Month: September 2016

Until I’m 40…

At First Glance I have scheduled a Vision Day every year to measure everything we do against our mission statement.  To make sure we are staying on task.  My largest fear is that we will end up where we didn’t mean to be.  It’s the slow drift away from where we started, not necessarily bad, but not where we intended to go or end up.  I never want to look back and wonder how we got here.

Sometimes I worry about this for my personal life, wondering if I’m doing things, small things now that will allow me to drift in a direction, causing me to end up where I didn’t mean to go.  I try hard to be aware and to stay the course.

Recently I turned 38, and leading up, I decided to fast and pray in order to come up with a game plan for these next two years.  I decided instead of freaking out in some capacity that I was soon to be forty, I dreamed about who I wanted to be when I got there.  Two years of discipline and intentionality so I hit forty grateful for who God created me to be and the place I am in life.

The intentionality isn’t about my job and accomplishments, that’s not my priority when I turn 40, but rather the person I am.  Being comfortable in my own skin, confident in who God created me to be, spending my time where He has called me, and using my resources in ways to bring Him glory are my priorities.

I simply want to be intentional with these areas…

Decluttering the noise – There is so much noise in the background.  So many distractions in life:  TV, social media, and more.  A couple simple things I’ve committed to is watching less TV,  deleting FB on my phone, and adding a timer to my phone to know how many minutes a day I am distracted by it.  These are small things, but I really believe if I am intentional here, I will have room for some of the other things listed below.

The Spirit – Part of decluttering the noise is so that I can be in tune with with what is happening around me, especially when the Spirit prompts.  I know for a fact that the Holy Spirt speaks, leads, and guides.  I also know I so often miss his promptings because I’m too busy, too distracted, and life is simply too loud to hear His small still voice.

Time –  To be present!  Whenever I’m texting while hanging out with my friend, she always says “be here now!”  I hear her words often, saying it to myself when I know my mind is wondering.  I like todo lists. I like getting things done.  And I like being time oriented.  None of those things are bad, but often they take me away from the here and now.  So much of my mental energy is spent on what needs to get done and what I’m doing next.  I desperately want to be in the here and now, and give time to the things that matter.

Money – It’s not about spending none and giving the rest away.  Although, believe me, I am often tempted to do that.  It’s a matter of being intentional not to “nickle and dime” it away, to not just spend it on selfish desires.  Rather, spend it on things we need, on things that allow us to grow closer to God and each other, on things that encourage people in their faith or marriage, etc.  It’s not about just using less.  It’s about being intentional to encourage and help others with it.

People – I desperately want to make the person in front of me my priority.  All the above ultimately is done for the sake of people.  I want my time, money, and energy to be flexible so that I can engage people, love them well, and be present with them when they are in my presence.

In each of these categories I have set achievable goals, so these become my natural way of functioning when I turn 40.  I certainly don’t anticipate these changes happening over night or having all these areas perfected when I hit 40, but if I am not intentional, I don’t know where I’ll end up drifting to.  I simply want to make my life completely available for what God has called me to do and for the people around me.

In order to launch this new two year journey of discipline and intentionality, I started a new journal.  This is the front page of it, with a few key verses and phrases I want to focus my heart and mind on in these next two years.

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I talked about this new journal system here.

 

Grateful

Grief is a weird, hard and at times feels like a lonely journey.

  • I’m grateful that it isn’t always lonely.
  • I’m grateful for texts and messages from friends and family who tell me that they miss him in that moment.  (For those of you who ask me if it’s weird to say, it never is.  It brings great comfort to know he isn’t forgotten)
  • I’m grateful for hugs 9 months later when the pain always feels just below the surface and will erupt at any moment.
  • And I’m grateful for friends who stand in the dark at his grave, when the grief comes so strong…  All because you dropped off all your friends who will will go home to their kids and you can’t go home to yours.

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Little black book

I like Kirsten.

Kirsten and Josh were the first people we talked to years ago about adoption.
She’s who I met with when I found out we were infertile.
She’s was one I needed to tell in person that I was pregnant.
Although so nervous to tell her, as she has struggled with infertility, her joy was unforgettable.  Her words still play in my head over and over: “I can’t believe you’re pregnant.  Y0u’re going to have a baby.”

Several months after Enoch died, she handed me this small notebook.
I’m assuming she gave it to me because of the words imprinted on the front.  Ones I needed more desperately than anyone knew.

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A handful of weeks after she gave it to me I began to use it, carrying it with me daily in the back pocket of my jeans.  I used it as my journal.  More importantly, I used it as a way to communicate with God and and to keep my thoughts about God.  Typically in my down time I pull out my phone.  I started to wonder what would happen if I pulled out this little notebook instead.  What if I wrote down thoughts of God, thoughts of what was happening, and prayers for people?  What if instead of writing random thoughts in texts to friends or scrolling mindlessly through Facebook as I waited for whatever was next, I engaged God?  I will admit this has had significant impact on my life and my day to day interactions with God.  Beyond what I could have imagined.

The book is now full, I’ve already bought the replacement.

Thanks Kirsten for your friendship, support, and this little black book.

 

First Glance is Sweet 16!

As I think about First Glance over the past 16 years, I am flooded with thoughts, emotions, stories, memories, adventures and lessons learned.  It seems overwhelming to write what will feel like way too few words to encompass 16 years of the greatest adventure of my life.

Last year I wrote a blog post about my top 15 and they are all still true.  If I were to add #16 to this list it would be about how First Glance really is a family.  In fact it’s the opening line on our new website www.firstglance.org.

Chances are if you read this line on our website or hear us talk about it, you’re thinking how we become family to our students.  And yes, that’s true.  We do absolutely get to be family to our students.

  • Some of our students call us mom and dad.
  • Volunteers get to love, support and care for teenagers from the area.
  • We eat meals at each program and always have everyone sit together, at the table, “as a family.”
  • We show up to sporting events, graduations, court hearings and anything else we can to love and support our students.
  • One time when someone asked several of our teen moms to talk about “home” many ended up talking about First Glance.
  • We have walked along side many students who have experienced tragedy and loss.

The list could go on.  We seriously do get to be our students family.  I love that this is true.

At the same time, they also have become ours.  This isn’t a one sided relationship.  Over the years I’ve been grateful for students functioning as family to me.  They have taken me out to lunch, given me hugs on my bad days, and in even more extreme situations lived with Tim and I, becoming a permanent part of our family.

The reality of them being family  to me was never more evident than after tragedy hit my life.  After Enoch passed away countless students reached out to love, care and support us.

  • One young woman, Hope, insisted on doing something – anything to help. She ended up making sacrifices in her own life to provide food for the funeral.
  • I got this message just yesterday, “This book just came in (1 Enoch) at work and I wanted you to know you are never far from my thoughts I love you!”  This was such an encouragement!  Kayla who I have had the privilege of loving and supporting over the years, has sent me a number of messages and texts to support and love me this past year.
  • Danielle sent this to me a couple months ago after reading about Enoch in the bible and wrestling through what happened.  God used that verse,  to challenge Danielle and encourage Tim and I as she prayed for us.

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These are just a few examples of how First Glance is family.  And this family is not just one sided.  We get to love the students who walk through the door, and when given the opportunity they support us too.

16 years later, I could have never dreamed of all that I would have seen or experienced.  I am beyond grateful and humbled for the opportunity to be the Director of First Glance.

9 Months

9 Months.  It’s hard to believe it has been 9 months.  Today seemed desperately hard for some reason.  Harder than some of the other difficult days.  I could give you some reasons, guesses really, as to why.  But one thing I’ve learned about grief is that it often doesn’t make sense.

Each month I take the photo below.  The blocks marking his age.  His small converse which used to mark his grave when there was no stone.   It’s what I do.  It’s all I have.  I took this photo today like normal, even though the day seemed sadder than normal to me.

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Then tonight while the raining was pouring down I decided I needed to go back.  Back to his grave.  To stand in the rain somehow was soothing to the breathtakingly hard day.  While there, I took another picture.  As I reflect on it, I realize this is how I feel internally today.  Dark, dreary, rainy, and cold.  It seems much more appropriate than the first.

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