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The other night I was somewhat anxious as Tim and I drove to the grocery store (or maybe it was McDonald’s), trying to put the pieces together of where Tim and I were going long term.  We are in the middle of a small transition yet again as we have decided to move in closer to the city when our lease is up at our current apartment.  However, this presents a litany of decisions we need to consider.  How far into the city, how much do we want to spend on rent, how much space will that allow us (um, with two dogs is that enough??), is an apartment the best choice, should we consider renting a house, should we consider buying a house (answer: hell to the no),  how do we find a place near the city and a good commuting distance for both our jobs, will I even have my job next year, should that be a factor in our decision making?

That’s a long list and that’s barely scratching the surface.  We’re trying to figure things out long term even if only little by little.  How much do we want to spend on rent, because that affects how much goes towards paying off debt and saving up for our house.  How soon do we want to purchase a home because that affects how much we’re willing to put into saving for it.

1 year, 2 years, 3 years 4?

Is it even right for us to be thinking about purchasing a house? Y’ know, since we might not be here in Houston forever.  And if we’re not going to be here forever how much effort should we really put into establishing ourselves? Why put myself out there for friendships and community when there is a chance we might have to pick up and start all over again.

I shifted in my seat and tried to jokingly present my concerns to Tim.  “Isn’t it funny how we still have no idea where we’re going in life?”

Tim could sense that I was not joking, but that there was some stress in my worried question.  What he said next made him the hottest husband of the year.

He squeezed my hand, smiled, and said “But we know where we are now, and if we need to go elsewhere in the future, He’ll let us know.”

So Sexy.

That’s my man, squeezing my hand and gently speaking words of wisdom directly from the Lord into my heart.  A marriage moment I hope to never forget. Simple yet profound (and so hotT**, did I say that already?).

We don’t know where we’re going, but we know where we are, and that’s what I am to focus on.

“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.”

Matthew 6:34 The Message

Many things have been brought to my heart and mind that I need to devote my attention to right now: serving my current students, building a solid foundation with my husband, forming community, finding the beauty in humility.

Yes, the Lord is currently doing many things in my life that I need to devote my attention to, he has brought me here now, I know where I am now, and that is where my entire attention should be.  I don’t need to get worked up about tomorrow’s endless possibilities, and I don’t need to be afraid, because God Himself promised that He would meet my needs when the time comes.  So for now I focus on where I am, I can do this in peace and joy because if the time comes where something needs to change, I will know because He will tell me, and He will help me.

And this is very good, because I am free to simply enjoy the ride, relax and find joy in the drive, whether that be to the grocery store or McDonald’s.

**Tim wanted to ensure that hotT was spelled with two T’s, hence I made sure that the second T was highly visible.

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After about a month away, I’m back! For the past month I’ve gone back and forth on things to write about, ultimately landing in between just taking time to enjoy my break and feeling (misplaced and unnecessary) pressure to write something spectacular.   Tim and I enjoyed two weeks of vacation over my winter break in Kansas.  We were finally able to see family again as well as get a hold of a few friends amid the busy holiday schedule.  I was very thankful for our time in Kansas, but I think I was more grateful to come back to Texas. Not because I was glad to leave, but because I was actually excited to return.  Return to warm weather, a job I like, the home I have with Tim, our bible study, Which Wich, and warm weather (did I say that already?).

Right now while I write this Tim is watching the KU v. K-State game (rock chalk), my dogs are playing together, and we have the windows open allowing fresh air to blow through our apartment (yeah that’s right, open windows in January).  The reason I decided to write tonight was because I finally had that moment of i love my life.  That moment I’ve been waiting for  since July. The moment where I realize that my home is here.  After several lunch dates, double dates, bible studies, hangouts, etc.  it is clear that Tim and I are actually forming community.  We have a lot of forming and growing ahead of us, but it is happening (praise the Lord, oh my soul, worship His holy name).

I’m syncing,  he is syncing,  we are syncing together.  We have our nice little family of 4 (just us and the pups, no babies in this belly), a city we are learning, and weather you’d have to pay me millions to leave (for maybe a day or so).  Even after days like today (which was pretty discouraging at work) I love my life, my journey, my husband, my family, and my Lord, all of which I find myself syncing into rhythm with each day.  I’m stopping here tonight, a nice short entry, but I’m adding a few pictures of my life here for those who would like a visual!

Over the past several weeks I have fallen into a spiritual slumber.  Not intentionally, I did not get bored and tell myself I don’t care any more, I have cared the entire time.  However due to the fact that I have repeatedly received news that is hard to bear my soul it would seem has grown weak.  Weak to the point where when I tried to pray, I just dropped my head helplessly, only saying to God that I didn’t know where or how to begin anymore.  Weak to the point where I started to lose sight of the truly good hope in the world, because I was beginning to get an up close look at the darkness once again.  Anguish and anger,  these things have been at the edge of my heart, knocking and wanting to enter.

But these things are bad.  Right? According to anyone in normal day conversation, or even prayer groups to bring these things up would surely be met by a “Jesus says not to worry” or and apathetic “there’s nothing we can really do, but pray.”  Or in my case a shrug with a helpless “I don’t know.”

Friday as I sat in my car and learned of the shooting in Connecticut I shut the emotions out again.  So selfishly I shut them out.  I was so tired, I couldn’t take it any more.  I couldn’t take anymore dark news.  I couldn’t hear about things going wrong one more time.  Even in a severe case like this I thought of me and closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and turned the volume down.

“God… something. I need to say something.”

And I couldn’t.  I could not, or maybe I would not, at this point I’m not sure.

Monday I began reading the crucifixion story in Matthew, and again I shut emotions out.  I read it like they were simply empty words on a blank page.  The only passage that finally highlighted itself to my heart was one I had for so long hated.

 “And as they were eating, he said,“Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.”
Matthew 26:21

A heavy cringe came over me.  Yuck, it sounded so bibely.  So typically “christian” I just couldn’t stand it.  “Truly I say to you…”

I couldn’t stop myself from thinking why? Why did Jesus who was supposed to be such a great speaker use the phrase so much, overuse this phrase so much.  Didn’t he know that I couldn’t take it seriously anymore? Could anyone? What did that even mean “Truly I say to you.”  I am a very blessed wretched woman that I have a God that is so good when I spit in his face within my heart.

Truly I say to you, I am being honest, I am bearing my soul to you, genuinely, honestly, I am holding nothing back when I say tonight, I will be betrayed, can you imagine how this must feel?

Oh.  Wow.  Can I imagine how this must feel? Can I imagine to be love with no bounds binding myself in skin to die a painful and humiliating death to save the very people who left me after I gave to them everything.  No.

My spiritual eyes flew open, and out of a dreary sleep I finally woke up.

Truly I say to you, you are not alone, this pain in the anger and anguish that you have been feeling, you are not alone, honestly, genuinely, truly I bear my soul to you and say that I have felt the same.  Do not hide from these emotions, embrace them, open your eyes and accept the world as it is, and what it will never be: your home.

Please, read what I say write closely.

We live in a broken world,  a fallen world, a world of sickness, of pain, of wretchedness, of greed, of murder, of darkness.

Please, read what I write hear closely:

We live in a world that is so dark, innocent children are shot to death.

Do not ignore this, do not hide from this, do not dilute this with cheap worldly things that rot and become waste.  Look this dark world straight to its core and recognize it for what it truly is: twisted, broken, lost, fallen.

If it was not clear to me before it is abundantly clear to me now, this world is full of evil, and a war of evil is being waged against the good, and the worst thing I could do is ignore this or distract myself as a coping mechanism.

Feel the anger, feel the anguish.  Fall to your knees in despair and cry out to me! Cry out to me like I cried out to my Father.  Let the pain of this world overwhelm you and cry out to me so that I may love through you into this dark world.  

This is a world at war. Though the war has been won the battles rage on, and one of the worst things I could do is ignore this (the second would be to obsess over it).

I feel it in my heart God calling me to put on my armor, to prepare for battle, and to fight.  Fight to bring love into this world in whichever way God grieves my heart towards, whether that be to kids through YoungLife, to people without clean water through Living Water, to the homeless by giving of the plenty I have, I need to let my heart be grieved the way my Father’s heart is grieved and let him love through my brokenness into this broken world.

I need to reject this world as my final home so that I may live contentedly as I wait in expectancy for my eternal home so that the darkness does not overwhelm me again, so that I may fight darkness tirelessly with the light given to me.

This is not an entry that is fun to read, and it is not an entry that has been fun to write, but I write it with passion and earnestness, because I feel that this is a truth that every follower of Christ should be embracing. God promised that the world would not get better, but that up until the end it would continue to get worse, but the same God promised that he would be with us always, to the very end of the age, and therefore, till the end of the age we will live out into this world, going where before we would not have gone, to the hungry, the rejected, the imprisoned, the sick, the orphaned, and wherever God may call your heart and my heart to go.

We serve a mighty God, so we should live into this world mightily, as warriors for the King.

I could continue writing forever and ever about the reasons I am ready to stand, but I need to stop myself.  I pray that God would give life to my words.

 

 

Happy Friday! With only a few short days before Thanksgiving break Tim and I have been planning ahead for our first holiday season together as husband and wife here in Houston.  Planning may not be the best word for how our arrangements are falling together, it’s been more of a learning process than a planning one.  Our learning has lead to laughter and frustration, but ultimately no plans.  So planning is apparently not the word at all for what’s been going on in the Hendricks apartment.

It all started a few nights ago as Tim told me what our responsibilites were for a thanksgiving meal with Jason Baker:  rolls, stuffing, something else… I started drifting off… and deviled eggs.

Umm what?

Deviled Eggs?! That’s crazy! Right? …right?

Apparently not.  I found out that Tim’s family has deviled eggs every Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Umm what?

Deviled Eggs?! That’s an EASTER side dish. NOT Thanksgiving! Right? … right?

Apparently not! Oh the year of firsts.  So many unexpected little twists and turns, some significant, others just deviled eggs.

Tim left his family to be married to me, and I left my family to be married to him and now we have two ways of living that we’re meshing together, bringing us to discrepencies like which holiday owns deviled eggs.

I called my mom the next day laughing because Tim just couldn’t believe that we didn’t eat deviled eggs on Thanksgiving.  She supported my claim that indeed we never had fixed deviled eggs and laughed as she told me simply “it looks like you have a new Thanksgiving dish!”

And I do! It’ll be different than what I’m used to, but Tim and I will be fixing deviled eggs this Thanksgiving and I’m sure I’ll enjoy them then just as much as I do on Easter.

This is the sometimes funny, other times enlightening, and occasionaly frustrating part of marriage.  You take two people who have learned two ways of living and you put them together and they create a new way of living, keeping some of their own traditions and molding them together.  This means that we will alway eat deviled eggs at Thanksgiving now, and that no matter what we will eat chinese when we’re sick, it means we don’t always turn the AC down at night,  that sports are going to be a passtime we make time for, that starbucks is a place we find money for, it means sometimes when one of us is stressed we talk it out, and when the other one is stressed we allow space and time to think it out, it means that planning ahead is important, but that allowing time for flexibility is needed, and this list could go on forever.

Being married means you learn a whole lot of things.  Sometimes it means you don’t go to your favorite resteraunt one night, or that you watch The Lorax even though it’s not really how you want to spend your evening (thanks Tim).  It’s give and take.  And it’s fun! As long as we let it be fun and we don’t get upset over things as trivial as deviled eggs or watching animated kid movies.  We learn to embrace the other’s way of living, not worrying over spilt milk, because the real trials will come so we don’t need to make trials out of chinese food or thermostats.

None of this is to say we don’t get frustrated sometimes.  Just last night I found out that our lunch with J-Bay is actually a big deal with all of Tim’s old roommates back home.  I got really frustrated about not knowing this and Tim and I had a good hour of us just arguing over our pizza as it got cold.

Apparently Tim had been telling me these things everynight as we went to bed, and I mean literally as we went to bed. I was falling asleep while he would let me know what the weekend plans were, which meant that I:

  1.  wasn’t a part of the planning and
  2. didn’t actually hear the plans.

Tim didn’t mean for this to happen, he was actually trying to help me and thought he was doing me a favor because I’ve told him before that I don’t like to make plans.  I had to clarify that to me not making plans meant I literally liked having a whole free day with no plans, not that I was opposed to the planning process.  Then Tim had to  had to talk to me about how plans were necessary, especially around the holidays.  He had to give a little, I had to give a little. And eventually we were able to sit down and eat the pizza Tim had wanted while watching the movie I had chosen.  We learned and we came one step closer to molding his life into my life, and my life into his.  We came one step closer into molding his life with my life to create our life.

Marriage is a funny thing, and it definitely changes the way you live, communicate, and as we’re learning, eat, and as long as we let it, the changes are always for the better.

This week was by far the WORST week of teaching yet! Between relentlessly unforgiving radicals, fist fights, and ungrateful students (love them, but… it’s the truth) Wednesday, I was ready to quit.  I called Tim that afternoon on my way home and told him I was not going back.

It all started Monday, when the lesson I intended to take half a period began its 4 day journey.  I was teaching special right triangles, which is a very abstract concept compared to other topics we learn in geometry.  I quickly realized that the only thing that could be more frustrating than teaching special right triangles, was learning about special right triangles.  After 50 minutes of unsuccessful hands on discovery I gave up and resorted to lecture and note taking, thinking if I can demonstrate the development of special right triangles THEN they will be able to see and understand, I just need to talk and write through it for them to see.  Oh, how sorry I feel for Monday me.

I’m not sure how, but at some point in the conversation this happened:

Me: “Ok, if I have A and I add another A to it, what will I have?”

Student 1: B!

Student 2: 6.2!

Student 3: 11!

Me: (silently, in my head) what the hell…. b? 6.2? crap… (out loud again…) ok… think of it this way, if i have an apple and I add another apple to it then I’ll have

Students: 2 apples!!

Me: awesome! ok so now I’ll just say A instead of apple.  if I have A, and I add another A, what will I get?

Students: 2 A! This is easy! This is stupid!

Me: ok that’s awesome, so what if I have A^2 and I add another A^2? what will I have?

Students: C^2!

Me: ….. (stunned silence)

Students: I don’t get it, this is hard, this is stupid!

At one point I began talking about taking apples^bannanas… and eventually I just turned around and started gently tapping my head against the white board out of frustration.  My class started apologizing which tore my heart apart.  I told them in the last seconds I had that this was NOT their fault and that my frustration was with my inability to teach them this concept.

In an hour and 20 minutes my entire lesson plan came crashing down (which if you’ve ever made a lesson plan, you know how heart wrenching that is).  So I quickly revised my plan for the next period and the lesson went better… minimally.  The next day I tried to repeat my revised lesson plan with my students in first period only to have everything come crashing down AGAIN, and then to find that the “improvement” in my other classes was not showing up in the data (grades).  2 days, 1 lesson, and 0 growth out of my students.

Repetition.

That will fix the problem.  I’ll just have them do the same thing they don’t know how to do over and over and then magically they will get it.

I actually thought that would work… poor wednesday me…

Needless to say that didn’t, and even working with students individually was not helping to get the concept through. On top of this when fifth period rolled around I almost had a fight break out in my class WHILE visitors from another school came in and another student protested against geometry. W.O.W.

NOTHING WAS WORKING! 3 different lessons which resulted in 3 failed attempts, and on top of that classroom discipline just seemed to disappear.  I went home and I cried. and I cried. and I cried. Then I called a teacher to ask for advice and she said to give it one more shot.  Look up different ideas and give it one more shot.

Well by that time I needed to go to bible study, so before I could plan yet ANOTHER lesson over what I was beginning to think was the devil’s subject, Tim and I got in the car where I pouted all the entire drive while eating nearly half the grapes we were taking to share (how rude).     I made it through dinner barely.  However, when it came time for the actual study part of the evening, while the leader prayed, I went to the bathroom and wept.

Being so far away from family

Feeling so distant from friends

The stress of trying to study for my certification exam

The exhaustion of a full time job and a certification class

The feeling of failure after being so sure I had finally found my rhythm

Exasperation.

Am I doing what God wants me to be doing?

I felt so sure of it… until now. 

Were we where God wanted us?

If yes, then why was it taking so long to form intimate community?

Was it me? My track record in friendships wasn’t great… so was it my fault? Again?

I cried and cried and cried until Tim found me and took me home.  I cried all the way home, and I cried myself to sleep.  Not a big dramatic cry.  The kind of cry where your heart feels like it’s doing more of the weeping then your eyes. I went to sleep at 8:30 that night and did not care to think about the next day, it could take it’s sweet time getting there.

However, as it usually does, the morning came and it was time to go to work.  Not early as I had hoped so that I could PUT a lesson together.  That was a miserable commute that day.

God. Please help me just to make it through the day, and please, PLEASE help my students to get this concept… I can’t stand teaching it anymore.  Also, I need a lesson plan, please help me think of something.

I made it in time for the prayer meeting.  My mentor teacher asked me if I had come up with a new lesson to which I explained how I was too busy crying the night before to come up with one.  I mentioned how frustrated I was and another teacher turned to me and said that I should have the students lay on the floor to be the triangles.  Because of the concept I knew that I couldn’t represent the concept accurately given the varying body lengths of my students but suddenly wheels began turning.

Triangles on the floor.  I was seeing triangles on the floor.

Paper! Colored Paper!

My students couldn’t BE the triangle, but they COULD be parts of the triangle! My head shot up and I announced that I would need some tape.  My mentor teacher happened to have some that I could borrow, as well as colored paper.  After the prayer I quickly ran upstairs to shove all of the desks out of the way and I began feverishly taping giant triangles on my classroom floor.  I finished making the signs just as my first two students walked through the door.

“Class, we will not be sitting today, we will be trying a final attempt at the concept of special right triangles, line up against the wall”

My confused class reluctantly walked over to the wall and I began asking for volunteers.  Here’s a summary:

3 students represented an angle measure: one 30, one 60, and one 90 degrees. This group carried Blue signs with their measurement labeled on it.

3 students represented the side names: shorter leg, longer leg, and hypotenuse. This student carried light green signs with their name labeled on it.

3 students represented the variables that coincided with those sides: x, x times the square root of 3, and 2x. This group carried golden signs with their variables written on it.

I instructed each group to find their location on the triangle one at a time.  At the end I would give a side a number on a small white board and the class would solve out for the other two sides.

This was BEYOND successful, and here is why:

  1. My students learned the concept!!! OH MY GOSH this was amazing to see.  After three full days on this concept with confused in frustrated students, I was able to give my students a handful of scenarios that they were able to solve without aid confidently. w.o.w.
  2. it was fun! We all made up stories during the story time portion to describe scenarios where we would have to solve for the length of the sides of a triangle, my personal favorite was the one about Tom and Jerry (my students are so creative!)
  3. it caught the eye of my academic supivisor who not only recorded it, but used it the video to show student engagement to other math teachers AND some people in the district… I was too excited to catch who
  4. it caught the eye of my AP! She stopped me in the hall to tell me that she loved the idea and e-mailed the principle about it the next day!

WOW. what a difference one day can make.  I went from exasperated failure to successful potential in 2 hours.  As soon as I finished talking with my academic supervisor I closed the door to my classroom, laid my head on my desk, and praised God, because after the past three days HE is the only explanation for such an incredible turn around.

Today my students still knew the concept, almost TOO well as they wanted to use it EVERYWHERE instead of just with special right triangles (opposed to the normal ones… a sarcastic fact).

I am in no hurry to take the tape off my floor as it serves as a good reminder of the lessons teaching the concept taught me:

  1. Try, try, and try again.  If something doesn’t work, learn, research, and try something new
  2. It’s OK to fail… it sucks, but it’s ok.  If I hadn’t done such a terrible job, seeing the success would not have been nearly as humbling or exciting
  3. Learn from others.  Relying on my own brain is a huge mistake when there are so many other people with so many creative ideas.  Limiting my resources to myself is not only a hindrance to me, but also to my students
  4. Plans don’t always work, be flexible.

Thursday didn’t end perfectly, I still left frustrated by other things occurring in the classroom, but it was encouraging.  I am so thankful that God took me through the week and helped me through to the other side.  I still don’t have a lot of answers, and there is still fear in me about community, but if God is willing to meet me on a level as trivial as a lesson plan, I believe I can rest in the knowledge that He will meet me everywhere else.  I am one lucky lady.

So what’s the real lesson here? Hug your teacher, it’s harder than you think.

It’s funny how quickly I can become overly concerned about me.  Specifically others’ perceptions of me.  I needed to take a break from blogging due to the fact that I started worrying more about people “liking” my posts than sticking to the purpose of my blog: to document my journey as this new chapter of my life unfolds.  I started thinking along lines of what my viewers liked to read about instead of what was going on in my life.  At one point I honestly considered writing a blog devoted to the fights Tim and I have had because my entry TheFirstFight  has received the most hits (seriously I get like a few followers and all of a sudden I think I’m some big shot blogger who needs to maintain a following… really Hughes? wait, I mean Hendricks… still adjusting to that).

I didn’t want to deal with the MeMonster because of blogging so I stepped away for awhile to make sure my focus stayed on loving Him and loving others, and not loving what others thought about me, which has been really hard to do! I’ve also stepped away from facebook, almost entirely because at this point it has just gotten depressing.  When you leave a community … you leave the entire community and you really mourn the loss of that community.  However, when a person, or two, leave a community, life in the community keeps going.  The community probably misses those who left, but life’s rhythms aren’t entirely changed.  Because of this it’s really hard to see how friends and family are just going about business as usual while my business has turned inside out, upside down, without anyone I’ve grown to love over my 23 years.  It’s not a bad thing that the rhythm of life keeps going, it’s a beautiful thing, it just stinks to be on the outside looking in while Tim and I are still in this awkward limbo seeking community.

We have found a good bible study, one where I believe we will flourish, and we are getting acquainted with new people, but acquaintances and friends are far from the same thing and acquaintances don’t fill that God designed desire for deep and intimate community.  So we are in limbo now, officially gone so long from our original home that life’s rhythms have changed and evolved without us, while we look on from 12 hours away getting bits and pieces of what is happening, but not yet here long enough to begin seeing where we are on the inside while we begin being apart of something and somewhere new.  And it hurts.  It hurts the heart so much to be without community.

Still this is a beautiful thing, and though we feel the pain of not being with the people we love, we sense a joy that we are only now beginning to explain.

I’m not sure when it dawned on me.  Maybe it was while I was driving to work, the job I love, on the roads that have become second nature (rhythmic) on my daily commute, or maybe it was while I was on my way to ACT Houston, driving on 5 lane highways during rush hour in the city, which suddenly is feeling more natural (rhythmic).  Whenever it was, I was behind the wheel, thinking and thanking through this calm confidence that has been growing within me since June 15th.  Many theories had passed my mind as to why this confidence has grown.  Maybe it was Tim,  because he was able to bring out the best in me, or my job because for the first time I’m doing something that I love, or even just not being in school because I didn’t have to deal with the intense workload or stress that had become my worst and closest friend it had seemed over the past 4 years.

But in one clear instance it was made known to me the reason for my calm confidence: for the first time in my life I was becoming me.

100% me the way I was created to be.

            All my life I have struggled between two things: 

  1. Trying to live up to a set of self defined expectations that I thought would give me worth
  2. Trying to live up to my perceived perceptions I thought others had about me

Let me elaborate.  In college I got two majors, two relatively difficult majors, I worked part time, did YoungLife, was in a sorority, did leadership for the sorority, did leadership for YoungLife, tried to play my role at church etc.  Not because I’m a super good person, but because I thought I needed to look like a super good person.  I needed to look smart, look caring, look strong, so I way overdid it trying to be these things to other people, and in the process I made myself miserable.  That was just in the “success” and “self-worth” areas.  Simultaneously I had this notion of other people’s perceptions of me and I felt I needed to be consistent with those.  Some thought of me as serious and loud in my opinions, some thought of me as shy, others funny, others smart… I had these roles that had, in my mind, been forming since high school and I needed to some how keep them going, keep being the person people thought I was… which was not consistent and a lot to juggle.

So basically it was a good move on God’s part picking me up and placing me in an entirely new place because all of a sudden no one had any perceptions of me.  Suddenly I had nothing to lose and I wasn’t worried about gaining anyone’s approval.  I had learned the lesson to rely on God and find my worth in Him, so if people disliked me, that was fine, God liked me and he would help me find another person who would too.

At first I thought I was putting on a show everywhere I went.  I mean, who was this girl who smiled all the time, cracked jokes (some funny others not) with out hesitation, had a positive outlook constantly, worked hard with out complaint, enjoyed driving on city roads?  Could initiate conversation with anyone, anywhere, at any time, about anything, awkward or not, and walk away feeling confident in what had taken place?  Who was this person that prayed about anything that popped in her mind, and didn’t second guess it? Who was this person that was becoming more in-tune with the Spirit inside her? Who was this person? She kept showing up… consistently, and quite frankly I liked her.  It took me a while to realize that this new girl was me…

I’m not trying to build myself up to be some super awesome person, me is still very selfish, short tempered, and human.  However, me is way better than the “me” I thought I needed to be.

I know I’m happier than ever because I’m in a place where my mind can’t get in the way (at least not all the time) so God can finally start showing me His daughter, the daughter he made, and loves, and delights in.

God knows me better than I know myself.  He knew, all along, who I was trying to be, and how to help me see who I’m meant to be.  I’m meant to be Hailey Hendricks, married to a man who brings out my best qualities and balances out my weaknesses.  I’m a teacher, meant to interact with people, to instruct, organize, create, laugh, and love passionately.  I’m in Texas, far away from everything I’m familiar with, exposed, so for the first time I have no one and nothing to hide behind, but instead am forced to face the real me.  And I like me.

I’m not self obsessed now, by no means, I was before! I know that now looking back, but now I’m simply flourishing.  Finally I’m flourishing.  For so long I’ve wanted to find my music, like Mozart had his, and I have.  Not without a few bumps in the road, but I know that I can flourish, which drives me to learn, and rest, and do the best I can.  I am flourishing as Tim’s partner, as a teacher, and yes, a Texan.  All because I am finally free, just to be me, to delight in who God made me to be, to delight in who he made others to be, and to flourish.  It is a wonderful, beautiful, humbling experience to be free to be me.

“Let love be genuine” 

Romans 12:9

I think this has to be one of the most beautiful statements Paul wrote.

Let love be genuine

let it be real

let it be tangible

let it be unique

let it be authentic

let it be trustworthy

Let love be genuine

This week Rachel’s Challenge has come to Raines High School to speak of the importance of kindness, compassion, understanding, and the chain reaction these things cause.  Today was my day to participate as an adult leader and Paul summarized the day better than anyone else could: love was genuine.

For those who have not heard of Rachel’s Challenge click here (I could not do it true justice) and then keep reading.

The day began as expected, skeptical high school students skeptically participating in warm up challenges (challenges I too would have thought were weird back in the day, but now that I teach nothing seems corny any more… weird how that works).  The two representatives who came to Raines shared their stories, stories that included love and loss and anger and ultimately forgiveness and healing.  And students’ attitudes began to slowly change.  Some teared up while others still were skeptical.  By the middle of the day we were put in small groups, one adult leader and 3-4 students, and asked to give our life story in 60 seconds (which seems short but when you’re bearing your soul to new people it feels like those 60 seconds will never end).  My students opened up a little bit and I got a small glimpse into their lives outside of school, which was enough for my heart to start breaking, as well as their walls.

Lunch came and went and we resumed with more stories and games until the day culminated around the activity called walk the line.  This was a completely silent activity in which both leaders and students participated.  Everyone stood on one line of the gym and a series of questions were read and if your answer was yes you were expected to walk across three feet of space to another line, turn around, and look everyone else in the eyes, and then turn and look at the people standing next to you.  The questions ranged everywhere from “if you are under 20 please cross the line” to “if you have ever been told you can’t cry cross the line” to even “if you have ever been hit because you wouldn’t stop crying cross the line”.  The final question was “if you have ever thought seriously about committing suicide please cross the line.”

Silence. The entire time silence.

So many students crossed the line. So many teachers crossed the line.

And then love flowed in and out of the gymnasium.  Masks came off, walls broke down, people embraced one another in tears because for the first time they were no longer alone.

We were no longer alone.

Everyone has a story.  That person who makes you so freaking angry.  That guy you can’t stand.  That girl who won’t stop talking.  That friend who hurt you.  That family member you swear you’ll never forgive.  Everyone has a story.

And when you can see that story, visually see that there is absolute crap that has gone on and is going on in people’s lives those grudges seem a little smaller.  Annoyances disappear.  Love increases. And the person is finally seen.

“Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.  Love one another with brotherly affection.  Outdo one another in showing honor. “

-Romans 12:9-10

After walk the line we returned to our small groups and the most incredible thing happened: my students let me in.  I got to see into their lives.  Some cried others didn’t, and it was beautiful.  I am so humbled by their trust and their stories.  I am so thankful that now I can see and know that my students truly have so much more going on in their lives than school.   We talked about what we could do to make sure the challenges and encouragements of the day lasted and we came up with several ideas, however I think Paul states it perfectly.

Let your love be genuine

reject the bad

embrace the good

love one another like a brother (or sister!)

outdo one another in love

I love that last one.  Can you imagine a world where everyone actually tried to outdo one another in love? I’m pretty sure that war, abuse, neglect, discrimination, and hatred itself would come to a screeching halt.

I am a little dismayed right now because I know my words will not capture how awesome today was.  But it was awesome, fun, eye opening, heart breaking, inspiring and most of all it was genuine.  I was astounded by the words of encouragement that the students had by the end of the day.  I could see the leaders, counselors, and encouragers that they were all made to be for the first time emerging out of them, and it was an honor.  Today was beautiful, today was genuine, I only hope that I can now be the same to others.  I pray that I too, will love genuinely.

Humility and arrogance.

humility and arrogance

humility and arrogance

I feel like I could just keep typing these words over and over and over, like I could continue mulling over them for days on end, like I could seek understanding of where they are in my heart, and never feel at peace, never grasp the truth.

humility

arrogance

me

I feel like I had my eyes opened to humility, true humility… for like 30 seconds.  And then after that arrogance just set on fire in my heart.

I talked with the teacher who is mentoring me through my first year at Raines (she is truly amazing, such an inspiration and a fabulous role model, I can’t believe God has put yet another person in my life who has such an understanding and love for Him) about the importance of humility.  I don’t know her full story yet, I truly hope one day I will, but I have a sense that she has been a huge impact on many people and has played a radical role in altering the paths that many of her students were on prior to their time in her class.  I also have a sense that she is fully aware of this, that others are fully aware of this, and that she has n0 arrogance in any of it.

As I confessed my insecurity in coming up with lesson plans she encouraged me to pray, telling me God would give me ideas.  She said that she has been doing this for the past 4 years since she came to Raines and that God has shown her how to help her students succeed (that’s when I noticed the teacher of the year award she has sitting on her desk, subtly, only where she can see really…).  Wow.

Pray to God about lessons? That’s a crazy idea, crazy… yet so simple right? Yet part of me felt hesitant.

This was quickly followed by her encouragement to seek humility from the Lord constantly.  To always realize that the goodness comes from Him and then through the teacher.  Her recommendation was to wake up every morning and get on your face and pray to the Lord that He would keep you humble.

Wow. That’s quite the image.

Her words stuck with me, but in a foreign way. I had never experienced this trust, courage, and humility that comes from relying on God for everything, including lesson plans.

That weekend I read Romans 9 and 10 and God opened my eyes to see, my ears to hear, and my heart to trust.  The scales fell from my eyes and I sat in utter humility before the God of gods, the Lord of lords, and the King of kings.

Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden. One of you will say to me: ‘Then why does God still blame us? For who is able to resist his will?’ But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God?’Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’ Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?”

Romans 9:18-21

If I’m being completely honest, this is something I would typically either ignore or get angry with. I would usually go into detail about the frustrations and fears that typically arise when I read this, but I no longer can.  I am the pot, and for some reason, I can no longer question my pot maker.  However I can admit the sadness I feel at the idea of my God hardening someone’s heart.  I imagine that sadness reflects his heart more so than my own.

I can also say that the following verses bring me much comfort and peace.

“Then Isaiah is so bold as to say,
“I have been found by those who did not seek me;
I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me.”
But of Israel he says, “All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people.”

Romans 10:20-21

And once again, I quote people far smarter than myself:

“The prophecy of Isa. 65:1 has been fulfilled in that the Gentiles who did not seek after God have now experienced God’s saving promises.  Israel, on the other hand, has fulfilled the words of Isa. 65:2. They have rebelled against and disobeyed the gospel message.  Still, God extends his hands to them, inviting them to be saved.  On the one hand, God predestines some to be saved. On the other hand, God still longs for all to be saved… Though it may seem impossible to understand how both of these statements are true, the Bible teaches both, and one should not use either truth to deny the other.”

-Smart people

Thank the Lord I have a God who loves and longs for all to be saved.  I can not question my pot maker, but I can find peace in knowing He is good.  The only perfectly good thing that exists.

After reading these words I left with an unshakable peace that transcended all understanding.  I felt more than confident in the truth I have picked up my cross for, I felt courageous. I felt humbly courageous.

Humility in knowing who God is, and having an accurate understanding of who I am in comparison to, and belonging in Him. 

Please don’t confuse this with insecurity.  I have never felt more confident.  I have never known a security in my identity like I did in the presence of sheer awe and respect for my Lord.  I have also never felt less important. Never been so ready to serve.

I woke up the next morning and thanked my God for who He was. I acknowledged my fear of Him and my respect for Him.  He was God and I was not.  He was calling the shots and I could NOT be more okay with that.

Humility is beautiful

Humility breaths freedom

Humility makes way for life

I wish that could have lasted.

The following day I woke again and I noticed instantly the humility inside of me was not present, or if it was I didn’t feel it.

“Oh crap… I’m going to have to choose to be humble today…”

Immediately arrogance filled me.

Why should I have to give thanks today?  Why should I have to talk or learn from people in this new place?  Why should I go out of my way? Why should I . . . me. myself. and I.

arrogance is ugly

arrogance fuels corruption

arrogance leads to death

I understand the words I’m using to describe arrogance are strong, however I have never felt so hardened as when I am focused on me.   I have felt both spiritually alive and nearly dead, and the times that I feel spiritually wasted are the times I am most focused on me

I am arrogance

the cross is humility

Sometimes I feel like I’m my own prison, and I know the only way to escape my cell, my prison, myself is to fall at the foot of the cross and just let my self, my arrogance, die.

Maybe that’s whats going on.  Maybe I’m finally putting the me monster to death so that the daughter of Christ whom I’m meant to be can be fully resurrected along with Christ.

Maybe I’m just going crazy… who knows.

I know that it’s painful.  I know that it’s peaceful. I know that is awesome. I know that it’s infuriating. I know that it’s exhausting.

But most of all, what ever it is,  I know that it’s liberating.

Putting me to death, so that I can finally be free to be the me I’m meant to be.

Make sense of that one.

This week has been weird.  This weekend I was just so tired the whole time.  Sunday we went to church which was being held for the first time in a new building.  Everyone (of which I know no one still) was super excited and emotional and for some reason I got super frustrated by it, which made me feel super guilty, and so I became super confused.

Tuesday I went to a staff meeting on “procedure” where everyone talked about the importance of sticking to the “procedures” that had been agreed upon during the weeks of training leading up to the start of school.  Weeks of training I was not a part of because I was not yet an employee, and I was confused.  I also received news about the direction my class was going, in our overall objectives (TAKS v. EOC if you know what that means) which apparently could have been wrong (we’re still sorting through it) and I was confused.

Wednesday came and I was relieved that Tim and I would be going to a bible study where I was hoping to get me a whole lotta selah (if ya know what I mean… peace rest meditation).  I was in for a surprise.  I was so tired I could barely keep my eyes open to talk to people (thankfully food was served and was super delicious)  and when we sat down to begin the study portion something just clicked inside me.

These people are talking weird.  They are using weird words.  The intonation is weird.  Everything is weird and different. . .

This state is so freaking big.

and so freaking conservative.

Is anyone in this room liberal?  I miss living with liberals and atheists.  Is this politically correct? probably not…. 

I miss living in the blue. So much red everywhere.

There is so much money in this state.  What was that conversation I heard this morning? A couple who bought two Porches just for the hell of it?

If there really are so many christians in this state, then why are there families with two luxury cars and extreme poverty existing at the same time?

 Why are the churches SO big… do we really need coffee shops inside churches? I miss the cheap black coffee on fold out tables with wooden sticks and powdered cream.

This place is too big.

Everyone talks weird.

I’m so confused, where do I belong?

Yes. Living in the bible belt has finally taken its toll on me, and I just can’t deny it any longer.  I can’t keep joking around like it’s funny because it’s not, it’s infuriating.  I’m not saying there aren’t true brothers and sisters in Christ down here, there definitely are, I’ve been blessed to meet some of them.  “Christianity” is just kind of the norm here… and it bothers me a lot.

But I realized today, as I was trying not to stew in my frustration, that the state of Texas is not evil (although I find it odd, the infatuation Texas has with itself…), and it is not the sole cause of my confusion.  Moving to a new state with a new culture has not been the only change in my life recently.

I am no longer going to school where I can meet up with people my age on a whim and talk freely about how God is working in our lives or exchange prayer requests.  With my new schedule it would no longer be wise to host a bible study, attend a bible study, and take on a leadership role in a church while working a job.  Tim and I now only have one night where we go to be with community, rather than say 7 nights.  Living in community looks different when you work full time, and I wasn’t prepared for that.  I’m used to literally living with community.  Waking up with community, eating with community, walking to and from class with community, serving with community.  No longer having that is so hard.

And being in a city where it takes 20-30 minutes to drive and see community is much more of a challenge than when I walked out my door and was at church in 3 minutes.

I thought the stress of all the changes in my life were over the day I finished unpacking our belongings in Houston, but I was so. very. wrong.  The anxious stress may be over for the most part, but the exhausting, confusing, frustrating stress is just really reaching its peak.

I just wish i had known that last night before we went to the bible study.  Before all of this began clicking inside of me. And before I tried to make a prayer request and began CRYING!

Oh my gosh how embarrassing!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about being real and honest with people, and if you’ve known me, well, for like a week you’ve probably seen me at least tear up if not go into a full on waterfall fit.

HOWEVER, I don’t even know these people (like I’m still learning their names… called a guy Bryan all night last week only to find out this week that wasn’t his name, oops).

But then I couldn’t stop. I just tried to disappear into Tim while hot tears ran down my face.  Hot angry confused tears.

And the weirdest part about it all is that I know deep within my heart that all of this, every frustration, confusion, fear, and yes even tear is ok.

know the Lord is watching me.  I know He has a plan for me. I know that He cares for me. I know and He continues to confirm that He put Tim and I here for a reason (though he isn’t letting us in on what that reason is quite yet).  And I am at peace.

Totally and completely at peace deep within my heart, because I love and serve a God who is Holy and Perfect and True.  My confidence is in Him, and that takes a load of pressure off of me.

If I had it my way in this moment I would sing my praises to my God, my King, my Savior, my Redeemer, my Counselor, my Mighty Rock, my Salvation, my Prince of Peace, my Lord, my Love, my Friend, to the Father, the Son, and the beloved Holy Spirit.  But there are not enough words in existence to fully express the goodness of the triune God.

The goodness of a God who is so perfect.

I’m still learning to take life just one day at a time while I learn to navigate through this new world of marriage, employment, and red, so so much red.  However, my trust in the Lord is growing stronger everyday and that has been the biggest blessing I could have ever asked for.  My walk with Christ has taken a shift, in that it is becoming less conditional.  I am not shaken like I have been in the past, so though frustrations are arising God is walking me through it all, and I am trusting Him while He does it.

I love my life, I love my husband, I love my job, and I love this place.  Even though all of these things can at times drive me absolutely crazy, I love them (and yes my husband is among the things that can drive me crazy, I drive him nuts as well).

I continue to say and fully believe that though these things are not easy, they are very good.  And with God’s provision, the major waves of culture shock that I have been experiencing will eventually subside.

I only hope that in the meantime I don’t come off like a crazy person… like I did on Wednesday night.

Oh what a week.  I try to update my blog on Wednesdays, however yesterday after working over 10 hours and still not having everything done, I got home just to get back in the car and head to a small group (which was so awesome).  By the time we got home I had 15 minutes until my new bedtime (teachers get up freaking early) and absolutely no energy left in me.  Despite the eventful week I was so dead I couldn’t think of anything to write about.  So I just went to bed, and it was beautiful.

Today was about as crazy as yesterday, which was about as crazy as Tuesday.  Shockingly enough my first week of teaching was not perfect (I mean it was close… just not quite).  I left one day feeling dejected and exhausted, the next day crying and humiliated, and today just freaking tired.  The Lord has been incredibly faithful, He has blessed me with such great mentors and great support group already, and I am learning so much, so though things aren’t easy they are also so good.

And sometimes things are also fun and hilarious.

Apparently Tim talks in his sleep, and not just random things, but coherent ideas about nonexistent activities.  I would like to share three of my favorite episodes of what I’m calling pillow talk.

3. Jazz Hands:  The other night I was dreaming away when I started getting poked in the shoulder “Hey Hey Hey” Tim was trying to get my attention.
“What?” I responded still half dreaming
“Come here” and Tim pulled me closer to cuddle, which made me feel so happy. Until I realized why he needed me…
I don’t know what he was dreaming, but for the next 10 minutes Tim just kept tapping me with all 10 fingers like I was a piano and he was playing a song.  It was the weirdest most hilarious thing.  Thankfully the song ended and I was able to go back to sleep as the human I am.

2. Matching the Bodies:  This happened last night.  I fell asleep thinking about geometry (now that I teach it I’m consumed with the subject… constantly coming up with different ways to communicate lessons to my students).  I was picturing different figures I could use to discuss angle relationships, so naturally when Tim told me at 1:00 a.m. that he couldn’t match the bodies I thought he was telling me that my shapes weren’t clear and would confuse my class.  He said it again “I can’t match the bodies”
I replied, “are my coordinates off?” Still worried about my class…
Again Tim repeated “I can’t match the bodies”.
That’s when I realized he was not talking about my imaginary angles so I said to him “you’re not talking about math are you…”
“no, no” he said, “it’s the video game…”
I don’t know what kind of video games my husband plays in his sleep (I mean what bodies is he trying to match)… but I laughed about it all day.

1. The Big Golf Tournament: As I’ve already mentioned in previous posts, Tim loves sports.  As I’ve also mentioned, I do not. So when I got a wake up call the first week of our married life about a Golf Tournament, I was not very pleased.
“Hey… hey… there’s a golf tournament going on at the high school down the street,” Tim was actually shaking me awake to inform me about this.  I look at the clock and it was 5:00 a.m.  Now, I’ve always thought that golf was for the early birds (or maybe it’s fishing…) but I couldn’t help but think that 5 in the morning was a bit ridiculous.  A little confused I asked Tim what the heck he was talking about to which he repeated “There’s a Golf Tournament going on at the high school down the street.”
“Do you want to go?” I asked
“No I just thought you should know…” he told me.
Now I was just frustrated because I don’t like sports, but I do like me some sleep, so rather disgruntled I expressed my frustration asking Tim “Why on earth would I care about that?”  Feeling bad for being rude, when I woke up I asked Tim if he wanted to go to the tournament and watch to which Tim responded “what tournament?” Sleep Tim made the whole thing up… what a rascal.

 

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