Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Signposts Along the Way

I chose to browse a bookstore this morning while Shea, my oldest son, was at soccer practice. As I continue to search for answers in my life, I decided to go with an approach that has worked for me in the past. I say a little prayer while I'm browsing to help me find something that will inspire or guide me. While there were many books that appealed to me, the one that struck a chord is one by author Cheryl Richardson called The Unmistakable Touch of Grace: How to Recognize and Respond to the Spiritual Signposts in Your Life.

The book is all about learning to recognize what Ms. Richardson calls "the spiritual signposts in your life." Many people would call these things coincidences, but she believes these are really things that happen to you to help call your attention to the direction you are supposed to go in. The book is a collection of experiences--both her own and those of other people she knows--illustrating how recognizing these signs has the power to change your direction in life for the better. I have believed in this concept for years, but with all the confusion in my life right now I had forgotten the principle. This book is helping me remember, and for that I am very grateful. I'd say the book is truly one of my signposts to get me back on track.

As I look back on my life, I can see some of the signposts that led me to where I am today. My job teaching young children was the result of several things that happened at a time of great struggle in my life. I had been a stay-at-home mom with three very young children when the bottom dropped out of my marriage. The kids and I came to Georgia to live with my parents. I eventually filed for divorce, but I had no real job prospects or even ambitions at that point. After working in a group home with children who had been abused and neglected, it was important for me to raise my children myself. My parents were okay with us staying with them and letting me continue to raise my kids.

Then my divorce attorney told me I needed to find a job. The judge that had been assigned my case was a man who had been married and divorced several times and had several children he was paying child support on from these marriages. The lawyer said this judge would never understand me living with my parents just so I could raise my kids.

At the time, my children were ages 5, 3 and 1. I had a BA in psychology, which did not allow me to do anything in my field but the most low-paying, high stress jobs. I was at a loss to find a job that would allow me to pay the daycare costs on three young children and have anything left over to live on. I refused to pay my entire salary so that someone else could raise my children.

As I pondered what to do, my son's Pre K teacher asked how the divorce was going. I ended up breaking down and telling her about the judge and my need for a job. She piped up, "Why don't you apply to work here? I think one of the benefits is free childcare." Georgia Pre K classrooms are typically within daycares settings. Once she convinced me to consider it, she went to the director and asked. Within a week I was offered a job. The pay wasn't great, but the free childcare more than made up for it.

In the years since, I went from being a cook to an after-school teacher, to assistant and lead teacher positions. For the past several years (thanks to a few more signposts and some divine intervention passing the Praxis II) I managed to snag a position as a lead Georgia Pre K teacher, which pays much better than a normal daycare teacher. God has truly blessed me over the years.

All this leads me to the present. My children no longer need daycare (haven't for years), and I am really burnt out on teaching. Punching a time clock has no allure for me. I find myself dusting off dreams that have been buried for a long time. Do I have time for them? Is it even possible? I don't know the answers to those questions, but I do know I need to find out.

Ms. Richardson reminds me to look for those signposts--those coincidences in my life that indicate my direction to go. I have told God I am ready to surrender to those things He shows me. The adventure comes in waiting to see what my signposts will be along the way.

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