Saturday, November 6, 2010

Who will love me for me?

Beautiful, spiritual experiences can pop out of no where. I love these.

Today, while I was driving in the car, I was listening to the CD that Rob gave me for our 23rd month anniversary (2 years minus 1 month, holla!). On it, he put a song called, "What Love Really Means," by JJ Heller. As I was listening, I was moved to tears, being greatly reminded of the love that God has for all his people, regardless of our brokenness and our shortcomings. In the song, it says, "Who will love me for me? Not for what I have done or what I will become." We all want to be accepted and loved for who we want. We want to be LOVED. For who we are. Who we are, with the brokenness, flaws, and shortcomings that come with our bodies and our hearts. Sometimes, I ask myself: how can God (or anyone for that matter) love me, someone who is wholly broken and sinful? I am selfish. Unkind. Cold. Unloving.
The crux of the song is when JJ sings about a man in jail, "waiting to die," who comes to God asking for forgiveness. Someone who society would deem the most broken/fallen. But, when humbled and before God, he hears a voice from "within," telling him that HE will love him for him, now that he is listening.
We are no different than this man. We are no more broken or fallen than he is in the eyes of God. But God loves us equally and in spite of these failures and shortcomings. He showed us a love that we never knew and continues to show this to us.
He loves us. SO much. He shows us this all along. He is constantly telling us. But are we listening?

What a gift it is that you find people in your life who is able to show you the love of God, little pieces of the great love that covers us all.

And God confirmed ALL this through his sun rays shining through the clouds. What a beautiful God.

"Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins."

Listening to: What Love Really Means, JJ Heller

Friday, September 10, 2010

Love will be the last thing standing.

So after almost 2 months, I think it is about time for another post!

Life can be summed up in one word: Busy. I have been very busy, pulling about 11 hour days consistently. Despite the craziness of the days, I have LOVED it. I am very joyful, despite the long days. Jesus has been present. My kids are little bundles of joy; they are little love-bugs! I get a hug or a smile pretty much every hour of the day. And it has been like this since the 1st day, haha. Man, how awesome would it be to be able to love like that - free from anything holding us back, with no hesitation.
Another thing: They also think I am funny! Which not many people do, so this is something I have to hold onto.
They do have their stubborn moments. When a play break is over (which happen frequently; my kids require LOTS of breaks), I am met with the response of, "No." I just keep singing my clean-up song and they come along, eventually. With some tough love on my part. :)

I think it is interesting that when I tell people that I am a special education teacher, I am met by the response: "You must be SO patient." Really? Am I? Maybe in this area of my life, but definitely not in others. God is PERSISTENTLY teaching me patience; haha, sometimes, I wish I could learn it and get along with other life lessons already! ;) (Ba ba buumsh - that was supposed to be funny.)

I also want to say that I really like the song, "Light up the Sky" by the Afters. It is a reminder of God's presence in our lives and how He WANTS us to know this awesome truth. I've definitely been feeling this in my life, despite how busy things are.
The song is on the most recent of CDs that Rob and I exchange every month - and this is a really really good one! I will post the tracks - let me know if you want me to zip you over a copy. :)
1) The Blues, Switchfoot
2) Gravity, Shawn McDonald
3) Choosing, Alli Rogers
4) He Is Here, Amena Brown (spoken word)
5) You Led Me, Barlowgirl
6) My Eyes are Open, Now I See, Kelsey Waldon
7) Light Up the Sky, The Afters
8) Sing It Out, Switchfoot
9) I Will Sing, Owen Pye
10) Yahweh, Shawn McDonald
11) Oh My God, Blue Tree
12) Beautiful, Scandalous Night, Robbie Seay Band
13) Who Is This God, Alli Rogers
14) You, Switchfoot
15) For Freedom, Jimmy Needham
16) No One Like You, BarlowGirl
17) Just a Spark, Owen Pye
18) In Christ Alone, Bethany Dillon and Matt Hammitt
19) Love Wins, Robbie Seay Band
20) One Body, Alli Rogers

Saturday, July 24, 2010

I love the way HE loves me!

So, I think that God is perpetually giving me tests of patience and trust. While I think I am fairly patient, especially with other people (afterall, it is what I get told once I tell people my profession), I don’t think I am patient with things that pertain to my own life. This is evident through my relationship with Rob and most recently, with my job search process.

A couple of months ago, I had a small inkling that I would be in Montgomery County, which is where I did my student teaching. I am not quite sure how I got to this, but I just had a feeling; whether this was of myself or really of God, I had no idea.

So, throughout the application and interview process, I applied to 8 counties and had interviews with 5 counties. Mid-June was when things started rolling - had lots of (online and personal) interviews with the Human Resources Offices of 5 different counties.

On June 23rd, I got my first job offer, a K/1 life skills class in Charles County. While I was pretty pumped and excited about the job offer in itself, I wasn’t pumped and excited about the job. It was the type of class I wanted but it wasn’t what I wanted in terms of demographics and socio-economic status of students. Also, it was not ideal location-wise; I would have to move from PG County, a place where I felt convicted about being in (close to friends and loved ones, near possible churches). It didn’t feel completely right. So I eventually turned it down, knowing that God had more in store for me; I felt like I was only going to be taking it for the comfort and security of having a job rather than being excited for this job in itself. This was the first “real” risk that I have taken, in terms of my life: turning down something secure for something that was uncertain. It was really scary but a little invigorating too. So I came off of that, with an attitude trusting in God to provide, knowing that I was not supposed to be there. Around the same time, I also read the story of Hagar and Ishmael in Genesis; I read about how Sarah and Abraham tried to conceive to fulfill God’s promise on their own; they tried to achieve something that only God could provide on their own terms and efforts (which kind of blew up in their faces), rather than waiting on God’s provision and timing. I was really convicted and saw taking this job as a means of trying to “save my life,” trying to provide for myself on my own terms rather than letting God be my “employer,” my provision.

About a couple of weeks afterwards, I was starting to get depressed about the risk that I had taken. I was hearing things from different counties that were higher on the preference list (Anne Arundel and Montgomery) that the job market was not looking good, especially for the life skills type classes I wanted. I was very upset with myself, for possibly making the wrong choice and not listening to the God who knew best for me. At the same time, I also started to seriously doubt God - I thought he was withholding from me, that he would not provide. I knew truth (the fact that God IS the great provider and that God IS good) but I did not feel this truth in my heart, especially given the circumstances. I had lost the joy I feel from God for a short time.

So I decided to contact Charles County once again; I asked them if they had filled the position and if they had any other positions open. They still had the position I applied for open and they had a position in a pre-k class at a Title 1 school. This seemed a little more promising to me, especially with the demographic and type of student! Before the interview, I had another weird little feeling: “I am going to get this job today; but I am not going to take it, because I am going to accept my third offer.” Really weird. I kind of struggled with whether this was something that was of myself or that was of God. I interviewed with the school and got the job an hour after I interviewed; however, it was not the type of classroom that I wanted (it would be co-teaching with another teacher) and obviously still not location-ideal.

With the knowledge of what was going on in other counties, I was torn between the two job offers, choosing the type of classroom (self-contained classroom vs. inclusion classroom) and type of student being served, based on income (rich area vs. area of low income). After much thought, I figured that my passion lies with students who have severe disabilities and that I loved giving instruction in the community and working in a more one-on-one setting. I had a couple of days to decide; I was pretty sure that I would choose the first job offer, especially since it aligns closely to the type of classroom I wanted to be in.

However, God turned things a little upside-down on Thursday, 2 days after I got my second job offer and after I had almost for sure made up my mind. Montgomery County passed my name onto the principals and sent me a link to apply directly to schools and programs that sparked my interests. I was a little floored. I was also a little frustrated. How can God throw this curveball in my face? It seemed as if he was asking me to once again take a step of faith, to trust Him, to follow what He was calling me towards. This was hard enough to do the first time, but AGAIN!?

The next day, a school with a 4/5 SCB (school community based; programs that serve students with severe disabilities, working on functional academics, life skills and how to function in the community) program in Sandy Spring gave me a call for an interview. We set one up for Monday, which was when I was supposed to let Charles County know (this was a little bit of a cause for concern but besides the point). This school was about 10 minutes from my previous placement and only 30 minutes from my house. I was really excited about this opportunity; it was the exact type of classroom and location-ideal for previous convictions. I also learned from my mentor teacher, who worked there, that the school serves a diverse population, that there are housing projects near the school that feeds into it. I was really excited; God was doing something really cool and big. My mentor teacher e-mailed me during the weekend and told me the assistant principal was her supervisor at our school and she sang my praises to the assistant principal, who would be in charge of the SCB program and at the interview. I was really excited and thinking about how eerily this all was working together. The interview went really well and I left with confidence; I wasn’t sure whether it was a for sure thing, but after talking to a lot of people who I kept VERY up to date with this process, they assured me that things were looking good, especially with the assistant principals many compliments. I wasn’t supposed to hear until Wednesday, which was strange because I was used to hearing from the Charles County schools within the hour of interviewing. I went to Columbia that night, anxious for the decision on Wednesday, and met with my friend Ashley. On my way, it started raining really hard. I was driving in my car, singing praise songs to Jesus for such an opportunity, praying for patience and for guidance. As I was singing, the rain subsided for a bit and a rainbow appeared right before my eyes. I had a melting, beautiful feeling in my heart, knowing that Jesus was showing my very visibly that everything would be okay and that it would work out. I also had been thinking about and meditating on the verse, “Be still before the Lord and patiently wait on Him.” I was letting things go, giving up my grip and control on the situation for the God who knows better than I do to deal with it.

I called Charles County the next day and told them that they should move forward, as I couldn’t make a decision. I got a call from the assistant principal from the Montgomery County school a couple of hours later, telling me I had gotten the job! I ecstatically jumped up and down at the message. She called me back an hour later and I accepted the job, with a really good feeling in my heart. A HUGE burden had been lifted and I felt so excited and blessed.

God speaks to us. I can testify to this. They may be small whispers, but they are audible (especially when we listen) and God desires for us to hear Him. I don’t think I have ever audibly heard from God, but this was probably the closest experience.

It is also weird to think about how God might have been working, divinely orchestrating things before I even realized. I did not even want to be in Montgomery County for my student teaching; but without being in Montgomery County, would I have even ended up in this position as I have now? Would I have even experienced this experience that would cause me to feel so closely connected and lead by God? I am not sure if I can answer these questions but it is really cool to think about the beautiful ways that God orchestrates our lives. God sees us as special people and have given us intricately woven lives that allow us to feel and experience Him in different and beautiful ways.

I also feel like I believe truth even MORE. Jesus provides, as he tells us he will. He works things out for our good. He is on our SIDE - He is faithful to his promises. And most importantly, He guides us, step by step, holding out hands along the way, even when we don’t want to take steps further. He forgives us despite how often we mistrust Him (because He LOVES us so gosh darn much), and He uses the Holy Spirit to push us to trust in Him and holds out his hand to keep us from falling or sinking.

I feel like I could speak about this so much more but I will end with one simple truth: God is good. :)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

If it doesn't break your heart, it isn't love.

I want to keep up with my blog more. Sorry I haven't been posting much.

So I came across a little saying today that I have read before, but that has so much meaning to me currently. It says: "Love until it hurts. And then love some more." (I think it is Mother Teresa but I am not sure). I guess I don't think I have realized how prevalent this is until recently, especially with my relationship with Rob.
Love is hard. For me, it is something that has put my heart out there, on the line and vulnerable. I have shared parts of my life with him that I don't think I have shared with anyone else. And sometimes, I feel let down by him, one of the people I love most. And it hurts. Like hell. There is no denying that. But, even when it hurts to love, this quote so beautifully and simply call us to love more. To deny our personal interests, prides, pains and hurts, let go of them and release them to God, and embrace LOVE. To lay down our "lives." (1 John 3:16) This is really hard to fathom and to live out.

The fact that love is hard and heartbreaking reminds me of Jesus. Love is hard. Rob and I went over Jesus washing the disciples' feet and predicting the betrayal of Judas, Jesus' friend and disciple, in John 13. Wow. Judas has been with him for a long time now; they have formed a relationship and connection. Trust and love is fostered between them.
But Judas will betray Jesus. He will sell him out. And Jesus, in his perfection, knows this. But he does not choose to despise or hate Judas. He keeps loving him. Even though he is hurt by Judas, he still loves Judas. He washes his feet, showing humility and servanthood. He dips the bread and gives it to Judas, a sign of honor. He is deeply troubled by his prediction, hurt by the course of action his betrayer will take. But he puts away his best interests and focuses on Judas, what he needs to be able to see Jesus' love for him. Despite knowing Judas will betray him, leading to his painful crucifixion and death, Jesus LOVES Judas and this is shown through his actions. This is what love is.
This concept is displayed ultimately by Jesus' death on the cross. He died for us, bearing our burdens: our sins, our weaknesses, our pains and hurts. And this hurt like hell. Crucifixion is one of the most painful ways to die, as one is slowly being suffocated. Why did Jesus died? Love.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Today, Rob and I decided to do Bible study outside at Lake Artemesia. It was a beautiful day! We are studying John right now and today, we studied part of Lazarus' death, in John 11: 17 - 37. Mary and the other Jews are hurting over the loss of their brother, their friend. After seeing them weeping and grieving over Lazarus, Jesus is moved in spirit and troubled. Then, we see Jesus taking on a very human action: He weeps.
This is something really beautiful to me. Jesus weeps. Like Mary and the Jews, He meets us in our pains and our grief, understands and knows our hurts and emotions, has compassion and takes on our pains as His own. We know this because of this passage - Jesus experienced this in His human form. He is a God who is personal, interactive, who KNOWS us deeply.

This is the God we serve. This is the God we love.

Monday, February 8, 2010

The other day, I was walking down the hall with two of my students who have severe special needs. They were holding hands, because I gave them the direction to do so and to help each other down the hall. One student was walking a little faster than the other; he was paying attention and guiding the other down the hall. The other, who was kind of in his own world, was walking without really paying attention to his surroundings. He almost walked right into a wall (without my knowing); however, this was prevented because the other student puts his hand out in front of his face to somewhat guide him away from harm's way.

Things like this make me realize that God is working, even when we don't think He can. It makes me realize that He is bigger than the constraints and restrictions that society puts on people, that He continues to push the limits to show me cool new things about Himself. It also shows me that love knows no bounds.

In the midst of praying to see God more in school, I get this. :) Not only was it super cute, but I saw God in new and different ways.

Listening to: River, Herbie Handcock & Corinne Bailey Rae

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Hi this is Rob! LOLOL

Friday, January 1, 2010

"I can hardly find the means for all the words I mean to speak, but still, this fire inside of me seems too much for me alone to keep."

Makes me want to cry because these lyrics are so beautiful and encompassing of a faith that cannot be contained!

I really miss sitting around, listening to music and reading lyrics.