Sunday, September 30, 2012

Friends, Stretching and Heartache

I went to Houston last weekend. 

I read that sentence and there is so much emotion wrapped up in it that I cannot even explain, certainly not in written form, but I will attempt it anyway.

Houston has been my home for the past 10 years.  Houston is where I stepped out on my own.  Paid my own bills.  Found a church.  Developed friends outside of college.  Learned how to have "non-college" roommates (because you KNOW it's different!)  Learned how to live alone.  Became a teacher.  Survived my first year.  Became a better teacher...and a better person.  Learned how to grow as a teacher.  Lost some arrogance.  Learned how to develop relationships with students' parents.  Developed an even deeper love for people.  Traveled abroad with friends: sometimes on vacation, sometimes chaperoning students, sometimes to show Christ's love to a hurting people.  Went back to school.  Figured out how to pay bills.  Grew closer to the Lord through an intimate relationship with Him.  Developed deep relationships with sisters in Christ who also desired to walk intimately with Him.  Observed and lived through messed up relationships and learned from them.  Observed and developed healthy relationships and learned from them.  Saw friends get married and not be able to relate to singles any more.  Lived life with friends who got married and were still my friend...and I was blessed to continue living life with them. 

Houston is a place that is synonymous with so much in my life.

Moving away has been hard.  I KNOW this is where the Lord has me.  I KNOW I'm walking His path.  That does NOT make it easy.  The Lord does not promise His children a life of ease.  He promises to walk through life with us.  With His strength.  As strong tower.  I don't always cling to Him the way I should.  The way He wants me to cling to Him.  I am an errant child at times, stomping my foot on the ground, wanting things to be different. 

At the moment, I don't think I'm being a tantrum throwing two year old.  More of a 10 year old that understands this is the way things are, understands things will change eventually, but still, stubbornly, wants it to be different NOW.

 I LOVED seeing all of my Houston friends last weekend.  They are dear to me.  I have lived so much life with them.  But seeing them was hard, too.  Because we don't live life together, anymore.  We call.  We email.  We g-chat.  But we don't have dinner.  We don't go walking.  We don't worship Him beside each other. 

And that is hard. 

I don't like it. 

One wise and beloved friend said it best.  "You lived with us for so many formative years.  20s are that.  We were a part of that.  And you were a part of our formative years.  30s are important too.  There will be more forming.  And we won't be as much a part of that."  And we both cried.

My self-esteem has always been on the low end in regards to how others view me.  The fact that she cried, knowing she missed me, knowing she valued me, knowing she DESIRED to be a part of my 30s, was a balm to my heart....and one I didn't realize I needed.

The Lord is stretching me.  He is working.  I am trying to unclench my fingers and let Him have more access.  I mean, He has it anyway, why not struggle less?

Oh, stretching is hard.  Lord, help me to lean on you. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Babysitting...a new definition

I just got off the phone from a 1.5 hour conversation with a friend I've known a few years.  We became pretty close last summer when I joined her small group.  Last Fall, we started "babysitting" each other once a week.  I love babysitting.  Think about're sitting at home, on facebook or reading a book or watching tv and somebody calls you.  What do you do? 

I don't know what you do...but here's what I can't do anymore.

I can't read anymore.  I can't scroll through least not while actually paying attention to the conversation.  I'm not the type of person that keeps the tv on for white noise.  If it's on, I'm watching it and fully engrossed in the story.  If I'm not watching it, then it's turned off. 

But, I digress. 

Somebody calls, so I pause the tv, put down the book or close the laptop and get off the couch.  I might empty the dishwasher, start a load of laundry, make my bed, fold clothes, clean the bathtub.  It doesn't matter what it is...I do SOMEthing, all while chatting with my caller.  I call this babysitting.

For the last year I lived in Houston, Jamie and I babysat each other once a week.  When we first started, I wasn't sure how long we'd last.  I mean, I loved what all I accomplished during babysitting, and already knew I did.  But, would she like it as much?  I just didn't know.  Turns out, she's a HUGE fan, too!  We got SO much accomplished.  We would meet at a home and the hostess would provide dinner (something simple or a new recipe, whatever we wanted) and we'd chat through dinner.  Then, we'd get down to business..quietly working.  If we were at my house, I was cleaning or cooking.  If we were at her house, I was paying bills, grading papers, responding to emails, finishing up homeworking, wrapping Christmas presents.  She was typically studying...whichever house we were at that week.  The visitor left at a decent hour, usually around 9 or 9:30 and each week we raved about how much we liked it, because of how much we accomplished!

Truly.  It was a blessing!

Just knowing Jamie was coming over, meant I cleaned off counter tops, made my bed, got out clothes for the next day....yes, stuff that needed to be done (or maybe not "had" to be done, but nice nonetheless), but either way, I stayed busy.  During our babysitting, our friendship developed and deepened.  We were still in small group together, so we'd talk about those lessons and how our week was going and how we could pray for each other.  We'd challenge each other on the homework our pastor had given us that week.  Whatever was relevant to that week.  It was wonderful.

Well, tonight we babysat each other from afar.  We were on speaker phone instead of face to face.  There was no common dinner table.  And we couldn't get down to business of quietly working (because we had too much to catch up on!)  But, I emptied the dishwasher, put away clean laundry, sorted through a pile of papers on my get the idea.  She was making dinner for herself before studying.  We caught up on life.  We both have a new job.  We both have some changes looking us in the face in several other areas of life, too.  We shared.  We laughed.  We advised.  We listened.  We shared some more. 

Babysitting...and friendship.  They both make me smile. :)

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Thinking Before Speaking

I've been in situations over the years where it was clear SOMEBODY did not think before they spoke.  Sometimes that person was me and sometimes it wasn't, but either way these times can be funny, hurtful or simply memorable in some way.

I still think back with major embarassment on the time I asked my date to chip in a couple bucks for dinner so I wouldn't have to wait for change.  It was a group Sadie Hawkins college experience.  I needed two dollars or I was going to have to give another 20 and wait for change...and nobody else needed change.  I'm sitting here typing this right now and still I shake my head at myself in embarrassment.  I asked my date to pay!?  How rude is that!?

I remember a time a friend was describing a food blogger that was becoming quite popular.  She was off on some descriptions and when she said something that was correct, I said, "Well, that's the first thing you got right."  Ouch.  Who does that?  People who don't think (aka: I'm the culprit in this situation.) 

As a teacher, it amuses (and sometimes frustrates) me when a student asks something like, "Do I put my name on this?"  because...really?

I have had two men at various times tell me they find me unattractive.  They didn't come out and use the word unattractive.  One said, "I can talk to you about this because I don't find you attractive."  Seriously?  Oh, yeah...and at the time, I had a major crush on him.  I got to smile and continue the conversation when I wanted to slap him and walk away.  (I'm not trying to man bash here...just an example of not thinking before speaking.)

We all do it.  We all speak before we stop and think.  Sometimes it drastically affects a relationship...and not usually for the positive (I mean, does it really ever drastically affect for the positive?)

It's something I work with my students on each day.  It's something I need to be more aware of in my own life.  It's something I feel like God should shake His head at me for doing...and maybe He does...but I'm so glad it doesn't drastically affect our relationship for the negative.  Because He's God.  That's something else I need to remember more often, too.

Still a work in progress...

Monday, September 10, 2012

Change is simply that...change

This school and district are COMPLETELY different from my school in Houston, and I am having to learn how to swim all over again.  The grade level is the same.  The subjects are the same.  Teaching is the same.  So what could be different?  EVERYTHING else.  Planning lessons, how to make copies, guided reading, workshop model of instruction, new stories (aka: different curriculum), how to communicate with parents, the involvement of parents, assigned duties and the duty schedule, handling the grade level website, dismissal procedures, assessments and assessment schedules, the assortment of technology, the overwhelming use of technology through the building, the learning of all sorts of technology, heck even how to schedule an assessment (yep, it's through technology!)...EV. ER. Y. THING.  

And, I'm LOVING it!  I really like my team.  I'm enjoying my students and their parents.  I'm overwhelmed with change and feel like I'm struggling to learn the ropes, but I'm enjoying my environment!

Sunday, September 09, 2012

God's Provision

I wrote earlier about trusting in myself for my daily needs instead of the One who created me.

This has been a tough summer of lessons.

1.  Transition is hard.
2.  Starting a new job is difficult.
3.  Moving away from a beloved city, and all those that live there, had heartbreaking moments.
4.  Finding a new church...well, let's just say I have a softened heart for the visitor and pray I will remember my experiences for a long time.
5.  Going without a paycheck is humbling.

I had to learn to trust God for my needs each day.  I clearly remember one evening, about a month ago, when I was getting in my car in my parents' driveway.  After my monthly car payment, I had $14 in my checking account.  I had just paid August rent out of my savings account.  To put it mildly, I was broke.  I almost asked Mom for money.  I didn't have the words formed.  But my mouth was opening and for "some" reason, I simply said "Have a good night" and drove home.  That night, a friend called me and offered to cover my rent and car payment.  The Lord provided rent and car payment!  The LORD closed my mouth and provided.  The LORD!  Not me.  Not me having to ask.  HIM!  Praise His Holy Name!  God used several friends through finances, encouraging phone calls, emails, and working hands, to pay my bills and get my classroom ready.  God knows what I need.  Knew what I needed.  Provided for it before I needed it.  That is who He is.  I forgot that and am blessed that He is patient with me.