Sunday, January 30, 2011

"today is your last day"..."yeah, right"

I really prefer just coming here to write simple observations and show off the cutest kids on the planet, tell about adventures abroad, not reveal pain or any part of my private life. But I personally know that I prefer the juicy tell-alls over a brief editorial any day. This is such a vital part of the over all story of my days of grace and the days to come. As painful as it is to talk about, I have to share. You have all walked through so much, trips to Africa, babies birthdays, weddings, crazy dreams, the second job, shopping sprees. So here we go.

In October, Julie Andrews was on Oprah. She talked about her voice and its total complete loss. What a tragedy? Perhaps one of the greatest vocalist in the world, losing her voice forever. In the interview above, a few years prior, she is in admitted complete denial. Yet, her eyes still sadden, even now when she talks about it. A huge part of her is gone forever. I cannot imagine having so much of my identity stripped away overnight. In the Oprah interview, her whole demeanor changed when she talked about the loss. I wanted to run up to her and encourage her and tell her that her identity is not in her voice, that she is "fearfully and wonderfully made", "created in His image" and that she, stripped of any singing talent, on her worst day, has the Spirit of God residing within her, within you, within me, within us. We are way more powerful and amazing than we ever give ourselves credit. We believe the lies that we are second rate, that we are not good enough and we deny the world having the chance to have an encounter with us. We shrink back in doubt and insecurity. Our identity is not our talents, our giftings, it's Christ in us, us in Him. Even the most wayward unbeliever is a king, just unaware of who he is called to be. We are all kings, put on this earth to love and encourage one another and to reign over the earth. We were put in charge here.

There were so many nights I wrestled with the lies when who I was seemed to be defined by a necktie and an apron. I was treated like a waitress. Invisible. Sometimes I retrieved my identity by looking at the degrees on my office wall or having an elected official include me in dinner reservations or a round of golf. I could never reveal to anyone new what I did for a living without lengthy conversations about the state of Georgia, and detailed questions about my observations and insight into Gold Dome gossip. I often felt like the doctor at the table, with everyone showing their moles and cuts and strange ailments. I would sit and listen to their issues, opinions and nod like the politicians taught me, placating them. 

Friday, my hand tied identity rug, the one I stood on that meant I was important, somewhat valuable, a little bit smart, well informed, on the pulse of all things within the State, got ripped out from under me. I lost my job. I was let go. All I know is that it was not my fault. The meeting lasted five minutes and I was quickly packing up my office. It sent me reeling. It has honestly had little to do with the title and identity in my career, since I wore that rug out doling out cocktails at the country club, and more to do with the security, the financial security. I know my year as a waitress helped me address the issue of who I was and stand firm in the value of simply me. But the security of automatic payments, twice a month, that is another issue. Perhaps I have put way too much security in this all along. I have actually wanted to leave for years. The luster of Georgia politics wore off quite some time ago. I have had December 1, 2010 circled on my calendar for years now. The date I would be vested into the retirement system and the reason I continued to stay in a job that I pretty much hated. I fully intended to leave on my 10 year anniversary date and buy a one way ticket to Africa. 

I recently got to hear my friend Sherri Lewis, former physician, now missionary in Cameroon, share about how on the very day she quit her job as a physician, she got an email from the group she is now working with in Cameroon. How her letting go, released her into a greater destiny. Her testimony ending with how she is in the very center of where she wants to be and cannot imagine living or being anywhere else in life. I know that feeling and I have never felt that way here, doing bill summaries, in committee meetings, or at receptions with cocktails, whether sipping or serving. 

About a month ago I was invited to join a group building a vocational school in Mozambique. We have plans to go in April and spend the month together, planning and preparing. I desperately wanted to go but knew work would make it difficult, to take that amount of time off and be gone so close to the end of the Legislative Session. Maybe I am still in shock, but the excitement of getting to go and not having to go back to the desk job, overshadowed automatic payments. I know that the vision I have is a journey and the past ten years have not been wasted, but training me for more. I cannot question God's faithfulness, He's been too good. I put my security in a State job, one of the most secure you can have and that didn't work. I had asked Him to show me if this path was one He wanted me to take, to join my friends in Mozambique. He has all but placed a neon sign above the path. At 11AM on Friday I started to do the math in my head, attempting to figure out what would happen if I just quit my job. How long could I live off savings? How much would I get paid in leave time? Should I simply take that leave time and then quit? At 4PM the decision was made for me. The benefits of being let go outweigh those of quitting. He's got my back. We've got a plan. I'm on my way. I cannot be robbed or stolen from, because none of it belongs to me anyway. With identity in Him, security in Him, nowhere else to go but Him, He is already bringing me into the center of where I am supposed to be. Who knew that losing something so great would be such a massive blessing? 

Post losing her voice, Julie Andrews received an Emmy, a Grammy, published 24 books and became the voice of a queen (Shrek). I am tempted to quote Maria von Trapp and say, "When God closes a door, somewhere He opens a window". But I somewhat disagree with that theology. I don't think God takes away our prized possessions or gives us sickness or disease in any form. He is just a master at taking what the evil one threw our way and turning it into something beautiful.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Surf's up!

The first time I went surfing, I lost sleep the night before. I was full of nervous excitement of what dawn patrol and standing top of a wave would bring. The ride out to the beach didn't settle my fears. With boards strapped on top of the little black Subaru and Master Surfer, Shelley Merrick giving me instructions, "watch the nose, it'll pop up and hit you in the face", "how well do you swim?", "watch for rocks". Fear and anxiety overcame giddy excitement. I think I was more nervous about just looking like an idiot than being eaten by a shark, I wanted to surf with grace. I know I got really quiet all the way out to the beach, our boards underneath our arms. We paddled out, watched the waves. I got on my stomach, looked over my shoulder and watched the sets roll over and over. When the right set came along, Shelley yelled, "Go!". I paddled with all my might, hands pushing on the board to keep it from popping up, quickly jumped into position, and stood. I SURFED! Instantly ready to paddle right back out and go again.
This series of emotions has been a constant in my life. Anxiety and uncertainty met by sheer delight. This is how I feel. I am about to jump into a deep end of so many unknowns. I am full of expectancy and angst and joy and delight. I have so much going on. I will share full details...soon! It's going to be a wild ride.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Here lately...

Natty has learned to wink.

A best friend had a baby and I got to watch my Dad hold him, just hours old. I got to hold him too, of course.
The snow I missed at Christmas, graciously came back per my request and gave me TWO DAYS OFF FROM WORK!!!!

Christmas 2010

I have a new cousin. Just one glance and I was forever smitten. I am madly in love with this little girl. Her personality is so sweet, she is so gentle and so cuddly. Some babies are skinny and too active and too spitty and fuss and don't like to be held. McCarley is squishy. She made my Christmas. I can't wait to get to Columbia and spend quality time with this child. I want her to know all about her Grandma Martha and I want her to know that I have her back and she can call on me if she ever needs anything. I will always have gum and she can confide in me and I want to always cheer her on for life, like Martha did for me.

Christmas with the Fallin's was celebrated a week early because of my plans to be with Laura. I racked up! Carla always takes care in filling my stocking and making me feel so incredibly, lavishly loved. Some of my favorite presents from the past are from the Dollar Tree. She usually takes the kids and lets them pick out gifts for us there. I love seeing what they think I will like. And they usually are so very much something I like or really need, like shower curtain liners and batteries and cookie sheets. One year Carson got me a tiny porcelain house covered in snow that was almost an exact replica of the house on College Avenue. But Carla says the Dollar Tree has gone downhill as of late and they just have junk now. So, I got a whole set of Fiestaware in Peacock Blue and Dad gave me an LCD-TV. I had seen it near the Christmas tree at their house and assumed it was not for me. Dad tricked me as if I were 12 and brought it in after all gifts were opened. It worked and I reacted like a 12 year old. So giddy and excited about my new technology. I use it as a computer monitor in my bedroom and journal and write and edit perched on pillows with a wireless keyboard and it is lovely.

I left on the 22nd and spent Christmas with Laura and her sweet little family. I am so glad I got to be with her. We baked cookies and rocked babies and laughed. It was both sad and sweet watching the kids open presents Christmas morning while John sat on the coffee table via iChat from my laptop while in Iraq. I am honored to even know him. Staying with Laura, in her cozy little guest room in the basement, made me want to quit my job and move into her basement and be there all the time. We could be like Rhoda and Mary, popping in and out of each others apartment, sharing food and good conversation. I wish I could help her all the time with the kids and this overwhelming life as a single mom while John is gone. It broke both our hearts for me to leave. So we are now back to our remote friendship of never living in the same time zone and long phone conversations and iChats and simultaneous Target shopping in different locations.

It was such a great Christmas. I am so incredibly blessed, such sweet family, such wonderful friends, so always undone by the kindness of my Savior.