Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Grace Recognized

A few thoughts on what it looks like to truly recognize and embrace the gift of God's grace we've been given.

Joy - It is not joy that makes us grateful, it is gratefulness that brings us joy. Gratefulness for God's grace, sacrifice, mercy, love brings us a joy that surpasses happiness. It's trusting God enough to find ways to rejoice in all circumstances, rejoice because we see how He always takes care of us, and because we are so grateful for all we've already been given.

Love - God loved us first, before we transformed due to His love and grace. And God actually loves our frailty, vulnerability, and imperfection, and He extends this love and grace to every human, and so in recognizing we've only received love due to God's grace for all humans, we should demonstrate His kind of love to everyone, imperfections and all.

Hope - When we recognize God's unconditional and unchanging love for us, shown through His generous gift of grace, we can trust that He will always love us by providing for us, whatever we need. Recognizing this and allowing it to help us unconditionally trust Him gives us a hopeful outlook for our future, on earth and in heaven.

Just a few things that have increased in my life as my ability to see God's grace has increased.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Nothing is Insignificant

Hey! Long time no 'see'!  I have been super busy living life and haven't had a lot of time to squeeze out for things like being here in blogger-ville. A LOT has happened since July so I figure I'm about due for an update :)  Today I'll stick to, mostly, the career updates.

I have been at my new job 5 months now and it's going great. I really enjoy our mission, my co-workers, my hours ;) It's been perfect for me and where I am at in life right now.  I love that God placed on my heart to be completely open here, open about my vision for my future as a Counselor, open about my work/life balance priorities, but most of all, completely open about my faith.  I eventually became fairly open about it at my last job but then again, not with everyone, just certain people. Here I am not watering-down anything, and it's a great feeling. I have a co-worker who is definitely a spiritual seeker and she loves conversations about spiritual things so I have this opportunity with her I have never had before. God has given us hours together in the oddest of circumstances, where we've just been able to talk so freely, and I feel blessed to be part of what I sense God trying to show her.  She actually said the other day, "Have you ever felt someone was brought into your life for a reason? That's how I feel about you working here."  I am certainly feeling the same way!

As for the future career I'm working on, in Spring, as part of my obligation to Employment Insurance, I attended a Career Symposium where I went to two professionals speaking on their careers, one Psychologist and one Life Coach, somewhat bookends to the spectrum of my career possibilities. I found I was actually much more inspired and motivated to seek after what the Life Coach described than the Psychologist! And, right at that moment my school was announcing the end of my Counselling program and it was uncertain whether or not my group of classmates would have the opportunity to finish, and so with that in mind I was looking towards other potential options, none of which looked like they would bring me to a Counselling position anywhere near soon. I had already been disheartened it would take almost another 3 years at least to graduate THIS program! So I looked into Life Coach certification and ended up deciding to go for it! Even if I managed to stay in these classes and graduate no later than 2018 as planned, I thought it would add nicely to my education and experience, and with being able to have my coaching certification completed in September, I could immediately start seeing and helping clients! What timing that this opportunity was shown to me right then!

As the certification weekend in mid-September approached, I actually grew nervous about this decision, wondering if I had taken God's plans into my own hands. I was beginning to feel that cringe in my tuning fork because of expectations I placed on myself, based on my research into how Coaches make a significant portion of their earnings. I was beginning to wonder if I had wasted time and money, this was the uneasiest I had felt about any decision since a year earlier. Actually, just about exactly a year before, that's when my full blown anxiety about staying at my job was kicking in!

And right at that time, September 2014, God started playing a few songs excessively on the radio just for me....I am certain of this because I was hearing 3-4 songs, 2-3 times per day, every work day, in the only 40 minutes of radio time I had per one else was hearing them that much! I wrote about this one song a year ago at my layoff time, The other songs I were hearing had similar messages, "no more counting dollars, I'll be counting stars", "we are stars, we are built for loving", "you're a sky full of stars, such a heavenly view." I knew at that time I wanted to stop chasing the pay cheque I was getting, I was willing to take a risk and do what I was built for, and I am built for loving, nurturing.  I could never quite figure out how stars fit in other than God had been talking to me about being His diamond, one aspect of that being 'like a diamond in the sky.' And the Coldplay song "A Sky Full of Stars" seemed to play the most of all the songs, and it began to feel like God was singing it to me personally.  And at really significant moments in my life over the next 4-5 months. The songs slowed down a little after I was laid off, and I pretty much stopped hearing all of them all together by Spring 2015. But they had given me hope the 2 months I waited to be able to leave my job, and it helped me feel like God was doing something in it all, whether I knew what that was or not. They became comfort songs.

So, back to September 2015. By the time I walked through the door of my classroom to get my coaching certification, I was managing my expectations of what I would get out of this. My thoughts were, I will probably get a few useful tools, re-affirm what I'm learning in counselling, and get a piece of paper that will help my credibility in whatever steps I take after that weekend. I got there early, like I always do, and the instructor was still preparing but welcomed me in. As I sat down and settled in, I heard that he was playing a CD, not sure if it was for himself or us, but it was the newest Coldplay CD and the next song that came on was "A Sky Full of Stars!" I still get choked up thinking about it! The realization that God was still there with me in this step, that it wasn't as far off course as I thought, and in fact this confirmed for me I was RIGHT ON course. He had been pursuing me with hope for my future with this song for exactly a year and He brought me to the place He had in mind for me all along. I learned that weekend nothing is insignificant.

Not only that, but I had two other Ah-Ha moments that weekend. The first was when we were in groups practicing using the tools, I selected a fairly tame goal for myself, losing weight, but of course these tools help you uncover obstacles we create for ourselves and my self-sabotage in this area came to light. Suddenly the woman coaching me stopped and said, "This is off script, but why does your weight effect your happiness so much? I've only met you a few hours ago, talked with you for only an hour, and you are one of the most genuinely happy people I have ever met. Seriously, it shines through so much that your eyes sparkle, and it makes you so beautiful! I don't know any skinny people who are happier than you are, who radiate like you do! So just let yourself be happy as you are!" Honestly, it was a moment where I'm sure God just took over her mouth and preached to me a wake up call I really needed, it hit home to the reasons I self-sabotage and it resolved instantly a lot of my emotional eating. Seriously, ever since that weekend I have done so much better loving myself the way I am and not needing to resort to comfort foods nearly as much!

The second thing was my inner battle on how much of my spiritual life to bring into my career. I certainly want to be free to talk about my faith, be able to bring God into it because He is the only reason I have come to my own place of healing, yet I didn't want to alienate someone from seeing me because they don't share my beliefs.  I was already beginning to fill my future website with information about my coaching and was back and forth what to include about spirituality. Then, my coaching trainer started dropping little spiritual hints, using analogies from Scripture, using Proverbs, and turns out he was a former Pastor!  And over the length of the course, he became more and more open about how his life, his coaching, and his wellness had a strong spiritual aspect. I realized, if this Master Coach who does high level executive and corporate coaching, who is one of the lead trainers for my association, could be this open about his faith without showing fear of ramifications in a secular venue, so could I. I thanked him so much for his spiritual authenticity and how inspired I was by it, and I look forward to continued mentorship from him!

Those short 16 hours showed me just a few of the ways God has been working all along to bring me to this place I am in right now, which is simply a place of such fulfillment and joy!  I've barely even started, but the dreaming and planning have been so exciting, and now I have myself 3 'practicum' clients, and even in just the first few meetings I am so indescribably happy for my opportunity to help them!  I put the call for clients out there and trusted God would bring me those who I needed and who needed me.  He's given me surprising people yet once I hear their story and can see the harmony in us working together, it is not surprising at all. It's a little unbelievable this is my life, especially when I think of where I was at one year ago.

Nothing is insignificant.
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