both, and…

So, this’ll be a little processing ramble. You’ve been warned.

I’ve been parked right at a fork in the road for most of this year. My word for this year has been “listen.” I think I’ve been doing that -but I don’t feel like I’ve been hearing much, to be honest.

One directive I heard earlier this year, and followed -I’ve put my little soapmaking business (www.simplicitysoapworks.etsy.com if you want to go visit…) on the front burner this year, and it’s built my confidence and faith that God will always provide and my faith in His ability to equip me for what I am called to do. I’m doing the books this month, getting ready for tax season. I’m not turning a profit over the whole year –something that I expected, as start-up small businesses rarely do in the first couple years, when they’re building inventory and purchasing supplies– but I did make a profit if you look at a few individual months this year, and my sales for the year are about triple what I’d hoped for. It’s been a blessing in the monumental effort to try to give our kids a Christian education without me having to work a “regular job” that would entail crazy hours or more stress than I want to take on right now. I love my work -it uses my love of creating, my desire to produce and sell something of true usefulness and beauty, and my need to get out in the community more. It’s been a blessing in many ways more than just financial. I’m glad I listened, I followed, and I’m watching God bless the effort.

But about that fork…

At the end of that road (I presume) is a college degree. That desire still hasn’t gone away, and I think it’s one God put in me.

On one side is the path that leads to a degree in English, with a hopeful result of my becoming a professional writer/communicator. I would love to journal the working of God in others’ lives, and be able and equipped to present their stories (and through them, God’s story) to the world. My fear in taking that road is that at the end, I come out with an English degree, some student loans to pay off, and a sketchy future regarding finding paying work to pay those loans off.

On the other side is a degree in dietetics and eventually an internship and certification as a registered dietitian. Sam and I are still feeling a call and engaging ourselves with our Native neighbors in the communities nearby where we live. One overwhelming need I see is for health education and encouragement -as much as type 2 diabetes and obesity are an epidemic within American society, it’s that much more prevalent within the Native community. There’s a real need for effective support and health education within Native communities. And by “effective health education,” I don’t just mean someone coming into the community with a powerpoint and a handout with recipes every month or so –I mean someone who is willing and ready to engage the larger emotional and societal issues involved in what causes obesity and the habits that lead to it. It’s going to involve relationship and walking-alongside if that education is going to be effective. Otherwise, it’s just like giving someone a box of tools, some lumber and a blueprint, and leaving him to build his own house.

..And being that I’m dealing and have been with those habits and issues for the last ten years or so, I can’t help but wonder if God’s given me that thorn in my side for a purpose. I’m still fighting that battle, occasionally winning, but not getting to where I want to be in the end. Honestly, I haven’t been trying terribly hard, or doing the work consistently. So that’s frustrating. I feel like I have all the tools and knowledge I need to get healthy again, it’s just that I struggle to believe enough to pick them up and use them. Lately it’s been a real struggle to believe that I’m ever going to be at a healthy weight again. So… I think God’s using this. And someday, I’d love to be able to tell God’s story working through my life to get me there, and be able to help other people draw their own blueprint as to how to get there themselves and see themselves on a path that leads to somewhere better at the end. But it’s just so hard to remember that God’s got this already.

And then, what I think I’m hearing is God challenging me that maybe it’s not really a fork I’m seeing at all. Maybe I could do both. Maybe instead of “one or the other,” it’s “both, and…”

Maybe I could finish that English degree at Dordt, then pursue an M.A. in dietetics and then R.D. certification. Lots of school, but I could use both of my gifts, both of my callings, and be that much more equipped. And the more I write it out, the more that seems like a very, very long road, but one I could start on.

So, that’s what’s up lately. Still listening. Still struggling to believe and -the most difficult of all, struggling to walk in that belief.

One step at a time. Maybe that’s the hardest part, really.