He Never Forgets His Promises #BackToSchool #FiveYears #TheJourneyContinues

I’m sitting here at my coffee table covered with binders, books, planners, notebooks, and pens getting myself ready for the six classes I’m about to teach this semester as a full-time professor (that’s right I’m a full-time professor with an office!) And I’m crying. Not because I’m stressed. Not because I’m worried. Not because I’m overwhelmed. I’m crying because I’m here and this is really happening.  The tears of joy and gratitude are spilling out as I’m reminded of the things my late husband said to me five years ago weeks before his unexpected death. I’m remembering  all the trying times that have led to this–all the confusion, the heartaches, the up and downs, all those moments I was misunderstood and alienated.

Most of the time, doing the right thing isn’t easy. It’s scary. It’s rough. It doesn’t always make sense. We don’t have any idea where we are actually going or if we’ll end up on the higher ground we think we saw when we started the journey.

This fall will mark five years. Five years since I taught my first class accounting class as an adjunct professor. Five years since I unexpectedly lost my husband. Five years ago the puzzle of my life that was starting to come together got thrown into the air and it shattered my heart. Thankfully, time and effort can heal a heart in surprising ways.

One of my best friends and I were talking the other day. He was telling me this story about this bamboo fable he’d read. How the bamboo is in the ground but for years but no progress can be seen. People ridicule and discount the man’s faith, effort, and time he puts into growing this plant. But he doesn’t give up. He keeps caring for this bamboo seed until suddenly in the fifth year the bamboo sprouts and grows incredibly fast in a short amount of time. If he’d stopped caring for this seed or walked away from it, he would’ve missed seeing his plant grow. He would’ve missed seeing his faith turn into a real tangible representation of his work. He would’ve missed the success of his efforts.

I could look at this moment, the unexpected phone call on a Wednesday afternoon that lead to my full-time position, as a stroke of good luck but that would mean completely missing the message. That’s like standing at the top of the mountain and forgetting all the steps and rough terrain you climbed to get there. Like you magically transported yourself to the top. (Well if you could’ve done that all along why didn’t you?!)

This full-time teaching position was a right place right time thing BUT I wouldn’t have been in the right place at the right time if I hadn’t been taking all of the steps to get there. For five years, I’ve worked for this. Class after class. Hour after hour. The last twelve months of my life have been some of the roughest I’ve had in a long time. I’ve watched my mother-in-law fight cancer and find her seat in heaven at the end of it. I’ve been knee-deep in loss—loss of life, loss of health, loss of financial stability, and loss of relationships. I’ve sat in tears on my kitchen floor, been stranded on the side of the road, sobbed at an altar, held a dying woman’s hand, wrapped my arms around hurt children, and poured my heart out to Jesus on my knees multiple times.

Each time, God provided. Sometimes it was the strength to pull myself off the floor and put myself to bed. Sometimes it was the humility to call for help from a friend. Sometimes it was an instant feeling of inexplicable peace and comfort to dry the tears.

The puzzle is being put together again or rather I can see it forming before my eyes. I keep picking up the pieces, putting them on the table, and asking, “What next Jesus, where does this one go?” Last year’s big piece was my conversion to Catholicism and this year’s big piece is this job. Neither did I see coming.

When we let God put the puzzle of our lives together for us, we don’t always understand His designs, His process, but He does things best. After all He created this puzzle, who are we to doubt His capabilities to put it back together?

Let my life remind you, to keep going. Don’t give up on what God has put in your heart. Keep doing the right things. Keep taking the steps. Some days everything seems impossible but if you don’t give up you’ll see the top of the mountain. I know that’s not always easy to believe but try. Let this special moment in my life, be hope for you and your struggles. <3

Today I’m thankful for those people who never let me quit, who always pick me up, who remind me of who I am, and who are the reasons why I keep doing the right thing. Just because you can’t understand why or how something can work out doesn’t mean it won’t. Just because you can’t see the progress doesn’t mean things aren’t moving.

Pray hard. Work hard. Love hard. And never ever EVER give up on your always and forever!

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Check Yourself #Confessions #Faith #CheckYourself #Choices #Blessings

Nothing is wasted in this world. I truly believe that. One of the greatest gifts of death is how it causes us to evaluate our lives. It shakes us out of the stupor of plans, deadlines, appointments, and routine throwing the frailty of our humanity in our faces.

That alone is a gift—recognizing the brevity of our life on this side of eternity.

A friend and I were talking the other day about this and it made me stop and check myself. If I died today, would I be okay with that? The answer hit me quickly—yes. Hear me out, I’m not having suicidal thoughts or anything and I’m not unhappy with my life.

These past few months I’ve especially questioned myself, questioned God, and repetitively asked if I was doing the right thing. Nothing scares me more than wasting my life away in places I don’t belong and I was afraid I was doing that. I was concerned I was pursuing the wrong relationships and pouring time and love into people and activities that I shouldn’t be.

My head and my heart and my gut were in constant flux, none of them really agreeing on much. When that happens fear easily overpowers the obvious truth around us. I prayed extra hard and did my very best to do the right things and work outside of my feelings. That’s not easy.

Somewhere in all of this I found myself beginning to center myself to live in the moments of my life, instead of the what if’s. I’ve come to realize I live with lots of feelings of fear and I have my entire life. And that’s okay. It’s okay to be afraid but somewhere in all of this mess that has been my life recently, I kept moving even with fear whispering lies in my ear. I kept trying even when the feelings of despair rose up within me. Fear allows us to measure the depth of our courage and our faith.

How did I get past my fear? I prayed. I prayed so much and I was honest with God about how scared I was about everything in my life. Then I asked for help. And finally I moved. I took a step.

I’ve been more vulnerable in my life these past several months than I ever have. In the process I’ve learned this was a part of my lesson. We find our strength in our weakness. We find our power on our knees. We find peace in gratitude.

Every moment has become incredibly precious to me. You might not see it. I may not make some big announcement about it, but in my heart each moment deeply matters. I’ve driven down back roads wind in my hair thanking God for those moments of freedom. I’ve sat cuddled on my couch with little girls on my lap, thanking God for them. They may not be my daughters but that doesn’t make our relationships any less valuable. I’ve sat next to friends praying in that moment, thanking God for them. Thanking God that He keeps providing people to fill the holes in my heart. I’ve prayed more in the moment than I ever have before. Somehow, that has made every breath of my life feel more significant.

I’ve vowed to myself and to God that I want to live His plans for me and that has meant doing things that don’t always make sense from the outside eye.

So when I thought, if I died today would I be okay with that. Am I content with the life I’m living? Could I leave this earth—without sharing my life with my person, without having a family of my own?

Yes. I am content with the way I live my life. And while I want my person and my own family more than I could ever explain, the fact I’d be completely at peace to die without having them surprised even me.

We don’t get to choose what happens to us but we do get to choose how we handle ourselves. We get to choose to love beyond reason. We get to choose to do the right thing even when it’s tough. We get to choose to wait for the right person instead of the right now person. We get to choose how we are going to learn from our mistakes. We get to choose to apologize. We get to choose to forgive. We get so many choices. That’s a blessing.

Today, stop and ask yourself if you died today, would you be at peace with that? Check yourself. And if not, maybe it’s time to choose to live your life differently. You can choose to change. And if you are at peace with yourself, that’s awesome. There’s a gift a peace beyond explanation in that.

Love, Hugs, & Sunshine,

Michelle

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