Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Isn't He good?

This past weekend I took my long-awaited trip to Houston for my dear friend Michelle's wedding. As usual, God's timing proved impeccable. The tickets had been bought months earlier, but it was such a relief to be able to go with the job situation temporarily under control back at home. 3 days away from Arizona and from music therapy and from daily life were a welcome respite.

I want to describe every detail of the trip (don't worry, I won't!) but I'll start with 1 thing that was said at the rehearsal dinner on Friday, because it sort of set the theme for the whole weekend. One man (Rob's uncle?), after reflecting on God's sovereign hand in bringing Michelle and Rob together, simply said, "Isn't He good?" And for the rest of the weekend, I had that phrase, complete with the southern accent in which it was said, echoing in my mind. God is indeed good in the way he brought Michelle and Rob together. He is good in having redeemed each of them from their sins and freeing them to love Him first and most. He is good in demonstrating through Christ what it means to sacrifice, to become a servant, and so enabling them to better do that in their shared life together. He is good in having given them so many believing family members, a whole built-in community of lovers-of-God in which they can grow and thrive.

And He is good in having let Katie and me be a part of the weekend. I felt so spoiled the whole time. Michelle had graciously taken care of our lodging - a nice hotel near all of our destinations. We were invited to the rehearsal dinner, despite not being relatives and never having even met the groom or his family. On top of it all, Michelle gave us sweet and encouraging notes complete with Starbucks gift cards, as if she hadn't given us enough already! Her selfless love toward us over the weekend was a sweet reflection of Christ's selfless love toward her, her family, and ourselves.

And everything went incredibly smoothly. On-time flights, our first successful renting of a car, only minimal occurences of getting lost... We enjoyed all 3 of Michelle's favorite coffee shops, 1 each day, as well as some little low-key explorations of parks, monuments, neighborhoods, and the downtown area. We had an amazing time and hardly spent any money at all. I even got a free glass of wine just because the bartender was also from AZ and not-so-subtly covered our drinks. The weather was beyond belief, and Houston was I think at its very best. Everything was green and beautiful. Even the radio was on our side. Actually, the radio was overall pretty ridiculously awful, but there were 3 perfect moments that made it evident the trip was created with me in mind. When we first turned on our rental car, thrilled to be finally in Texas, the song on the radio was "God Bless Texas." We randomly heard John MacArthur preaching on limited atonement after dinner on Friday. And Saturday morning, there was a talk show on the radio about the importance of music in neurological disorders. Unreal.

I want to include pictures but will have to upload those later on so as not to be late to work. So in closing, God is good! He graciously chooses to give good gifts to his children, after already having given them the greatest gift imaginable - a relationship with Him! He is indeed worthy to be praised!

Friday, March 13, 2009

What really matters...

I got another email from my employer last night, this one saying that our rates have returned to their former levels! A lawsuit against the State of Arizona was successful, and while the battle is far from over, the State was forced to immediately restore everything that was cut. They will fight it, of course, and we can't be confident that this is permanent, but it is still a reason to rejoice.

So it looks as though I'll be staying at my job and with the same kids and in my same house for at least another few weeks - praise God! And whether the last month was an isolated season or a taste of what is soon to come, I am genuinely thankful that it happened. Some of the many blessings that came out of it:

- a closer, more intimate walk with God. I've seen so many answered prayers, and have felt God's nearness in so many ways. Even in points of exhaustion, or maybe especially in them, I've been able to rejoice in His goodness

- a stronger belief in my ability to live without the little luxuries. My coffee shop attendance, in particular, has been significantly lower. Seems I'm actually able to stay awake without any caffeine at all!

- a more genuine belief in the value of what I do. How do you walk away from a job where little miracles happen all around you on a regular basis? I've treasured each of my sessions as my potential last with each of my kids, and it's been a pretty amazing journey.

-greather empathy. One roommate and 1 other good friend, among many others I'm aware of, have been jobless for some time. And while every situation is obviously unique, I have a certain understanding now that I couldn't have had before.

- practice in hospitality. I've never been a big fan of eating out, but I do love 1:1 conversations with friends, and in the past those were most often scheduled over a meal out or a coffee date at one of my favorite spots. My sudden financial predicament prompted me to invite people over instead. I actually cooked for people occasionally, had the blessing of other people coming over and cooking in our kitchen, and I finally learned how to make my own mochas for myself and my friends. And I enjoyed it!

-general growing up. I've been making all sorts of difficult decisions - turning down other jobs even while mine is in a sorry state, having to think about things like insurance above things like preference, having very formal conversations that I don't want to have. And God has given me peace in each of these things.

God has been so good. I had to fight to shepherd my heart in this whole situation, but I feel like I didn't even have to fight that hard. His goodness has been so consistently evident, and blessings have been in such abundance. We'll see how the future plays out, but one thing I know is that my God does not change. His faithfulness now will persist through whatever good or bad might come in upcoming weeks, months, and years. What a comfort! What a joy!