‘tis done…


This should be at the bottom of this message, but I'm going to put it at the top since it is the latest news…I am a Licensed Cosmetologist, as of today, June 18, 2009! I took my wonderful friend Lynn with me as my model, and we went up to Fairfield and did all that was required to pass the tests! There were many procedures to do with the hair, skin, and nails on my model, and then a written test was taken after all that. The results were immediate and, thank you God, they were happy ones! I passed! My teachers taught me well!
Now we'll take some vacation time, enjoy a bit of relaxation, and then see what comes next!

It’s such a little thing in the grand scheme of a Mighty God, but in my little life, it’s a huge thing…to be done with Cosmetology School. As I read 1 Peter 1:20 this morning, my first Tuesday morning home since early August of ’08, I was overwhelmed with the grand scope of God’s design. In 1 Peter it says, “God chose him (Jesus) for this purpose long before the world began, but now in these final days, he was sent to the earth for all to see. And he did this for you.” (NLT)

Jesus was chosen to be our Savior long before the world began, long before the Garden of Eden, long before the eating of the fruit and the fall, and long before His death on the Cross for our salvation. God knew, God knows, and God will always know what is needed, what we’re going through, and how to solve any problem, clear up any situation, help us through any trial, and even bless us to the hilt during certain times of our lives.

If you’re wondering where the “Journey” has been lately, I haven’t just been on vacation. Last Saturday (05/30) I clocked out for the very last time from school, having completed 1600 hours of training in the field of cosmetology. It has kept me quite busy and unable to write like I had been. Last year at this time (May) I didn’t even know school was on the radar screen, but God did. Last July I sat with my sister at a very impromptu cup of coffee together and I told her I might start looking for a job. She asked me what I would do, I said I didn’t know. She suggested I do something I love, and asked me what that might be? I told her that I have always loved to cut hair…she told me I should do that then. Within a week I was signed up for school, and today I sit here amazed that it is now finished…all the roller sets, perms, facials, waxing, haircuts, pedicures, manicures, colors, etc…are completed. Nine and one-half months of school, Tuesday through Saturday, eight hours a day is finished, and State Board testing is only two weeks away. God-willing, I will have my license on June 18th, and then we’ll see what comes next in the job market.

Diane's Graduation CakeDiane and her InstructorsOn Saturday, I stood with my classmates, my friends, and my family while I was handed a Diploma by my teachers. A few speeches were made, a spectacular cake made by my sister was enjoyed, gifts were received, and a wonderful yummy picnic in the park followed, one that my Mom and Dad had lovingly prepared for their “little girl.” The day was more than I ever expected it to be, the months in school were more than I ever expected them to be, and I have to imagine that the future will be more than I ever expect it to be because we serve a great and awesome God—a God who knows our heart’s desire and He is the One who promises to give us those desires when we delight ourselves in Him.

These last nine and a half months have been some of the most interesting and challenging of my life. I was plunged into a world of young women, of beauty, of book learning again, and of working up-close and personal with clients. I’ve been a tomboy my whole life, I’d never even tried putting my hair in a pony tail, not even in high school. I’m not much into make-up, and I’ve never been much of a touchy-feely person. Cosmetology School challenged me in so many ways, to stretch and to grow in so many areas, and I loved it all! And yes, I was surprised by that!

Cosmetology school has also challenged my relationship with God, my relationships with other people, and all that I had grown accustomed to in the Christian community. I had developed strong and close relationships with those in the Body of Christ—learning to speak the language, learning to be faithful in fellowship, in service, and all that Jesus teaches us through His Word. Then, when plunged into a world where “Christianese” is not spoken, where daily living is not quite so holy-minded, where youth wins out over wisdom in many situations, it was an adjustment. Being older than everyone except the teachers, having experienced things in life that most in their early 20’s or even late teens have not, and trying to be “in” but not “of” the world each day, it was a refining time in my life. Thank God some of my rough edges seem to have been smoothed, some of my misconceptions have been erased, and hopefully the love God has for all of us is more clearly understood and shared.

In Brennan Manning’s book, “The Ragamuffin Gospel,” he writes: “Over a hundred years ago in the Deep South, a phrase so common in our Christian culture today, born again, was seldom or never used. Rather, the phrase used to describe the breakthrough into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ was, ‘I was seized by the power of a great affection.’” Born again can get a bad rap, but being seized by the power of a great affection…one can hardly go wrong there. Who doesn’t want great affection in life, both from our God and from others we share this life with?

Diane and her classmatesAs I graduated on Saturday, there were many tears…not from me, but from the young girls that I had spent my days with for the past year. I don’t know exactly what was contained in their tears, but I do know that there was a great affection that had been shared between us during our months together. We have learned together, we struggled together, we borrowed from each other, we laughed, we got tired together…it was truly a bonding situation—and it’s always hard when it comes time for someone to leave the “nest.” Oh, we’re happy for each other, but it’s hard to let them go! We usually graduate one at a time, depending on the number of hours we have accumulated.

I joined this group of “Ragamuffins” at school, just looking to find a job that I might enjoy. I never expected to find such a great love for the girls, for my clients, for the teachers, and for the job that now awaits me. When we love because God first loved us, we come to know the power of God’s great affection, and that affection works and weaves its way through every part of our day, and amazing things start to transpire, even with those we might think we have nothing in common with. I only call those at school Ragamuffins because we all fall under that title, we all fall short of the glory of God, and we all need love and understanding and forgiveness. We all need Jesus!

“The confessing church of American ragamuffins need to join Magdalene and Peter in witnessing that Christianity is not primarily a moral code but a grace-laden mystery; it is not essentially a philosophy of love but a love affair; it is not keeping rules with clenched fists but receiving a gift with open hands.” (B. Manning)

I couldn’t know all that God was doing in my school, working in the lives of all those I spent each day with, but I could be a part of it by loving first and foremost, no matter what the situation. Oh, I failed at times, and I had to repent and ask for forgiveness when I fell short, and I did, but then I would begin again and again, learning how to better love as God would have all of us do each day. As my Christianese was tempered, it seemed to slowly move into the background, and hopefully God’s way of loving pressed to the forefront. I began to realize more than ever that it isn’t so much the words that we speak as the action that we take that matters most to those we spend our time with. The young girls could be tired from a night of partying, the older clients could be tired from a recent stroke or surgery, the teachers could be stretched to the limit with their responsibilities, and the Holy Spirit would be the only steady and true source of power to cling to each day.

Listening to the Holy Spirit within helps us to have listening ears rather than noisy lips, and that can carry a stronger message most days running. They say that’s why God gave us two ears and only one mouth! And point in fact, my last week of school I lost my voice to a cold, and could not even speak for two days. I remember now that I had prayed, “Lord, please help me not mess this up the last week. Help me to remain loving through all things.” I guess His best answer to that prayer was silence, on my part. What a cool exclamation point of how words are not always necessary to share His love.

“The love of Christ is beyond all knowledge, beyond anything we can intellectualize or imagine. It is … a consuming fire. Jesus is so unbearably forgiving, so infinitely patient and so unendingly loving that He provides us with the resources we need to live lives of gracious response.” (B. Manning)

“Glory be to him whose power, working in us, can do
infinitely more than we can ask or imagine.”
Ephesians 3:20

I sit here this morning, having a quiet morning, being able to look back and to thank God for all that He has done. I am amazed—amazed that a dream has come true for me—to become a “barber.” (That’s what I called it when I was ten years old.) I still have State Board testing to complete, and I will spend the next couple of weeks studying for that. But mostly this morning, I see God’s great design in our lives. Our Father places desires in us probably before we are even born—while He’s putting all our pieces together in our mother’s wombs. Then He leaves just enough room in our hearts so that we know that all our days without Him, we are incomplete—and when we find our completeness in Him, when we say yes to His great love, then He places His Holy Spirit deep inside of us and sends us into the world to be in it, but not of it. He teaches us to speak His language of love and of purpose, to help others to know Him by loving them as He loves us.

“The Truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ…is an answer to the most fundamental questions a person may ask—is life absurd or does it have a purpose? Jesus replies that not only do our lives have purpose but God has directly intervened in human affairs to make abundantly clear what that purpose is.” (B. Manning)

As the days at school were winding down and I was saying good-bye to most of my clients, I was comforted that many were believers…I would see them again on the other side of this life. Most had lived a good many years, being that many elderly visit a cosmetology school. Most had withstood the fiery trials of life and had come to an understanding that there was more to life than what we see with our eyes each day. It was good to know that there are no final good-byes when our eternal destiny is secured in Jesus Christ. There is great Hope that this is not all there is, that life goes on forever, and we will be together there one day.

But as the days were winding down, I knew I would soon leave behind all the young people I had grown to love, many of whom I was not so sure what their eternal destiny would be. So many still have questions about life, love, and the pursuit of happiness, so to speak. Some do understand life’s purpose, others have heard the Good News but have yet to make a decision for or against an eternal God, and some are wandering, seemingly uninterested… In all our months together, we were able to share so much, and to talk over some important issues. Sometimes in our conversations there were tears, sometimes laughter, sometimes words of wisdom, sometimes merely silence with understanding as stories were shared. One day in the lunchroom, a young woman told of how her boyfriend, and the father of her baby, had been killed in a drive-by shooting. She was having to keep her grief deeply buried so that she could complete the schooling she needed to be able to move on with her life. On that particular day, she let the hurt rise to the surface and it was clear to see there was great pain and brokenness with what had happened. With such a rough start in life, she will need a lot of love in the years to come to find healing.

I wonder now, were seeds planted in those conversations, will they be watered sufficiently in the years to come, will God make them grow as the years go by so they will be firmly set in His foundation? Only our Father knows, but I pray so…because precious lives are at stake. I have to trust God, knowing He has a plan for all our lives, as I will never see many of these young people again on this earth.

I wasn’t sure if I would be teary eyed or not on my last day. Leading up to it I felt emotions rising in me of sadness and of relief, but that very morning I received one of my e-mail devotionals and it contained the verse from Ecclesiastes 3:4, “A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.” And to me it was as if God was saying, “You have wept Diane, and now is the time to laugh!” And so I did laugh on my last day, and I was oh so happy! Tears are fine, tears are needed, but for me on that day, it was a new beginning after so much pain in losing our son seven and a half years ago to cancer.

My friend gave me a “Heaven” calendar as a gift, and on the day of graduation it talked of the word “kainos,” which speaks of a believer becoming “a new creation.” How appropriate and true. God is always creating things anew, in our hearts, in our minds, in our souls, and in our bodies…He is always at work! He is always loving! He is our model for grace abounding, and we can never go wrong by following in His footsteps. I followed His footsteps to a place I never thought I’d be, and I learned things I never thought I’d learn, and it was a great joy!

God is never done teaching us, and we should never fear taking a step in a new direction when He is leading us there. It’s never too late, too silly, or too hard when God is on our side! I never thought I’d learn more about God in a school of beauty, but since He is the Creator of all beauty, why not? At first it seemed to be such a “worldly” profession to go into, one we as Christians shouldn’t be caught up in—but I found out that the surface beauty we studied can be a door that opens up all that lies deep within each person. The chair, the work, the environment, and the transformation that is taking place on the outside provides so many opportunities to love on an individual on the inside as well, as God calls us to. It’s amazing how even a good shampoo can help in the healing of a wounded soul.

It is a time now for me to be still, to enjoy what is done, and to live in the present while waiting for the future. I will study for the State Board test, get caught up on some things, and on some relationships, and enjoy some writing again. It will be a good time to prepare for what’s next, whatever it may be. The next chapter in all our lives is yet to be written, let’s not be afraid to turn the page and get on with the story! It’s a Love Story, and with God it’s never boring!

Until we meet again,