Posts tagged #God's will

a year ago...

this time last year Russ & I were going through a rough time. God was calling us to a deeper, more intimate relationship with Him - one that required trust and faith. this is what I wrote one night and it's so similar to what we're facing today  - I thought I'd share. i don't claim to have it all figured out. in fact, the past couple of weeks have been testament to me knowing absolutely nothing about the mind of God and His purpose. no...i don't have it all figured out. but i have been shattered with the truth of "draw near to me, and i will draw near to you."

when russ and i first got married, we lived in this dilapidated apartment with a ten degree slant. i tripped going to the restroom in the morning and all of my cakes came out of the oven strangely reminiscent to those of the mad hatter genre - tilted and crooked and so completely lopsided. we held on for dear life walking down the stairs to our car because the slant was so severe. we were happy, though. life was simple. my last paycheck from working at new braunfels christian came the week after our wedding - and with it a realization that i needed to find a job. and fast. russ worked full time at circuit city and made a decent amount - but we weren't sure it would hold us over without any other form of income supporting us. we went three months on just his income. i landed a job in august - a few days shy of the "new teacher orientation" - and so immediately my life changed from relaxed to hurried. professional development, lesson plans, new faces and new regulations - a lot to swallow with only a few days preparation before kids arrived. i worked most of august and all of september until i saw my first paycheck. i remember that day - i remember the huge sigh of relief russ and i breathed now that we had added income to help cushion us. i remember the Lord's provision. in moments where we should have been concerned about what was going to happen...we were taken care of by His faithfulness. a couple weeks ago, i began praying earnestly for the Lord to really reveal where He was leading russ and me. it's no secret that this past summer did something to us, like some shift in perspective has landed us in a world where we can't go back to how we were before. it's come with consequences: lost relationships and misunderstandings. but it has also come with great reward: deeper relationships with each other and unparalleled support from our community of friends we have found through the process of pruning. one thing is for sure: the Lord gives and the Lord takes away. blessed be his name. everything came crashing down around us last week. my day began with a prayer: "Father - we can't do this anymore. show us Your will. make it so blatant we cannot ignore." i prayed this in the morning - asking for peace and opened doors and dangerous faith. russ lost his job that afternoon. it was...heartbreaking. sudden and swift and harsh - we were left with a fraction of a life we had before. i'm not just talking about income here...there's something psychological that occurs within you when something is stripped away without warning. grief took over - but not completely. there was no way we could shake the feeling of peace that God was doing something within us and through us. there was no other possible explanation - no other reasonable excuse - to understand what happened. i had prayed to see His hand that morning, and by nightfall, His fingerprints were revealing themselves everywhere. it's been tough. there have been moments of discouragement and moments of worry. for the first time in four years, we are questioning where we go and what we spend - knowing that the future is so unknown for so many people right now, ourselves included. but...we have hope. we've been given dreams. big dreams. dreams of living a life less ordinary and more bent on trust and belief that God is bigger than any injustice in the world...and now, we have freedom to pursue those dreams. this past summer, russ and i came across a verse that spoke deeply to our desires of walking like giants: "And these are but the outer fringe of his works; how faint the whisper we hear of him! Who then can understand the thunder of his power?" Job 26:14 if you think about it, most of us live our lives content with his whispers. we pray for his guidance in big decisions but never really ask for him to mediate for us in a big way. why do we need a God who will show himself? we have everything we need...our life of complacency and comfort leaves us dry and stagnant. we never understand there can be so much more...there IS so much more... we prayed and begged and waited to experience the thunder of his power - knowing he was whispering big dreams we had never anticipated. we waited. and waited. and waited. and begin to wonder what His purpose was in giving us such big dreams when it didn't seem as though we were getting anywhere... looking back at these past six months, i am beginning to wonder... perhaps all of the tears shed has watered the ground beneath us for new growth. perhaps the doors slammed shut in our faces have given room for others to open. perhaps our ears have been so clogged with busy-ness his thunder has been muted by our persistent ignorance... God is bigger. He's bigger than all of our circumstances and all of our trials we go through. He carries us. in moments of despair - He is there, wiping our tears and cultivating new growth. i sense a beginning taking shape in russ and me. somewhere in the distance, a faint rumble sounds...the recent storm has passed; a rainbow glistens in the rain. i close my eyes and listen. his thunder is here.

Posted on January 26, 2010 .

one necessity.

We could, you know. We can live any way we want. People take vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience - even of silence - by choice. The thing is to stalk your calling in a certain skilled & supple way, to locate the most tender & live spot & plug into that pulse. This is yielding, not fighting. I think it would be well, and proper, and obedient, and pure, to grasp your one necessity & not let it go, to dangle from it limp wherever it takes you...seize it & let it seize you up aloft even, till your eyes burn out & drop; let your musky flesh fall off in shreds & let your very bones unhinge & scatter, loosened over fields, over fields & woods, lightly, thoughtless, from any height at all, from as high as eagles.

Annie Dillard

I'm staring at the computer screen in a daze.

This quote has haunted me from a worn & tattered index card sitting on my desk for a solid week.

Why does it seem so much easier for other people to pursue their calling? I mean, don't you know those people? Those who "came to live deliberately" & "suck the marrow out of life" & beat the "sweaty toothed madmen" of our day? I do. And it's not me.

This doesn't mean I'm not effected by Dillard's quote. Quite the opposite, really. When I first saw this, my breath quickened & my heart rate skipped a beat & my mind started racing.

What would happen if I stalked my calling in a skilled and supple way?

To be honest, I really don't know. I do know I love my job. I love my students. I love my two week Christmas break and my summer vacation. I love passing on the joy & wonder of literature & the deep satisfaction of writing until you are emotionally spent.

But I know there's more.

I find this disconnect in the second paragraph - grasping your one necessity & not letting it go.

Is teaching my one necessity? No. And I even hesitate to write that because really? It seems kind of...harsh. But my purpose is not teaching. My purpose is inspiring the youth to believe they can make a difference & telling the stories of those who have been forgotten & fighting for the orphan & destitute until I am blue in the face....

Yeah. There's my one necessity.

I've had this conflict for awhile - I've even written about it. And the only thing I can come up with is that as long as I am struggling - as long as I am pushing & prodding & tripping & moving - perhaps I am more skilled and supple than I thought.

What is your dream? No. Really. Dig deep. What is it that completely makes your heart scream in delight?

Stalk it. You may not get there tomorrow; you may not get there next year. But you'll be moving...and sometimes, that's all we can do.

tell me: what is your one necessity?

Posted on October 12, 2009 and filed under story.

first steps.

last week, i wrote something about taking ownership of your dreams. as much as it was a challenge for others, it was a swift kick in the gut for myself. i said i would post something the next day about the step i took to achieve my dreams, but i didn't. obviously. but i did take a step.

it was a small step. but, something potentially huge in terms of my big ol' dreams.

i let go.

it seems a bit counterintuitive. it seems that, in an effort to gain your dreams you need to wrestle & fight & tear at the fabric of life until you get what you want. and sometimes, this is needed.

but i needed to let go.

since January, i have had five job interviews. well, five until this morning - but that comes later.

five job interviews which resulted in pretty much...nothing. nothing but rejection. nothing but "we went with another candidate" or "you are wonderful, but a bit too advanced for our school" or my personal favorite - silence. no reply, no call back, nada.

and once i wrote that last post, i was through. i was so finished with even trying anymore - i mean sure, getting a job in Austin is one of my dreams because it would be a step closer to where i want to be & it would make life a whole lot easier...but it's not worth my heart being ripped to shreds, right?

so i gave up. i let go.

i quit filling out applications.  i quit calling the schools. i quit looking. i just...waited. i knew i had filled out countless applications & sent in dozens of resumes to pretty much every district & charter school in this area. if they wanted me, they'd call.

yesterday, while russ & i were at Avenue 5 cosmetology school with our girl marisa, i received a phone call from a local school district. they wanted to know if i was interested in a literacy coach position.

basically, a literacy coach helps other teachers.  content area reading is a constant struggle - no surprise - & literacy coaches really just guide teachers to becoming the best teacher for their students. for lack of explanation - it seems perfect.

so i interviewed this morning for the position.

i haven't heard from them, & i may not for awhile. i leave tomorrow for a conference with some of my colleagues & i pray i know before we leave what the decision is & where i stand. do i want this job? heck.yes. it sounds...amazing. more than any of the other interviews i felt excited about the prospect of working in this capacity. but. will i be heartbroken if i don't get this job?

no. disappointed? yes. heartbroken? no. i think for the first time in this whole process, i feel at peace - knowing that wherever i end up, God's got me. he knows my desires. he knows my heart & my dreams - he placed them there. naturally, he will help me achieve them...in His timing.

so, my first steps. i laid down the gauntlet & followed through. how about you? did you take any steps towards achieving your dreams? let me know. they may be small - miniscule even to the naked eye - but they are still steps. because, if there is one thing i have realized in the course of this week, it's that in order to start flying, you have to run to the edge of the cliff & jump.

Posted on July 16, 2009 .

more than fine.

In the spring of 2003, my life changed dramatically. Tracing back experiences that have shaped who I am, this is where it begins. This is where my time in Haiti & the burning in my heart grew wings & threatened to push me over the edge.

I had just completely broken off contact with my boyfriend of two years. It was one of those horribly unhealthy on-again-off-again-I-hate-your-guts type of relationships, and it had killed any sense of feeling I had left inside. When I broke it off, something inside of me woke up.

It was the spring of 2003, and Switchfoot's Beautiful Letdown had just been released.

There is absolutely no way I can tell you just how much this album meant to me and my spiritual walk. It was my first taste of taking a second glance at the world & realizing everything is not okay. I had all of these dreams...all of these hopes & fears & something inside of me (SOMEONE inside of me...) kept saying,

"there's more...there's more...there's so much more than what you see..."

I didn't know what to do or how to handle these thoughts that were parading themselves through my mind & heart. I just knew something was going down & that I needed to be ready. God was calling me to a different life - a dangerous life - one of reckless faith.

While this new thought process was churning inside of me, something was happening thousands of miles away.

It was the spring of 2003, and three guys were about to travel to Africa & find a story that would eventually change the way my generation looked at the world.

I wouldn't know this for another two years.  Those two years held a lot of meaning for me. Graduating from college, moving back home, preparing for a wedding, landing my first teaching job, getting married, moving to a different city, finding a new job...

All of these changes - good changes - exciting changes, & still that voice pestered me in the silence.

"there's more...there's more...there's so much more than what you see..."

I have COUNTLESS blogs over the past six years which include lyrics from Switchfoot's Beautiful Letdown. It resonated deep inside my soul - this truth that we were meant to live for so much more & that yes, I wanted to be more than fine & bent on getting by. I wanted my life to mean something, dangit. Haiti's dirt  had gotten in my bones.  In my sleep I would see the Haitian woman wiping tears from my eyes & the kids trying to pull the whiteness off my skin.

I wanted more.

My second year of teaching at the high school my students were in the middle of Elie Weisel's Night and I was having a difficult time battling their apathy. I remember asking, "What is Weisel's purpose in writing this memoir?"

They responded with, "Well, to remember. To never forget so something like this doesn't happen again."

"And has it?" I asked.

"Uh....no. When does the bell ring again?"

I remember going home that night peturbed. It was then, in that moment of wondering what I was even doing as a teacher, that I remembered channel surfing in the fall & landing on Oprah with these three guys talking about Africa. They were part of this group called...Invisible Children. I googled the name & at the time, they had no website. But, I knew they had a documentary & I knew there would be articles. So I printed off about five articles speaking of n. Uganda as well as Darfur.

We read the articles & I got the documentary from one of the geography teachers. It was the first time I hadn't screened a video before watching it with the class.

Imagine with me if you will. I'm sitting here in my classroom, watching this film about kids who have been abducted & brainwashed as child soldiers.  Imagine me weeping as Jacob tells Jason he would rather die "even now" that he has escaped the rebel army. Imagine me wanting to reach through the screen & take his hand as he begins weeping over his brother who has been killed in the conflict. It's an authentic scene of just how messy life can get sometimes, and I was broken.

There's this scene in a series I read where one of the characters finds his purpose. He describes it as the tethers breaking their hold on him & steel rods taking their place - forever connecting him to this one moment in history. This one purpose. He would never be able to shake it & he never would want to.

This is that moment for me. As I sat there, watching this movie for the first time with my students and laughing through tears at the perfect soundtrack of Switchfoot sprinkled throughout, and as we discussed the implications and got the Texas roadies to come to the high school for the US tour....I heard that familiar voice in the background...

"this is it."

Three years later & Invisible Children has ruined my life in the best way possible. The more I become involved, the more I believe in this cause & what we are trying to do. I mean, we are actively ending a war.

                                                                             ...through peace.

And as I sit here typing, I am becoming more & more frustrated because it's almost impossible to find words that describe just how much my life has taken a turn over the past five years. No words.

There's a song I keep playing over & over in my head that mentions "you've set this heart on fire..." and I think more than anything THAT describes my life since 2003. Sitting in my car, listening to the announcement from President Bush that "shock & awe" has been completed & feeling desperately useless, not knowing there are three guys on their face in a garage begging for God to bring them a story. Not knowing this story will impact me so greatly that my whole life is changed. 

We were meant to live for so much more. And even though this entry is disjointed & poorly structured, know this: looking back through my life, I see the hand of God pointing me in different directions. I see Him prompting Russ to send me the Switchfoot CD. I feel Him lighting the tiny flame of discomfort over my apathetic lifestyle as a 20 year old. I see Him leading me to BHS, to teaching kids who would be open to let their lives become wrecked by one solitary film and in the process, inspire me through their determination to end the war & rescue these children. I see Him paving the road by opening doors for conferences where I meet people who will open more doors which will forever change my husband & me. 

I see myself finally accepting a life that is more than fine while continually wrestling with the notion that what I see on a day to day basis is all there is in this world.

Because it's not. Because He has set this heart on fire & because for as long as I live, I aim for my life to be more than just okay.

Posted on April 18, 2009 and filed under story.