Friday, March 31, 2017

Reveal Post #atozchallenge

Oh my goodness!  What a crazy month it has been.  I feel a little behind with my reveal, and theme... but I am writing this up real quick to get my feet wet a little bit.  Whew!  Is it really almost April?  How quickly this past year went! 

My theme for this year's A to Z challenge is going to be Risk.  I am not sure exactly what this will evolve into.  It might be risks I have taken in my life, or risks that have inspired me that others have taken.  Whatever it turns into I am excited to dive into this year's theme!  Now.... I better get writing! 

Hope you will stop by and read some of my posts! 

Here's a list of the dates for the blogs....

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

California Dreamin'

If you have read my last post you know that I am switching up my career.  In doing this I started applying to camp jobs all across the United States.  I have had Skype interviews for camps in Ohio, California, New Mexico, Wyoming, Washington and Alaska.  Basically I am open to wherever I am supposed to go.  As I started this process, I had really no intention or thought that I might end up back in Southern California. 

Until now...

I am leaving next weekend to head to California to interview in person for one of two jobs.  One is with Girl Scouts- San Diego, and the other is a potential interview for a camp in the LA area. 

As I ponder the process that has taken me to this point, I honestly am kind of overwhelmed at how God works.  You see I started my journey in California.  I spent many years there.  It was the first place that I experienced true community outside of my hometown.  I was 19 years old when I first set foot in California.  A shy, insecure 19 year old.  I walked into life at camp, and my world was changed.  When I think about that girl compared to who I am now, I am pretty amazed at all the changes and experiences I have had since then. 

I left California in 2008, packed up my car... drove to Missouri with my sister, and moved to Bangkok, Thailand.  I wasn't ever planning on returning there to live.  California had been a place where I learned about love, loss, God, community, sacrifice, and forgiveness.  It was a place I planned on visiting often, but not a place I thought about "settling." 

So here I am... almost 9 years later pondering what it would mean to move back. 

All I can feel is ecstatic.  Ecstatic for the fact that I was asked to come interview in person.  Ecstatic that I have people I know there that love me, and would do anything to help me out if I needed them to.  Ecstatic that there is potential for me to live in a place that I love so much!  Ecstatic for the potential of leading people, and using the skills I have developed in a new way! 

Moving back to California would be a big change.  When I left to go to Thailand in some ways I was running from some things.  I was running from a dream that I had that didn't go like I thought.  I was running from this idea that I had of community that didn't work out the way I thought it would.  California is a place that I call home.  It is a place that holds a lot of my friends, and friends that turned into family. 

My prayer  is that one of these jobs works out. My prayer is that I get to be in a place where I can use my gifts and talents in a year-round full-time camp job.  I am excited about the possibilities.  I am excited to see what is going to happen. 

Sometimes we have to take risks. It is super risky for me to jump on a plane in 7 days and go interview for a job that I might not get.  It is super risky for me to think about leaving behind a life that I have made for myself these past 3 years.  It is super risky to think about starting over again.  This year is about risk.  If I don't try, if I don't go for something because I am scared, then I am not really living what I have been called to. 

I don't want to just live a mediocre life.  I want to live a life that is full of adventure, risk, and using my gifts and talents the best way I can.  I was created for more than this.  

So I dream of California.  I pray, I ponder, and I hope! 

Why I am leaving teaching....

For the past few years I have been pondering changing my career.  It is not because I don't love what I do.  I love it!  I love teaching.  I love creating lessons, implementing them, and interacting with kids on a daily basis to encourage them to learn in unique ways.  But, I have been broken.  I am not going to blame a person or place.  I have just been broken.  It took awhile for me to realize just how broken I am.  But I finally realized it, and understand that I have to step a way for a little while.  It is not stepping away for good, and it is not stepping away from working with kids...for it is not the kids that put the pressure on adults... it is adults that put pressure on other adults.  In this fast paced, techno-savvy world it is hard to be what everyone wants you to be.  It is hard to let go of what has been said to your face, but most of all hard to let go of what has been said behind your back. 

So, I am pursuing a different path, one in which I am familiar.  One that has taught me so much about myself, and my strengths.  One in which I found my first family outside of my own.  I am going back to the camping world.  I feel like the camp world is one in which I feel the most happy.  It uses my strengths, helps me in my weaknesses, and is a way for me to not be stuck inside four walls of a classroom. 

I love camp.  I love what camp does in the lives of kids.  I love what it does in camp staff.  I love how camp unites people, brings them together.  I love how camp blurs the lines.  Camp is what this world needs right now. Camp takes a shy kid and lets them explore life from a different view.  Camp takes an energetic, leader and allows them experiences where they are unsure and look to others to lead.  Camp changes lives.

Don't get me, schools... they change lives too.  In fact every single person that is alive has been impacted by education in some way or another.  I love that I have been a small part of that for a handful of students across the world.  I love that I know names of students studying in just about every country in Europe and Asia.  I love that the impact of the classroom is fierce, and is making a difference in this world. 

I don't love how I have been made to feel.  I don't love that I do not feel valued or wanted.  I don't love how I have been made to doubt myself and what I know to be true about who God created me to be.  I don't love any of those things. 

So... I am taking a step back.  I don't see it as a failure, because every single experience I have had has led me to where I am today.  Every single experience has allowed me to meet people, students, parents, administrators that have impacted my life in great ways.  Some of those ways I will take as moments in time that have shown me what I need to improve on, and some of those moments I will take as moments that have shown me my worth.  No matter what I am thankful.  I am thankful for the gifts I have been given.  I am thankful for the journey that is my life so far.  Mostly I am thankful that God knew even before I did what my life was going to look like. 

I am still a teacher.  In my heart I will always be a teacher.  Once you are called to teach, you never stop teaching.  My teaching will just look a little bit differently.  I am learning to embrace the different.  I am learning to go after things that might be stretching me beyond what I think I am capable of.  But I will never lose who I am.  My brokenness is made new by grace.  Every single day I am piece by piece put back together by words, encouragement, and the knowledge that it's okay to be a little broken.  For the most beautiful of broken vases, is the one that is chipped cracked, and created into something new. 

Monday, March 20, 2017

When Rejection gets the Best of You

I am reading the book Uninvited, it has proved to be the perfect book for me to be reading at this time.  There has been a lot of rejection felt in this past year.  It has brought back so many feelings from the past that I have sunk into this pit that I am unable to get out of.  It is so different from last year.  I felt so at home last year, like at last I had found a community of people that loved me, and wanted to hang out with me.  I was ready to settle in, and live life in this community.  I had prayed so hard for so long for this thing called community, and then I woke up one day and it was gone. 

Maybe it wasn't ever there in the first place?  Maybe I had placed myself in this situation where I thought that I was surrounded by people that would always love me and be there for me, but really they weren't. 

And thus begins the cycle of rejection.  I have learned a lot already from this book... and if you struggle like I do with rejection... you should read it to. 

I think that I thought I was the only one who ever felt this way, but it seems like a lot of us struggle with it.  We struggle with people leaving us, and taking that personally.  We struggle with putting all our worth and value in what others think.  We struggle with fitting in with groups of people that have known each other for awhile.  We struggle with social media perfection.  We all struggle. 

I have had someone look at me and say... you just look at everything in a negative way.  Maybe I do.  Maybe that's for a reason though.  When you have been traded in for someone else more times than you can count, it is hard not to see things, relationships, community in a negative light.  It is hard not to think that there is something wrong with you.  When you are constantly feeling alone, and not being invited by the people that you thought were your "community."  It is hard to not feel negative. 

I think that rejection has gotten the best of me.  I have allowed my value and worth to be put into the community of people instead of looking above for it. 

What do you do when you realize that you traded in some really great friendships for some that you thought were good, but in reality you were rejected yet again?  What do you do when you realize that you gave your heart and soul into people that don't really even care if you are around or not?  What do you do when you feel like you could be dropped at a moment's notice?  Or that you have in fact been dropped and you are only being "tolerated." 

It doesn't really feel like I have this rejection stuff under control.... but it is getting better.  This past year I have been dropped by 4 people that were a huge part of my life.  In some ways I think it has been coming for awhile, but in other ways it has been a huge loss for me.  The thing is that we have people in our lives for different reasons.  I am thankful for my family because even though we are all so different I know that I can always count on them to be there for me.  I know that any one of them would drop whatever they were doing to help me out.  We have people in our lives for seasons.  Some of them stay for long seasons, some of them stay for short seasons, and some are only there for brief moments. 

What I am working on is not allowing the short seasons to get me down.  I am working on not letting the words that people say or the favorites that people have be something that digs deep in my soul. 

I am far from perfect, but I am still worthy of community.  One day I am going to find it.  One day this amazing community is going to open up for me, and those people are going to love me so hard that all the broken pieces are put back together.  I won't want to run away, I won't doubt my value or worth.  They will push me closer to God.   That's the kind of community I long for.  Maybe I won't find it for a really long time, but maybe it is just around the corner. 

Until then....I search out ways to not live in a state of rejection.  I seek out people that lift me up, and I spend a lot of time in prayer, and focusing on the good.  I don't let myself get deep into the state of rejection that so easily wants to grab a hold of my heart.  I try to understand the truth, instead of living in the lies...and I feel thankful for the time that I have had with the community of people that I have been around. I feel thankful for what they have taught me, for the moments of laughter we have shared, and the moments of walls of fear that have been broken.  I feel thankful for the value that we at one time placed in each other, and I move forward.  Looking ahead to the next community I get to be a part of, and hoping that the cycle of rejection can at some time be broken!  

For now...I wait. 

Monday, March 13, 2017

Marriage and Mom Life

I can't really blame them.  I mean, it is a natural part of life that people get married and have kids. So, when you are going through 1 Peter, you are going to naturally talk about marriage and roles and all that jazz.  It totally makes sense.  Here's the thing though.... I loathe it. 

I don't loathe it in the same way I loathe coming across a spider in my shower, or a snake along the trail I am hiking.  I loathe it in the same way that I loathe ice cream, or pizza.  It is that I long for it, but I know that I shouldn't partake in it kind of loathing.  Now, don't misunderstand I totally want to be married and have kids one day.... but unfortunately the closer I get to 40, the less likely I think that is going to happen. 

So I literally cringed when the email came that said for our singles monthly gathering we would be talking about marriage, dating, and 1 Peter 3. 

Now I will say this..... it was one of the best talks I have heard in regards to this.  Was there any new information.... maybe... but most of it is stuff that I have heard before. 

Here's the thing...I completely (okay well...mostly) understand what 1 Peter 3 talks about in regards to married men/women.  What I don't understand though is the "weaker" talk and how it applies to me as someone who isn't married, and doesn't have any prospects lined up around the corner? 

I feel like I was kind of content with my singleness once again until last night came and brought up those natural desires that are rooted deep in my soul for a husband and kids.  So... how do I go back to being content, and waiting patiently? 

I love the "God's timing" stuff. Especially when I hear it from friends that have been through it and hated when people used to say that to them.  Ofcourse it is God's timing, right?  Ofcourse!  But if you are the one waiting it sure does stink in the midst of it. 

I think the worst part for me is getting to see everyone else hashtag   #wifey #momlife #myboys #momofboys, knowing and accepting (most days) that might not be a role I ever get to hold. 

In a world full of couples and parents, how do I not place my value and worth in that?  In a world where people want to match you up with anyone at the slightest thought that you have anything in common, how do you keep having standards and boundaries? 

We were made for connection and community.  We were made for relationships.  Yet, I find myself feeling pretty lonely and abnormal a lot of the time.  I am trying my hardest not to.  I am trying my hardest not to just give in and settle for someone that is truly not worth settling for, but the more friends that leave me to get married and have babies...the easier it is to just want to choose the next decent guy that comes around. 

So for now I don't really know how to correctly live single in a world where singleness is frowned upon and seen by many as "not living up to your potential."  I am not sure what the right answer is.  I do know this....if I ever do get married and have kids I will not leave my single friends behind.  I will not do it.  I refuse to be that person, because it sucks to be on the other side of that.  It sucks to feel less than because you are not married, or don't have kids. 

I choose to continue to seek the way to live fulfilled in a world where fulfillment is often measured in our relationships and families.  I choose to continue to seek to live with raw authenticity about my feelings.  This is one of those posts.  I am not feeling sorry for myself... it is more of a quest for my role, and how to live the best I can in the role I have been given. 

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Shepherd vs. Fisherman

Don't you love how you hear things at the perfect time?   The past week has brought me contemplating a LOT of things!  Sometimes I just think how thankful I am that my life is never boring.  I have never lived a boring existence in my 35 years on this earth, and I am so thankful for that.  I think I was created with gypsy blood, and I used to hate that part of me.  Instead I have finally learned to embrace it!  I am not alone in this world of gypsies, there are actually a lot more of us on this planet than what you might think.  I think it is the gypsy persona that allows me to grab a hold of just about every adventure-filled opportunity I am given. 

So what does this have to do with shepherds and fishermen?  Well.... I promise it does!  Somehow!  Let me just work my way there....

I am going through the study "Finding I Am" by Lysa TerKeurst.  I was actually supposed to finish it 2 weeks, ago but you know I just don't like sticking to the schedule that most studies go by.  I like moving at my own pace.   So, I am still in like week 3 or something.  Anyway today's study was all about shepherds.  More specifically about shepherd's roles in the Bible.  When I think about a shepherd I think of someone who cares about sheep.  Someone who risks their life for sheep, someone who is willing to sacrifice a lot in order to keep those sheep safe.  Fishermen on the other hand....well I thought that Lysa did a good job of explaining how fisherman don't really have that same nurturing type with fish.  I mean when you think about it fishermen basically just catch the fish, throw the ones back they don't want...and then cut the ones they want.  There is not really much caring that goes along with that. 

As I read through this tonight, it got me thinking about some things.  I think up to this point I have honestly thought that I was willing and had risked everything for God.  I think that I saw my experiences as risking a lot actually.  I mean I have lived in places all over the world where I was the minority, where I have been called names, whistled at, felt unsafe, and maybe even been a little damaged.  Isn't that risking?  Isn't that what we are called to do? Doesn't that count?  But what if, those experiences, and that risk was more of my fisherman moments, instead of my shepherd moments?  What if those fisherman moments were just preparing me for the shepherding that God wants me to be doing in the near future? 

I made this year about risk.  I made this year a year to step outside of the box that I have allowed my life to be put in, and grow and learn through experiences that will stretch and grow me.  What if I am supposed to really be taking a leap instead of a tiptoe?  What if there is something so huge that I am supposed to be doing that the longer I remain in the safety zone the more I am hurting my shepherding skills instead of defining them? 

I am not sure that I even know or understand what all of this means.  I just know that tonight as I was reading through Ezekiel 34, I realized that God says that He will take care of His sheep.  He says that He will go after His sheep, to all the places that they wander.  What if shepherding His sheep doesn't  just mean staying in the safe zone?  What if it means going some place and doing something completely unsafe and dangerous?  What if it means that I am literally willing to risk my life for the sake of His sheep? 

Isn't that what it should be about?  Shouldn't my life be about finding His sheep, and leading them?  Shouldn't I be willing to risk what is comfortable, and safe in order to live out what I have been called to?  Isn't love about risk?  Isn't love about giving up whatever I can to give someone a chance to live a better life?  Isn't that what it is about?  If I am constantly in fear that I will be hurt, damaged, or taken then what faith do I have in God?  What faith do I have in myself?  What faith do I have in love? 

I don't want to be a fisherman anymore.  I want to be a shepherd.  I want to care for those that have been lost, I want to listen to the voice of my own shepherd, and I want to risk whatever I can to help bring the flock back to the green pasture.  There is no sheep that is not worth the risk.  Every single one is important, every single one benefits from hearing the shepherd's voice. 

Monday, March 6, 2017

Why we Risk....

Do you ever wonder if you are living the life you are supposed to?  Do you ever wonder if you are just going through the motions, day in and day out without real acknowledgement of what is actually driving you?  Do you ever wish that you could just be all that you were meant to be??? 

I had a conversation the other day with someone, and I was given information that made me so sad.  The information was that the church where I grew up.... some people there would rather split apart and make the "young" people go somewhere else, than to try to come together as a community of believers and compromise.  It makes my heart hurt, because do you know what happens to a church if you force all of the "young" people to leave?  IT DIES!  There will be no church.  You may not agree with everything those so called "young" people are doing or saying, but you know what?  God probably does! 

The thing is we get so caught up in being right that we forget to be human.  We forget to love each other, listen to each other, and be thankful for those in our lives.  How in the world do you ever expect anyone to want to get to know Jesus if you are pushing everyone away with your judgement and ridicule? 

They won't.  I guarantee you they won't.  It is time to stop looking at drinking, sex, homosexuality, and drugs as the worse stuff you can do.  Honestly I think it is far worse to think you are so righteous that you don't need to love others.  So righteous that you look down on those around you because they aren't living lives that you think they should live.  So righteous that you can't even step outside of your box, and give a meal or a kind word to someone that is living a life completely different from your own?  How is that even close to being like Jesus? 

We aren't called to be more righteous than our neighbor.  We aren't called to sit in our little houses watching TV, reading our books, and waiting for someone to come knocking at our door so we can tell them exactly what to believe and why. We aren't called to place ourselves in only Christian communities where everyone thinks, dresses, and acts exactly how we do.   That's not what we are called to. 

We are called to worship, to love, to be people that put others before ourselves.  We are called to make a difference.  How can we make a difference if we aren't willing to hold conversations, to change the way we think, to meet a friend that is so different from us?  It doesn't mean that I have to agree with everyone I call friend.  But isn't it going to be easier to have tough conversations with those that I make connections with, than those that I turn away and condemn? 

My job is to risk everything to be kind, compassionate, and loving.  It makes me so angry when people that I know and love are anything but that.  When they are so focused on the rules, or being right that they forget that there is such a thing as grace. 

We can't divide ourselves by age, by sex, by political party.  If we do that, then there are going to be a lot of empty families, and churches. 

We have to stop putting people in boxes based on what we THINK they believe or because they align themselves with one party or another.  Did you know that it is possible to think that Gandhi had some amazing words to give us without following every single thing that he said?  Did you know that I can agree and disagree with my Uncle who is super conservative without us getting into fights?  Did you know that someone can have a completely different political party alignment than I do, and I don't have to think they are a complete idiot?  It's all so true!  We have become so box based that we forget there is more than one way to get up the same mountain.  

There has to be grace, love and compassion.  There has to be open-mindedness.  There has to be a time when you tear down the walls that you have built up, and let God move you and change you.  There has to be a time when you truly start seeing people, ALL people as created beings.  As people that love, and need to belong. 

Don't push people away just because you don't agree with them, or you don't want to do things the way they are doing them.  If you push them away, you just might be pushing away your chance to love them like Jesus. 

This was the message I took away this past weekend.  A message that was so real to me, as I am on the cusp of some pretty awesome changes.  But it was also a message that led me to once again wonder if I am doing what I should be.  I wonder if I am being called for something more....

What am I being called to let go of and risk? My thoughts for today...

True/False 2017

I can't believe another year of True/False is over!  It makes me sad how quickly time seems to be going.  True/False is the best weekend in Columbia.  Just walking around downtown during this time, meeting people, seeing smiling faces.  It is truly an awesome experience.  I love it.  I love the community that is True/False.  I love volunteering, and having conversations with people that I otherwise would never have met.   That I never would have been able to get to know, and understand.  Community is about loving others, looking outside ourselves, and questioning the things that we believe are true.  Not questioning them in a doubt kind of way, but in a why do I believe this kind of way, and how can my belief impact the way I deal with others. 

I ALWAYS love the T/F films.  ALWAYS.  There are always ways that the films themselves, and the conversations I have impact me. 

This year I spent more time focusing on volunteering, than I did on seeing every film I possibly could.  It was a time when I realized that being a part of something like this film fest is exactly what I love about my life, Columbia, and impacting my community for good. 

Here's some of my film highlights:

Miss Kiet's Children-  This film followed a teacher in the Netherlands.  She taught refugee children from Syria.  I loved this story so much.  It is my top film for the weekend.  It tugged at my heartstrings to go back overseas again, and do something crazy!  If only I didn't need to get paid...I would go in a second.  If you have the chance to see this film, watch it!  It's a very beautiful story. 

Quest- The True Life Fund film!  I LOVED this film.  I loved the story of this family.  They truly are a family to look to for community and love.  I am amazed by the amount of time this film took, and the perseverance that the film maker had.  What a great way to tell their story! If you are wanting to see life from another person's  perspective, or maybe even get encouragement yourself...this is the film to see. 

Dina- One of the first films that I have laughed and cried.  This film was about an autistic couple who meet, fall in love, and get married.  It is a brilliant story.  I think that sometimes we forget to look at the uniqueness of relationships and love.  I loved Dina!  I loved everything about this couple.  They are so real with each other.  What a beautiful story of life. 

I Am Not Your Negro- I can't put into words how much I loved this film.  Not in a make me feel good way.  I loved this film in a make me think, and examine life kind of way.  This film broke me, it made me mad, and it led me to a deeper understanding of how much we need to change in this world.  I think every single person in our country, and even those not in our country need to go see this film.  It is a film that is going to make people mad.  It is a film that is going to spark great conversations if we let it.  This film has the potential to change the world. 

STEP- This film gets my #5 in the top five for this year.  It is a brilliant film.  It shows adversity, hard times, but it also shows what you can do through those hard times.  I loved watching the young ladies in this film reach their goals, even through disappointment.  I loved seeing them persevere even when they couldn't see the light.  What an impact these ladies are going to make in our world! 

Other films I got to see this weekend....

Railway Sleepers- I liked seeing all the different people.  I connected with it because of Thailand, but it was too long for me. 

SS Xenon- Good film!  That's all I can say about that!

SS Argon- Thought-provoking film! 

Stranger in Paradise- I liked how this film showed the European side to the influx of refugees.  It still tugged at my heart, and parts of it made me angry.  It also opened my eyes to some things I hadn't thought of before in terms of refugees. 

Whose Streets- This was a well done film, and definitely gave me more to think about in terms of Ferguson, and all that took place in Mike Brown's death. 

Recreations- This film was interesting.  I am glad that it was only 45 minutes, but the teacher in me basically cringed through the whole thing.  I couldn't stay for the Q & A, but I wish I would have been able to!  

Films I would like to see.....let's hope they come to Ragtag....

The Force
The Graduation
The Road Movie
Abacus: Small Enough to Jail
Casting JonBenet
Brimstone & Glory
The Cage Fighter

True/False is more than just a film festival.  It is a community event.  It takes 900+ volunteers to pull off this festival.  To me that is something worth being a part of.  I am so thankful to see the same people every year.  I am so thankful that this is a place that I have been able to make a part of my community, and story.  We meet people everyday, it is up to us if we let them impact us in mighty ways!