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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.

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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…

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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.

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.

 

Today,  my husband took our dogs out to the bathroom to take care of business. Twas like most other potty breaks, beginning with Gracie whining at the door, the battle to put her leash on, the trip down the stairs hoping not to run into any other dogs in the narrow hallways, the quest for the perfect poopy patch of grass, and then the clean up.

However, unlike most other potty breaks, during the clean up time, someone driving by decided to take it upon themselves to yell at my husband between the big dump and his walk to the bag station a few feet away.  As this unidentified person drove past they yelled at my husband to “pick that expletive up!”

My husband shared this with me in his ever calm voice while on his way to pick me up while I was walking out the door ready to leave work for the day.  I thought about getting mad, and then just decided that this best represented my day, life, and people, so instead I laughed because after a day like today, laughter is what I needed.

Today has sucked.

For reasons I’m not going to share.  The only important thing to know is that it totally bombed and by God’s good grace I walked away laughing and loving what I do.

After being let go from my job last year I have been fueled by the insecurities of what I did wrong and what might go wrong.  I have been determined to show the world that I can do my job, that I can do it well, and that letting me go was a mistake that no other boss would want to make.

Today I have finally had to face the foolishness and emptiness in this motive as I learned one of the crappiest life lessons EVER:

Sometimes you can work your expletive off.
You can do everything by the book.
You can honor those in charge.
You can even be acknowledge as excelling.
You can do this with integrity.
You can give literally everything you have to do the job right

but one person is going to drive by, see a brief snapshot, make an assumption, and you come out looking like:

the lazy one
the rebellious one
the rude one

I was so angry. So angry today as I watched everything I had tried to build come crumbling down. By the book I knew I still had parents to contact about grades, but quite frankly I wanted the book to go to hell.  I wanted to go home, curl up in a ball, maybe cry, maybe just groan as I fell asleep, dreading the next day of work.

However, by God’s good grace I began my phone calls.

And I had one beautiful, wonderful, hilarious, student pretend to be his Dad when I asked to speak to his parent. Oh my gosh I almost started laughing while still on the phone! I was asking this student “are you sure this is the parent or guardian of . . .” trying to hold in the urge to burst out laughing.  It got even funnier when I called him on his obvious lie, made him hand the phone to his parent, only to end up talking with his younger sister. His sister was not as determined to keep the act up and quickly caved, admitting she was indeed not a grown adult responsible for this student.

I laughed and I laughed while talking with my precious wonderful hilarious student, reminding him to study for his final tomorrow and telling him what he needed to be aiming to make on his exam.  I hung up smiling, loving this student, with the faces of so many others flashing before me.  My heart grew warmer and warmer despite the heaviness of a truly sucky day.

And that is when I finally, finally, gave up on trying to please everyone at this school, maybe in this world.  These other people, they’re just people driving by, making assumptions based on their limited views and personal experiences, and they’re all different and inconsistent, and I can’t keep working and living to please them, because I will never be at peace, and I will never be fulfilled.  Maybe one day they will say great job, but the next they’ll be yelling from their car for me to “pick that expletive up!”

I am here for the students, for these wonderful, beautiful, hilarious, precious students.  For these growing adults with the hearts of children.  My heart beats for them, my service is to them, everything else is just expletive.

And finally, most importantly, I throw off these desires for the ok from others, seeing how God has compelled me to places where I face everything else I try to worship.  I see He brings me to a place where my soul says “all I need is You.”

I see in this place that I truly don’t care where I am, what I do or who I am with, so long as God is there and that HE is for me.

I am thankful that He is challenging me, breaking me, enticing me to come closer into His presence.  I am glad that he lets me see that life is not always fair, that things and people will not always make sense, and that sometimes, yes, you will do everything right and this world is going to yell at you to pick your expletive up. I am glad. So glad, because I can refocus on my home, refocus on my maker, my Father, and I can say: Your will be done.

Your will be done.  Wherever I go, whoever I’m with, whatever I do, your will be done.  I don’t care if I’m homeless, I don’t care if I’m in Houston, Malaysia, the moon, I don’t care if I do or don’t have money, I don’t care if I’m teaching, advocating, parenting, I don’t care, so long as You are with me and that You are for me.  Because if You are for me, everything else and everyone else can drive by all they want, who, who can be against me.

Bring on the rain, the war, the pain, the sorrow, drench me in the sufferings of this world, You are my God.

You hung on a piece of wood, bleeding before those who cursed you.

You gave up heaven to be born in a manger with livestock to welcome you to this world.

You took on flesh and death and said “forgive them.”

You made the way for a gentile named Hailey.

If you are for me, who, WHO can be against me?

I love You and happy early birthday.

I’m drinking my first pumpkin spice latte of the season, and it is delicious.   I wish I could say I was super content and happy sipping on my Starbucks right now, but truth be told I’m really just annoyed and frustrated.

Great way to start a blog entry right?

I’m annoyed because for the past nearly month I just haven’t been writing.

I’ve been living for people and not for my God and I have been miserable.  Trying to live up to people’s standards is awful.  Worrying about what people will think is endless.  Feeling pressure to write what was “right” led me to writing nothing at all.

Add this to the fact that time spent in and with my Father has been nonexistent and you have a very grouchy, very self-centered Hailey.

Am I writing right?

I’m so sick of worrying about this, because if I were focused on the One who can tell me, I wouldn’t have to worry at all.  Once again, I’m worried about people.

Why do I write?

To love.  To love the people who are just as human and confused as me.  To help others find the answers I myself am also seeking.  My words aren’t the end all be all of truth, but in love and encouragement I hope pieces of truth can be found.

I am so human, and for this I have felt so guilty the past few months.  So wrong for my honesty in my own humanity.  And where does this come from? Not my God.  Not my God.

I have hid for so long it feels now from people, what they may think, and worse what they may say…

The past month has been hard and I’m tired of hiding and sorting through it in the dark, in isolation.

Has anyone ever felt insecure?  Have you ever felt insecure?

Has anyone ever doubted that they could be something? Have you?

Has anyone ever looked back on a moment, a time, and shuddered in regret? Have you?

Because I have.  This past month my insecurities have skyrocketed from no where.  I doubt that I have what it takes to love greatly, lead greatly, speak greatly, things I long to do. I am remembering things I have said to people, things I have done and I’m embarrassed.  So embarrassed by my past.

Every time I sit down to write my post I see that one person, those two people, that complain.  I hear that voice that says “you can’t do this, no one wants to hear from you.”

Writing right…

Is there such a thing?  Surely there are aspects, but is there any way to write perfectly right?

I don’t think so.

My gift, from God, is my humanity.  His permission, to be human, to be messy.  My entries may say too many things some days in all the wrong ways, but that is my mistake to make, and God has given me the freedom to make those mistakes.

His grace is my foundation as I write imperfectly.

How many times will I write the same things before people fully understand: I am not perfect, I don’t have to be, He already is for me.

How many times will I write this before I fully believe it myself?

At the end of the day, this pressure, this insecurity, is only permitted by myself.  Just because people say things, doesn’t mean I have to be affected by them.  

How long will it take for me to understand this?

How long will it take for me to fully understand in my heart, that it is okay to be human.  To be imperfect.

Writing right.

I’m sure that there is a way to write right, I already know some of the basics.  I know what pearls not to throw before potential swine.  I know what options to speak delicately about.  I know I have a lot left to learn.

But will I let myself learn?

Will I let myself fall so that I can get back up, or will I shut down at one negative comment?

How devoted am I to my cause? My God?

Am I willing to get dirty, to be gritty?

So many questions and only one response: My God I hope so.

Of all the entries I have written, this is the one with the least resolution.  I think it needs to be that way.

This captures my limited perspective.  I will not always have the answers, I only hope I’ll always be willing to search for them.

This is me, this is my humanity, the day I’m no longer taken aback by it will be a beautiful one.

 

It is Fajita Friday here in the Hendricks household.  I’m enjoying a nice cold Dos Equis and Tim is grilling the meat.  It has been a while since I have posted, and a lot has changed.  This change is the main reason for my sudden lack in posts.  For the past month(s) so much has been happening and though Tim and I have been trying to sort through it all, we have been lacking in clear definitive answers. We still are, but we now know where the next week, month(s), maybe even year, is heading.  Let me start from March:

Low-light Number 1:  I was not asked back to Raines High School for the 2013-2014 year.  The day before spring break I got the news and I was bummed, big time.  Unfortunately, it was my pride that kicked in with the “why was I not enough?” “what did I do wrong?” “why did they not want me?”  Do you see the problem with all of those questions? I was focused solely on me, myself, and I.  This did not pass quickly, but true sorrow grew alongside it as I began to think of the students I had been learning from, working alongside of, and investing in.  Realizing I would not be at RHS first hand to witness their graduation next year or the year after really hurt my heart.  However, I am very grateful both for my time at Raines, and for being let go, not only because of the job I have now (I will get to that shortly), but also because being let go kind of snapped me out of a slumber I had been in.  Not wanting to step on anyone’s toes and trying to slowly figure out my place at the school, I had been very quiet, and kept to myself for the most part, feeling very insecure in who I was and what I was doing many days.  But for some odd reason, being told I was better off elsewhere re-lit my competitive fire and I was ready to do great, be great, and succeed greatly.  Perfect for interviewing.

High-light Number 1: I did not waste time moping around.  I believed in myself, I believed in the gifts and talents the Lord has equipped me with, and in the face of rejection I felt more confident than ever.  The Holy Spirit used this time to show me who I was made to be, and what my Maker thought of me, and having been made in His great image, I too was made to be great.  I was no longer going to wait for someone, some other human, to tell me I was great, I already knew this because of who had made me.  This resulted in me first chopping my hair off.  I had been wanting to get a pixie cut for a very long time and so I went for it, no longer being willing to sit around for someone to tell me I should because I could.  I just did, and I love my new hair!  Then it was all about filling out applications, updating resumes, sending e-mails, typing cover letters, etc.  I spent many delightful hours in Starbucks with an ice cold coffee next to a sunny window beaming with excitement while writing all about the thing I love to do: teach.  Though it was a disappointing start to my spring break, being able to write to so many people about my love for students and teaching, and my belief in the impact of education was awesome and encouraging.  The first week after break I took a day off to drive my resume around Houston to schools so I could personally hand it to the principal.  I got one interview out of doing this, which is one more than I thought I would get,  and the principal was impressed with me.  He did not have any openings at the time, but told me he would call the curriculum director at Lamar High School.  He must have, because the next day I was called about an interview. It went wonderfully, and I was offered a job on the spot.  I am very excited to officially announce that I am going to be teaching math and coaching drill team at Lamar High School this next year!  No longer a long term sub, I have a contract, a name tag, and benefits.  If you can’t read it in this very long paragraph, I am smiling ear to ear, feeling blessed beyond belief.

High-Light #2: Despite being so excited about my new job, I was still very dedicated to the one I held.  Knowing I would have a hard time saying goodbye to Raines, I by no means wanted it to be easy for them to say goodbye to me.  I did not want to harm or hinder the school in any way, but to do the very best I could until the end.  I did not do this perfectly, but I learned a lot in the process.  Helping at risk students succeed is incredibly rewarding and worth all of the hard work that goes into the challenge.  However, amid all of this excitement of students passing state assessments, I got a text from Tim one day reading “what if I get a significant raise to move to Malaysia for a year?”

What.

Naturally after pacing around the room for a bit I googled Malaysia, as I had no clue where it was until that point.  I called him, we talked, he applied, I was stressed, he was accepted, and now the earliest he could leave is January, which means I can stay here and teach and join him next summer, however nothing is official.  Nothing.  If something does become official I will write more about that later, but just know that a year in Malaysia was thrown in to the mix in April.  Like I said,  a lot has been happening.

High-Light #3: We’re moving! Finally, we will be living IN the city and we could NOT be more excited.  Next Saturday we will be loading up a truck, and heading in.  We love our new apartment, we love the area we are living in, and I can literally walk to my new school.  No more long drives to get to church, or friends, or small group.

High-Light #4: Spiritual growth. Amid all of the possibilities and opportunities, there has been an increased need for patience, peace, and trust in our God.  The God.  Jesus.  This has been hard, and I know the Lord has been breaking me down, revealing to me the very selfish spaces in my heart.  More extraordinary though, for the first time I have been able to witness Tim’s heart being broken.  I am seeing him moved in incredible ways by big things, things we both aren’t ready to discuss, but I am grateful, so grateful, for a partner that cares for God, for me, and for this world.  I’m not sure what the Lord is doing, but I know that He is demanding more of both of us.  He wants our whole lives, not just part, He wants us to lose our whole life, to not be attached to any thing, so that we can find true life, and experience life at its fullest.  What this looks like, we have no idea, we’re still waiting and trusting.

High-Light #5: WE MADE IT ONE WHOLE YEAR!!! For our one year anniversary Tim recreated our first date, with a picnic by the lake.  It was lovely.  I got to feed turtles which I found to be thrilling, only Tim could understand my delight in feeding turtles.  I love that.  I love my partner, my friend, my beloved.  Then we went to see Man of Steel where we both fist pumped every time there was a reference to Kansas.

Ok, that isn’t everything, but it is some of the big things, and like I said, it’s Fajita Friday, the second best day of the week (first being Taco Thursday, we really love Mexican food).  If you read this whole thing, wow, thank you for loving me so much, seriously, that you would want to know about me and my partner, our life, means so much!

It was late, the sun had gone down, the apartment was a disaster, and it was time to start thinking about bed time (teachers have to get up early).

Our typical routine of dinner, a show, and then bed had been interrupted.  A typical night completely derailed  all because of four simple words: “tell me the truth.”

Now we sat, staring at each other, crying.

It was late, the sun had gone down, and for the first time I felt how truly young and dumb I really was.  It was one of those “God, we’re only kids how the hell are we supposed to figure out marriage” moments.  He cried, then I cried, we cried, then I cried some more.

Marriage is hard, but it is so good.

We had come up against our first true blunder in or marriage.  No more bickering over soccer games or stress levels, no more wondering why he wouldn’t take the dogs outside or why she wouldn’t just chill out for a second.  This was a blunder that helped us see a huge hole in our marriage, and it hurt.

It wasn’t a him problem, or a her problem, it was a we problem.

The next day I went to work and received disappointing news that crushed me.  Normally I would always call Tim, and out of habit I still did, but it felt hard, forced, not natural like being with or going to him always has.  I hung up the phone feeling confused and hurt and guilty.

I came home feeling heavy, and confused as to how I should react to Tim when he came home. Do we sit and talk more? Do we continue feeling this pain in silence? Do we act like it never happened just so we can actually try and enjoy the night?

Little did I know Tim had taken care of these questions earlier that day. I walked into my apartment to find it spotless, clean, neat, and orderly.

For those of you who don’t know, it stresses me out to have things messy.  If my environment is messy it is hard for my thought process to be orderly.  I can’t explain this but it just is.  Messy spaces bring me down in a weird way.

As I walked throughout our apartment finding not just one room, or two rooms, but the whole thing clean I began to cry.  I knew Tim hadn’t done this out of guilt or of feeling like he had to get out of the dog house (like I said, and I can’t emphasize enough that this was a WE problem) he had done this out of love.  He knew that  I enjoyed having a clean space, and without even realizing the news I would receive later in the day, he just wanted to make life a little less burdensome for me, because he loves me, and wanted to serve me in some way.

Well that snapped me out of my confusion quickly and when he came home I hugged him and cried again, this time out of gratitude.

The door to communication had been opened and we realized that there was a hole in our marriage, one that had been there for a while, but that we were just now seeing.  There was a problem, and we began strategizing how to fight against it.  We came together to fight for each other, for us.

Fast forward 3 weeks, and once again the apartment is a disaster (we’re working on ways to KEEP it clean throughout our busy weeks, we have not mastered this).  Our daily routines have resumed with some exciting additions, such as guests having come down to see us.  We’re laughing, I’m crying, we’re having fun, we’re feeling stressed, we’re trying to look to God, we’re just living life.

This morning I woke up and realized how grateful I am for marriage.

Over the past week I’ve been thrown into a position where I’m having to look at myself a lot;  I have to reflect on my strengths, and my weaknesses, I have to believe in myself, and be ready to show others why they should believe in me.   In that sentence alone I mentioned myself 5 times.

I’m not trying to be prideful, and I don’t want to be prideful, I’ve prayed to the Lord several times this week first thanking him for the supernatural confidence that had been filling me, and then second confessing that I was worried that I was actually just a puffed up marshmallow of a person full of pride.  I think God answered this prayer of gratitude and concern this morning as I laid next to Tim enjoying the first few moments of daylight snuggling in bed with my partner (I treasure these moments as during the week we don’t get them).  That’s when it occurred to me one of the beautiful aspects of marriage: you’re constantly needing to think of someone else.

Breakfast: what foods should we invest in?

Money: what does Tim think about this budget plan?

Work: how can I get my work done prior to Tim coming home so that I can spend that time with him?

Recreational: when is Tim busy doing things, I will try to plan my events alongside those.

Lunch: what foods should we invest in, frozen meals, sandwhiches?

Hairstyles: what is tim comfortable with? How much maintence do I want to put into a hairstyle, this affects our budget.

Dogs: should we go to the dog park together tonight? Is he willing to go for me so that I can get things done? Am I willing to go for him so he can get stuff done?

Dinner: Tim doesn’t like mushrooms, I’m craving mushrooms, how can I make a meal where I satisfy this craving without making him feel like he is going to throw up.

Bed time: Tim wants to stay up and watch a game tonight, do I stay up with him so that we can go to sleep at the same time, or go to bed and sacrifice that extra time together?

At every moment, in everyday, my thoughts have to go back to my partner, my friend, my beloved, my husband.  I am so grateful for this.  At every moment I am forced to think about someone outside of myself.  I don’t always love doing this, but I do it because I love the one I’m thinking about, and I am grateful that this causes me to take my thoughts off of myself.

The dictionary defines pride as having a super high opinion of oneself. I think though that having a super low opinion of oneself is also pride.  Having an obsession with yourself, whether it be through arrogance or insecurity, puts a person a risk.

Out of arrogance one risks getting to the point of pride where they say Look at all I can do and have done, I don’t need God.

Out of insecurity one risks getting to the point of pride where they say Look at where I am or what I am not, not even God can help me.

Pride, in either form, challenges the power of our Perfect and Loving Lord.  Focus on the self puts one at risk of distancing themselves from God.

Marriage is a beautiful thing, because when good times come I don’t become puffed up with pride to the point where I think I can do all things on my own, and when the bad times come I don’t become so consumed with prideful insecurity that I think no one, not even God himself, could help me out of my situation.  I don’t, because my thoughts are not solely on ME.

I’m thinking what can I do to help my beloved, how can I build him up through this situation? How can I support him through this new trial? How can I make him feel like the amazing man God made him to be? How can I show him that I care about him? How can I get past my insecurities to better love him? How can I level the confidence I feel on my good day to build him up on his bad day?

Marriage is a beautiful thing for so many reasons.  It has helped me grow so much over the past 9 months.  It has challenged me in areas I didn’t know existed, let alone needed to grow.  God has worked through our marriage to stretch me in ways I never perceived.

I am utterly grateful that I have a God that loves me so much, who knows my needs, and gave me a partner to walk through this life with. I am utterly grateful for a night of grieving over a hole in our marriage, that as Tim and I work together to fill, we are drawn even closer, something I arrogantly thought impossible prior to marriage.

Marriage is not easy.  It goes against every natural human instinct to fend for yourself.

But Marriage is so good.

**I want to make a quick note that if you are unmarried I do not think that your are prideful, only you and God know where you stand in that area.  God began working on my humility prior to marriage, we still have long ways to go after marriage, marriage has just been a helpful outlet to see and help me in working through some of my prominent areas of pride.  I am confident that God is doing incredible things in his followers whether or not, in the words of Beyonce, they “put a ring on it.”

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