How many times have you wanted to have a new experience with an old situation? Kinda like a “do- over”. I can tell you that I have had that feeling A LOT! Before I started Baked Chemistry I worked for Child Protective Services (CPS) for almost 10 years! I had one position during my tenure that I LOVED and felt I had an impact on the children and families that I served.
CPS has a program called Team Decision Making (TDM) that allows families and their supports to come to the table and have open and honest discussions about safety and permanency for their children and their loved ones. I was a TDM Facilitator my role was critical because I was the person in the room that acted as the bridge between the family and CPS. I provided insight to the family on the reason for CPS involvement and the decisions made that centered on the safety and well-being of children. Facilitating these conversations was never easy. I encountered countless families and at times families that had prior CPS involvement. During my time as a TDM facilitator I was able to play a critical role in the development of a stand-alone policy and helped train fellow TDM facilitators across the state on the new policies and procedures being implemented. I felt like I had reached the height of my career aspirations! There was nothing else that I could see myself doing… at least that is what I thought!
In 2011 my thoughts had changed. I was wrapping up a TDM after a full day of facilitating back to back meetings when it hit me…I wanted more! I had ZERO clue of what that more was nor what it actually looked like for me. In my line of work continuing your education had one path…Master’s in Social Work. I will apologize in advance to anyone reading this that has a Master’s in Social Work but that absolutely was NOT for me! I wanted to do something that took the undiscovered strengths within and bring them out front and center! I wanted to help people uncover what was within and drive their own vehicle. What could I possibly do that will allow me the opportunity to do that? As I have done countless times, I prayed! I was participating in a 21-day fast with my church when God kept speaking this one word to me throughout the entire fast…Counsel! I really did not understand why he kept speaking that word in my spirit, but I wanted to explore it and see if there was more to it. I began doing research into a variety of different universities that offered programs in Professional Counseling. I did not want anything at the time to be on-line based because I was unsure that my current environment would be conducive to my success. I found a program that allowed me to take evening classes a few nights a week and I applied awaiting acceptance. As the fast concluded I participated in a prayer shut-in and went up for prayer and told the minister that God has been speaking a word and I want to be obedient but struggling to see his plan for my life. When I finished picking my body up from off the floor with tears in my eyes it was abundantly clear… He wanted me to pursue a career in Professional Counseling!
I enrolled at Ottawa University in 2011 and for roughly 2 ½ years I juggled being a wife, mother, employee, and student. When I say that this experience challenged everything in me that is not an exaggeration! I would work 40-60 hours a week, attend class 3 nights a week, and come home and complete hours of homework all while trying to be the best wife and mother that I could be to my daughter who was 3 and my son who was almost 10. Failure was never an option for me. I wanted to remain obedient to the word that had been spoken to me because I knew without a doubt that God would restore all the time I lost. As I write this blog on the 4th anniversary of graduating with a 4.0 G.P.A. (I received nothing less than an A my entire program) I am reminded of the New Experience that continues to impact my life.
I continued to remain at CPS after graduating from Ottawa University. I actually left CPS briefly and returned after being gone for only 6 months. You may ask why? At the time I think it was because I was not ready to have a new experience. I returned to an environment that I have learned now had a HUGE impact on my growth. Everything that I worked for and experienced during my program was slowly slipping through my fingers. It was then replaced with fear, anxiety, bitterness, and frustration. How could I allow this experience to take away something that I worked so hard for??? Easy! I convinced myself that the decision to remain was far better and safe than fully committing to his Purpose and calling for my life. After countless administration changes, seeing every media outlet in Arizona report on the flaws of CPS God said it was time. He provided me with an opportunity to begin restoring the time I thought I would never be able to restore.
2015 was the start of my new experience. I began working for a company that allowed me to work solely from home! I was able to see my children off to school every day and be home every day when they came home. I was able to be fully present as a wife to my husband, and I was also able to pursue one of my passions…Baking! Baked Chemistry started as a “side job” something I would do on the side to make extra money and then turned into something beyond my imagination and thoughts. I was having a new experience! I was able to utilize
I was recently given an opportunity to have a new experience with an old situation and I will tell you that I immediately had thoughts that were both positive and negative in nature. I thought to myself would it really be worth it? A mentor that I worked with at CPS invited me to apply for a TDM statewide position. I began reflecting on the old situation and the original reason I left the experience in the first place which was due to feelings of fear, frustration, and concern. That obviously was not a good experience! I said to myself…”my life is so much better now!” Why on earth would I want to go back???
While I was considering my decision I was able to reflect back to that old situation and think about the who I was back then, what I said or did that had an impact on that experience. Was I not feeling myself, were there other factors that were going on at the time that I wanted to block out and not consider? It could have been a number of things that played apart… change, regret and the countless experiences at work that were both personal and work related had a huge impacted on my experience. I asked myself how I will be a different this time. How could I have a new experience with an old situation?
I began to consider the opportunity with positivity. I began thinking about the impact that I could make. I also wanted to explore all of the new changes and fresh ideas that had been developed and create a partnership that will continue to move the program in a great direction. Lastly I wanted to completely engage myself in the experience by thinking more and talking less! Although I made the decision not to return I was able to engage my mind in having a new experience with an old situation.
It is rare that you get the opportunity to have a new experience with an old situation take time to have self-reflection, pray, meditate, and greet the old situation with a brand new you! There is no way that you can have the same experience if you do!
Until next time….Bake with Love!