Friday, 2 August 2013

Answered Prayer in the Form of a New Job

I've waited a long time to be able to write this blog post.

This is probably going to be a long one.  But it's a good one.

As you know, this past May I turned in my resignation at the school I taught at for the past 2 years.  I didn't have a job lined up; no definite plans.  But Matt and I knew that it was time.  We knew that God was telling us to step out in faith and follow His leading.  So we did.

I started out incredibly optimistic.  After a month or so with no leads and no word from schools or districts, I started to wonder if I had made the wrong decision.  But no, I knew I had done what I was supposed to do.  Clearly I had some bad days - I blogged on the worst one.  But then I always bounced back.

Just after the 4th of July weekend, I started getting calls for interviews.  I went to these interviews knowing that they were not the schools or the district that Matt and I had been praying for, but God had opened the doors and I was going to see what was behind them.

While they were great schools with wonderful people, none of them felt right.  Matt and I continued to go to the Lord in prayer, asking for guidance and wisdom.  Asking that He would just give us a peace when the right school came along - that it would feel right.  As a result, I turned down two schools and declined to return for a second interview at another school.  They just didn't feel right.

Two weeks ago I truly felt that something big was going to happen.  I thought to myself, "THIS is the week!  This week I will get a job offer!  This week, prayers will be answered!"

That Tuesday I got a call from a principal of a school in the district we had been praying for.  It wasn't the school we had prayed for, but it was in the top five.  I was excited!  I met the principal at a large job fair the following day, had a preliminary interview with the director of HR for the district, and set up a campus interview for Friday morning.

I left with mixed feelings.  I had hoped that I would be offered a job that day, and I hadn't been.  I then looked forward to Friday.  Still believing that this was THE week, I thought surely I would get offered the job on Friday.

I didn't.

But they did ask me to return for the third and final portion of the interview process the following Monday.  I was excited, thinking the end was near.

But wouldn't you know it?  TEN MINUTES before I left for the interview on Monday, I got a text from a friend of mine.  A job had become available at the school Matt and I have been praying for.  My dream job at my dream school.  I was fairly sure I was going to get the other job up until that point.  But this was no coincidence.  As I walked out the door to my apartment, I said out loud, "God, what are You doing...??!"

The interview on Monday went well, but I found out that evening that I did not get the job.  I was slightly disappointed, but not entirely surprised.  After the interview that day, I just kept thinking that the job opening up at my #1 school could not be a coincidence.  I had a sneaking suspicion that I might not get the job I had just interviewed for, because the job we have prayed for for MONTHS just opened up, and sometimes God does strange things.  Great things, but strange.

Less than two hours after I found out I didn't get the job, I got a call from the principal at the school we have prayed for, asking me to come in the following morning for an interview.

So Tuesday morning I set out for the interview, excited but anxious - I wanted this job so badly!  I got there twenty minutes early and just prayed hardcore in the parking lot.  Once in the interview, I calmed down considerably.  When I left, I felt that it went well, and I prayed that I would have an answer by the end of the day.  Throughout the day, I heard some very encouraging things, but no official offers.

Wednesday morning I woke up feeling less optimistic than before.  I had an interview with another school in a different district at 11:15 and I hoped that I would hear something before then so I wouldn't have to go to that interview - I didn't want to waste their time.  I was so torn.  I couldn't decide if the interview was a test to see how much I trusted God or if it was nothing and I was just playing mind games.  I prayed, then sought the counsel of a few wise friends, and started out the door.  I didn't feel right heading to the interview, but I had prayed that God would speak to me through the people I called, and they said "go".

Not even five minutes from my house, I received a phone call from the principal at my dream school.  He was calling to offer me the job!  As soon as I got off the phone, I began to cry.  Like, ugly cry.  You know, sobs, contorted face, makeup running.  That kind.  I was just so overwhelmed by this answered prayer and God's great plan!

I am BEYOND EXCITED about this!  When Matt and I prayed for this school, we knew it wasn't extremely likely.  But we knew that if God wanted me there, He could get me there.  That's the tricky part though.  We knew what we wanted.  We didn't know what GOD wanted.  It seems, though, that in this case they were the same thing!  Perhaps God put this school on my heart.  Perhaps He has been leading me to this place for a long time.  But I am so incredibly thankful.

Not only did God answer my prayers about the job, He provided me with so many wonderful people who were supportive, encouraging, and lifted me up in prayer.  Y'all are the best!

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

That Was Then

Remember that meltdown I had last week?  Well, I'm okay now.  Really I think it was just that one day - I'm not sure what was going on that day, but I just freaked.

Since then, I have had the opportunity to talk to several mentors and contacts who have given me great advice and have spoken words of encouragement.

And here is what I think - God will provide something.  I don't know what and I don't know when, but I am sure He will.  I am confident in this.

This morning in our devotion, Matt and I read about praying with boldness.  We have been praying for doors to open for months, but I don't know how bold we have been in asking.  While there is one school in particular that I really want to teach at, there are plenty more where I would be happy and excited to teach, too.  Today, though, I prayed specifically for that one school, boldly asking God to open doors and make a way.  And I know that if He says no, He has another plan.

In the meantime, I am doing my part.  I don't believe that God wants me to pray for a job and expect Him to just drop one into my lap without me meeting Him halfway.  So I've been emailing principals and making school visits.  I have been networking and asking questions.  I've been researching.  But I know that when I land a job, it won't be because of my footwork.  It will be because God provided.

So no - I still have no idea where I will be teaching in the fall.  But I have to trust that I will be.  I have to remember that God has a plan, and He has no reason to be concerned.  Since it's His plan and He's not worried, I shouldn't be either.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

The Story of Today

Anxiety.  Today, I would say it has been my closest companion. In fact, it won't leave me alone.  I would really be fine without its contant nagging...

It's been a long time since I've written.  As much as I enjoy writing, it doesn't seem to be high up on my priority list when I have a lot of other things going on.  And right now, on July 2, I don't have a whole lot else going on.  So I'm going to tell you a story.

After a lot of prayer, consideration, and conversation, Matt and I decided that it was time for me to leave the teaching job I had in search for one that met our needs a bit better.  In a nutshell, I taught at a Lutheran school, but as a non-Lutheran I was ineligible for benefits or full-time status (I had one less class than the other teachers).  This was an extremely difficult decision, involving a lot of crying on my part and absolutely none on Matt's [ ;) ].  After all, I loved my job.  I loved my students, my coworkers, and my lab.  But we both really felt that God was closing doors and leading us elsewhere.

I've said time and time again in the past month-ish that if God called me away from one job, He would surely provide another.  And I believe it.  We have prayed every night for months that God would open doors and that He would make a way.  I felt confident that things would work out.  After all, I was being obedient.  

Fast forward a few weeks.  To now.  It's July.  I've applied to ten different districts.  I have heard back from zero.  And today the panic set in.  Okay, maybe not panic.  But doubt.  And worry.

I had plans of how I was going to be aggressive in my job search.  I have a chart of all the schools I would be interested in teaching at, their principals, initial email contact date, follow-up email contact date, and in-person office visit dates (to be filled in).  I was planning on purchasing some nice resume paper this morning and traveling to those schools this afternoon to drop off my resume.  Before I set out, though, I thought it might be wise to check office hours since summer hours are different.  And as I discovered that all school offices closed last week, my heart sank.  They don't reopen until the end of the month.

So today I don't know what to think.  I am a little freaked out.  What if I don't get a teaching job?  I love teaching.  I don't want to do anything else.  What if I get stuck having to work some job that I don't love?  What if I get stuck having to work some job that I don't love and that doesn't pay any better than my last job?  What if God doesn't provide a teaching job and I missed the whole point?  What if I misunderstood/misinterpreted everything?

You see what I mean?  Today I'm a bit of a train wreck.  I think that fundamentally, deep down, I believe that God will provide.  And maybe He allowed me to miss the "optimal resume drop-off window" so that if and when I get offered a job, I can't claim any victory or responsibility myself, because I didn't make it happen.  But today the worry and the anxiety seem to be doing a bang-up job of shoving those things deep, deep down to where they are hard to reach.

I'm sure I'll go through plenty of ups and downs with my job search in the coming weeks.  Hopefully, it ends on an "up".

Monday, 11 March 2013

Spring Break

Ahhhh.  It is finally Spring Break.  And this break is much needed.  I have been looking forward to this.  And as I type, I realize that when I say "this", I don't just mean this week of vacation.  For sure that, but I have also been looking forward to Spring.  And daylight savings time.  And warmer weather.  Something about the sound of birds singing coupled with the smell of mountain laurels and sunshine in the air makes my heart so full of happiness that it could burst.

I can't believe how quickly the school year is flying by.  But isn't it that way every year?  Once you pass Christmas break, someone somewhere pushes a warp-speed button and before you know it, it's Easter and then your 8th graders are graduating.  CRA-ZY.

I made a decision yesterday about today...and a few other days this week.  I decided that I would allow myself to rest.  This is hard for me.  I run myself ragged with a million commitments, and when I have a break from school, I don't let myself rest.  What do I do instead?  Clean.  Organize.  Cook.  Bake.  Clean and organize some more.  Professional development.  Conferences.  Workshops.  Choreograph new Zumba songs.  Learn new Zumba routines.  I don't let myself just sit and read a book.  Or sit and write a blog.

But something has made me realize how desperately I need some rest every once in a while.

I got up with Matt this morning and brushed my teeth as he got dressed.  We had our devotion together, and when he walked out the door for work at 7:30, I went back to bed for 2 hours.  Normally, I would be up doing laundry, researching better teaching practices and awesome lesson plans, or deep cleaning the kitchen.  But today I went back to bed.  Heck - I might even take a nap today, too!

I'll admit, after I had breakfast and prepped dinner (yay crockpot meals!), I did clean the kitchen.  But when clutter makes you anxious, getting it taken care of is therapeutic.  After that, I caught up on my blogs.  Now I'm writing a blog (almost unheard of these days) and I will read a book FOR FUN when I am finished.

Sure, tomorrow I will go up to school and work some.  Sure, I'll still choreograph some new routines (I have some really great songs in mind!).  Sure, I'm still going to probably deep clean the apartment.  But I'm going to allow myself to rest most of the time.  I'm exited!

Friday, 4 January 2013

A Resolution of Grand Proportions

Matt and I just returned from a week-long trip to PA to visit his family.  It is always incredibly wonderful to come home after a long trip.  There is just something about the familiarity of OURS.  For example: our bed was more than happy to welcome us with open arms.  I slept better last night than I have in a week, and this morning is the first one I have woken up without pain since we left.

Today I am supposed to be doing a lot of things.  We've got a busy weekend ahead of us - staff Christmas party tonight (Yes, I know it is over a full week after Christmas.  I voted that the party be on December 14.  I was the minority.), wedding tomorrow, birthday celebrations on Sunday.  And then of course, the normal weekend chores of laundry, menu planning, grocery shopping, etc.  Even though we got home late last night and probably didn't get to sleep until around midnight, I was up before 7 this morning, and luggage was unpacked and laundry was begun no later than 7:45.  I had/have grand plans of doing laundry and lots of Zumba today.  But it has been so long since I have written, and I just really want to.

Christmas and New Years have passed, and here it is - 2013.  I love everyone's sense of renewal and new beginnings around this time of year.  People are so optimistic and hopeful, and it's a nice change.   And then there are the resolutions.

I don't normally make resolutions.  I don't have anything against them...I just am not the best at setting goals for myself.  And I know it's silly, but it's almost like it catches me off guard every year.  "What?!  New Years already?  And I have to make resolutions?  Like what?!"  But this year, I'm ready.  And I've been thinking this one up for a while.

As I have mentioned before, this past year I was diagnosed with a fructose malabsorption disorder.  Somehow through the trauma of losing our jobs and house, certain cells in my small intestine just stopped working.  It is irreversible, and there is no medication for it.  In fact, the only way to manage the problem is to completely avoid foods high in fructose.  This includes wheat products, most fruits, many vegetables, honey, syrups, sweets, many herbal teas, and most processed foods.  I would love to be able to say that I have done well and have made good dietary choices, but I haven't.

For about 6 months after the diagnosis, I did really well.  I made good choices, and I avoided the foods that made me feel bad.  And then...I don't know.  I don't know what happened.  And I have struggled ever since.  Having such a limited diet is difficult.  But I don't want it to overwhelm me.  God promises that He will not give us anything we can't handle.  So clearly, I must be able to handle this - I just haven't figured out how yet.  My resolution this year is to make better dietary choices so that I feel good again.

Symptoms of a fructose malabsorption include cramps, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, exhaustion, depression, and aches and pains.  During those 6 months that I made good choices, I felt so much better!  And since I began to make poor choices?  All the symptoms are back.  I know that I need to avoid certain foods, not just because I am "supposed to" but because I truly NEED to.  If I truly believe that taking care of myself and making sure I am healthy will help me feel better, my choices should reflect that.

I know it is going to be difficult.  After all, it has been almost a year and I have almost completely failed at "being good".  Not to mention, something I have actually realized this past year is that this is probably more of a spiritual battle than anything else.  My apparent inability to resist food says a lot of unpleasant things about me.

My plan is to begin each day with prayer, asking God to give me strength and determination to resist temptation and make the right choices.  My plan is to say "no", even when I really, really want to say "yes".  My plan is to ask people to hold me accountable so that I am not fighting an uphill battle alone.  My hope is that by this time next year, I won't be craving the things that hurt me.  And if I do, I will be able to say no.
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