Life is like a puzzle - each piece fitting together perfectly to form a beautiful picture. And when we trust God with our journey through life, He fits each piece of the puzzle together to form something more beautiful than we could ever imagine.
The problem, though, is that each piece of the puzzle in itself does not make sense. Some pieces are blank - just a solid color (representing seasons of emptiness and loneliness - wondering where God is); some pieces are full of beautiful colors (representing seasons of experiencing the blessing of God, joy, and fruitfulness); some pieces are ugly (representing seasons of chaos, questioning, and confusion). But each piece is necessary, though, to make the puzzle complete.
And when it comes to the puzzle of life, we need to have faith that the God who created us will sustain us. He is good, all the time, and His mercy is with us continually - helping us and guiding us through each stage. Even when it's confusing, He can be trusted.
Today, I'd like to share with you some of the puzzle pieces in my life's journey. Trust me, it has definitely been a faith walk. Hang with me.
For the first 15 years of my adult life, I was a stay-at-home mom. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of loving, caring for, and teaching my 5 children (4 sons and a daughter). Then, 24 years ago, my world crumbled and I found myself as a single mama needing to provide for children ranging in age from 15 years old to a baby girl. I needed a job.
I knew that I would enjoy retail, so I went to work for Foley's (later to become Macy's) in Arlington, TX. I worked there for 3 years.
This was my first job outside of the home, and I worked for minimum wage. The days were long and exhausting, but I enjoyed it. This is where I learned how to provide exceptional customer service. And even though my heart longed to be home with my children, God helped me. His goodness and mercy helped me each and every day.
One day a customer recognized my heart and compassion for people. (God gave her insight into my soul that day, and I believe He sent her into the store to encourage me in my next career steps.) She suggested that I go to nursing school. My heart leapt as that had been a heart desire from childhood. I knew that with 5 children at home, though, going to school for 4 years was impossible. But becoming a medical assistant was not.
So I enrolled in Bryan Institute as a full time student to make the dream come true and continued working at Foley's part time.
I truly loved going to school. And I knew that God could not only use my heart in the medical field, but working a job in the medical field would help provide a better income to take care of my family. I was 38 years old with 5 children at home, and I was in class with 18, 19 and 20 year olds. I asked God to help me graduate as valedictorian, and He honored that request. What a miracle! Between being a mom, working, going to school, and studying, I slept about 2-3 hours a night. But God helped me, and His goodness and mercy sustained me.
This is a picture of what my children looked like when I graduated.
|Danny-18; Jason-15; David-12; Chris-6; Heidi-3. Adorable, right?|
After graduating, I worked in a family practice clinic with both front and back office responsibilities as well as working part time in an ob/gyn office. During that time, I also learned medical transcription as I thought doing so would help provide additional income working from home. I worked in both clinics for 2 years. Although I loved working in the medical field, I still longed to be with my children, especially my 2 youngest.
So, I birthed a lower elementary school under the umbrella of Gateway Institute, an advanced school of grades 7-12. (It seems that I've been a dreamer and a visionary for quite some time!)
Here, I taught reading, writing and basic skills to children in grades K-3. I had a heart for children and had also desired to be a teacher since childhood. (Yes, I wanted to be both a nurse AND a teacher!)
I was privileged to spend the next 3 years with these babies (especially my 2 youngest children, Chris and Heidi). While teaching at Gateway, I continued doing medical transcription from home every night. (And yes, I still slept only about 2-3 hours a night.) And even though it was hard, I wouldn't trade those years for anything. God's goodness and mercy helped me each and every day.
And then the biggest surprise of my life happened.
In August, 2000, I was given the opportunity to work at the Assemblies of God National Offices in an administrative role in the National Youth Department. What an incredible dream come true, even though it was completely unexpected.
So, we packed up and left everything we had ever known as a family to follow after God's plan for us and moved from Dallas, TX to Springfield, MO.
|Assemblies of God National Leadership and Resource Center (NLRC), Springfield, MO|
While I had never served in an administrative capacity up to that point, God gave me an incredible supervisor who believed in me and allowed me to learn and grow - professionally, personally and spiritually. I spent 17 years working in 3 different offices. Those years were amazing. I met and served people from all over the world, and my time there was wonderful.
And, because I still needed to provide for the needs of my children, I worked part time at Macy's for 12 years after moving to Springfield.
Once again, even though the days were long and it was hard, God's goodness and mercy helped me.
And then we arrive at my journey of the past 4 months - leaving the safety and security of life as I had known it working in Springfield and moving to Chicago to be near my children and grandchildren - and then the move back to Springfield just a few short weeks later. It all seemed so crazy and confusing, but I was happy to be home. And many of you have asked what I am doing now.
I am happy to tell you that I began working for Mercy Hospital back in August.
What an incredible blessing and gift from God! God has placed me in a clinic where my compassion for people is used fully every day.
It seems that God has taken me on a 24-year journey and has brought me full-circle. God has taken everything I've learned - customer service skills from working retail at Macy's, medical assisting skills learned from the degree earned as well as working in clinics, teaching skills learned while working at Gateway Institute, and administrative skills learned while working at the Assemblies of God National Offices - and has married those skills with my personality and heart for people into a job, a ministry, for me in this season of life. And to top it off, I've always tried to extend mercy to everyone I meet, and now I'm working for MERCY. How cool is that?
And to top it off, last weekend I shared my vision for Hearts and Pearls Ministries as I entered the contest with Chip Gaines of HGTV's "Fixer Upper." Goodness, Mercy, and Coming Home!
While I was not selected as a finalist in the competition, I am not discouraged at all. I did the hard part of gathering up my courage, doing the video, writing it down and getting it out there for the world to see. Someone (or "someone's") will catch the vision and potential of this ministry and will latch on to it. I believe that God will provide for the birthing of this dream to become a reality. Many hearts across our world need to be mended, families healed, physical needs met, and freedom and dignity restored. I am the dreamer, the voice of the wounded - God will get the glory. God wants to show his goodness and mercy to all hurting families, especially single mamas and their children - and He wants to turn hearts toward home.
In the same way that God has healed me and my family and has done mighty miracles for us, He can do the same for multiplied hundreds of other families. I would love for you to join me in praying for, investing in, and reaching those hurting families.
In spite of all the questions that were going on in me for the past several months/years, I believe that each experience has been a piece of the puzzle for my life - for a beautiful life full of grace, hope, goodness and mercy. And even though life has zigged and zagged, has been messy and hasn't looked very beautiful, when God fits all the pieces together it looks something like this:
God's plans are to prosper us and not harm us - he wants to give us a hope and a future; to show us His love now until we are home with Him in Heaven.
And so, friends, thank you for letting me share some of the pieces of the puzzle of my life with you today. Whether we are young or old, it's encouraging to know that God truly is fitting every experience - every puzzle piece, no matter how confusing - together to make a beautiful life. I'm so thankful that in each season, God's Goodness and Mercy follows us all the days of our life until He takes us Home. If you also are in a season of confusion, wondering how all the pieces of your life are going to fit together and make sense, just hold on and trust that God who knows you best and loves you most is at work behind the scenes desiring to give you a prosperous life. He is the Master Puzzle Solver.
Thank you for your love, prayers, support and encouragement; your friendship means the world to me. And thank you for continuing to pray for Hearts and Pearls Ministries. The best is yet to come!
With a heart of love and gratitude,
May The Lord smile on you and be gracious to you.
May The Lord show you His favor and give you His peace.
|Hearts and Pearls Ministries - Serving families with hope and love.|