Sunday, February 24, 2013

Lessons From the Boat

We are about 6 weeks into the Jonah Bible study by Priscilla Shirer right now.  Some of you have read on here or seen me quote or at least mention on Facebook about this study.  I absolutely LOVE it!!!  It is one of, if not my MOST favorite Bible studies I have ever done.  It really does hit home with me at this juncture in my life. 

From a few posts ago, you may have read that my heart’s desire is to live each day as a better person than I was the day before.  Nothing could be closer to the truth.  I am not sure if I have ever been more desiring to see God work in my life.  I just truly am trying to figure out what He is teaching me in every aspect of who I am, what I do, who I come in contact with, and how others see me.  The problem is, I think my focus {partly} has been wrong.

This past week Priscilla pointed out something in the video session that just struck a cord with me.  I mean, really shook me to my core.  {Please allow me to paraphrase} She said something to the tune of “When other people look at us, we should be more concerned about them seeing Jesus in us than seeing us for who we are.”  I mean, WOAH!  Does that hit home with anyone else?  For this “people-pleasing, attention-seeking, control freak” it certainly does!!!  This girl was CONVICTED!!!  It isn't about me or how good I is ALL about how good I am making Jesus look when others see me.  Are they seeing Him?  If I am proclaiming to be a Christian and a follower of Christ, who am I portraying Him to be?  Yikes!!!  Then, the very next day a very sweet friend of mine pointed out to me that a sin that I commit nearly every day is not any different than another sin.  (It is kind of a long story but that was the jest of it). 

I have been trying really hard lately {new year’s resolution kind of trying} to be a better person.  More than that, to be more of a “Jesus” to those around me.  I have such a rough exterior and I come across SO abrasive sometimes and I HATE that….I mean HATE that about me.  I wish I could say it louder so that it could jump off the page at you.  It is a characteristic about myself that I loathe!  It helps sometimes when I want/need to get something done to be a little pushy forcefully, but I don’t ever want anyone to think that I am hateful or ugly.  I think the reason that it bothers me so much is because I’m not that way at all.  I am sensitive and loving and I care so deeply for those that I love.  I am loyal to my friends and I would do anything to make someone happy.  I do not like my reputation of being tacky and abrasive but….it follows me….everywhere I go. 

The only way I know to change that part about myself that I don’t like is to pray that God can help me.  I am praying hard about this and honestly, I believe that just since the first of the year that He has done a HUGE work in me.  I have SOOOOOOO far to go but I am glad that I have those sweet friends in my life that challenge me and help me to see that other’s sin is no worse than my own.  How humbling is that?  What does that cause me to do?  Work harder to be better!!!  I have been very focused on how God is using circumstances around me to teach, shape, and mold me into a gentler person.  I want to possess those Fruit of the Spirit that I lack – gentleness, patience, and self control (to name a few). 

My prayer is that God continues to work in me.  I am having a hard time.  Being chiseled and refined by God is not easy…it can be downright miserable but the end result is SO worth it.  So, in the midst of the struggles that I am facing, I will continue to pray, “Lord, continue Your work in my life.   Here I am to be used how you want me to be used.  All for Your honor and glory!”

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Enough Grace

I had been doing so good with blogging and then...well, I wasn't...I'm not.  I am going to try to get better but I just don't have the time and I have other things that are higher on my priority list BUT....this is one way that I feel I can reach, I am going to make an effort to try to be consistent.

As a lot of you know, I am leading a women's Bible study on Thursday evenings at our church by Priscilla Shirer called Jonah. It is FANTASTIC!!!  One of my favorites that I have ever done!  My post for today is going to be short, simple, and quoted right out of the Bible study from this previous week.  I could not say it better and it was just too good not to share.

"Hear me clearly: The Lord is always willing to forgive.  He is quick to extend mercy.  If you stand in need of His forgiveness today, then know that He is waiting to forgive you.  Yet He desires that the knowledge of His longsuffering way and His willingness to show grace not dissuade you from the higher calling of obedience.

Speaking of His boundless grace, the apostle Paul wrote, "What shall we say then? Are we to continue to sin that grace may increase? May it never be!" Romans 6:1-2.  Knowing that the endless kindness of our God should not only catapult us to our knees to experience it but to our feet, to walk out a lifestyle of obedience that prioritizes submission to His will over all else.

What has God asked you to do?"

~Priscilla Shirer from Jonah page 101

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Why Am I a Social Worker?

I get comments all of the time about how they couldn't do my job and questions about what I do at my job.  The fact is that I do not think of being a social worker as merely my is my passion, if you will.

When I was a little girl, all I ever wanted to be was a mommy.  I think at one time I wanted to be a doctor, a teacher, and a nurse but for the most part I just wanted to have babies.  When I was in high school my goal was to go to college and then go on to nursing school.  I wanted to be a pediatric nurse practioner.  I went to college with that goal in mind - pre-nursing.  I LOVED college...everything about it...except for the studying was a rude awakening and it was HARD.  Long story short, my 2nd year of school, with the help of lack of self-confidence, I dropped Physiological Chemistry and changed my major to Christian Counseling.  My end goal now was to go to graduate school and become a social worker.  I knew that I could still work in the medical field - more specifically a hospital - which was always my dream.  The obstacle that I would find is that social work=liberal and I was in a ultra conservative missionary Baptist college.  Would this work? 

I received a lot of criticism from people regarding my life aspirations during that time. They would say that social work is a dead end job, no money comes from that, that I would never get into the graduate school (although it was a shot in the dark).  I was accustomed to beating the odds in my life and this was a challenge that I would not take lightly.  I powered through the negativity and graduated with my BS in Christian Counseling.  The last semester of school, I applied to University of Arkansas at Little Rock (the ONLY college at the time in Arkansas that had a Masters program in Social Work and only took 40 incoming students) and University of Texas at Arlington.  When my acceptance letter from UALR came across my email I cried and cried.  I was so excited.  A few weeks later I was accepted to UTA as well. 

I believe that it takes a special person (like most professions) to be a social worker.  All of my life, I wanted to rise above where I was.  I wanted to "become something more" than my circumstances.  I have always wanted to help people.  I realize that there are MANY people that help others in their profession but to me, social work is the ultimate "helping people" profession.  I just knew I was going to change the world!!! 

When I was in grad school, life was....hard.  I was definitely in the minority.  Honestly, it is hard to juggle the consertive views with the liberal views.  The election where George W Bush was elected his 2nd term happened during my two years in social work school and it was a hot topic, to say the least.  I was marrying a CPA.  Again, I was in the minority.  You see, to be a social worker, I was understanding that you have to believe in rooting for the underdog, living on as little as possible, and giving everything you have so that others don't have to worry about living...not to mention, being OKAY with everything that Christians (especially Baptists) stood against.  I was a terribly troubled (in my heart and mind) and confused individual. I made some wonderful friendships while in school and I had some great teachers (many who I still communicate with) but it was a difficult time that I am glad is over.  I just wanted to get my masters and get out of there!  And...I did.  I received my Masters in Social Work in May of 2005 and I was so proud!!!  First in MANY generations (possibly ever) to receive my Masters degree in my family!!!! what?

I am currently in my 4th job out of grad school and I have done (including internships) hospice, children's behavioral health, severely mentally ill adults, and hospital social work.  I love my job.  Is it easy?  No.  Do I love it everyday?  No.  Who loves their job everyday?  I don't know anyone....not even stay-at-home-moms! :)  What I have figured out is that I can balance the liberal and conservative views because at the end of the day, my most important job is to honor and glorify God in all that I say and do!  And, one of my favorite things to say is: READ THE BIBLE!!!  Was Jesus not the best social worker that ever lived?!  He spoke the truth in love, but He still loved.  He did not have a problem standing up for what was wrong but He also ate with sinners.  He DID give up ALL for those that are less fortunate!  You and me! He gave up His LIFE!!! 

There is so much about the world and about people that I don't like and that I don't agree with but I love helping people that WANT to be helped.  I love seeing the joy on other's faces when I am able to show them a glimmer of hope when they had none!  When I have resources that someone never thought of.  I have held the hands of mothers who have just held their newborn babies for the last time and cried with them.  I have told people that I cannot help them until they get out and do something to help themselves.  I have sat week after week with patients diagnosed with Schizophrenia and helped them understand that the world is not their enemy...cracked through their insecurity and saw a little sliver of light.  What a JOY!  THAT is why I am a social worker!!!  I have prayed with families at the end of their loved one's life. I have held babies in the ER after their parents beat the life out of them.  I have helped battered women get into shelters and seen them go back to their abusers despite my best efforts to get them to leave.  It is a tough world but it is a blessing to be a part of it. 

"God's calling means that He has chosen you above everyone else."
~Priscilla Shirer, Jonah study

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Monday, February 4, 2013

Organize My Life part of my New Year's resolutions I wanted to really organize my home.  I wanted to start in the office but in order to start in the office I had to really start in the garage.  I really really wish that I had taken before and after pictures.  Those that know me and have been to my house and seen my garage know how desparately this needed to take place.  Let me let you in on a little secret....we had carpet in our garage from when we moved into our house....SEVEN YEARS AGO!!!  We literally had a path...A WALKWAY from the garage door to the entrance into the house.  It was INSANE!'s still cluttered but it is MUCH MUCH better!!!!!  The carpet is gone, there is a garage floor and we had so many bags of trash!  There is new shelving and everything just looks so much better.  I need to list several things on Craig's List and it will be almost perfect.  Thanks to Matt and Aunt Donna for the use of their truck and coming to watch the girls while we knocked it all out. 

So....then, we went onto the office.  I had looked at several different blogs and websites and organizational places to find inspiration.  We are still in progress but we have come pretty far.  I CANNOT wait to show you final progress pictures!!  I will show you items that I have gotten so far.  Sneak peaks, if you will! :)

First, of all, I got my initial inspiration for a new office desk and design from the cover of the Thirty One catalog!! :)  If you don't know what Thirty One is or if you haven't seen Thirty One, one of my best friends, Kaydi sells it!! She would be HAPPY to sell you some, I am sure!!!  Their products are AWESOME!!!  I bought A LOT of Thirty One products for organization products!!!  Here is what I got from them...

This is the Your Way Cube.  I got it in the Party Punch print and got two of them! LOVE them!

 Hang Up Family Organizer.  I am hanging this behind my new desk.  It is going on the side of the item below! :)  I got it in the print shown with a pink "H" on the top.

 This is the Hang Up Home Organizer.  I got this in the Party Punch print too!  I got "Hester" along the top. It will go in the center above my desk with the organizer above beside and the one below on the other side.

 Hang Up Room Organizer.  I got this in Turquoise Cross Pop to match the others.  I'm super excited about this going on the wall along with the others!  It also has a pink "H" at the top.

This is a Mini Utility Bin.  I got three of these.  Two in the Party Punch (can you tell that I LOVE that print??) and one in the Lotsa Dots print.  My plan is to use these throughout the house for various organizational needs.

Your Way Rectangle. I got two of these.  I got an "R" and "Rikki's Stuff" embroidered in raspberry.

This.  This is a Room For Two Utility Tote.  It is HUGE and AWESOME!  It has a divider compartment that you can or don't have to use!  This is the Party Punch print that I have mentioned only a million times in this post!!!  Isn't it fun!??!  I have no idea what I will do with this bag but I am way too excited about it!!! :)

Here are the pieces of furniture that I got! :)

This is a desk from Office Depot.  It would not let me save the picture, but here is the link.  I wanted a smaller-ish desk.  I LOVE it!

I got these leaning bookcases from the Container Store .  I got two but they won't both fit.  I LOVE this bookshelf! 

 I also got a Parson's desk and the objective for that desk is just to have a place to do crafts and other projects.  A simple extra desk. 

I also got a few plastic drawer organizers from Container Store. It was the first time I had ever been to Container Store. I was both overwhelmed and wanted to have everything. But...I also a little surprised that their products were so expensive.  I just did not feel like their stuff looked as expensive as it actually was...I don't know....

Moving on....

So, last Sunday I was really wanting to complete my shopping (minus a filing cabinet that I was waiting to be delivered) and it required a trip to IKEA.  Disclaimer: I had never been to IKEA before. I was on this blog post and I HAD to have a couple of the things she posted about.  Kaydi (mentioned earlier) and I ventured out on an impromptu journey to IKEA last Sunday afternoon...she had never been either.  So...from that blog....I got these things

 Alex Unit
I LOVE LOVE this!!  I cannot wait to fill this up!!!!  It is going to make my life (and office) so much better!

The brand of these two units is Best A.  They are HEAVY duty.  I got two of the small ones and one of the big ones.  I am using them them for my scrapbook stuff.  Brice is having trouble figuring out how to get them on the walls because they are so heavy and did not come with brackets for the wall.  Right now I have them sitting on the floor and on the parson's desk.  More pictures to come! :)

 I also found this at IKEA!!  I saw it on the blog I mentioned above and FELL IN LOVE WITH IT!!!!  I cannot wait to get it on the wall and figure out what to put in it!!!  It is adorable!  I actually got the silver/galvanized buckets because it will match my room better!

I got a new labeler and colored file folders.  We got our new 4-drawer upright filing cabinet.  Everything is put together, setup and in the office.  Now, I have started putting everything back in the office and after everything is in the right spot, we will start filing, hanging pictures on the walls, and putting decorative items out.  We are declaring the kitchen a "paper-free zone" and all mail will be either shredded, put in the organizational pieces from Thirty One or taken care of immediately. 

Next project....the guest bedroom.  Then...our bedroom.  2013....ORGANIZE MY LIFE!!!!!  SO super excited!!!!  What tips do you have for me?! 

Reason to Rejoice
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