Friday, March 27, 2009

Blessed and Highly Favored: Part II

Time for Part 2: This event has really been instrumental in shaping me and has influenced the person that I am today. Don't get me wrong, I have NOT arrived.. but this is just another step on the pathway.

Anyhow, about a year ago, the church that I was attending at the time stopped regularly doing something that I felt was EXTREMELY important in bringing followers of Christ together in worship and more importantly in bringing us into a deeper fellowship with Christ himself. It was not one of those ritualistic things where we needed to do it this certain specific way but a regular and consistent practice was really all that I was looking for. To completely eliminate and have no explanation as to why was a concern of mine. I talked with the person in charge in passing at first, and then waited a few months to see what would come of it. NOTHING. Nada. Zilch. I knew that I would have to go back and address the issue again with this person in a more specific way and honestly that in itself scared me to death. During these few months, I had seen several others who were really good friends of mine leave the church because they challenged something and it was not well received. I didn't know WHAT was going to happen. So I shared my concern with said person after much prayer and consideration. He seemed open to my thoughts and concerns and I really thought that a change was going to happen. I kept praying over the situation and located some scripture to make sure that I was dealing with everything in a biblical way. (Matthew 18: 15-17). I had decided to give it 30 days and see what my next step would be. Day 28 - and still NOTHING had changed and no mention of change either. Hmmm.. interesting, I thought.. I'm going to have to go back -- and this time take someone else with me! So I prayed on it and located the person who would go with me & asked them if they would pray about going with me to talk to this person. So the next day we get to church, and come to find out we didn't have to address the issue -- everything was set up and ready to go for what I had been asking for.. GREAT! But then I started to question -- was this because of God changing this person's heart OR was this just being done to appease me and lead me to think that things had changed?? To this day I honestly can't answer that question for you.. but it really doesn't matter anymore at this point.

I kept on about my business for the rest of the summer. Oh, one thing I forgot to mention is that I had started going to several bible studies at other churches during this time to gain different perspectives and really to see what other churches were doing and to learn more outside of the 4 walls of the church where I was on Sunday mornings. There was tons of opposition because of that... I was learning and growing at these other places though and my only explanation for it was GOD. At this point, insert the last blog I wrote here in my time line, read about how I was on cloud 9 after the struggles that I had been through in THAT situation! :)

Anyhow, the fall came and a few things in my schedule came up that shouldn't be major issues!! First of all, my final class for my MBA fell on Wednesday nights which meant that I had to sacrifice going to a weekly home fellowship/small group meeting for 16 weeks to finish my Master's Degree. I also was asked to start leading worship for a hospital ministry on Sunday afternoons which kept me from being able to go to bible study at my home church due to scheduling. As a result, I decided to sign up for another bible study at another church that met on a different night of the week - to make sure that my cup stayed filled and that I was still immersed in God's Word other than just on Sunday mornings! All 3 of these things brought up looks, comments and outright verbal opposition towards me which, in my opinion, is uncalled for.

Before you think that everything was all roses for me on my end outside of these other people and their junk -- let me just tell you that God and I had it out many, many, many, many times over these issues. I didn't like having my whole Sunday being taken from me to serve in what seemed like total rejection sometimes when we would go to that hospital... But God said, keep going.. I didn't like driving 45 minutes to an hour (in traffic) to bible study on Tuesday evenings to study the bible with women that I didn't know AT ALL.. But God said, keep going and showed me at least one reason for me to be there EVERY SINGLE WEEK THAT I WENT! The more that I went and studied and learned and formed these relationships, it was obvious that I was missing A LOT in my spiritual life. Finally, God said "Leave and Go to the place that I have shown you".. and I was fearful of what this meant for me. It meant starting over, meeting new people, making new friends, unplugging from one place and plugging in at another. It meant stepping completely outside of a box and into territory that I had faced before -- but this time I was facing it as a Christian..(huge difference).

So I left. I contacted everyone that needed to know that I was leaving due to my service obligations and commitments. I said goodbye to a lot of friends and a lot of people who had grown to be my family... and moved on. I won't use the internet to air a bunch of dirty laundry about certain people and their opinions of all of this (specifically) but I will say that this decision -- one between me and GOD -- was NOT well received by most. It is one that is still being questioned today (either behind my back or in some peoples' minds.. guaranteed!).

Have I questioned my decision? ABSOLUTELY. Have I looked back? OF COURSE. BUT GOD had a plan for me and my life and when He speaks -- our only choice is to obey Him. I guess my reason for writing all this out is to say that becoming immersed in this new church and culture has really been the thing that has given me closure on the situation. Now it's official: I'M NOT LOOKING BACK AND I'M NOT GOING BACK! I dont' have any reason to!! When you eat steak for many meals in a row there's NO WAY that you would want to go back to eating sardines! That's how I feel about this... I have come into my own -- I found a ministry that I absolutely LOVE (choir) and am ready to give my all to that ministry however God allows me to do. I also feel like I am making friends -- SINGLE FRIENDS -- to help me learn how healthy friendships between men & women are supposed to look and to be connected with people who are in the same boat as me -- SINGLEHOOD.

to my faithful readers: THANK YOU for sticking it out to the end of this blog! I truly appreciate you! I hope you are able to see after reading these 2 posts that the God I serve is REAL and AWESOME! I can't wait to tell you more as He continues to show Himself to me! :)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Blessed and Highly Favored! Part I

With the end of March just around the corner, I just realized that 2009 is 25% of the way over. Time is going by so fast and I am really making an effort to keep up with everything and everyone so that I don't miss anything. That being said, I think is really important from time to time to take a step back and really evaluate where it is that you are in your journey and to reflect on some of the events that helped shape that reality. If you have read or heard me tell the stories that I'm about to tell - great - but if not, please take a moment to reflect on my path with me - be prepared though.. this ride gets kinda bumpy at times. :)

I joined my church choir (more on this later) last week and we are singing this song this week that I thought I would share:

He brought me through hard trials
He brought me through tribulations
Never let a day go by and not realize
Had not been for the Lord who was on my side

Back was against the wall
He looked out for me
He heard my cry and rescued me
Never let a day go by and not realize we are blessed

Don't take it for granted that we are here today
Just know that we're blessed and highly favored
Just know that we're blessed and highly favored

As I look back through the years,
It's amazing how He kept me.

What the devil meant for evil,
God turned it around,
Turned it around just for my good.

I know that I am blessed and highly favored.
Just know that we're blessed and highly favored.

To prepare to sing this Sunday, our director asked us to take some time over the next few days to think about time(s) when God has come through for us and shown Himself and his power to us. Below is my first example:

I will start with my career right now. I am BLESSED beyond belief by this company and the people that I work with and am CONSTANTLY reminded of how BLESSED I am on a daily basis. I start this part of my story back in February 2007. The economy was just starting to take its nose dive and the first thing my company did in preparation for that was to lay people off. I was spared though and even promoted to another position in the company. The new position carried with it TONS of job flexibility, the opportunity to truly help people who were struggling and the potential to advance up the corporate ladder into positions of leadership --- OR SO I THOUGHT... After about a month or 2 of being in this position, the corporate culture at the company started to take a complete 180 degree turn. The position went right back to being exactly like the position that I had been promoted FROM and the consensus at that time between all of us there was "Look for a new job.. and fast!". So I started doing that. I went on interview after interview for several weeks and received nothing but rejection. I thought.."this is the end all be all.... I will be here forever!" After a while I just gave up on the search and went back to dealing with where I was and what I was doing at that time. the cycle went something like this: 1) *sigh* I still have a job 2) weeks of job interviews 3) no results 4) repeat.. this continued on over and over again for the next 18 months!

At the beginning of July 2008, it had been 6 months since I had made any of the "goals" that the company had set forth for us. Mind you, the goals changed sometimes on a daily basis AND I was still being asked to make the goal the world's way so that management and the company would look good on paper regardless of whether or not the customer was actually helped. In the back of my mind, I always knew that termination was a possibility but I think that reality became evident on July 9, 2008 when I got a text from my friend Miss Dallas to tell me that one of our boys had become a casualty of war -- Duane. I could not believe it! I was on vacation at the time and the only thing I could think about until I went back to work the next Monday was.. "surely if he was let go, my time is a-comin'". Upon returning to work, I noticed that the whole atmosphere in our little corner of the office had changed. None of us understood the "why" of the situation -- just that it had happened and that we could be next. The very next day - Tuesday, July 15, 2008 was the turning point for my part of the story. I worked for that whole day and about 4:30pm I get called into a meeting with one of the supervisors (not my own, he was out on paternity leave by this time) and the head of the department. You can already guess what this meeting was about -- yep, my failure to make the goals for the past 6 months. I was given a write up & an action plan and it didn't sit well with me AT ALL. You have to understand something about me: I don't get in trouble and I don't get written up. All my life, since I was a kid, I was the model child. All the teachers wanted 20 more just like me. All of my employers wanted people who would be reliable, hard-working... well, you get the picture. There was now a write-up in my file and I didn't like it!! My fate was sure - if the goal was not met in 30 days there was a very real possibility that I would be terminated. Bottom Line. I went home that day (on the train) on the verge of tears with the write-up still in my hand. I actually didn't break down until I got to my best friend's house to go to bible study that night and even then I was going to hide it from her until she asked "What's wrong with you? You look like you're about to cry.." (gotta love BFF's -- I sure do love mine!) Our lesson at the study that night was over Psalm 128. The first verse says: Blessed are all who fear the LORD, who walk in his ways. There it was - God's promise that He would take care of me.. why? Because I feared the LORD and walked in His ways. I walked in to work the next morning with a peace about me that I hadn't felt in the longest time. I cleaned my cubicle up that day, threw away all of the old training books and notes and materials that I knew I wouldn't need anymore. Packed all of my personal belongings on that desk in a box (well, condensed it to one box) and put that box under my desk. If I was going to be walked out of there for doing things GOD'S WAY; I wanted to be prepared!! It didn't take people long to notice that I had done this. Many of them asked me what I was doing. I didn't really have an answer for them - just that something big was about to happen and that I needed to be ready for it.

During lunch that same day, I decided to work on Project GTFO a little and applied for two positions during that hour. Both of them were non profit, ministry positions. The next morning I got calls to schedule interviews with both of them .. I went to both interviews but one position stood out above the other one. The CEO of this company had agreed to meet with me at 7am for my interview because he saw the importance of me getting to work at my job by 8am when I was supposed to be there. The interview?? Not your typical interview. I think the only question that he asked me was to "Tell him about myself.." - the Holy Spirit took it from there. He said he would call me within the week. The Vice President of the company called me the next day to do a phone interview and I had a job offer by Friday. It gives me chills to type this but the verse on my Bible Verse Calendar on the day that I got the job read:

From the LORD comes deliverance.
May your blessing be on your people.
(Psalm 3:8)


God didn't stop there in revealing to me what His good and perfect plan had looked like from the beginning of all of this. Would you believe that THE WHOLE time that I was struggling through this thing -- 4 people in an office of 6 were preparing to retire?? The reason for me to go through the fire was to learn what I needed to learn about the industry, to become more spiritually mature, to witness to countless others about Jesus AND (last but not least) to wait until these other people were out the door and retired so that where I needed to be was ready and available for me!! :)

I have started to apply this principle to other areas of my life especially the singleness and my finances. I constantly have to think back on this when I start to get frustrated or discouraged in all of that.

Part II of this post will be coming soon -- a little harder to write but you'll read it when it's done.
Leave comments and encouragement if you like. :)

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Date? Me?

You all know that my motto for 2009 is "Get Out of The Box" and I hope that you are already seeing the changes in me through this blog. It seems like I am deciding to do something different every month but since there is already SO MUCH that I am not doing -- I think there is LOTS of room for branching out. Today, I want to talk about an area that is COMPLETELY uncharted territory. I mean, this is like the pilgrims landing at Plymouth Rock & having to make nice with these people (Indians) that seemed like a whole other species to them. Dating & relationships that could lead up to marriage are something that are actually pretty foreign to me.

I think I went on 2 dates in High School. One was to Homecoming my sophomore year: this guy asked me if he could get me a mum because his long time girlfriend had broken up with him (and honestly, I think his mom had told him to find someone to give the mum to so she wouldn't have wasted her money!). I was in band so we didn't really get to do the whole 'Homecoming' experience. We still had to sit with our instruments in a formation & got to go out & have fun after the football game. I remember my mom drove us to Bennigan's for dinner (with some other people) and this guy proceeded to drink umpteen Dr. Pepper's just because -- he could?!? I didn't quite understand what THAT was all about but I think at that point I realized that I was not going to go out with him another time so it was settled. :D The rest of high school was pretty blah in the boy department. ALL... and I mean ALL of my guy friends were either gay or taken. I had fun with them though ~ I think I was totally convinced that their happiness was much more important than mine so I was always helping them find someone whether we were on a trip out of town or at the club (gay clubs). If you've ever watched Will & Grace, I am totally Grace (except for the Jewish and promiscuous part). SHE even likes CAKE too! :)

Anyhow, my other "date" was prom & I paid for EVERYTHING including his tuxedo (since I had asked him) AND since he was 2 yrs younger than me. But we were such good friends -- he was still really young.. and had a curfew.. and didnt' get to go to the after party with my friends and I. I wish I had a scanner so I could show you all our prom photo because one look at it will give you a clue about what I'm about to tell you... After high school (about a year) I was walking in the Cedar Springs/Oaklawn area here in Dallas when I hear my name being shouted down the sidewalk at me. No!! It can't be!!! Sure enough, my date was GAY and to look at his pictures now, I honestly dont' know how I didn't see it! (he majored in DANCE and is now on tour with someone famous, I'm sure.. still hot as all get out though!)

Fast forward from 1997 (then) to 2009 (now). I have been to college (twice). I have held 4 jobs in 8 years. I have been to and a part of more wedding showers and weddings than I care to mention (oh wait, there was cake there.. that makes it worth it!). I have become a believer in Jesus & stepped out in faith in soo many other areas that He has asked me to trust Him in. I'm having a really hard time with getting comfortable with building relationships with the male species. I can carry on conversations with any one of my friends' husband's for considerable lengths of time but feel like I would be speechless if I was one-on-one with someone that I really didnt' know all that well.

I guess the reason why I'm bringing this up is because I have been thinking about taking a step that is SO UNLIKE ME. MORE SO than the other ones!! I keep hearing these ads for these dating services (some of them Christian -- I wouldn't do it any other way!) and my interest has been peaked. There is a huge cost for some of them though and I am not one to just drop money on something at the drop of a hat without doing extensive research (up to and including LOL). I have been hearing about one on the radio for several weeks now & today decided to go check out their site. I watched the video tour that they have up there and it seems legit. The cost for a profile listing is reasonable AND they say they donate some of the money that you pay to Christian charitable organizations. I am waiting to get a response back from them because I emailed the 'contact us' link on the site to ask probably the most important question that I could not locate on their site. 'What is a Christian?' (yeah, that's probably pretty important to understand before signing up on a Christian dating site). Mind you, I KNOW what a Christian is however the world has strayed away from giving a true definition of Christianity so I want to see what their statement of faith says.

UPDATE: I received this response back from the "support team" at said dating service. Most of you who know me will be able to pick up RIGHT AWAY on the fact that this email made me cringe and want to run to my home office and grab my red pen & get to work!!!!!! This email alone may have made my decision.

Dear Magan
On behalf of (insert website here)
I apologize for the inconvenience you may be experiencing because of work of some links since the launching our site days ago. We thank you for your courtesy and patience while our technicians are working to overcome these delays.
Please, make Search, read user's profiles and you'll see that many of our users are real Christians :)))
Administration of (insert website here)

With that said, I'm just not sure. Would LOVE feedback from anyone who would like to comment. At times I have felt that sites such as these help people to "step outside" of the will of God & attempt to make things happen on their own. On the other hand, I don't see anything wrong with using various outlets to help yourself be in the right place at the right time so that you can, as Tony Evans says, "be locatable". Thoughts?