Church on Monday: Equipped by God
At the Voorhees campus this week, the greeting question that we were to ask each other was, “What is your favorite smell of spring?” I know these questions are meant to give people something to say to someone they might not know, and I am a huge fan of connecting people to one another (it used to be part of my job at Hope), but I must confess, I usually hate this exercise. Not because I do not think it is valuable, but because I usually freeze and cannot think of the very simple answer. But not this week. I knew instantly that lilac is my favorite smell of spring. They bloom 2-3 weeks every spring and I drink the scent in whenever I can (the scent of candles and fragrances never get it quite right). The fragrance somehow transports me back to my childhood and simpler days. As Jeff reminded us, smell is powerful. Smell can attract us, but it can also repel us.
When I graduated from college, I became a registered nurse. I worked in Philadelphia for a number of years, until right before we adopted our second daughter, then I worked at home taking care of children and household for another season of life. During this time, I participated in many ministries that Hope had to offer, as a volunteer and a small group participant and occasionally as a leader. As the girls got older, I took a job part time at Hope in the office. I was hired to be the receptionist and I was able to interact with lots of people along the way. I also used my administrative skills and ran the data base, again, trying to connect with as many folks as I could. I really enjoyed my time at Hope, both with my co-workers and all the people that came through the doors. God was preparing me this whole time.
In the spring of 2017, someone from Hope suggested that I should do some substitute nursing in the local school system. I had some more time with the girls grown and it brought in some extra income. I know lots of people in the community, so it was kind of fun to be making connections in other places. And then, out of the blue, as He often does, God intervened. I got a call from one of the school’s principals last spring, asking if I would be interested in working full time in the fall to cover for a maternity leave. Even though it meant that I would need to leave my job at Hope, I knew instantly this is what God was asking me to do, even though it was only a temporary job. (God is still working on trust issues with me, imagine that). Working as a nurse in the schools is not something I ever really aspired to, but what I have found after daring to try it is that I love it.
Certainly my job is to take care of bumps and bruises and illnesses that come up. But what I love about it most, is that I get to bring Jesus to work with me everyday (and trust me, with the stuff I see in the schools, I need Him). Many of these kids, even in affluent suburbia, have problems and concerns that would take down many adults. They are not getting the love and nurture at home that they need, and they develop all kinds of ills that end up in my office. I do not speak about Jesus to these kids. My job is to love them like Jesus, be his hands and feet. And as Rick said in his sermon in Mount Laurel this week, I need to be intentional about this love. Many of these kids (and their parents) are not easy to love and require enormous amounts of patience, but they so need it.
I am also called to love my co-workers. It was pretty easy at Hope, as the staff there is just a wonderful group of people. Out there in the world I am finding, there are lots of cranky people. But I made it my intention to really love and serve those with whom I am working closely. One person in particular I made it my mission to get on her good side, and I think through love that has happened. Like many people I suppose, there are still mornings that I do not want to get out of bed and start my day. But once I am at work, and I am connecting with people, on most days I feel a sense of joy and purpose.
I would love to wrap this blog post up in a bow and be able to give you a specific example of someone who has asked me why I am the way I am, and why I am doing what I do. What my fragrance is all about as Jeff said. So far that has not happened, but I do have an answer ready for anyone who might ask, and that answer is that Jesus changed my life and I am trying to serve him by serving others. At the end of May, I will be headed to Rutgers University to start my Master’s program in school nursing. A lot has changed in my life in a year. I left a job that I really loved, with people I love, to go out into the community and be Church on Monday (and Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday). God equipped me in my time at Hope (both through my employment and in my community connections there) to be able to do this. He continues to equip me each week as I continue to be an active part of the church, the body. And Jesus comes with me wherever I go, so He will be going to school right along side of me. Frankly, I am a little nervous, but I will choose not to be afraid, for God provided for me in all of the other seasons in my life, and He will provide for me in this next chapter. God has called me out into the deep. For me, that is school nursing and a graduate program at 57 years old. Where is He calling you? I would love to hear your stories!