I finally finished moving out of my house yesterday. I say "finally" because for whatever reason this move has extended over many weeks. But finally I cleared and cleaned my house for the last time. After every last thing was loaded and the house was sparkly clean, I took a minute to relax in a completely empty house. And a flood of emotions overcame me.
I didn't own the house so I didn't feel a loss in leaving it behind but there was definitely the feeling of a chapter closing in my life. And honestly, one of the more painful chapters of my life. Almost every single thing in my house, I worked hard to buy. And I mean everything. Every piece of furniture, every decorative piece, every utility...even down to the wine opener. I remember the first night I spent in my house - a girlfriend brought a bottle of wine over to celebrate except I didn't have a wine opener. We actually used a power drill to open it - although not ideal, it got the job done.
And with that, I added "wine opener" to the list of things I needed to buy. Each and every little thing I saved money to buy, dollar by dollar, until I had money to build my post-divorce life. The past several years of my life have been dedicated to rebuilding - first rebuilding my emotional self and then rebuilding the "things" in my life. Except things have become so much less important to me. And yesterday was a testament to that fact.
I have always been rather sentimental. I used to keep everything - and I mean everything. Some might argue I had real hoarder potential! (My fiance might argue that I still have a ton of stuff but he has no idea how bad it was!) But I have slowly realized, stuff is just stuff. Our memory doesn't depend on the stuff we keep. Stuff does not make things less painful. And stuff doesn't bring back loved ones. In fact, most of the time, I have found "stuff" gets in the way of life more than anything else. So I am learning to let go. I still have weak moments...like when I really wanted to find a reason to keep two plant pots that my fiance used to make me a television stand. He reminded me, "Ashley, they are plant pots from Lowe's." And I thought to myself, "Got it....they are just stuff." So I gave them to a neighbor to actually use for potted plants. I gave away or sold SO much of the stuff I worked hard to gain. And yet I do not feel a loss. I am gaining so much more in this move than the physical stuff I am technically "losing". I am gaining an amazing husband (to-be), family, new friends, new adventures...I am gaining the stuff that matters in life. And leaving behind stuff that doesn't.
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasures is, there your heart will be also.
Wine openers, plant pots and the stuff that matters,
I have been struggling with worry, especially over the past week. God has remained faithful in reminding me that I do not need to worry. And that worry is actually a sign of not trusting God and not having faith that He is taking care of it. My fiance reminds me daily not to worry. And this week two of my friends called me out on my worrying. And despite being surrounding by reminders, worry has taken residence in my heart.
And to be completely honest and brutally transparent, my struggle with worry, to a greater extent, is an indication I am not trusting God (no need to sugar coat it...God knows my struggle!) In 8 weeks I am moving to North Carolina and I have yet to secure a job. I am probably on my 15th job application and I have been rejected 14 times (the 15th time remains unknown only because I just applied this morning!) I am being recruited by huge hospitals all over the country...California, Texas, Virginia, and even in North Carolina but no where near the city I am moving to in January. I have a doctor of nursing practice degree and over 10 years of nursing experience and yet I can't find a job in a rural community hospital. I am fairly confident God is also using this experience to humble me and I am willing accepting this lesson. However, I feel like I am failing at the lesson of trusting Him and not worrying.
As I was driving yesterday, I caught sight of a bird flying through the sky and was reminded of this scripture:
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life ?
"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
What is incredibly frustrating is even in the midst of my worry, I can't understand why I am worried. God has always taken care of me. I have persevered through so many struggles over the last five years and at the end of the day God has always taken care of me. And He still provides for me today - I am surrounded by family and friends helping me out right now. However, it isn't according to MY plan. I like to be in control of the plan or rather I like to think I am in control of the plan. In reality, we are never in control of the plan. I need to remember God is the ultimate planner and He has plans for me. And His plans are bigger and better than any plan I will ever develop. My role is to worship and graciously submit to His incredible plan.
Worship, worship, and more worship,
Starbucks removed some snowflakes and other holiday symbols from their winter paper cups and suddenly they are accused of being anti-Christian....ladies and gentlemen, it's not about the cup. Christmas is not winter figures on a paper cup. And selecting a plain red (or as Starbucks prefers, "cranberry" colored) cup instead of the traditional snowflakes edition is not the same thing as being anti-Christian. And having a bunch of Christians protesting Starbucks is a great example of how we ,Christians, miss the point.
If removing some holiday symbols from a red cup gets more people that do not believe Christ into the doors of Starbucks, where I am sipping on delicious, over-priced coffee, maybe my chances of witnessing to them will increase. If this cup fiasco were an indication that people of Starbucks were anti-Christmas or anti-Christian (which I don't believe it is!), isn't that all the more reason to actually be at Starbucks? Where did Jesus hang out? In the church with "His" people? No, He hung out with nonbelievers. It isn't as much about the cup as what goes in the cup.
Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Please give me a drink.” He was alone at the time because his disciples had gone into the village to buy some food. The woman was surprised, for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans. She said to Jesus, “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?” Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.” “But sir, you don’t have a rope or a bucket,” she said, “and this well is very deep. Where would you get this living water? And besides, do you think you’re greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us this well? How can you offer better water than he and his sons and his animals enjoyed?” Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”
If the women at the well showed up with a Starbucks non-snowflake, plain cranberry colored cup, I am pretty sure He would have still filled it with His living water. Who's cup are you filling up?
Coffee, snowflakes and a red cup,
Just a few reflections about everything God is teaching me in this life...a journey deeper into His purpose for my life.