It’s been two and a half years since I posted about living abundantly. I took my own advice to claim Jesus’ statement and made radical changes to my life. So much so, that it’s only now that I have time to write about those changes and the impact they have made on my life. So, what’s been happening in my life since Jan. 1, 2014?
In late February 2014 I answered God’s call to participate in a missions trip to Sierra Leone. It’s funny how this came about. In the fall of 2013 I sat down in a normal church service (Church services really shouldn’t be normal, should they? A good topic for later.) and read about an upcoming trip to Africa in the church bulletin. I said to my friend sitting next
to me, “Well, that sounds scary.” She agreed. By the end of the service I felt a tugging on my heart and knew I’d be on that trip. Needless to say, that trip was life-changing. Not only did I fall in love with the people I met in Sierra Leone and develop a strong bond with the ministry that is happening in the areas we visited and ministered, making that trip emboldened me to trust God more than ever.
I previously experienced what God can do when we just trust him when I obeyed his call to become a foster parent. Even though I have never had children of my own (regardless that I think of my nieces and nephews as my children) and didn’t really want the responsibility, God kept at me until I said yes. That took quite a bit of nudging because I was justifying my decision based on my own limitations. Though there were some naysayers and interference from some who thought they knew better, God continued to unfold every step of His plan perfectly. That experience was the catalyst to my strengthening faith and obedience. Not every foster situation turned out as expected, but I know God placed me in that position to reflect His love to those who needed it most. I am forever changed because of events during those two years.
So, back to 2014 and my decision to live abundantly. After I returned from SL, Satan began using various people in my life to create obstacles and to make life more difficult. But God is good. Before all the negativity and backstabbing began, He sent a job notice across my path that changed everything. My dream has long been to finish my professional career teaching my craft in a college setting. Of course, in my plan, that happened about five years from now. The job notice I saw in an online newsletter was just what I wanted to do. I couldn’t pass it up, even though at that point I wasn’t looking for a career change. Following up on that job was the start of a four-month process in which I applied to many more positions, participated in telephone and Skype interviews, and made campus visits. In the end, I accepted a position 700 miles from home and family doing exactly what I wanted to do.
Since my move from Mississippi to central Florida in August 2014, life has been a nonstop adventure. With class preparations, acclimating to the academic work setting, buying a house and looking for a church home — not to mention finding doctors, a dentist and a hairstylist — I have been quite busy in the last two years. In fact, I barely remember the first year. It was a whirlwind of all things new, and I was exhausted. All the time! But as always, God’s grace is sustaining. I think I’ve finally gotten the hang of teaching full time. There’s a lot more paperwork involved than when I was an adjunct, and the pace is much faster than I expected (but that may just be me and my corporate habits making it busier than necessary). After visiting several area churches, I found a congregation that has been welcoming and, most importantly, where God’s word is taught and practiced. It’s a different denomination than I have attended in the past, but I’m learning about the differences, and I’ve joined a couple of small groups. I’ve become involved in a local professional association, and I’m singing in a community choral group. I’m starting to make friends and establish roots in this community.
Right now as I sit at my dining room table and watch the rain pour, I am content. My life is abundant. All because I chose to trust God completely.
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Galatians 2:20 (ESV)