Monday, October 5

Finally getting my long awaited "sabbatical" ~ even if I have to pay for it myself!

Too bad this wasn’t my sabbatical! I think it could certainly have fit the “requirements and protocol” that my church executive required in order for me to go on a church approved sabbatical. But back in January – I didn’t know about the School of Spiritual Direction, AND even if I did know about it – I just needed a "sabbath rest" in the true sense of the word! To begin to WALK INTO my grief. Which is why I had to take my time off as an unpaid leave instead of the sabbatical I had asked for since I had been told I was eligble - actually was eligible a year and a half before I even asked for it! The bottom line was at that time, I couldn’t even read one book and have it sink it, let alone the 6-7 books they wanted me to read. I wouldn’t have been able to take the 3 courses that they suggested. AND I would not have had the emotional strength to go to see a spiritual director weekly. I needed to experience "sabbath rest" in a bad way - and along with the rest - I needed to step aside (step out of ministry) in order to begin my journey of grieving which I felt like I was unable to tend to while I ministered to others. So, i kissed my paid sabbatical good-bye.

I realize that there is an "upside" to this decision - and I smile as I say this – that at least the upside of me not being allowed to take a sabbatical of my choosing, and taking an unpaid leave instead is that - I saved the church money in a couple ways! (No sabbatical costs and no salary for 3 months). And, churches can always use the money right!!

Now – here I am – taking my own unpaid sabbatical!! Paying for my own way (course, flight, books) and taking it on my own time. I won’t lie – financially – the timing sucks! Of course it would have been nice to do this when I had money coming in. BUT at the same time – the timing is incredible! How does that work! Looking at how I am feeling rested, and have felt increased freedom from the dejunking of my house – and that I am now able to get away and study for an intensive week – the timing feels good. I can’t believe everything that I have done since I have finished paid ministry – and it has only been a month. Unbelieveable.

Anyways – I am going to be leaving this Friday morning early – for Colorado Springs – to the Glen Eyrie Retreat and Conference Center in the Rocky Mountains. You have to check out the website – it is an old castle – beautiful! I can hardly wait. Wish Alvin was coming with me though (sad face here). I have been corresponding with other students that will congregate in Colorado, and finding out who can ride with whom from which airport. Originally I planned to fly into Colorado Springs, however would get in too late, SO I am flying into Denver and I am so thankful that one woman is able to pick me and another person up and take us the 70 miles to Glen Eyrie. I am already going way out of my comfort zone – going to this solo. So, having someone pick me up and take me – BONUS!!

I am going to the School of Spiritual Direction, which is put on by New Way Ministries, which is a ministry led by Dr. Larry Crabb – best-selling author, counselor and psychologist. He is a professor at Colorado Christian University since 1989. As part of the admission to this school, which is a one week INTENSIVE time – with max 30 students (of which I am one!) I had to have two references which I got from my Pastoral Advisor Marilyn and my friend and past co-worker Tracy. I also had to order in some books (or should I say Ash got them for me). I procrastinated until I was done work since I was still having a hard time focusing on reading. Since I have been off – I have been reading about a book a week – and I am happy to say, I am on my last one.

These books that I am reading have hit me right where I am. I am going to share a bit from them over my next few blog entries. The first book I read was SHATTERED DREAMS: God’s unexpected pathway to joy.

Here are some excerpts from Dr. Crabb’s book. He bases it around the book of Ruth – you know the story! If you don’t grab your bible and read it over!

“When you hurt, hurt. Hurt openly in the presence of God. Hurt openly in the presence of the few who provide you with safe community. Feel your pain. Regard brokenness as an opportunity, as the chance to discover a desire that no brokenness can eliminate but that only brokenness reveals.” (pg 73)

“The other path, the narrow ones that not many choose, invites you to live in a disappointing world where good dreams will shatter and you will sometimes feel empty and alone, sometimes so empty and alone that it will seem like death. But this path promises the eventual discovery of a consuming desire within you for God and, far better, the thrilling discovery of His consuming desire to be intimate with you.

After many dark nights, you will taste the joy of that intimacy. You will not be able to describe it, but you will feel alive, hopeful, and solid, even in the middle of continued anguish over hard circumstances.

Abandon yourself to God. He will seem at times cruelly unresponsive, callously indifferent. You will be tempted to manage life on your own, to do whatever you can to feel better.

But if you’re quiet, you will hear both His voice and y ours leading you to the narrow path.” (Page 143)

It just seems that the time is absolutely right for me to be reading this book now. I don’t think I could have read it before – not even in spring. It has been hard for me – really hard – to feel shattered – hearts blown to pieces and scattered – and to wonder why and yes, even ask “God – why us?”

I realize that we had lots of dreams – lots. Dreams that included us with our little grandson Jay. I realize that this past year for me (and for us as a family) has been a year that has been such deep sorrow… mixed with great joy. Every time I look at my little Grandson’s pictures, I marvel at the joy in our hearts as we expected his arrival and such joy at seeing how he was so beautiful and perfect. I am a different woman than I was the morning of July 24th prior to Jay’s birth. We are all different. Our lives as we knew them STOPPED when his little heart did. And we are living as changed people. I am a changed woman.

I wouldn’t ever wish a “shattered dream” on (not even) a worst enemy!! Thing is – through this I did abandon myself to God. Sometimes I felt like there was nothing else I could do… there was nothing I could do to bring the pieces back together. But I can also tell you that there were two dates – January being the first, and August being the second – when I knew that I was feeling like the pieces of my heart were beginning to heal together. It was a noticeable feeling that I shared with others. God was doing a work in me… and drawing me nearer so that I could experience his presence and power.

“Shattered dreams” writes Dr. Larry Crabb, “are never random. They are always a piece in a larger puzzle, a chapter in a larger story. The Holy Spirit uses the pain of shattered dreams to help us discover our desire for God…. Shattered dreams have the power to change our lives for good. Forever.”I will never be the same again. Ever. In 2006 – my motto that year (as I walked through some serious health issues) became “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” In 2009 – I admit that the shattered dream of losing our little Jay – made me a stronger woman of God today. Lord – it is only because of you carrying me, holding me, collecting my tears and healing me through your love, your grace, your power. Thank you God.

Posted by Joy - beggining on Sunday, October 4th, but finally edited and posted at 12:39 am - Monday morning.

1 comment:

ashleymarie said...

i am so excited for you mom!
can't wait to hear about it.