Bittersweet…

Change is never easy… and often bittersweet. And often it’s accompanied by having to say goodbye – sometimes to dreams… sometimes to places… and sometimes to people. And sometimes to all three.

Many of you know, that I’ve been working with World Vision for more than 14 years now. If you know me, you know how passionate I am about the work of World Vision, and my experience has deepened immensely over the last 5-6 years while being a part of the amazing team of people at Women of Faith, and being a part of the rich ministry that happens on the road through Chonda Pierce and her crew.

I’ve had the privilege of personally taking part in of over 80,000 World Vision children being sponsored through the tours I’ve been on the last decade or so. That, in and of itself, has been an incredible gift. Not to mention all the rich relationships that have been formed along the way. Thanks to folks like Twila Paris, Ron Kenoly, Avalon, Aaron-Jeffrey, Big Tent Revival, Newsboys, First Call, Cece Winans, Israel Houghton, Margaret Becker, Natalie Grant, Skillet, Martha Munizzi, Mark Lowry and countless independent artists. Oh the stories I could tell (don’t worry – I won’t – what happens on the bus dies with the bus).  All that said, I’ve never taken this gift for granted. There are some hefty sacrifices that come with this line of work… but there’s some pretty sweet perks, too.

However, for the last couple of years I’ve been feeling the weight of not being in “community” where I live. There’s something to be said for having people that walk with you every day. Something to be said for knowing… and for being known. And there’s something to be said when that’s missing in your life.

So, two years ago I started trying to find something full time, off the road, with which I could be as earnest… but it seemed nothing short of futile. However, a few weeks ago, I began conversations with an organization called Siloam Family Health Center. It’s a local clinic here in Nashville (15 min from my home) that serves immigrants and refugees from around the world. They believe in providing quality health care in the name of Christ… to those who are uninsured and could not afford care otherwise. http://www.siloamhealth.org

They have offered me a full time position (w/benefits!) as their Development Writer & Coordinator. My role is to write all content for the organization including web, print, media, donor correspondence and grants. They have also asked me to focus on donor engagement – an area that’s needed more attention.

I’ve gratefully accepted the position.  As a communications & journalism major, I’m thrilled to be “officially” using these skills. And simultaneously saddened to let go of something I’ve cherished for so long. Bittersweet indeed.

Yes, change is hard. But change, in this case, is very good. My soul is already being nourished at Siloam as I’m finding myself smack dab in the midst of my given-by-God abilities and brushing off skills that had become a little rusty. But as they say, it’s like riding a bike. Balancing creativity and business, along with honing my marketing motor skills… is all quickly returning.

I realize there are changes that are not welcome…  a loved one is no longer in your life; you lose a job you love with no immediate prospect; “the change” of life for women 🙂 ; or suddenly being struck with a debilitating disease… the list is literally endless. So please, please do not hear me say that all change is good. I know that many of you are fighting it with all you’ve got. I merely want to encourage those who may be fearing a change that could be life-altering in a great way… to just take the leap. Because the good news is… there’s a God who never changes. Who never wavers. Whose goodness and justice is constant. So even when this world throws us a curve ball we didn’t see comin’… we can rest assured. We are in good hands.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17

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why am i still single, you ask?

Generally, I avoid this topic like the plague. But it’s been coming up more frequently these days and I’m feeling the need to make an official statement.

Because the masses cry, “Deb, why are you still single?”

Okay, so maybe not the masses… but I do get that question more times than I care to admit. Granted, sometimes I’m flattered, like when people say they’re shocked I’m still single. But then there’s always that follow-up question… “So… why is that?”

Friends, Family, Countrymen. I wish I had an answer that was satisfying to all.  But I don’t.  In past blogs, I’ve tried to wrap things up with a neat bow.  I not only wanted to encourage others who are in my same position, but I wanted to provide an answer. And though I still stand by what I wrote… I don’t think it’s as complicated as I may have made it out to be.

It’s true. I am single. And I have never been married. Sure, I’ve come close a couple of times. I even returned an engagement ring once. But “sealing the deal” just hasn’t happened. And I realize, that as a forty-something year old woman, I’m somewhat of an anomaly. And I’m okay with that… I mean, it could be worse.

Back to the topic: Why am I still single?  What a great question. Often my friends try to answer it for me. “You’ve spent too much of your life working in a career that isn’t really conducive to meeting someone.” “You’ve just not met Mr Right.” “Maybe you’re being too picky.” Or my favorite, when they blame the men, “They just don’t know what they’re missing!”

But regardless… here is the only answer I have:

Because so far, God has deemed it so.

Hard to argue with, I know. Hard to blame-shift or point an accusing finger.

Reality is, it doesn’t matter what my career is or who I have met or haven’t met and it doesn’t matter if I’m picky or not.  If I’m living in a dung hut in the middle of the Maasai Mara and God decided he wanted me to meet someone, He would make it happen.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not advocating hiding or running from love and seeing if God will still make it happen.  If that’s where you are then I have a couple of counselor friends I can recommend to you. Seriously.

Love is wild and wonderful and illusive and consuming. It can cause you to be fabulous one day and do something utterly stupid the next. But we were created for this very thing. Flawed as it may be… for now. The only Perfect Love out there is from the One who created us. Everything, and everyone, here on earth is merely a foretaste of what’s to come one day. So for now… we can only stumble through it all… merely praying and hoping to receive AND give grace generously.

So why am I still single? Because God has deemed it so.

For now.

Whether He changes my status here on earth or whether I must wait a little longer… I could be in no better hands.

And that, I wouldn’t change for the world.

in the light of eternity…

My good friend Leann used to tell me, “Everything looks different in the light of eternity”.  She was a missionary in Brazil, so I figured she knew what she was talking about. That was close to 20 years ago.

I’ve never forgotten those words. And I’ve repeated them to myself over the years. But then I came across a prayer… in a little, tiny unassuming book… that brought them to an even greater degree of light.

And it’s become my constant prayer for the last 10 years. It was written by John Baillie, a Scottish theologian born in the late 1800’s.  It’s an excerpt from his 1936 publishing,  A Diary of Private Prayer.  It’s taken a deep root in my heart during this past decade… and has helped me through many a disappointment and unrealized dream. And though it has become part of my fabric… there is still much work to be done in my heart. Once again, I’m finding myself in need of this prayer, so I thought it a good time to share this rich and meaty invocation.

May it help you tweak your perspective, take a deep breath… and remember why we’re here.

O eternal God, though Thou art not such as I can see with my eyes or touch with my hands, yet grant me this day a clear conviction of Thy reality and power. Let me not go forth to my work believing only in the world of sense and time, but give me grace to understand that the world I cannot see or touch is the most real world of all. My life today will be lived in time, but eternal issues will be concerned in it.  The needs of my body will be clamant, but it is for the needs of my soul that I must care for most. My business will be with things material, but behind them let me be aware of things spiritual. Let me keep steadily in my mind that the things that matter most are not money or possessions, not houses or lands, not bodily comfort or bodily pleasure; but truth and honour and meekness and helpfulness and a pure love of Thyself.

I, a pilgrim of eternity, stand before Thee, O eternal One. Let me not seek to deaden or destroy the desire for Thee that disturbs my heart. Let me rather yield myself to its constraint and go where it leads me.  Make me wise to see all things today under the form of eternity, and make me brave to face all the changes in my life which such a vision may entail: through the grace of Christ my Saviour. Amen.