I have been going back and forth for a while now about whether or not I should post another blog entry.  It’s  hard not to picture people reading my entries saying negative things like “Oh no, not this again, insecure really? anxious again? seriously?” Maybe some “not this religious stuff again…” or “clearly we need to pray for Hailey, she has lost her way.”

I have no idea outside of the gracious comments I get from people about what the world (or small portion of) thinks when I write these entries.  I have received some very nice comments, texts, and compliments, to those people that not only take the time to read what I have to say, but actually write me or tell me about it, and thank me for what I write, it is such an honor, I really do mean that.

Sometimes I get a call from my mom, friends or family will be worried about me, or think I’m pregnant.  There is no bun in this oven, I can assure you.  But please don’t worry about me, just pray if what I post indicates I’m struggling.

It has been well over a month since my last entry.  I have made it through the first cycle and I am nearing the third reporting period.  I have been to football games, IDCs, SATs, Cohorts, practices, tutorials, pep rallies, and detentions.  I have had my fair share of bumps and bruises, I have laughed, I have yelled, and I have definitely definitely cried.

I have been learning so much about so many things, time management, student engagement, organization, working with strong personalities (using the polite word), working through extreme emotions, sticking it out, remaining professional, learning when to say no, and more.

I am being stretched to the point where many times I think I am going to snap.

I am being challenged in my view of education. So very challenged.

I have seen and come to the conclusion that the educational system in this country is broken.  In my short time I have not been able to come up with the reason for this dysfunction.

So many questions haunt me as a young educator:

  • Is my content too basic?
  • Is my content relevant to my students future needs?
  • Are my students truly valuing this information, or holding it long enough to regurgitate it?
  • Is more information better for the students?
  • Is higher quality, but less information better for the students?
  • Are my students learning the sequential and logical thinking skills they need?
  • Am I a lecturer?
  • Am I a facilitator?
  • Are my kids motivated, if not why? can I change this?

And finally, as well as most painfully, how much of this dysfunction comes from the educational system, and how much comes from our culture? from home?

I had a student performing poorly in my class at the beginning of the year.  S/he came up to me at one point between classes (never a good time to talk to a teacher btw, super busy transitioning!) to talk about low scores and missed work.  I could tell this student was looking for an easy way out, looking to get me at a time when I was tired and willing to hand the answers over.

I looked this student in the eye and I told him/her “at the rate you are going, based off of the performance I have seen from you, you will not pass my class.”  The students eyes got a little wide, but s/he continued to press about coming in during my planning period to receive tutoring (also not ideal, as that is my planning period, a time to plan, not tutor, unless necessary then I will).  I told the student I would not work harder than her/him but s/he was welcome to come by.

S/he did, and as I suspected tried to get the answers out of me at the end of the day when I was tired. S/he even used the line “My math teacher last year would just tell me the answer if I came and worked and I would get a hundred.”  I did not have the patience nor the time to work with this mindset. I told him/her that if s/he wanted the grade s/he had to do the work.

By the end of my planning period one assignment had been completed and to my surprise, after refusing to hand over the answers the student had a relatively easy time solving the assignment. I told him/her “You have shown me now that you are capable of doing the work, so long as you turn in all of your assignments from now on you should be fine.”

In retrospect I don’t know that my methods of working with this student are ones that I will repeat, but I will say that I had a wonderful moment with this student later on when s/he stayed after school for tutorials for3 hours. That’s right, 3 hours!

For whatever reason this student decided I wasn’t a huge jerk and actually wanted to ask me some questions.  The first was “do all teachers know that they will be teachers in high school?”

This made me chuckle, especially considering I swore up and down that I would never teach.

After answering this question I was quickly asked “So, why do you teach?” A question I love to answer, and a question I am allowing myself the opportunity to answer right now.

I believe that teachers and education, have the ability to change the world. 

I mean this with all of my heart.

But more importantly, I believe that teachers and education have the ability to drastically alter the path of
one person’s life.

I don’t care who you are, male, female, black, white, blue, purple, rich or poor.  As soon as you walk into my classroom, you are equals. There is not one person that is better, there is not one person that is worse, there are only those who are going to choose to work, and those who aren’t.  Your family, your race, your social or economic status can not and will not choose for you, only you can choose to work in my class.  If you choose to work in my class you will do well.  I will do everything in my power to ensure that.

I don’t care how many doors you had open to you before you came into my class, if you come, and you work hard, you will have more opportunities by the time you leave than when you first came in.

Because education does that.  Education opens minds, it teaches people to think, to consider the world around them, question the world around them, care for the world around them.  Education teaches people to work, to solve problems, not ignore them, to push through unanswered questions to find resolution.  Education inspires, it sparks a human into action.  That action could be anything, finding patterns and making generalizations in math and science, creating poetry, refining the political system, starting a business, volunteering in developing countries, traveling the world for research and more.

No baby born into a rich family has any more right or is any better of a baby than one born in to a poor family.  Some may say that poverty is a never ending cycle, to that I would challenge that so is wealth.  If the poor learn a way of living that keep them poor, than the wealthy learn a way of keeping them wealthy.

It is in education that I find the epicenter of equality.

The bridge between races, ethnicities, socioeconomic statuses, religions,  and gender. It is in education where I can once again say it does not matter who you are, where you have come from, or what ways of living you have learned already, here you are all equal, you all matter, you all have potential, and if you work, regardless of where you came from, you have the power to change where you are going.

Will you work? Because I am ready to work, I believe in you, and together, we can.

I believe in education, with all of my heart.

But I doubt in the way that education is functioning in this country. However, who am I to doubt this?  I have little experience, I am young, where are my statistics, my research?

Lucky for you, if you want to disbelieve me, you have all the power to do so, because I don’t have these things…

yet.

But I will.

And watch out for me.

I am determined to change this world, one precious child at a time.

I’m not an expert on depression.  I can’t tell you all of the statistics, or about the biology behind it.  What I can tell you is that it is something I deal with.

 

I can’t proclaim this strongly or courageously, but shamefully, with eyes on the floor, and an awkward joke to ease your discomfort.  But as I find the shadows of depression approaching, as I sense the deep sadness, the unexplained heaviness, the twinge of despair that makes me question if I should get out of the bed in the morning, I just really feel the need to share some information.

These are some of the worst things that have been spoken either directly to me, or to the masses I was in.  These are some of the most hurtful things I have ever heard, and I’m pretty positive that the speakers had NO idea of the weight their words carried.

If this can’t make you happy, I just don’t know what will.

I was at a church service awhile back on Easter.  The music was upbeat, the crowd was clapping, it was worship full of celebration.  My heart was numb, just trying to hang in there and keep a smile on my face. When the song ended, the singer spoke to the crowd.  The first words out of her mouth were the only words that I heard the rest of the day. In a full and cheerful voice she enthusiastically stated that “if that doesn’t just fill you with joy, I don’t know what will!”  The crowd clapped and I felt like I had been socked in the stomach.  My whole body felt like it was twice as heavy as it had been before and I spent two minutes trying to hold back hot angry tears before marching out of the service and crying in the car.

 I’m pretty sure that what the speaker was saying was “wow, i’m feeling so stoked by this music it’s hard to imagine that everyone else isn’t as well!”

 Maybe without the word stoked… but outside of that I’m pretty sure I nailed her intended message.  However, what I heard was “this is making everyone else happy! Except you!” and “There is no hope for your screwed up heart! If this doesn’t fill you with joy, nothing will!”  I reiterate, I know the speaker wasn’t saying this, the speaker was just super stoked (there’s that word again…).  But it took me several hours to overcome the increased weight I felt when initially digesting this.

Choose to be Positive

I have heard this one in so many ways.  You dictate your attitude, attitude is everything, choose to be happy.  This one is just down right agitating, and not at the person saying it, but at myself.  Dammit Hailey, just be happy! Just look around you at those freaking daisies in your life, smell those delicious roses! Be happy!  Why can’t you just be happy like everyone else???

I think that this thought to choose your attitude is occurring to those with depression.  I really do.  And I think if it were that simple, depression wouldn’t be the beast that it is.  Because the simple fact is that I’m really not choosing to feel like crap.  I promise!  I would rather feel powerful, and strong, full of hope 24/7.  During periods of my life I do feel this, but during some periods darkness just settles in and it doesn’t matter how I analyze my blessings, how many times I thank my God, or put a smile on my face to feel better, knowing that by doing this, not everyone is feeling uncomfortable around me.  Darkness will just reside for a time being, and rather than trying to be happy, I find it much better to wait, and thank my God, and accept that He is sovereign even when my heart doesn’t understand.  I find it better to accept my pain, and learn new ways to continue to live my life, to continue walking to my God, than to just “be positive.”  God teaches me in my pain, he holds me in my pain, we grow close in my pain.  I wouldn’t change that aspect for all the positivity in the world.

Well at least you don’t have….

Oh my gosh, please, please, PLEASE, take this out of your advice vocabulary.  This one hurts me in ways that I cannot explain.  This does not change my pain, this does not help ease my sorrow, this just makes me hate myself for having a “problem” that is not … what? I still can’t figure this out.  My problem isn’t valid? It’s not real? It’s not bad enough? What? I honestly would like to know.  I literally can’t count the number of times I’ve been told that because I don’t have cancer, or because I’m not dying, or because I don’t live in a third world country, or because I don’t _________________, I should feel better.

DON’T SAY THIS! DON’T SAY THIS!  I know, my issue isn’t terminal, I know my issue isn’t life threatening (we’ll ignore the number of people who commit suicide due to depression… I suppose) I know, my life is comparably so much better than other people’s lives.  When I am depressed, I am never ever EVER trying to say that I have it worse than anyone, so I do not understand why people are always reminding me that other people have it worse than I do.  I know! And that sucks, it makes me feel a deeper sorrow, it makes me want to cry, it makes me want to pray, it does NOT make me feel any better.  It makes me feel worse, shameful, embarrassed for ever considering that what I have could be defined as a problem.

I will say that today as I was walking, feeling that slight burden that I can’t make go away, I did have a “well at least I don’t have…” thought.  But it was not cancer patients I considered, it wasn’t starving people in third world countries.  Not because I don’t think that these people don’t have horrible problems, heavy burdens, I do.  But I can’t relate to them.  My only thought was “well at least I don’t have a more severe depression than this.”  Because I consider my case to be very mild.  I can get out of bed.  I can go to work.  I can bow my head and praise my God (not that I was able to in past depressive states).  But I know that there are people that do not have this luxury.  I know that there are people that do not have people in their lives that they can reach out to.  I know that there are people that feel a weight that is 50 times heavier than mine.  And when I think of this, I am both deeply grieved, and slightly relieved.  These people are strong, these people are courageous.  To these people I say keep fighting, you are an encouragement to everyone around you, including myself.  Thank you for living so strongly.  Thank you for showing me life and light amid dark nights.  Thank you.

If you know someone who struggles with depression, and you don’t know what to say, that’s okay.  Here are some things that have helped me:

  1. Listening
  2. Affirming
  3. Encouraging

 

Don’t talk, let the person process.  Don’t advise, affirm that they are not stupid, crazy, or wrong, that what they are going through is not abnormal.  And encourage.  I have amazing friends that send me beautiful messages.  I have a husband that practically tackles me in prayer when he sees the signs.

Don’t be freaked out reading this.  Please don’t think my life is spiraling out of control or that I’m an emotional wreck.  Today I went to work, I had several meetings, I taught kids about symmetry, I took my dogs to the dog park, I cuddled with my husband.  As I tell my students in class “this ain’t my first rodeo.”  God has made me stronger through each storm.  He has made my heart quicker to run to Him.  He has taught me and grown me, and despite the difficulty, I am grateful for another opportunity to grow with him, as He bends my knees, breaks my heart, and makes me into His image.

“Ok, fine, let’s go.”

 

After stubbornly and repeatedly asking if we could leave, Tim finally consented.  A few minutes earlier we had been laughing, dancing, and finding our seats.  We never make it to church on time, so today was a pretty big day.  But somewhere in between walking through the doors and getting our butts in the chair Tim had accidentally found a new button, and pushed it hard.

 

We all have buttons, some we know of, and some we are learning about.  And today Tim and I both learned that if we push this button I get extremely uncomfortable, and if you keep pushing the button I get pretty mad.

 

Tim had kept pushing the button.  So we got up and we left church before it began.  Awkward…

 

“Do you want to explain what just happened”

 

I stared out the window.  I had no idea what just happened, how could I explain it to him?  What I did know was that he had said something that made me mad, therefore this person was the enemy and I wanted to run away from him.

 

Unfortunately I’m also in love with this person, so though one half of me wanted to run away, the other wanted to stay put.  Part of me wanted to hurl insults at him and the other wanted to brush the entire stupid incident under the rug so that I didn’t hurt his feelings.

 

We made it home and I went to my safe place: the bed.  Whenever I’m upset I ALWAYS want to curl up in bed, shut my eyes hard, and wait out the hurt.

 

With eyes closed I felt Tim lay down next to me.

 

“Hailey, what is happening?”

 

Here we finally began to talk.  Maybe yell a little, but not scream.  I explained the best I could why I didn’t like what he said.  I told him that saying it was one thing, but then not dropping it was totally different.

“No, you don’t understand, I wanted you to see that you have good ideas Hailey.”

 

Yes.  This is correct.  My husband had been giving me a compliment and it had made me extremely uncomfortable.  When I told him I didn’t like this, he wanted to explain his reasoning, and re-explain, which meant he was still talking about what made me uncomfortable.  This made me mad.

What a horrible wife! You literally have the nicest husband in the world and you are mad at him, what is wrong with you?!

From here our conversation falls into a pattern of “no you don’t understand”‘s and “but I told you that”‘s.

 

Finally God took the reigns and showed me what was happening.

 

“Tim.  what you said upset me.  But that’s ok.  We apparently stumbled onto a new button today and we’re trying to process through that.  It’s ok that what you said upset me, it has nothing to do with you, there’s something I need to figure out.  This situation does not speak to who you are as a husband at all.”

 

I almost couldn’t believe how much my words were making sense as I said them. It hadn’t dawned on me until the moment I spoke this that the only reason Tim was “pushing this button” was because he desperately wanted to be a good husband to me after the weekend I had.

 

It was a stressful weekend with unforeseen bumps.  bumps that Tim could do nothing about, even though he tried, because he’s amazing.  He had been patient, and supportive, never leaving my side, helping me process, filling my glass of water while I graded, vacuuming while I prepped for Vibrant, walking the dogs when I had a migraine.

But not being able to actually “fix” the heaviness in my heart tore him up.  He was desperate to put a smile on my face.  And in his attempt he had done the opposite, and it crushed his genuine heart.

 

How do I know this is true? Because, in true Tim fashion, one tear slid down his cheek.  And he then he told me all the things God had opened my heart to understand.

 

We both cried, and snuggled, and agreed that we were so happy we had fought.  It had been too long since we had fought.

“I like the way we fight.  We aren’t trying to tear the other person down.

Tim was right, but I confessed that I always want to tear him down, that it is a challenge not to hurl insults at him, a challenge I will sometimes lose, and a challenge I win because of the leader I have in our marriage.

 

***

 

I talk to women about their significant others all the time, and Christian women are often voicing a common concern: I don’t know if he can lead me spiritually.

To this I have to ask, what is a spiritual leader?

 

The church puts a lot of pressure on men to be the spiritual leader in the household, and I think men feel that pressure.  But what does it mean to be that leader?

Tim doesn’t tell me to go to church, or to read the bible.  He doesn’t make us do bible studies together.  He isn’t making sure I pray every day.  He himself isn’t always going to church.  He isn’t always reading his bible.  He isn’t always praying.  He plays video games and watches sports.  He plays sports and loves to listen to podcasts about almost anything.  He doesn’t listen to sermons, he listens to Freakanomics, and This American Life, and Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me.  (Tim says I need to add that he listens to Radiolab… I don’t know why).

Tim is a quiet man.  He isn’t the first to respond to a question at bible study (usually I am…) and often he won’t respond at all, unless he really thinks it’s necessary.  He doesn’t hold any leadership positions at work or church.

Tim makes huge blunders sometimes that I have to confront him on.

 

I am the more assertive partner.  I talk a lot.  I’m an extrovert.  I walk in front of him a lot (gasp).

 

I am often aware that by all appearances, it could look like I am leading my husband. 

But Tim is my leader.

 

Tim leads in the best possible way: through his daily actions.

 

Tim is patient with me, he serves me, he makes me feel safe, and he makes me feel loved.  Tim celebrates my successes.  He asks me hard questions when I doubt or walk in depression.  He challenges me to think through my forming opinions.  He isn’t afraid to tell me his opinion on my actions.  He doesn’t say hurtful words to me when he is angry.  He doesn’t leave me when he is angry.  He tells me I’m beautiful, ALL the time.  On my good days and bad days he is equally good to me.  He shows me how to know God is good, always.  He helps me to be open to His plan, to be patient, when he knows I’m trying to hurry things along, to bend them to my desires.  He cleans the apartment for me when I’m busy grading.  He lets me sleep in the car on the way home from work after an exhausting day.  He lets me binge watch my favorite TV shows when we could be watching sports.  He also turns the TV off and tells me its time to do other things.

 

Tim is my leader. through all of these actions and more, he makes me feel safe, which helps me to grow strong.  Since being married to him I am more confident than I have ever been.  I am more willing to take risks than ever before.  I am closer to God now than I was when I was without him.

He makes me want to be patient with him, to serve him, to make him feel safe, and to make him feel loved.

Tim leads by example. I am grateful that God gave me an amazing husband, and I challenge everyone to begin asking, what does it mean to be a leader?

 

Today my leader walked out of church before the service began.  Sometimes, what we see on the outside, is not telling of the lion that lives within.

 

 

Standing at the window I bit my lip, secretly swallowing shame and fear.  My mom came up to me and gently asked “Hailey, what’s wrong?”

“What if no one comes?”

It was my birthday, which one doesn’t matter, pick any one of them and some version of this scene was at play.  Fear of no one wanting to be around me, shame that I wasn’t as liked as my other friends, embarrassment before rejection was even possible.

Sometimes God works in really big and flashy ways, like parting the seas, or healing the blind.  With a big bang God will display His power, His love, Himself.

And sometimes, God works in the details, in the tiny crevices of our hearts.  He works in ways that are entirely invisible.

In the last five months since my last update, He has done just that.

With no flash, no bang, no bedazzle, but through hard questions, persistence, and patience God has changed me.  Again.

He took the little girl who has been afraid of rejection for 25 years and opened her eyes.  He showed her that friendship isn’t about the birthday party, its not about how many people are willing to come and share their time and gifts with you.

He showed me that it was time to stop waiting for people to come to my party, it was time to take my party to the streets.

Meet needs, comfort the hurting, celebrate the winning, mourn the losing, encourage the downtrodden.

Where I was weak He spilled over His strength.

Where I was scared He overflowed with His courage.

Rejection.  What is rejection? A speed bump maybe.

With fire in my heart He revealed that it was time to stop holding back.  It was time to go all out, for Him, for His people, for community.

 

And I have.  With a lot, a LOT of speed bumps, and with an unexplained tenacity.

 

Where I fit in Houston is still a question that prompts many more questions, but now I fully believe there is a place, even if it is temporary, and I am determined to find it.

 

I am very excited.

 

That’s all for now!

 

 

“But by the grace of God, I am what I am.”

1 Corinthians 15:10

This is not what I thought I would write about.  I thought I would write about my changing views of romance and love over the years as I have grown together with my wonderful husband.  Instead, after years of tip toeing around a question that fuels hate, sorrow, and hope, it is time to talk, it is time to be open, it is time to be vulnerable.

Can a man marry another man?

Can a woman marry another woman?

Writing this question out, so that I can see it, sucks the air right out of me.  I feel fear creep up in me.  Why? Because this question means so much, to so many people.  To some it is the question that determines their rights, to others it questions the Bible’s authority.  This question hurts people.  It divides friends and families.  For some it divides the faithful from the sinful.

What about for me?

I began to realize during my engagement to Tim just how deeply devoted I was to this man, how we were attached at a level that surpassed the physical or emotional, but seeped to a soul level.  I began to wonder, what would it be like if someone told me I could not be married to this wonderful man.  Or worse, what if someone told me not only could I not not be with him, but my love from him represented an habitual sin, representing my unwillingness to surrender to Jesus, and would ultimately result in my separation from my savior, the one Tim brought me closer to each day.

I began to see this question less about sex and more about people.  Less about an act, and more about a relationship.

Therefore I began to explore this question, could a man marry a man?  It took relatively short time to realize that as far as government goes, gay marriage should be legal.  This opinion developed alongside my desire for separation of church and state.

Looking at the destruction carried out by the church throughout history I decided we were better off doing what Jesus said, things like taking care of the poor, feeding the hungry, loving your neighbor, etc.  rather than legislating morality.

I do not want to discredit government or political involvement.  I think there is a lot of good to be done there, I think God calls some people to serve there.  I think we should love our leaders, pray for them, serve them, encourage them.  I think we should advocate for the least of these, but I don’t think that our human leaders are the answer to our problems, I think Jesus is, and I think his ways are.  Therefore, we should focus our attention on our own actions as a church.

I do not think that the church should decide rights and legislation.  Instead of telling people what not to do, we should be focusing on what we can do.

The question for me now lies outside of government, and inside the church.  Can the church marry a man and a man, a woman and a woman?  Can we ordain a gay man or woman?

This has been harder for me because I’m so scared! I’m scared to ask this question because I’m scared of the horror that will cross the faces of some of my devout and more traditional friends whom I love and respect and don’t want to disappoint.  I’m scared to find the answer is no and be in opposition to my passionate, devoted, and gay friends whom I love and admire and respect.  But like I said, it it is time to be open:  I’m honestly asking this question, searching for God’s perfect and merciful truth.  I’m asking  you to do the same.

Why do you believe what you believe? Do you know? Or is it because it’s what you’ve been told?

I’ve realized over several months that my opinions have stemmed only from what I’ve heard.

I’ve heard what the Bible says about homosexuality… it is an abomination, I’ve heard eating shrimp is as well… I’ve heard about Sodom and Gomorrah, and Paul, and all that.  But what do I know for certain about these stories? Anything more than what I’ve heard? Because if not, that is not healthy.  Do I understand the context behind these stories, these short verses? Because if I do not, my opinion is is not well founded.

What do we have to lose by asking?

I want God’s truth, not man’s interpretation.  If we refuse to ask, and only accept what opinions have existed before us, are we no different than the men and women who accepted that slavery was God’s intended and unchangeable structure?  Are we no different than the men who dictated that women were their inferiors, not fit to receive the rights of voting or their level of education? Are we not different than the women who just accepted this as truth?

Is our God not bigger than this question?

He is our shepherd, we know His voice, do we not trust that He will lead us to truth in grace?  He laid down his life in the most humiliating way possible, He has literally conquered death for us, would He not be willing to help us answer a question He knows is deeply rooted in the hearts of many of His children?

I am not writing today to tell you what is right, I am writing today because I want you to just ask.

 The more I look into this question, the more I see that what I have been told is not necessarily true.  I’m not going to tell you what the answer to this question is, what I am going to do is ask that you seek the answer to this question without bias.

What we must not do in this search is forget the people we are asking about.  We can not let fear express itself in hate as we question our standing beliefs.  We must not treat this question as a list of facts and cold theology, but as one that involves human hearts, hearts that are just like ours.  Hearts that experience fear, shame, hope, love, and joy.

But like I said it’s time to be vulnerable: I don’t know all of the answers, but I am now leaning in a new direction, a direction years ago I never would have considered.  I am open now, trusting that God’s grace and truth will be enough to lead me to resolution.

I don’t think we should be afraid to ask our questions, I don’t think we should let pride keep us from finding truth, no matter what our question may be.

“It is helpful and humbling to realize that I can change my mind on something about which I was once so sure”

Jack Rogers

Jesus, the Bible, and Homosexuality

I would love for you to take a look as we journey towards Friday

imperfectperspective

Tonight as Tim and I were driving around I saw the sign for a church stating PALM SUNDAY WORSHIP AND PICNIC!

It was undoubtedly the announcement for last Sunday’s service.  And just like last Sunday a part of me, bigger than I would like to admit, grumbled, so irritated by this repeated excitement.

Confession: I left church on Palm Sunday.

I know, I know, it isn’t right, but what is done is done.  We had raced out the door of our apartment to make it on time.  As we walked into the service I was handed a palm leaf, nice.  A speaker took to the stage as we found our seats, enthusiastically reading from one of the Psalms.  It was about a king, and gates, and a lot of joy. I took a deep breath and tried to convince my heart to resonate with the reading, but this wouldn’t happen…

View original post 840 more words

Tonight as Tim and I were driving around I saw the sign for a church stating PALM SUNDAY WORSHIP AND PICNIC!

It was undoubtedly the announcement for last Sunday’s service.  And just like last Sunday a part of me, bigger than I would like to admit, grumbled, so irritated by this repeated excitement.

Confession: I left church on Palm Sunday.

I know, I know, it isn’t right, but what is done is done.  We had raced out the door of our apartment to make it on time.  As we walked into the service I was handed a palm leaf, nice.  A speaker took to the stage as we found our seats, enthusiastically reading from one of the Psalms.  It was about a king, and gates, and a lot of joy. I took a deep breath and tried to convince my heart to resonate with the reading, but this wouldn’t happen. I found my heart shutting down and I just could not join in the excitement. 

My grumbling heart was not honoring to the Lord, and so I asked Tim if we could leave.  He is so patient and kind, and as soon as we walked out the door His first question was “do you want to talk about it?”  I love him deeply.

I got on Facebook today to find pictures of smiling kids with palm leaves only to feel disappointed in my inability to appreciate the celebration most people were experiencing.

Is it because I’m going through this time of questioning?  Do I have a dark and cold heart?

So today as we drove and I once again could not react to this excitement proclaimed in all caps, I grumbled. 

This Lenten season I chose to journal my journey to the cross, but after my experience the past few days, it seemed my journaling had been futile.

I came home and curled up on the couch ready to seek answers to more of my questions, choosing to read “The Problem of Pain” by C.S. Lewis.  However a few pages in I began to randomly flip through the rest of my book which is a collection of his writings.  I flipped open to “A Grief Observed” and I was instantly taken by the personal introduction written by his step son. Douglas Gresham explained that this work had been a product of Lewis’s grief after losing his wife.  Each heart felt word kept pulling me further into his writing.

“I have no photograph of her that’s any good.  I cannot even see her face distinctly in my imagination… But her voice is still vivid.  The remembered voice – that can turn me at any moment to a whimpering child.”

 Can you imagine that pain? Can you imagine that loss? Some of you may not have to because it is already all too real, and for that I am so incredibly sorry.

I read this, and I cry, deeply.  Sorrow reaches into the deepest parts of my heart and soul.  I read this and I cry because I know that this separation will one day be all too real for us as well.  Tim and I. One day, most likely, one of us will be without the other. I can’t imagine, I don’t want to imagine my life without this beloved partner and friend I have. I feel incomplete without Him. I can’t imagine, I don’t want to imagine him living a life where I can’t console him.

It may be silly to think in this way, I can hear people now: “Enjoy what you have now!” “Don’t worry about tomorrow!”

Here is the reason I am allowing these emotions to seep so deeply tonight.  Yesterday the church celebrated Jesus riding in on a donkey, Sunday we will celebrate him raising from the dead, but before that, on Friday, we will mourn his death.

Friday, we remember what he did, and we must also remember why: separation.

He from we.

I don’t want my words to ruin this powerful story, I am going to try to do it justice now.

He made us.  Why us? I don’t know. He made us. He loved us. Why? I don’t know. He and we shared everything, until the day we chose we before He.  He was our creator and our truest lover, and his heart was broken.  He was separated, like a groom from his bride. Can you imagine the agony He must have felt? Why would He subject Himself to this? I don’t know.

But because of our choice we and He were separated. We were separated like death separates loved ones.  And the resulting grief was as real as the grief of a husband for his dead wife.

How do I know that He felt the pain of separation from us?  Because of everything He did to get us back.  The story is long, stretching thousands of years, the people change, the kingdoms change, but the story does not: A God desperate to end the separation between Him and His creation.  A God desperate to end the death we chose, so desperate, He was willing to die Himself.

This is the story of Friday.  And without this, Sunday will have lost all significance.  We cannot celebrate if we cannot remember the depth of His grief in our death and separation from Him.  We cannot sing praise until we willingly mourn the reason this season exists in the first place.

We were separated from the love of our life.  You were separated from the love of your life.  I was separated from the love of my life.

 Because He chose to chase after, because he created a story that seamlessly weaves itself together over thousands of years and through countless people, because he ends this separation in death, which is our consequence, because we observe his grief on Friday we raise our hands on Sunday and our hearts are full of joy.

Questioning God


Sounds prideful? Outlandish? Rude? At times it really is.

When I am most angry at my circumstances is when it becomes a question of pride.  When I put my own feelings on a pedestal and my questions become more of a demand.  When I am so frustrated I’m throwing a fit, this is when questioning God becomes a problem.

It also becomes a problem when my insecurity speaks guilt into my soul.  Pride is a problem, but insecurity is like a different form of pride, or is it the same? Pride says I am more important than God, insecurity says I am too un-important for God.  Pride says I am more than God, insecurity says God is not enough for me.

When I am in a state of pride I say that my questions are more important than God Himself.  When I am in an insecure state I say God’s grace is not sufficient for my questioning.

But sometimes I get to be right in the sweet center of these two extremes. 

I am neither demanding answers nor denying the existence of my questions, but instead seeing a need for resolution.  Right now I am in this sweet center, so I want to take advantage by writing down my end goal before I swing away.

For months now questions have been creeping into my mind.  Questions that have been scare and intimidate me. They all focus around one entity: God.  Who is He, how can I know? How does this determine how I make choices? These questions started out just as empty words with a question mark at the end, but slowly became like a common belief.  As an example: how can I really know Jesus is God?  Yes the bible says so, but why should I trust the bible? Wait, does the bible really say so, or is this just information I’ve heard that I’m just accepting as truth?

I would try to shake them off, blinking really hard as if I could open my eyes and the scary monster would magically disappear.  But they stayed, throughout the day, the evening, the week, and the months leading me to today.

So now I embrace the questions (or I try to, maybe Jesus won’t send me to hell for asking them after all…)  But this brings me to another problem: I am not an expert in anything to do with religion or faith.  I have no educational background in these matters, I am a teacher with relatively few connections to the church, and no connections to experts in the church.  I am a tired, young wife and educator.  I’m still trying to survive this school year with relatively few hours in a day.  I’m still trying to figure out who I am, and what I want to focus my time on (the classroom, family, community, questioning?)

I say all of this in my attempt to count the cost.

Not that I can count perfectly prior to this journey.  But first and foremost, it will take time.  I have prayed for revelations (don’t hate, I’m tired and a revelation would take a lot less time), but God does not seem to be leaning towards that route.  I have read the bible and been confused in the process feeling alone in my confusion.  Once I tried YouTube only to be disappointed.

Now I am going with a new approach.  I have started to reach out to people who may have resources or the connections that I lack.

This brings me to the next cost, humility.  Like I said, I swing between insecurity and pride, so being in a state where I can ask my question simply for an answer is difficult.  By asking questions I open myself up to criticism (put on that helmet! Protect  yourself from the flaming arrows of the satan!).  Not only for asking the questions but also for how I ask them.  Already I have been corrected in my approach, and though at first frustrated, I realized that it was a great correction and has reshaped my approach.  But how many more times will my question itself be criticized, and am I up for this challenge?  Can my ego handle it?

I can’t count the costs  of the journey fully when I am only at the start, but I can at least attempt to, and I pray that this will be exactly what I call it, a journey.  As I step away from the bubble that I have been in my whole life, the bubble of a Christian God with republican policies, of a manGod who I hold at arm’s length, I trust that God is and will be bigger than this bubble, that His grace will be sufficient, and that He will lead me to answers.

I will be asking the following questions one at a time, in the following order:

  1. Is there a God?
  2. Which God is the God? Is there only one?
  3. Why is the bible viewed as accurate? As a Holy and True source?
    1. In specific Paul’s writing.
    2. How should one approach reading the bible?
  4. Why is Jesus special? What makes Him God? Why is He the only way?
  5. How does this affect how people make choices?  How can one be considered a follower or Christ or a Christian?
  6. Where are there freedoms/liberties in Christ, where are there absolutes?
    1. In specific, what does the bible really say about homosexuality and marriage?

If at any point I arrive to a negative answer, for example, I tackle question number one and arrive at the conclusion that there is no God, then I will stop my search for answers, as the remaining questions stem from the previous questions.

I need to also state that I am obviously biased in my search.  Not necessarily for Christianity, but of the Jewish God.   There is just something about his fierce devotion to his people that makes me love Him.  In this process I hope to grow to know Him better, and if Jesus really is, his Son as well.  May God be gracious, my husband supportive, and my heart mind and soul persistent.


 

I wrote this several weeks ago and have already begun the process of seeking answers. I am posting this now because after many many frustrating months I have finally reached a point of peace in my questions, no longer feeling angry or guilty for having them.

My husband supported this effort best while reading about the next steps I have taken:

“I don’t want to rob you of this journey, but know that I have asked these same questions before, and that I have found answers, I know you will too.  I’m here to talk when you want to.”

I hope in some way to encourage you as I am encouraged while Questioning God.

Read the rest of this entry »

Since I met Tim at the wonderfully fashionable tacky Christmas sweater party in 2008 we have just clicked.

Image

And marriage hasn’t phased us terribly yet.  We’ve definitely had some nasty fights, and there are days where we get so frustrated with this person we live with that we can’t fathom another day, let alone a lifetime of being with each other.

But most days we are just having a great time with the person we love: watching TV, walking our dogs, grocery shopping, doctor’s appointments, you name it, we will have a blast being together.

But what happens when all of a sudden two people have dramatically different visions for their lives?

I never considered this as a potential in marriage, I always assumed God would move both of our hearts in the same direction at the same time… always.

But apparently this can happen and it did.  After we found out that we would not be going to Malaysia, we were both really bummed out.  Instead of sulking (for too long) we decided to seek God on the matter, and what we found were two beautiful paths, that did not align at ALL.

As Tim prayed he became more convinced that this opportunity had been purposeful, and that we should be seeking other opportunities like it.  I always use the phrase if Tim could have packed up and moved us two weeks ago we would be gone to describe his enthusiasm for living internationally.  He was confident, steady, and determined.

I prayed as well, but instead of receiving this same message it became abundantly clear to my heart that God was calling us to live more intentionally in our community here in Houston.  I have at times felt Houston is not our forever city, but our city for now.  I prayed about this from the perspective of a teacher wanting to know if she should be looking to sign another contract, and received a very firm answer that we should plan to stay another academic year.  I was confident, steady, and determined.  And scared… but save that for another day.

So Tim was ready to pack us up and ship out, and I was ready to dig roots deeper here.  Hmmm.

So many nights we would get frustrated with each other both saying “I don’t feel like you are honoring the call that is on my heart” and both being right.

When I wanted to talk about what we could do here to settle in Tim wanted to talk about applications for positions across seas.  When I wanted to invest time in friendships, Tim wanted to invest connecting internationally.

Oh crap.

Compromise.  How do we compromise?

His heart:

Tim and I have decided to visit some friends in Kurdistan this summer and also take some time to visit Jerusalem.  On our trip to Asia, we will also be stopping in London and Istanbul.  Tim has been planning like crazy for weeks now and I have been doing my best to stay focused during our itinerary meetings and keep up with his enthusiasm.

I have no idea how we will react to traveling.  We are both so excited, but we could go and decide another country is indeed where we need to be, or we could go and decide that this country is where we need to be.  Either way there are so many questions we will then want to ask.

Her heart:

And when we are not running around new cities and airports? We will be focused on being present here where we are.  Being more intentional about time with others and service (hopefully starting in July when we return).

So many things are still undetermined.  We know that we will be in Houston this next year, but doing what? After that, then what? We don’t have a five year plan, or even a 5 month plan, but in this we feel most content.

Some may say we are being unwise, but we are learning to trust our Savior daily, a difficult lesson indeed.  For now we do our best to honor each other, and above this, the one who calls our hearts to live fully and wonderfully, individually and together.

I only have about 10 minutes to write in here, it has been a long while, and I don’t want to write a lot, but standing here sipping on a warm coffee watching my husband clean up our messy kitchen, I am inspired to share a small peace of my heart with you.

I don’t think you should get married, not until you have met the person who is going to be your partner.  I think you should live and love as strongly as possible as a single person until that one that makes you live and love stronger than you could on your own finds you.  Maybe you’ll find them, maybe you’ll find each other, I don’t know! I’m not an expert on marriage, but I am so thankful God blessed me with the partner I have for so many reasons.  Below are just a few.

1. I am better because of Tim:  Tim grounds me and challenges me.  He brings my passionate heart so full of dreams back to earth where I can make a dream become a reality.  When I feel like my world is falling apart, he helps me open my eyes to count my blessings.  With him by my side I am able to do more, love more, and live more than I was able to on my own.

2. I am more courageous because of Tim: Inside this homebody in an adventurous heart that longs to hear, touch, taste, smell, and see the world around me.  Tim makes the logistics work, and where I am too scared to realize my dreams, Tim is 10 paces ahead of me, eagerly urging me on, take the next, let’s keep going!  His excitement for the world full of possibilities pushes me to be more courageous, to take that next step.

3. Tim lives out his love:  Tim doesn’t just tell me to look to God, he lives out God.  When the world around me feels like it is caving in, and I can’t fathom that there is a God who sees me let alone loves me, Tim doesn’t just tell me to trust, he shows me why I should.  When I am walking through the heart of dark depression, Tim leaves me breathless, thinking if there really is a God who loves me the way this man does, and Tim says he loves me more, wow… how could this be?

Don’t get married, not for marriage.  Get married when you find the one who makes you better, who lives a life that inspires you, and who is inspired by you.  Don’t get married, not until you meet your beloved and your friend, anything else just pales in comparison. Wait.

Every so often we are all graced with a snappy punch line of a title and teasing synopsis, accompanied by an intriguing photo that sports several likes and maybe some comments on our News-feeds and Twitter-feeds. I’m not talking about the minor league blogs such as mine.  I’m talking about the real deals, the mega followed possibly highly controversial.  Maybe it’s a break through blog, a new shining star in the vast universe of blogs.  Recently one such blog has been gracing the screen of my Facebook page daily, you may have heard of it: 23 Things To Do Instead Of Getting Engaged Before You’re 23.  Due to the fact that I was married at age 22, I knew that I probably wouldn’t see eye to eye with the author of this blog.  I faced enough criticism when I was engaged, I didn’t need to go through hearing why I was too young again.  But it kept popping up! So I read it.  I read it and I didn’t love it,  but I liked parts of it..  

I told my husband about it in a “you won’t believe what I read” kind of way but our conversation lasted about 2 minutes ending with me thinking “marriage is awesome.”  Pretty great considering I swore at a young age that I would never get married.

Then the inevitable began.  The wide range of opposing blogs started to pop up. Someone even disliked the blog so much they began their blog because of it! That one kept popping up on my screen too, so I read it, among a few others.

I’m not an expert at blogging… or at being a good person, Jesus has to teach me a lot and be super patient with me. BUT I didn’t really like that people kept trying to argue against this blogger about her post.

I’m not saying that it is not good to voice your opinion or stand your ground, but sometimes people hiding behind their computer screens can be a bit too snarky and even be just plain mean. Cyber bullying is a thing and I see it too much.

I have this  belief I always share with my students, something I have learned the hard way through my short life’s experiences.

1. It is always easier to be mean than nice

2. It is always easier to ridicule than compliment

3. It is always easier to criticize an idea than to remain open minded to it

4. It is easier to be negative than positive

The same may not be true for your life. You may have a really easy time keeping a positive mind set.  You may be kind to all people, It may not be difficult for you to always see the best in others, and you may mostly stay open to someone’s view points and ideas.  For myself, and for most of the people I have encountered, this just isn’t the case.  For students who are struggling I share my ideas with them and I conclude by asking the following of them:

Please don’t settle for what is easy, always fight for what is good.

I write about some pretty controversial topics on here, namely Christianity.  I talk about Jesus a lot, or I hope I do. I talk about my relationship with Him, my struggles.  I share portions of my life.  People use the word vulnerable a lot in reference to my blog, and I am ok with that, because to me, that allows Jesus to come through.  He was vulnerable and in my vulnerability His love will hopefully come through.

If ever my blog graces the news-feeds of hundreds or thousands of Facebook pages or Twitter feeds, then there are bound to be people that do not like what I have to say.  Some just won’t agree, because people just don’t agree about Jesus right now.  But my hope is that people will be kind and respectful in their disagreement.  

Rather than picking a fight in my comment section or writing a blog post that that points out everywhere I went I wrong, I hope they will bring their arguments to me.  Message me, call me, write me, I don’t care, I just hope they attempt to come to me.  That they ask me about the things they disagree with and argue their point to me so that we can dialogue.  Maybe there will be too many who disagree to talk to!  Hopefully despite what they disagree with they can find some good in what I write.

I’m writing this because I think we need to be kinder to each other on the internet.  

Does this make me lame? Maybe. I am indeed writing an entire blog post about being kind to one another.  Maybe this is the teacher in me that hates to see students fight unnecessarily or belittle one another.

It’s easier to dismiss someone’s ideas, it is much more difficult to invest in them, or at least consider them.  This blog entry about enjoying the single life, which gets a little snarky towards my folk (we who marry young), reminds me of how much I want to travel, of how much I want to see and taste and experience in this life.  It makes me love the thirst for adventure that exists within me.  It especially makes me grateful that I have a partner who has brought this out in me, who makes me more courageous, who makes me the most me, and will make the colorful experiences of this life more vibrant.

I hope that I will find the benefit in what someone has to offer always, that I can always appreciate their courageous choice to voice what they believe in.  My argument isn’t perfect, but readers of my blog know that I embrace imperfection, everyone’s, including my own.  I wear it on my sleeve, I drink it up, and let it spill out.  Because in my imperfection shines my Jesus, the only perfect man that ever lived, died, and lives on.

 

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