Sunday, December 19, 2010

What a difference a year can make...

I have found a tendency in myself to take inventory of my life based on what was going on at this time last year. I have found myself doing that a lot recently, mostly because last Advent was extremely stressful, and this year I am just in a different spot.

Last year at this time I had been offered a job in Boston and had no idea what to do. At that point, I have been job searching for about 18 months with only temporary jobs to show for the search. I had many versions of my resume, many interviews, and lots more rejections. By December of last year, I can say that I became decent at interviewing.

The day before I had to tell the church in Boston if I was going to accept their offer, my sweet friend Laura called to tell me about a local opportunity, working with a mentoring program at a non profit. What mad matters worse is that I had done research while at Asbury and had become excited about starting youth programs (with an emphasis on mentoring) for kids in need. As I continued to hear about this job, I realized this was EXACTLY what I wanted to do. The job in Boston was not exactly what I wanted to do, but would have been a good step into a vocational direction. Also, as someone who gets a thrill out of new experiences and places, I will admit that I was pretty pumped about living in Boston. So I was posed with a dilemma... do I take the job that is for sure, and risk a new city, new friends, and potential misery, OR do i take of leap with this new potential opportunity, not knowing if I will even get an interview? Additionally, I was not banking on getting the job, because my interview history did not guarantee me getting this job. a STRESSFUL situation indeed.

I talked to everyone I knew and trusted about what I should do. I received lots of different pieces of advice, which didn't help. Finally, I was sitting at my friend Jeana's house one night and we talked this to death. I realized that i just was not excited about this job, and it would probably only be transitional at best. I had already been in transition for a long time and was ready for something I could really sink my heart and soul in to.

I interviewed for the job with Amachi (the mentoring program) and hands down, the best interview I'd EVER had. I came out of that interview floating, knowing where I was supposed to be. However, I interviewed just prior to Christmas. I didn't hear anything about the interview for a couple of weeks, unsure if I was going to get a second interview. I was still working at my job at the time which had gone from bad to really bad to downright miserable. I waited and cried and tried my best to be patient, but was not great at that.

Finally, a week or so into the new year, I found myself sitting in a second interview. It was not long, but again...I felt confident. I didn't feel confident in an arrogant way (I had been very humbled by MANY rejections), but in a "this is where I am supposed to be" kind of way.

I then experienced a very few long days. One of those days found my weeping and sobbing because I was SO miserable at the current job, and getting blamed for things that were not my fault. I knew I was at a point that would involve me quitting that job whether I got the new one or not.

The next afternoon, I received a call from the CEO of the non profit. All his message said was, "This is ____. Give me a call when you can." At that point, I wasn't sure what to expect. I got home from work, ate dinner with Amy and Jeana, and practically had my cell phone stapled to my hand. We were talking and waiting for the phone to ring, when it finally did. I went downstairs and waited for the words I had been longing to hear for a LONG time: "Maggie, we would like to offer you a job on the Amachi team." It took all of my strength and self-discipline to not scream right then and there, but somehow managed to make it through the phone call with some assemblance of professionalism. I ran upstairs and Amy, Jeana and I screamed, hugged and made a ton of texts and phone calls.

I've been there since February 8th, 2010, and I still love it. I know that I am where I am supposed to be, and that God prepared me for this role. In addition, I feel that I continually have the opportunity to learn, grow and evolve in a safe place. I work with and for people who believe in me, and I have had the opportunity to make this my own and to put my whole self into this. I still have moments, probably about once every two weeks, where I find myself thinking, "I can't believe this is my job and that I *get* to work here." I think that's a good sign...

The past year has reminded me of God's faithfulness, kindness and promises. There are many times when I wonder..."where is God?" But then I remember. He's here. Sometimes He is found in the silence, and sometimes He is found in the obvious declaration of His glory.

In the past year I have begun to find a voice and have felt permission to use it. I have found more pieces of myself. I have found more confidence by being able to own what I have been called to do. I have found brokenness in the lives of those I enter in to. I have found hope through the inspiration of the volunteers I work with.

There are still goals and desires and things that I wish for. And this just makes me wonder what I will be able to say at this time next year.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Is it a broken system?

At the beginning of August, I had a seizure. This was not the first time I'd dealt with some sort of seizure activity; I was diagnosed as having a seizure disorder when I was in high school. However, I've never had one of this magnitude and it involved a trip to the E.R. and an overnight stay in the hospital. Since then, it's meant getting used to a new medicine and not driving for three months. All of these things are hassles to deal with, but certainly not impossible.

What has been more troubling since then have been the financial issues that have come up. Because this is considered a pre-existing condition (and I had about a year and a half of having no insurance at all, due to job things), guess who's got a lot of medical bills being sent to her house? That being said, almost none of this is being paid for by my insurance company.

This is not a blog about healthcare policy or politics; I am not informed enough to be able to share that. However, what these thoughts are about is my story. It's my story of having a chronic illness that I will more than likely always struggle with, and my constant struggles to deal with insurance companies. There is a deep frustration and constant anxiety that can accompany chronic medical problems. When issues flare up, one just wants to feel normal and to not feel helpless (epilepsy feels helpless in ways that I can't even begin to describe). One wants to not feel at the mercy of medicine and doctors, and the frustration can feel intense. And when insurance issues and medical bills are piled on top of that, things can feel near impossible.

The reason I share all this is basically to pose the question, "What do we do?" The system we have now does not seem to work for the majority of people I know. I have one friend who cannot get covered by any insurance company because her height and weight are not proportionate. I have thousands of dollars in medical bills at my house due to one night in the hospital. My thought is that there must be another way...I just don't know what it is. Is it a universal plan like other countries have? Is it Obama's plan? I have no idea.

I write this not to complain about what has happened, or to have people tell me what I should do. This is a problem that is much bigger than me or what I've dealt with. This is a problem that is so much bigger than my one hospital visit. This is a problem that very, very real and that affects everyone. In addition, I do feel that as Christians, this is something we need to take seriously, because I think this has spiritual implications. If we are called to take care of the poor, the homeless, the orphan, the widow, the sick, and those who need care, we need to figure out a better way of approaching healthcare issues.

I hate to bring up a problem and not offer a solution, but that's exactly what I'm going to do. Thoughts welcome, but please be nice.

Thursday, May 27, 2010


Over the past week, I've realized how easy it is to get caught up in the excitement and in the game. The game of getting my job done, the game of increasing numbers, the game of getting us up to speed. Working under a grant can be like that-to continue with our program, there are certain goals we have to meet. We have to have a certain number of matches. And on one level, it's good for me. It pushes me. It gives me goals to work towards. However, within that there are times that it is easy to lose sight of the purpose: the individuals. We forget that within the numbers of kids we work with are stories. Stories of hurt. Stories of abandonment. Stories of confusion. Stories of loss.

Of course, in the midst of this, one of my jobs is to meet kids and their families. I think it's easy to become numb to the pain of the stories I hear. To forget to weep for the pain of the kids I meet. This week, I realized that I don't want that to happen. The pain I encounter should make me sad and angry. And the pain should move me.

I started praying this week a prayer that I have prayed before. I prayed that God would break my heart for the kids I work with.

And that happened this week.

Without going into too much detail, I was made aware of a family and of children in a situation that children should simply not be in. Promises broken, innocence taken. My heart was deeply saddened for these kids. And I thought about kids I saw in family court a couple of days ago. Girls who cannot live in their homes because their behavior is out of control. Girls who want to belong, but do not know how to make good decisions for a variety of reasons. At the end of the day, I can see the brokenness. I can see the pain. However, these kids try to mask it by trying to be much more adult than they actually are. And then they end up in court, ordered to live away from family because living at home isn't working for them.

I don't know the answer, but i do know that we are called to love the broken. We are called, as God's people, to care for the orphans. We are called to show what true love is.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Prodigal God

I'm back. I would like to say that I will promise to write more here. Not necessarily for the benefit of anyone else (because I'm not sure that many read this), but more so for the benefit of myself. I used to really enjoy writing. I had things to say. I would like to still believe that I have things to say. But i digress. This will not be another useless post about how horrible it is that I haven't written in a long time.

What will this be about, you ask? I'm not sure yet. I could go in many directions. One direction might be my job. I'm the match specialist for a mentoring program for kids affected by incarceration. There are many, many stories there. Lots of heartache. Lots of pain. Frustration. Lots of "what is wrong with the world?" moments. There are also moments of joy, hope, redemption. That might be the easy post, because it's what i live with every day. However, I feel the need to get away from the job for the night. Don't get my wrong...loving what I am doing. It's an awesome job, and perfect for me. It's where I am supposed to be.

I'm thinking about contentment these days. I am not now, nor have i ever been, a content person. This really, really bothers me. It bothers me because I long to live in peace with myself, with God, with others. I long to be the kind of person who can not only live in peace, but can also offer peace to others. However, it's hard to live in peace if one is not content. Why am I not content? I have most of the things I desire. I have friends who I love and who love me deeply. I have a job that is rewarding and fulfilling, and work amongst incredibly encouraging co-workers. My needs are met. I am loved. Yet something I have realized in myself a tendency towards the cynical...always anticipating the next difficult circumstance.

However, I have been reminded recently to just rest. Rest in who God is. Rest in who God created me to be. Rest in the joy of where God has brought me. When I was in Kindergarten, we had an award for the "best rester" at naptime. I rarely won that coveted blue ribbon. I was always squirming, moving, talking, giggling. Not much has changed. I am still struggling to understand how to rest.

But perhaps this is a struggle that we all face. If we were all able to truly rest in who God made us to be, we wouldn't fight against God by giving into temptation. We wouldn't fight against God by running to money and possessions for our security. We wouldn't fight against God by needing others to assure us of our worth. We wouldn't fight against God by trying to be perfect. If we are truly at rest with the Father, it seems as though we might also be at peace. And does this peace lead to trust? Or does trust lead to peace?

I am reading a FANTASTIC book right now, called The Prodigal God. The author claims that the story we typically know of as "the prodigal son" should really be called "the two lost sons." Prodigal means 'reckless spendthrift.' God spends all that He has on us, so the Father in the story is actually the prodigal, pouring himself onto his sons. Both of the sons are equally lost, each trying to find their own way in this world, instead of resting in the blessings of their father (the older son uses his morality and tradition, the younger uses self exploration). Both fight against the father, and don't understand what it means to rest.

The reality, however, is that we are loved unconditionally by God. He desires to bestow all that He has on us. We don't need to fight to receive the inheritance of the Father; it's there for the taking. I realize how simple and perhaps juvenile this sounds, but a statement that can be difficult to live in to.

As St. Augustine said, "Our heart is restless until it rests in You."

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Waiting, Patience, Looking Forward

I've been praying for a certain something for almost a year and a half-for a job that i'm excited about (either a ministry or non profit job). I am more than happy to say that as of Thursday evening, I have been offered a position with the Lexington Leadership Foundation. I'll be working with Amachi, a mentoring program for children and youth whose parents are incarcerated. I am so, so excited about this new chapter of my life, and am anxious to get started.

The past few days have been filled with excitement, but more than that...a reminder of God's faithfulness. The waiting has seemed so long, sometimes impossible. I've wavered between feeling guilty about being impatient with the wait, and feeling frustrated over needing to wait and wanting life to move on. I've thought a lot about what phrases like "Trust God" and "Wait on God" truly mean.

As i've celebrated great news the past couple of days, i've thought so much about how sad and frustrating waiting can be...mostly because it's so difficult to see the big picture. however, i'm so reminded of how so many pieces had to be in place for this opportunity to work out. An opportunity that I feel passionate about, folks i am excited to work with, an organization that has values and a mission that I feel very on board with. This has taught me so much about not settling, and remembering that God always has our best in mind, even if it requires a wait. Saying that seems like a platitude, so simplisitic, but it's been a good reminder this week.

I'm so excited for the new that is ahead of me. Thanking God today for answered prayers.