Imagination

Where I Found God: A Guest Post

Today I am over at Karissa Knox Sorrell’s blog for her “Where I Found God” series.  Karissa is a friend I met through blogging and a woman I’ve come to greatly admire. She describes herself as a faith-wrestler and I strongly identify with that as I struggle to work out my own faith.  She is also a poet, a mother, an educator, an Orthodox Christian, and a beautiful, thoughtful writer. Karissa has been featuring weekly guest posts about encounters with God outside of the church. I am honored to be contributing to this series today.

The room was dark except for the stage lights illuminating the guitarist and the rest of his band. The air hummed with the trailing notes of the bass and with the murmurs of the worshippers, each muttering their own fervent praises as they swayed, lifted their hands, or bounced up and down on their toes.

The pastor bounded onto the stage, beaming. He closed his eyes and raised his hands in front of the congregation. His voice boomed out over the din as he told us to “close our eyes and feel the presence of God in this place.” I closed my eyes. I tried to breathe the Holy Spirit in through my nose. I wanted to gulp him in by the lungful – I wanted him to take up residence in that space between my chest and my belly—but I lost that sense of fullness with each exhale. I opened my eyes and looked around the room. They seemed so sure that God was with us, but I couldn’t seem to find him.

I’ve spent my whole life in the church, but I haven’t always found God there.

I’ve found God in words.

Read the rest of this post here.

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How Disney Helped Me Quit My Job

Well, I did it. I quit my job. Last Thursday I marched into the Managing Director’s office, plunked down my letter of resignation and said, “I am done with this! I cannot work in this toxic environment anymore! I am too smart and I have too much self-respect to work for the idiots who work here and think they are the most important people in the world and act like big children and go out and party all the time even though they have families and little children. You don’t pay me enough to deal with this kind of crap. So I quit!”

Alright, that’s not exactly what happened. What actually happened was I timidly sent over my letter of resignation with a lot of “I’m really sorrys” and “I really appreciate all the opportunities you’ve given me here” and then I cowered before the other girls on marketing staff and my boss and stammered out all the reasons why this was just an opportunity I had to take, etc. etc. etc. Those of you who know me well know how much I hate confrontation and never want anyone to be mad at me, even if I don’t like them. So maybe it wasn’t the most triumphant resignation of all time, but still…I did it.

And do you know what got me through it? This song which was playing in my head the whole time:

We can analyze later why my brain subconsciously believes that “I’ll Make a Man out of You” equates to “You are a brave and capable woman,” but I think the obvious takeaway is that Disney has once again pulled through and helped me in a time of crisis.

I’ve never quit a real job before. Most of the other office-type jobs I’ve had in the past were paid internships or temporary assignments that had an established ending date. I’ve never had to tell people who weren’t expecting it at all that I was just quitting. To make matters worse, the same week that I resigned, three other people in our office resigned. (Which I think says something about this office environment.) But I ripped off that Band-Aid and now it’s done and I feel like the weight of the world has been lifted. I still have to finish out my two weeks, next Friday will be my last day. But having the end in sight makes me feel ready to handle anything they throw at me (or, you know, ignore it since there aren’t really consequences at this point.)

So…here’s what I’m doing instead. For the last month or so I’ve been talking to a family on and off who are looking for a new nanny. Their old nanny had been with them for 8 years, but is having a baby in August and will be staying home afterwards. (Methinks they must be a good family to work for, or the old nanny would not have stayed with them for 8 years.) The mom of the family approached me about this job and initially, I had no interest in going back to nannying. After all, we all know how crazy that made me last time. But, after several weeks of talking and praying and the family having a hard time finding the right person, I’ve ended up with what I think is a pretty sweet deal. I’ve got two kiddos, Porter (9) and Spencer (6) who will be in school during the day for the regular school year. I will work full-time for the rest of the summer and then, beginning the last week of August, will only work in the afternoons-early evenings. I will manage the kids’ schedules, get them from school, help them with homework, take them to their activities, and make sure they have everything they need for school and activities. During the school year I will only have to work about 28 hrs/week with paid holidays and 1 week of paid vacation. And (this is the clincher) they have agreed to pay me enough that we’ll still be able to cover all of our expenses, etc.

Since I will have all of my mornings free (during school) this will give me some extra time to work on my classes that I will hopefully start taking online through Fuller Theological Seminary in September. The program I’m trying to do is an MA in Intercultural Studies with an emphasis on Children at Risk. I think I could really be good at and love ministering to at-risk kids around the world. Additionally, I will have more time to work on the small baking business I’ve started out of my home and hopefully promote that further. (More on that once I get my website up and running.)

Initially, I wasn’t attracted to the idea of nannying again. I certainly got burnt out the last time and it’s also sort of a pride issue for me. Sometimes I feel embarrassed to tell people that I’m a nanny or I feel like I’m hurting myself in the long-run by not doing a “real” job.  But some wise friends (and also my husband) pointed out to me that when you compare working another year or two doing something I hate versus doing something I enjoy more, part-time with a lot more day-to-day flexibility, it’s kind of a no-brainer. Sometimes you just can’t plan for all contingencies, as much as I’d like to, so you have to accept that all you can do is walk the path that God sets before you today, and make the best decision you can for that day.

And I’ll admit it, I may have seen Brave pretty recently. (If you haven’t seen it you, you definitely should.) So when the offer was officially made there may have been this Scottish voice playing in my head asking me: “If ya had the chance to change yer fate, would ya?” And my unquenchable sense of adventure said YES! Challenge accepted!

In gratitude to Disney* for being a constant in these tumultuous times, I have (very) tentatively decided to shoot for running the Disneyworld Marathon in January. That’s right, folks, a full 26.2 miles (please do not comment, you super-fit people who have run like three marathons and only trained for like a month. This is legitimately the most epic undertaking of my life.) I did my first training run yesterday – and immediately regretted even waking up that morning. So, we’ll see how that goes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                               

*Don’t worry, guys. I know it wasn’t really Disney who provided this opportunity for me and gave me courage to quit and gave me peace when I felt anxious. That was Jesus and I am so thankful to Him. But I do think he maybe used the familiar comfort of Disney to help me just a little. Probably.

The Day I Hit 424. And went a little crazy.

The day of my last post was epic. On the day of my last post I got 424 separate hits on my blog. This was a big deal to me.  It blew my previous record (121) out of the water. Honestly, I didn’t know that there were 424 people in my acquaintance, much less 424 people who would click on a link and read about what a bad wife I am. : )

I’m going to be honest…the fame kind of went to my head. For that one 10-hr period I thought, “I am the best blogger ever. People love me. I will get many subscribers. So many subscribers I will be able to quit my job and just write. And then a book deal. And afterwards my book will be made into a movie. And someone famous and beautiful will play me in the movie. Maybe Amy Adams since my hair is red now and she did such a nice job playing Julie Powell in Julie & Julia and I think made Julie Powell seem even cuter than she is in real life (just assuming since I don’t actually know Julie Powell.) And then probably Amy Adams will want to hang out with me for a while to get a good sense of me before she plays me in the movie. And then she will realize she wants to be best friends with me. And then I will be best friends with a beautiful and famous person. And at the movie premier I will wear something truly fabulous. Probably a top designer will create a gown just for me. And Amy will say, ‘Oh Lily, you must let my stylist do your hair!’ and I will allow it and I will look so beautiful people will ask if Amy and I are sisters and she will laugh and say, ‘Oh no, not sisters. Just best friends.’ ”

See. If Amy played me in the movie, everyone would think I was like 50 times cuter than I am in real life.

The sad thing is, I’m not really exaggerating. I have an active imagination. I totally went there. In fact, I decided that for the premiere, I want a dress in the same genre as this one (though obviously, a little more personalized):

I love everything about this.Very classy, very beautiful. I would allow a dress like this to be named after me.

And then, the sadder thing happened. I was quickly and rudely awakened from my fantasy-land.  Within a day or two my blog was back to getting its usual 5 hits per day, three of which came from people who stumbled on it accidentally after googling “kidney stones.” My visions of fame and glory were dashed to pieces. Not to mention I had a lot of work to do to make up for all the time I had wasted looking for red carpet gowns and brainstorming activities for me and my BFF Ames to do together.

And so I return to my quiet, ordinary not-a-bit-famous life.  And really, it’s not such a bad little life. Maybe it’s not glamorous. But it’s real. And it’s mine.