas decorations and toddler toys, God showed up then too. In the middle of snow storms and sore backs and driving my 21 year old to work and back with her baby in my back seat, God showed up.

He showed up just for me!

Because other times when I have been home, I have been lost and aimless. But this past week, He invited me to rest. A Sabbath holy rest, and I invited Him to join me and He did. He talked to me as I walked the dog, matched the soxes, wrapped the fragile decorations, stowed away the candles. He gave me peace as I vacuumed and dusted.

Now THAT is a miracle.

Thank You, Father, my Beloved, my Everything.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Free fall

I started working at the age of 12. Jackie's Lemon Ice in Belleville; it was a landmark, everyone knew the place. Scooping lemon ice, I learned to make change and for my trouble, I was told I was paid more than anyone else. It was a dollar an hour.

In the winter on Saturdays, I worked with my dad. He owned a shop called Micchelli's Hairdressing in Bloomfield. We would leave in the early morning to be there for his first appointment at 7:45 am. I would answer the phone, take rollers from women's hair and sweep the floor. I was dad's "go for" -- as in "go for coffee" among other things. We never left before 6 p.m. I was paid $12 a day.

Later I worked at the Glen Ridge Country Club, flipping burgers while all the rich kids swam in the pool. By August they were bored with life at the Club. I was happy as I got to go for a swim after work.

In the winter, I worked in the Country Club office with a nice woman, who I can picture in my mind but I cannot remember her name.

By February in my senior year in college, I had my resume done and had begun sending out letters to companies who might be interested in my computer skills. IBM was among them and I was amazed to get a call back from them. As I wandered into the Franklin Lakes building for my first interview, I was awestruck. I accepted the job before graduation and was the first new college hire to start in June.

I always expected to return to work after Christina was born, but all the circumstances lined up to be a God-thing, so I resigned, got a nice buy-out and stayed home until Debbie started preschool. Then I started volunteering at Montclair Community Church until it turned into a paid part time job.

For years I had hoped that my job at the church could be expanded to full time to accomodate the growing financial need at home. This fall, again, all the circumstances lined up to be a God-thing and I accepted a full time position at what I hoped would have been my next ministry opportunity. But as you can see from my last post, that did not work out the way I thought.

Now I find myself unintentionally unemployed for the first time in, well, my entire life. And at the age of 53, your entire life is a good long time. It feels like I am in free fall. Some where between the dizzy sick feeling and the flight of a wonderful dream.

A thousand times I've failed
Still Your mercy remains
And should I stumble again
Still I'm caught in Your grace

I've failed at a job, yet His mercy remains. I am concerned to make a wrong decision again, yet I'd still be caught in His grace.

I decided to wait a week before I apply again anywhere, just to regroup. I find myself perferring to stay home and clean toilets other than starting at a new job again. Or even sending out my resume. I am old now, rusty from being at home, and yet, I have not been at home. I want to minister really, but who will hire a woman with a lot of church experience doing a little bit of this and that and a degree in--Math???

And yet You are...

Everlasting, Your light will shine when all else fades
Never ending, Your glory goes beyond all fame

I want to sit home this time and wait for You to have that right person call me. I want the right job to fall in my lap, but I know that is not how it works. I don't want to make the wrong step so badly at this point that I would rather stand perfectly still.

In my heart, in my soul, Lord I give You control
Consume me from the inside out Lord

Yes, please take control, Father, as I am out of control! I am terrified. How do I walk in the right way? How will I know what to do? How I can avoid this how?

And the cry of my heart is to bring You praise

Can I praise You Lord, while I wait, while I wander, while I stumble in the dark in this free fall I find myself in? If I praise You, will that be enough? Lord I can do no more than cry out!

From the inside out Lord, my soul crys out, from the inside out Lord, my soul crys out, from the inside out...

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Blessed be His name

The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away;
Blessed be the name of the LORD. -- Job 1:21

Pastor Ed says that the shortest distance between two points is a zig-zag line. Life is like that, messy, with detours, and just when you think you have it figured out, you get this curve ball that does not make sense.

But then, it really does.

Yesterday, my boss called me into his office. He invited me to sit down. His desk was too clean, his smile too polished. You can feel it in the air, it would not be good.

"Barbara, I am terminating you," he said.

He was right, it wasn't working out. Although I appreciated his vision, was committed to the shelter, and loved the people---employees and clients alike, he and I did not have the right chemistry. And since he was the executive and I his executive assistant, it was inevitable that it would end this way.

In the end, I am glad that he did end it, as opposed to letting the pain linger. After I took a few breaths, I found myself relieved.

It was three months today that I would have been there. I find myself wondering why God took me there only to take me out after such a short time. Was I wrong to go? Did I not hear Him when I left Montclair?

Right now, I am thinking this is just a zig-zag line to get me to where I am really supposed to go. I feel His closeness as I praise Him...I rest in His embrace and know that He will work this out.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Blessings from God in 2008

  1. In March, Al's job changed, he was moved to Edison and got weekends off.
  2. Al’s new job allowed him to get home before Barb got up for work, which meant getting home in time for morning cuddles.
  3. Al and Barb were able to attend church together on Sundays.
  4. Al’s change of job in March in many ways prepared him for the next job change at year end.
  5. Debbie got accepted at Kean University.
  6. Christina continued doing well at Montclair State University and has returned to a more active social life.
  7. Barb was invited to give her testimony about Al’s salvation at the MOPS Spring Tea in May.
  8. Debbie graduated from High School.
  9. In June, Gio turned age 2! He talks now and boy! does he have a lot to say.
  10. Gio's grandparents, Emmanuel and Julia, got married in June.
  11. Gio's dad, Manny, joined the US Marines.
  12. Barb was invited to teach at the ACE fall session with David Langford and it was the best attended class that session.
  13. Barb and Al were able to take the entire month of August off together and to spend it at the beach.
  14. Al and Barb were blessed by their time at Union Congregational Church in Lavalette, meeting new friends there. They also enjoyed visits to Ocean Grove, seeing Charles Stanley and Oracle.
  15. Al had his best tomato growing season this summer.
  16. Debbie got her driver’s license before she started college.
  17. Al and Barb were able to attend ACE fall session together.
  18. Barb got a full time job at Urban Renewal Corp.
  19. Barb's friends and co-workers at MCC blessed her with many kind words, gifts, songs and a BIG party when she left her position there as Administrative Support and Bible Study leader.
  20. God give Al wisdom to select where to work when C&S closed. He hopes to be working stead at the Daily News, in New Jersey.

In all these changes, Al and I rejoice that God has caused us to grow closer together in love for each other. God has helped us to trust Him not only as the author and finisher of our salvation, but to trust in His daily protection and provision in our lives.

In all things, God is good and best of all, He is with us.