Friday, February 27, 2009

not where I thought I'd be...

I got the email from my employer this morning, with the official new rate that I will be payed starting Monday. It is not a 54% cut but a 60% one. It's only a little worse than I expected, but still hard to see a cold, hard number that means that, unless something changes and fast, I need a new job.

This isn't where I thought I'd be. But it's not the first time that things have happened which I didn't expect, and God has faithfully proven in the past that he truly does work all things for my good. Had you asked me as a high schooler what my life would look like at age 25, I would probably have seen myself married with a kid by now. Had you asked me 5 years ago what my biggest passions would become, Romania would not even have been on the radar. Had you asked me 2 years ago what my career plan was, I would have told you that it was almost definitely not music therapy. A year and a half ago, I would have said that I was just going to work as a music therapist for a year at most and then move on.

It's really hard to look at the future right now. It's hard to think that music therapy may have been just a season, and a short one at that. And I still have 31 faces running through my mind - each of the kids that i work with each week. More than that, I have many more faces flashing before me - so many people have brought me to where I am this day, have kindled in me this passion for people with disabilities. I think of the kids at Tungland, where I've worked on and off for almost 7 years now. I think of the kids in the state orphanage in Romania. I think of the people at my internship site. Yesterday I went to a rally at the State Capitol, and I think of the faces of the strangers i saw there - all fighting to keep services that have made such a powerful difference in their lives and the lives of their loved ones. My hope is that if I do need to find a new job, it will still be in working with these people somehow, but I also know I can't be picky in this economy. It might be that this passion for these people will have to somehow be dormant for awhile, and that is a hard thought.

But I want to be able to look at the future with joy - to "laugh at the future" even, as the Proverbs 31 woman does. There are moments in my days when I DO have this outlook. But there are other moments when I weep. And my God is sovereign over my laughter and my tears. I think it is ok - right, even - to mourn the loss of this job, for it was given me by God and He has worked mightily in it to grow me and to serve others. But I love the Giver more than the gift, and I want that to be the truth that shines in my darkness - not only that I love the Giver, but that the Giver loves me (and loved me first!), and that this is reason for perfect peace.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Only by God's grace...still thankful

This has been an intensely hard week. I got word on Saturday night via email that the state of Arizona is cutting the rate at which they pay music therapy providers by 54%. Essentially, this could remove the profession from the state of Arizona, and at the very least, it would make my life immensely more challenging financially and otherwise. The rate change is scheduled to go into effect March 1st.

My week, then, has consisted of trying to keep up a normal schedule while simultaneously doing all that i can to battle for my job. Every day, I provide therapy for a handful of kids whom I treasure more and more each day and dread the strong possibility of losing. After each session, I have an intense conversation with each parent telling them of what's happening and inviting them to join our battle to lessen the cut. Every night, in addition to my usual nightly work, I email out an assortment of attachments to concerned parents, colleagues, etc. I've been crying a lot, of course, and while I feel like I have a peace beyond understanding in my heart and mind most of the time, my body doesn't quite believe me and my immune system sort of went away.

But that's not the point. The point is that God is good! I have so many things to be immensely thankful for!

1) I am not without options - my parents live nearby and are gracious and generous. Moving out of my house and back with them (a very likely happening) will be sad but a real blessing at the same time.

2) I feel like a music therapist and am still happy about it! It's been great to interact more with other music therapists in this battle. And even greater is the fact that I have no regrets about the profession that I'm in - despite having sworn 2 years ago that I would not do it in the first place. If this is the end of this chapter, it has been more than worth it.

3) I have this job NOW. Next week could be the last week. But today is today and I get to be an important part of the lives of 31 kids and their families - and make music all day long!

4) I am valued by many families. The threat of losing my services has caused parents to tell me things that are really sweet to hear about the positive impact I've had, and I've had a huge response from them in joining this battle.

5)God has sustained me. I've been functioning with heightened emotions and responsibilities and diminished health, sleep and caffeine, and I have functioned well. I've only had 1 breakdown at an inappropriate time (during the hello song in a session) and have not felt nearly as exhausted as I would have expected.

6) I DO have peace. God prepared me for this event a few weeks ago, and while that doesn't mean it isn't hard, I am able to look at it rightly and look at God rightly in it. By God's grace, I am usually only sad - not angry, and usually not anxious. And by His grace, I believe in my mind AND my heart that His ways are perfect.