Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Move.

Tonight, I am struggling. I am wrestling hard with many fears, anxieties, worries, questions, and I feel as if I can barely keep my head above water.

In my struggle tonight, brain whirring around thoughts and fears, trying to fight things off and running to God for comfort, I began to think of my Christian walk, my new Christian life, as a move.

I envisioned this new life with God, as a house. An immaculate, stunning, beautiful house set on land with a nice barn for my horse. The house has nice paint, a spectacular interior look, and a nice front porch. It is beautiful, a place I want to be.

Where I was, was very different. A small house, it kept me happy in my mediocre life but I wanted more. I wanted space, happiness, the smell of the fresh, country air. I would go by places like the first and wonder, what do they have that I don't? What do I need to get there? This is where I was, before I started getting to where I was living with Christ. It was a house, it was enough to live, but not always happily, or comfortably. 

When I started going to counseling, then church, things began to change. I began to realize where I was and where I needed to be. I decided that I was going to follow Christ, get my heart right with the Lord and make an effort to follow Him and make Him the Lord of my life.

This is when I made the decision to move.

I decided to pack up things and move to the house where I would be safe, loved, I could breathe the fresh air and be filled with happiness and the Lord each and every day. I was choosing to move away from where I was, to a place I would be much better in. From the old house, to the new.

I still feel as if I am moving, and this seems to be a hard process. I know where I want to be but now it is about getting there.

I am packing up things I want to take with me. Valuable, meaningful, and good things. This isn't painful. It is fun! Getting all the things that belong with me and putting them nicely in boxes, ready to find a new place where I am going. The memories, the love, the things that will travel this new journey with me. 

Then, there's the hard part. The things that I need to leave behind. The painful part of unearthing hurtful memories that were shoved in the back of the closet or hidden under the bed. Cleaning up messes and trying to hold back the tears as I realize that although this was a vital part of my life, it cannot come with me. It was a thing, a memory, but not a good one. Not one that belongs in such a beautiful place. These things will not bring happiness to my new place, therefore they do not belong there. They must stay behind, the mess must be cleaned up, the things dealt with and dumped. Forgiveness has taken place, now it is time to no longer carry those dark things with me, those things that were maybe once beautiful but now hold a bad memory, a dark message. 

Then, in the move, the people come into play. Who is going to rejoice with me? Who is going to be angry and pull away? Who will visit? Who will make the move with me? 

Who will I be forced to leave behind?

For me, this may be the hardest part of it all. I know this new place is where I need to be. The possessions, the packing, the cleaning, although some of that may be painful, hard, it doesn't even get close to the pain of when it comes to the people I care about. The people that I may be leaving behind, the people I may lose. Will they even visit? Maybe for awhile, but then will they even remember who I am in a few years? Or will I be just a faint memory? And what about them? Will they realize what they are missing? I hope so.

I know that this "house" this new life with God is what I need. So I have begun the moving process, looking forward to the day that I am in my new place, completely at rest, beginning to put the touches on it that makes this place mine. Maybe that is where I am now, but my mind is still stuck in the move. I fear for the people that I may be leaving behind as I go to this new place with the Lord. I want them to follow, to see what this new "house" has to offer. To see that it is just as easy for them to get as it was for me. You just have to ask, then make the conscious decision to make the move, to follow Him and to settle in a new and happy life. One of safety, where your amazing Father will care for you as you seek Him.

Maybe I shouldn't be concerned about the others, the ones that I may lose in this move. But I get scared. They mean a lot to me, and even though I know this "house" this journey, this Christ centered life is better for me, I am scared to think of what may happen to them, of what may happen to my relationship with them.

This is something I need to work on, focusing on God and not worrying about these things, because He has is covered. When it comes to people I care for, it is very hard not to worry about them. I don't want to leave them in the dumpy house. I don't want to leave them without God and have to fear that my new place will separate them from me. I will visit, I will make an effort, I will try to show them the wonderfulness of the place that they can easily be.

Ultimately it is their decision. Will they stick with the old house, or choose a breath of fresh air, of security that only the Lord can give? I can only hope they will follow. And I can only hope that this worry I carry in my heart for them will fade, that the Lord will comfort, and I can feel at peace knowing that the Lord is working in them and if it is something I end up losing, then it is something the Lord needed me to lose, so that I can draw closer to Him.

It is a hard move, a painful move at times. But it is also filled with so much joy, because this move is bringing me to where I need to be, with the one that loves me more than I could ever imagine.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Reflections on 22, Hopes for 23.

Today, I turned 23. 

In ways I am glad, but in ways, I am not at all happy about it. So is life though, right?

Let me start by reflecting on 22, which happened to be the year that standing here now, looking back at it, I don't know how I made it. It was a year full of so many changes, so much growing. Some I expected, some hit me like a brick wall. Some were good, some were bad.

At this time last year, I was just beginning my journey into student teaching. Terrified, to say the least, I didn't know how I was going to do it. Do I really have what it takes to be a teacher? Can I prove to them and myself that I didn't just waste three and a half years in school? I wasn't sure, although everyone else was. And they were right. I did a fantastic job, I proved to them (although they already knew), I proved to myself, and I came out with flying colors. My CT was impressed, my supervisors were impressed, and I was even nominated for student teacher of the year award. And those little first grade souls really impacted me hard. Everyone thinks I was the one who taught them, but it was the opposite, they grew me. They made me a better teacher, and I actually made it through student teaching- what I thought was an impossible task.

Then, I graduated, college! With honors! Who woulda thunk it? Crazy to think myself actually. I still sometimes can't believe that stage of my life is over. I mean, am I actually old enough to be graduated from college? It was a fun stage but I am certainly glad it is over!

(Preschool, High School, College)

And from there? Boy, did this end up being a trying time. What now? I am an adult, what am I to do now? Am I going to find work? What will I be stuck doing? I decided early on that it was okay if I didn't find a full time teaching job, that I would be perfectly okay subbing for awhile. Thank God, and I mean Thank God that God had a better plan for me. I do not like subbing, at all. I had an opportunity fall into my lap to teach in an after school program and even though it wasn't what I wanted, I took it. Good thing I did, I was wrong. This job is perfect! I am now involved in a well supported program. One with a great boss, wonderful co-workers, my best friend is my classroom aide, I have security and stability, am part of a program that is proving it self very effective, so much so that it has been extended into a summer program, and even more, I work with 12 second graders each day that are changing my life. Sometimes, I don't understand what God is doing in my life, but I am thankful that he knows, and that he said no to subbing and put me right where I need to be.

Aside from the new career journey, I jumped on the train of a new hobby journey. And at 15 some hands and 1,000 pounds, I can honestly say I didn't start small. Deciding to get a horse was a childhood dream that I just jumped into, but as far as I am concerned, it was one of the best decisions I ever made. Chance is my 5 year old Red Dun quarter horse gelding and to be honest, I consider him to be one of the greatest blessings I have. He has quite the personality and can certainly act like every bit of the five year old he is, but he also listens to me and shows me love in a way that it seems only an animal can. Even though he is young, he is perfect for the beginner that I am. We are both learning together and enjoying this journey, with many things to look forward to in our lives together. 


Then, there was the bad stuff. The depression worsened, the anxiety worsened, the dread, shame, sadness..ect., all worsened. I started to sink deeper and deeper and I could feel the constant weight of it all, more often than not. People were starting to pick up on it a little, although I hid it pretty well. I can show certain pictures and know exactly how sad I felt when they were taken even though I am smiling and having fun I remember the dread and weight I felt and hoping no one would notice yet hoping someone would and would help me out of the darkness. Then I hit the bottom. I was really in that dark place awhile but that bottom was the darkest. Luckily, someone reached out and I took the opportunity. She lead me to my counselor, and I began that journey. My counselor is a Christian one and I know now was really the only way to go. She started working in me with God, and I began my journey of healing. I still have a long way to go but it did begin, and I have made progress. She also lead me to the church that I go to now, which is exactly what I needed. The atmosphere is comfortable, you feel like family, the people are kind, I can actually understand most of the message, and the pastor and church are really filled with the presence of God, which is necessary, and you can feel it! It makes so much of a difference. And this is where my God journey begins. More on that later though.

Those are the big things from my 22nd year. I have had others, a few friends come and a few go, other minor struggles and triumphs, but those if they are of importance, can find their way into my writing later.

For now, let's go on to 23. I want to start by saying that I am not happy with turning 23. I know it's not a choice but today was really rough. For a few reasons actually, but one would be that I turned 23 and I am nowhere near what I expected myself to be at 23, and I am not pleased with that. Granted, it's on God's time and I need patience, but it's hard to be at this point and know that where I thought I would be, I am nowhere close to. Maybe that's part of the plan though, not mine, but God's. Although I have trouble facing that sometimes, I know it is for the better, he has a better plan to me. Thank goodness for the new journey I am on so that I can realize that and not put myself even deeper to the bad where I was going, instead I am working on focusing now where God needs me, He knows the desires of my heart and will meet them if/when he feels right. Guess patience and trust is what I will be working on when it comes to Him.

For this year, I want my focus to be completely on Him. Getting to know him and getting closer to him. Knowing and feeling his love, promises, comfort, and all the many good things that he gives to us. This will be life changing. I plan to be more involved in the church and grow in the church family as well as in God. I plan to rely on him rather than others. I plan to define myself not by others but by what God sees in me. I plan to surround myself with good people, who will lift me up and not put me down.

Most of all, it will be my relationship with God that will be my focus. I am ready to become close to him, to make him what matters to me and to know him and be close to him. That will change me and I can't wait.

As far as other things, I do want to make the best effort I can and grow my friendships even more.  Grow with the ones that will make a good Christian surrounding for me, and the ones that I will need to help surround with God so that they can be part of the Christian family, the family of God.

I plan to continue to learn and grow with Chance. Allow him to work with me as I work with him. We are going to start wagon trains in the spring and it should be a lot of fun and make way for even more opportunities to see God's grace in the everyday, which is another plan for me.

I also want to grow in my teaching, maybe land a full time job but also be happy if I stay where I am at. No matter what I do, I want to do my best for the kids I will be teaching- and who will be teaching me.

I do also hope to find a guy, a guy that loves the Lord and loves me. A guy that I am comfortable with and who has many of the good qualities that need to be in a guy. A guy who treats me well and who will be good for me. I can only hope that this is the year for me, the year to land me a good one. Suppose we will see, but again, it's in God's timing.

In all, I feel this year will be a good year, despite its rough start and despite that this isn't where I planned to be. I know it will be good because I am with God now, I am giving him control and I am learning to trust him, surrender to him, be comforted by him, and so much more.

So despite not being where I planned to be, God has me where he needs me, and I am ready to see what he has in store for my 23rd year of life.

(Sunset over Wolf Lake Michigan, taken on my vacation there, Summer 2013)

Sunday, March 2, 2014

The difference.

"Every time you care for someone you are impacting their life"

These are words the pastor said in the message last Sunday. I am bringing them up today because those words couldn't ring more true, and I want to talk about it, and how it pertains to me, now in my life.

Obviously, showing you care is very important. But how far does this care really go? Well, I can tell you, it surely helps heal the broken. I am broken, and although I am going through the steps to heal, the healing wouldn't work without a whole lot of care and love.

This may not be true for everyone, after all everyone is different. But for me, care and love is the most vital aspect.

"And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love" 1 Corinthians 13:13

The Bible points out the importance of love. It says the greatest of these- the greatest. That means above the others. That must mean that love makes a pretty big difference doesn't it?

Let the truth me known, I love to love and I love love. Show me an ounce of love and I'm yours. Now, this doesn't mean I turn into a crazy stalker once someone shows me some attention, this also doesn't mean I drop my guard right away and just let easy access to my heart but when I feel you really care, I easily return the favor.

I feel it's very important that people know how loved and valued they really are. Maybe it's the teacher in me, the kind heart in me, or the fact that I know how it feels to think no one cares. So many people have made me feel completely disposable and unworthy, and I don't want anyone to ever feel that way because of me.

Love makes a world of difference. What is the best thing you can do for someone? In my opinion, it's simply to love them. Care for them. Show them that they matter- in this big, ugly world, they matter.

"If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing."   1 Corinthians 13:1-3

We are nothing without love. And without the love of Christ, we really are nothing.

Let me break this down even further. I am a teacher. One of the things I am taught as a teacher, is that before students can learn from you, they may need other needs met. If they are hungry, they aren't going to be focused on the lesson. If they feel sad, or unsafe, they aren't going to be focused on the lesson. If they are dirty or sick, they aren't going to be focused on the lesson. 

If they feel unloved or are craving attention, they aren't going to be focused on the academics. BUT, if you show them love, if you give them attention, if you show them a little bit of care, then they are able to learn.

Is it just that simple? Show some care and make some gains?

Have you heard the Mark Twain quote:

"Kindness is language that the deaf can hear and the blind can see"

Kindness and love must be pretty powerful. 

Oh, it is. God loves me, more than I could ever know. His love makes a difference, and it is something I am starting to feel and see and want more and more of, because I want more and more of Him.

But I wouldn't even be in this position of trying to get closer to God if it wasn't for love and caring in the first place.

I am able to go to church because I feel comfortable, cared for. Even though I don't know very many people, I always feel welcome. People greet me kindly and even the pastor let's us know how much we matter.

My counselor shows she cares. This matters to me a whole awful bunch. I strongly believe that counseling wouldn't be at a benefit for me if I didn't feel like I was cared for. If it did, the benefit wouldn't be even one tenth as strong, because knowing she cares makes a ton of difference, and I am able to grow this way.

And knowing God cares? That He loves me with a love so deep I can't even begin to understand it? Well, that really matters. It feels really good to think that I have a God that loves me so much that He sent His son to die for me so that I could spend eternity with Him in Heaven, if I just choose to believe.

What an amazing love that is. And the love that has brought me to pursuing God's love- I couldn't be more thankful. I wouldn't be on this wonderful journey of becoming close to God if it isn't for these people showing me they care. 

And to think that this is only a small sampling of the love that I feel, of the love that matters.

Some people believe that material things are the best things in life, that certain things like money, a house, a car..ect. Those things make all the difference. 

But I know better. The difference? Is love.