The Rest After the Step

It has been a long few weeks that have left me far more tired than I had anticipated. The biggest factor in this is something that I have told very few people about. Two weeks ago, I applied for a position outside of teaching. My husband heard about the posting from some of the ladies who work for the nonprofit that posted it (benefit of your office building sharing space with other groups). He then immediately passed it on to me, with the insistent assurance that I would be perfect for the position with my abilities and skill sets. At first, I was dubious, as I have been in the past, but I have deeply prayed over the past few years for God to show me the next chapter He has for me, to help me find my next right thing (thank you, Emily P. Freeman and Queen Anna!). So I decided that I would update my CV and send it in with a letter of interest. You guys, I cannot count how many revisions those two documents went through over those few days! I have always been a perfectionist when it comes to documentation like that; and it had been several years since I had even contemplated a position outside of teaching, so updates were definitely needed. When all was said and done, I said a prayer, clicked “Send” on the email, and that was it. Then I had to wait. So I waited. And waited. Then, all in a rush, I received an email last weekend saying that they would like to interview me over Zoom! We managed to wrangle a day and time that would work for everyone, mindful of time differences for those traveling, and so it went.

The interview went well, but, in the end, it turned out that the timing of the position just was not going to work out. They needed someone to be able to train and slide into the full-time position by the end of February, and I did not have peace about up and leaving my teaching position so suddenly and abruptly. I did not feel released to do that to my principal and students. So…needless to say, when they answered my question about the timing, I felt a sinking in my soul.

“Well, that means this interview is over,” I thought. But I still asked some questions about their nonprofit, in an effort to not have things end on an *extremely* awkward note. Just a moderately awkward one.

After the interview, I finished out my day, but, once the kiddo was in bed and Ben and I were alone, I flopped onto the floor with an “UGH!” that would have made Charlie Brown proud. When I was finally able to verbalize what I felt, I realized that I had become far more hopeful of that new position, that change, that new chapter, than I had realized. And I was disappointed. Disappointed that it wouldn’t work. Disappointed that I wouldn’t get to try something new. Disappointed that my stepping out in faith seemingly wouldn’t be rewarded.

As this week has gone on, however, I find a thought has been whispered to my mind and soul and repeated when I haven’t been looking.

“You have stepped. Now rest.”

Rest. It’s my word, my intention for the year. Rest. I stepped out in faith, praying for God to lead me aright. And He did. I stepped out in courage. Now I need to rest. 

Rest in gratitude that God kept His word to be with me and guide me. 

Rest in faith that He knows best. 

Rest in peace that where I am is my next right thing for now.

Rest in hope that, when another opportunity comes along, I will heed the call to step out again.

I have stepped; it was a lot of work–mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Now it is time for me to rest my feet, recover, and allow Him to refill those stores. There is another big week ahead, but, for now, this is my immediate next right thing. I even have a scratchy, tired voice to enforce it.



Meal and Oil

I do not often like to write about the hard stuff when I am in the middle of it. I feel too close, too rattled, too raw. But, often, that is when I am at my most honest, just as I am sure it is for you. Part of the work of Christmas within me, I believe, is that very honesty. I am apt, often, to sweep my own difficulty under the rug, or at least shove it out of sight. But that isn’t truthful, honest, and I want to be honest.

These past month has been stressful, as in ridiculously stressful; stressful enough to throw off my body’s clock and rhythms. I won’t downplay how it has felt. I have collapsed into weeping several times—on my classroom floor, in my car in the grocery store parking lot, on the phone with my husband after a failed trip to the BMV.

Alone in those moments, I cried out to God. I begged and pleaded, “I need a miracle!” I wanted to ask God to make it all better. I just wanted a new car to show up in my driveway (or at least one without a myriad of problems that need constant fixing) or for a windfall of money to solve all the issues. Instead, though, a completely different thought floated into my mind and out my mouth.

“Please, God, be my meal and oil.”

Meal and oil? Where did that come from?

In the Old Testament story of Elijah, it tells of his experience staying with a widow and her child. When Elijah asked her for some water to drink and bread to eat, she warned him that she only had a little meal (flour) and oil left. Enough to make a small cake for herself and her son, and then they were going to wait to die. But she took the little that she had and began to cook. In the end, she fed God’s prophet and herself and her son with it! Lo and behold, the next day, there was more! Not much more but enough more.

I have not thought about that particular Bible story in many years, but I remember being struck by it even as a child. So I have found myself repeatedly praying for God to be my meal and oil—to hold our cars together just one more day, to give me enough grace to deal with my students today.

Sometimes, day by day is what I need. I know me: I would look ahead into a year’s worth of tomorrows if I could, just to make sure everything would indeed work out. Not necessarily as I hope but just work out at all. So, for now, perhaps this is the best for me, the best that I can do: expect the best that God can do. Expect him to give me what I need daily, as I learned to pray as a kid. “Give us this day our daily bread…”

Dear God, please be my meal and oil today.

The Adjustment Paradox

Author’s Note: It took me a bit to pull my thoughts together on this, and I thank you for your patience, dear ones, and appreciate your continued prayers.

This summer has been all about adjustment. Adjusting plans, procedures, routines, responsibilities, and timing. My motto as a teacher has always been “Adaptation & Improvisation”. But you know what? Adjustment is exhausting, utterly so. Making plans and then have to adapt them or scrap them entirely and start over, that constant re-doing in order to make things turn out the way they should can completely drain you or drive you mad (whichever comes first). At the very least, it’s frustrating “making it all fit”. But how often might all that adjustment be obscuring something important?

I am the queen of making it all fit. I am the one who Tetrises the schedule, the budget, the house, the fridge. I am the one who figures how to make everything balance and work, how to make our world fit together to the best of my ability. But, at times, I catch myself wondering: just how much of that does God have to do for me? Does He end up having to arrange/re-arrange things in my world to help guide me through certain situations or toward a best outcome? While I know that it is perfectly within God’s scope and sphere to do so (and that I am positive He has done so in the past), it is still quite a surreal thought to consider that the Creator of the Universe might tut and sigh when He sees me turning the wrong way down the path of life and then start re-arranging His plans for me, much as I might re-arrange my driving routine to get around construction and to home. And yet, I could probably point out several poignant places in my life where I am fairly certain some adjustments had to be made by God because this stubborn child of His decided to skew off into left field.

How often do I let myself become so riddled with anxiety and stress due to an adjustment that I miss what’s right in front of me? An answer or a pathway so lovingly-provided? Or I get so anxious about an adjustment that I actively shy away from or unwittingly sabotage a chance, change, or opportunity because of the adjustment that would come along with it? I am so thankful that God is not exhausted by adjustments, by adaptations, by me, because let’s be honest: I am exhausted by me most days. I am in a season of adjustment right now but also a season of waiting, which is a very strange place to be as I am having to adapt and adjust life and yet not seeing what I would probably call any kind of change on the horizon. Then again that’s why we call it faith: the hope of things not yet seen.

I have things that God has put on my heart, prayers and hopes that I am not even close to understanding yet, that I am holding loosely in my hands and holding out before Him every day. I do not know what God has planned for me in the days, weeks, and months to come, but I do know that He has not failed me yet. That promise I will not hold loosely; that promise I am going to cling to. How could I do anything less?

Preparing for Perhaps

I don’t really know how to begin here. I want something pithy, such as “When The Start Feels Too Much Like a Start”, but, at the same time, it feels like I would be trivializing what I want to talk about. And I’m too tired for trivial. (Case in Point: I started writing this blog post two weeks ago.)

Today marks fourteen days into the new school year, and I am utterly exhausted. It feels as though there never was a break between May and now. I just blinked, that’s all. The students are just about done honeymooning. I’m pouring out energy on top of energy as I have worked to figure out my daughter’s school arrangements, too. I’m already losing control of the cleanliness of the house (and, as I drafted this two weeks ago, I realized that I had forgotten to leave a note for my husband to turn over the laundry when he got up!). Life is busier than ever.

On the first day of students’ return, as I prayed before slipping out of bed to start the day, I found myself requesting something quite unexpected.

“Lord, if you have something else for me, please start preparing me for it.”

Now I say that this is unexpected, not because I haven’t wanted to do something other than teaching, because I have definitely thought about it, but because I honestly am unsure of just what that “something else” would be. I’ve said this since the beginning: teaching was ever the only plan. There was never a Plan B. So, if God does indeed have something else in mind for me, it begs the question of what exactly it could be.

Here are some truths:

  • I am good at teaching. I am. I am knowledgeable, and I do a good job at passing that knowledge along in an understandable way to my students.
  • I cannot remember a Sunday night when I was excited about going to work the next day and only a handful of days in the past nine years that I ever felt so about coming to school. I don’t necessarily joy in it like some teachers do. It takes a lot.
  • I do enjoy emotional education. Those are the lessons and discussions that I find my heart pouring out in: teaching students to be empathetic, show love, have courage, and be kind.

Part of me aches to do something else, something new, but, at the same time, the idea of such change and upheaval is profoundly frightening and stressful. But I will keep on praying this prayer, and I hope that I am not just being a stubborn Jonah.


BloPoMo Day 8: What I Can Do, I Will Do.

Let me preface this by being very honest and admitting that I have not had a very good (does a quick count) almost twenty-four hours. I went to bed in exhausted tears last night (you know, the kind of tears that you don’t realize you’re crying until you’re in the middle of crying). I slept fitfully and was dream-harried all night, and then I woke up in tears, a nightmare shaking me to my core and filling me with heartache and sadness as I rose to go about my Sunday.

As I drove myself and my daughter to church, I found myself having a very candid and brutally honest talk with God. It’s been a while since I had a verbal chat with Him and was a little surprised when it just all came spilling out. If my girl was older, I probably would have kept it to myself, I think, but, as she was thoroughly occupied with her balloon and rocket drawing, the flood doors just sort of opened.

I won’t rehash everything that I talked about with God. In fact, I’m not sure I could rehash it all. But what it boiled down to, at the end of it all, was this:

While I might at times feel stressed, sad, overwhelmed, lonely, just rawr at the world, etc. (sometimes without even an explanation to be given), there is something I can choose to do. Something I have asked God to help me with especially.

“Please, help me to be what I think I need for someone else.”

Sometimes, feeling absolutely sucks! I don’t want others in my corner of life to have to slog through negative feelings or down moments alone if I can change that, even a little bit. I always have a choice in the midst of feeling of how I am going to act or react. So that is my personal challenge this week: to be what I think I need (company, listening ear, strong shoulder, comforting embrace, truth-speaker, etc.). And maybe I can make those moments and feelings a bit easier for someone else’s heart and soul.

From "Unglued" by Lysa TerKeurst

From “Unglued” by Lysa TerKeurst

Trusting My God-Gut

Some of you knew about this and some of you didn’t. Two weeks ago, I applied for a position at a local middle school. This was an act that required much prayer, faith, and courage on my part because I didn’t particularly enjoy my previous time in this corporation several years ago. But I felt that I needed to woman up and apply, so I did. They called me for an interview a week later. Amidst lots of prayers and encouragement from friends and family, I interviewed for the position (grades 6-8, tier 3 English/Language Arts intervention) this past Friday, and the principal called back the same day saying that she had called my references (thank you to all those wonderful people, by the by) and wanted to recommend me to the superintendent for the position. I asked for the weekend to be able to speak with my husband about it and if I could give her a call Monday morning. So we took our weekend together and discussed it as we walked about GenCon and prayed about it together. I spent my quiet time/time alone praying and listening with my heart for God’s guidance. Sometimes that guidance comes as a gentle heart nudge, a thumb in my back, an inability to settle with peace on a particular decision, or just a gut feeling that I know I need to go with. Based on our talks, prayers, and that undeniable, unexplainable gut feeling that we have both experienced time and again, Ben and I both agreed that we felt a leading that I should be home with Elizabeth this last year before she heads off to preschool.

No, we will not have a lot of extra money this year as a result, but we have always determined that our home will be built on love first and foremost. Standard of living and quality of life are two different things (I even looked up the definitions this morning to be certain before I said that) and we are concentrating on the latter. We may not have a lot of extra money, will have to be frugal and wise with what we do have, and certain things will have to wait a bit longer, but we have a roof over our heads, food on our table, cars that work, and I will be able to give Elizabeth my love and presence for another year as she and I learn from each other and prepare for her to head off into the world all too quickly.

All that being said, I just got off the phone with the principal at the middle school, a former colleague of mine, and told her that I am so thankful to have been able to interview with them and for her faith in me in wanting to recommend me. I do feel led, however, to be home with Elizabeth this year but, if she has any positions open up in a year or so, that I would definitely appreciate her consideration again.

We are trusting God for continued guidance and leading and that He will help us to have a wonderful year together. We are praying for strength and wisdom as Ben teaches and preaches, giving of his time and energy unendingly to and for others and us. It is also my prayer and hope that, at the end of this year, Elizabeth and I will both be ready to go out into the world and face it head-on with all the fierce, fearless courage of roaring lambs.

Thank you all for your prayers, advice, and love. They mean more to me than I can ever say. And thank you for reading.

For the Gaining and Gift of a Dream

Vulnerability alert! Last night, my husband asked me an innocent question: “What is your dream?” As I sat there and thought, I found myself bursting into tears. I cried. Oh, how I cried. As I thought, I couldn’t find anything that fit what I would call a “dream”.

When I was a little girl, I dreamt of being a teacher. I have done that, in some way, shape, or form, from age 16 to age 29.

When I was older, I dreamt of writing and being published. I have done that. (Though I have never quite been so Jo March to declare, “I shall write great books and make barrels of money.”)

I dreamt of finding deep, understanding love and partnership. I have found it.

I dreamt of holding a child in my arms. I do.

img_2035dreamYet, now, at almost 32 years of age, I do not know what my next dream is, what my next step or my next path in life is. And so I cried for a long time last night. It was a despairing cry; one never wants to think that they are dreamless. Soon, Elizabeth will be old enough for preschool and I will be back to work, but what work? Shall I return to the classroom, shall I search for a position in a library, or shall I try to step into something entirely new? I do not know and not knowing scares me.

It has also been suggested to me that I could make money from my writing. That is also an idea that frightens me, although I know it can be done. It would be a step of faith, a step of courage, one that would lead to some of the hardest work I’ve ever done and perhaps some of the rewarding work I have ever done. However, I’m not sure it is one that my family can afford, with what we are planning for/needing to be done in the future. Not as a sole method of breadwinning, that is. But…could it still be worth a try?

Ben asked me another poignant question then (it was truly the night for them): “Why do you write?” And so I answered honestly, perhaps the most honestly I ever have. I write so that there will be evidence that I existed. I write so that there will be a record that I lived, breathed, felt, thought, learned, created. However selfish it may sound, I write so that there will be proof of me. And maybe, just maybe, someone will find comfort, help, or encouragement from what I have experienced and shared. I did find something that I said in reply to him a touch curious, though. I told him that I do what I do in life because I feel as though they are what I must do. I write, share, post, sing, dance, and talk but I have not necessarily looked at those things as “dreams”. They are just a part of who I am.

Then Ben asked me if I had talked to God about it. When was the last time I asked Him for a new dream? I couldn’t answer, which was an answer in and of itself. And so, in the midst of my tears and clutching of my husband’s hand, I did what I should have done in the first place: I prayed. I thanked God for the dreams He has helped me to achieve and told Him of the despair I was feeling at the thought of not having a dream to aspire to, a path to set foot on. My heart cried out and I asked Him for a dream, for guidance, for light. I know and trust that He will be true to His word as I seek His dream for me. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)

So I shall continue to pray and quieten my heart continue to listen as I look, hope, wait for, and walk towards a new dream.

Breathing Prayer

I have found myself praying often lately, especially when my mind begins to turn tumultuous – dwelling and worrying and the like – or even when it is quiet. I find my self pouring out in prayer. Prayers for myself, for others, over the situations in my life that need guidance or an answer. It’s really me talking to God, and it feels natural, which always amazes me. I was raised in the conservative Christian church; prayer is far from a foreign concept to me. Still, to find prayer – thanks, intercession, honesty about fears and needs, rejoicing, etc. – flowing from my mind, mouth, and pen as naturally as breathing never fails to amaze me. I have found myself lying in bed unable to sleep, my mind racing with worries and fears, and I start talking to God, pouring those worries into his figurative lap. I tell him what I need, where I am lost and need guidance. Am I to go back to work to allow Ben more time for ministry? Am I to resume teaching or strike out into something new and unknown? What would I do with Elizabeth? Where do I put my foot next? What am I to say or do for this friend who is hurting or in difficulty? How am I to be a good friend to them and not simply make empty statements? What do I need to do, or be doing, to be a good wife to Ben? I bring all of these questions in prayer, but I also bring my joys. I’m thankful that Elizabeth is as healthy as she is. I am thankful for our home and the new opportunities in our lives. I am thankful to have met Ben and I am blessed to be his wife. I am thankful to be able to be with my daughter and to blog and write more.

Writing is my preferred method of communication at least 70% of the time, honestly. I write down many of my prayers, but to have prayer flowing easily through my thoughts or my voice, true heartfelt prayers, is a big deal to me, One of the admonitions in the New Testament of the Bible is to prayer unceasingly. I will freely admit that there have been long periods when I have gone without talking to God, that’s what prayer is, after all, and those have been times of worry, fear, and a distinct lack of peace. Praying is not easy when life is hard I do but I trust that they will be. I have faith and that’s really all I can do. Have faith, prayer for myself and others, and follow that leading when I feel it linger in my heart and soul.

Prayer, faith, belief – maybe none of makes sense to you or may apply to your life. That’s all right. It does to me.