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.

Second grade.  I don’t remember the why.  But I remember the who: me, the what: stress, the where: Pleasant Ridge Elementary,  but I don’t remember the why.  However, I do remember the moment.  Something had caused me to suddenly feel a surge of anxiety.  My little girl self was panicking and scared about something…. something.  When out of nowhere a strong sense of warm calm flooded my pounding heart and I simply heard “you do not need to worry… remember this.”

All the panic left me instantly.  The why I forgot, but I remembered.

I still remember.  “You do not need to worry… remember this.”

We all have moments, moments that define us, shape us, change us.  I’ve had moments like the one in second grade, moments that seem seconds long but will continue to affect me decades later, and I’ve had moments like my depression sophomore year of college that seemed to last decades at the time, but seem like seconds when I found myself collapsing after the storm finally passed.

Moments like when I finally stopped running and fell to my knees before Him my freshman year.

Moments like when I said goodbye to Tim swearing that I had made up my mind and walking away only to know my heart was left with him.

Moments like when I finally said yes, abandoning fear, and married the love of my life, my partner, and my best friend.

Moments when God finally gives me clarity after a season of confusion.

I’m having a moment, and I have no idea what the why is again. I just know the who: me, the what: God, the where: Houston, and the when: now, for months and most likely months to come, if not years.

Things haven’t been right for a while. My heart has been discontent with out reason.  As I have chosen in the past, I stepped away from my Father, avoiding him, getting angry with Him.  I assumed He was angry with me, comparing me to the many better people there are in the world.

I could feel Tim and I being uprooted, both of our hearts simultaneously disconnecting from where we are, and the sense that change was on the horizon.

The realization that I didn’t know where I would be in a year, sent me on a mission to create my own future.

I started to watch as friends invested in homes and welcomed precious babies into the world.  I decided this was where Tim and I needed to be heading.  We made sure we set our funds on track for this, and we created dozens of scenarios that led to payment of student loans, homes, babies, friends, careers, etc. We set dates.  We planned, and I pretended to pray, saying empty words to God while keeping him at arms length.

Rewind back to August for a second: I’m in Starbucks reading Kisses from Katie, a beautiful book about a woman who does exactly what I want to always do, Love the Lord, and love others.  She is a mom to 13 beautiful children in Uganda, she is my age and single.  While I read her detailed descriptions of each precious child I began to cry.  Please note, I’m in Starbucks, a public place, crying.

And that’s when it started, my heart breaking for children.

This is a significant change in my life because up until August, I had one view on who kids were: tiny unpredictable little monsters.

Children have always scared the living crap out of me.  If you made me talk to one on my own I would stand and stare awkwardly trying to talk to the tiny human like a grown adult.  If I found a rare child that actually liked me despite my awkwardness I would get so scared I would avoid the child out of fear that I would run out of things to say.

I am not EVEN kidding right now.

But something started happening in me, in my heart.  God started moving and my heart started breaking.  I began desiring to just love kids, to hug them, and tell them how beautiful and smart they are.   I wanted to tell children how loved and precious they are.  I just needed to be around children.

I had an opportunity to be at a clinic the drill team hosted and I loved it.  My heart melted at the sight of the little ponytails and smiles.  I spent the whole day chasing little girls around the gym, picking them up when they fell, giving countless hugs, and telling every girl I could how beautiful they were. What was once awkwardness and fear turned into unexplained joy with children.

This just hasn’t stopped. It’s not always at the surface, but it is always there.

But Tim and I have talked, and we know that children are not for us right now.  And everything else we have tried to create, just isn’t for us, and it is frustrating and scary, and frustrating, did I mention that?

This moment isn’t one of definition, but almost the opposite, it is a moment of unraveling, a time of questioning and no understanding.

God seems to be swirling in and around Tim and I, pulling us… somewhere.

I think God is pulling us somewhere.

But first, before we get to the where, we are being pulled from the here.

I’m so frustrated!

God is disconnecting us from something, He is breaking me down every day.  Making me question my dedication and analyze just how much I am willing to give. But why?

I have so many questions and I have no answers.

I just feel different and it scares me. Why aren’t Tim and I in a place where we are investing in homes, and babies, or vacations, or just something.  Why? Why? Why?

I am being broken down, and God keeps pointing me to Him, and I get angry and frustrated.  I am so scared to trust in God, for a very foolish reason.  I am always worried that God does not have a plan for me.  That I could sell everything and move somewhere, or sell everything and just stay here to Love God and others, but that God would forget about me in the process.

I go back and forth between surrender to denial.

No… God could not have a specific plan for me.  Maybe people like Katie in that book, or for people in full time missions, but there is no way He has a plan for me, I am just too insignificant.

These thoughts and fears overwhelm me.

But I have moments where I just know, this is not true, that there is a plan and that I need to be chasing it.

I am so scared, I feel so panicked, so worried.

“You do not need to worry… remember this.”

“You do not need to worry… remember this.”

Please pray for Tim and I.   My whole being wants answers.  I want to know.

I don’t want to worry, but I am full of sorrow and longing, wanting to just know something.

I don’t need the full picture, I just want something.

But God is perfect in His timing, my year of teaching is only half way over, and I know I have many more students to love, many more nights of focus on my work, and much more breaking down before God reveals our next step.

I do not need to worry, I remember.

I’m alive.

and well…ish.

I feel like I should update this if I want to keep my blog alive, and I want my blog to eventually thrive, so living is a good goal for now.

Thank you for reading this, you are helping me, tell me you read it and I will write you a thank you card.  Seriously.

WELL.  All year I have been working and working and working.  I have come up against more trials than I could have anticipated at the beginning of the year, but they have forced me to grow professionally and I am a much better teacher now than 3 months ago.

I am thankful for the blessing God has given me this year, like my friend in the geometry team.  She is awesome and together we are not only alive, but actually doing well, but mainly we’re just alive.

Sometimes on our really good days we’ll even say we’re kicking ass

but on most days, like today, we’re just happy to survive till Christmas

We’re both first years so… we get each other.

A few weeks ago I went through a random cranky phase where I was convinced that all my hard work was pointless (I called my mom like 8 times that week complaining, so professional right?).

“Why work hard when you can NOT work hard and the outcome seems to be the same?”

or WORSE

“Why work hard when you can NOT work hard and STILL get ahead?”

The real world is confusing, so very confusing.

But finally, FINALLY, on one fateful day, the principal stepped into my classroom.

Things were not going well, comparatively.  The lesson was running as normal but this period the principal was in is my most high maintenance, I love them, but it takes everything in me and more to help this class stay on track.  The principal pulled a seat up next to my students, looked around the room and observed the lesson, then got up and left.

Moments later the bell rang, and I gathered my energy to get my next period started.

Finally lunch came and I ran to my teacher friend and told her what happened.  We sat and speculated for a while, I was totally freaked out.  Do I sound immature? I’m working on it.

After lunch I checked my e-mail before my students returned and I saw that the head honcho had sent me a message.  I took a deep breath, opened up the electronic letter, and almost started to cry.

“Great job”

There was more, not much more, but it is unnecessary to quote.

“Great job…”

oh LAWD!

So much work, so much time, so many tears.

2 words

Great job

Why do I believe in positive reinforcement?

Why do I use positive reinforcement so much in my class?

Why is my whole classroom management based first upon positive reinforcement?

BECAUSE IT WORKS

Great job.

Great job.

Great job.

I stepped away from my computer, I took a deep breath, “its all for you Dad.”

Though I love positive reinforcement

and though it is such a huge blessing to receive some from my boss

and though I’ve been waiting, at times in desperation, for a sign that my work has been on the right track

There’s only one reason, I really do any of this.

Thank you.  It’s all for You.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So many questions haunt me as a young educator:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I mean this with all of my heart.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I believe in education, with all of my heart.

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

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

yet.

But I will.

And watch out for me.

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

I am currently sitting in the middle of our messy living room, savoring the last few moments of my lazy Sunday. It was a long week with progress reports coming out and a new unit starting, so I had lots of planning and grading to get done.

Last week was rough.

The world ran me over… several times.

In my young career I have had instances where my inner teaching nerd bubbles over and I exclaim with delight something along the lines of “I just love all things teaching so much!”

I receive a few reactions to this, blank stares, a few head nods, but then one response always stands out and it goes something like this “don’t ever lose that.”

Before this year my honest thought process was “does not compute.”

How could I ever lose something that is so innate, so God given, so fulfilling?  Being passionate about people, students, caring for God’s children in a place where my natural talents thrived?  How could I lose that?

After three weeks of this school year I now know.

I can see just how challenging it will be to maintain my enthusiasm and desire, my passion, my goals.

I want to be a Daniel, a David.

These men are my human inspiration.  Leaders for the Lord, understanding of His ways and thoughts.  Imperfect, yes, just like me, yet still great.  Living and leading within this world, yet not of it.  Standouts in so many ways, I want this.  I want to be the go-to person for God, I want Him to delegate some of HIs work to me, and I want to bring honor to Him as I love my way through this life and make my small mark of Jesus on this world.

This world will try to beat this desire right out of me. 

I have had an incredibly eye opening experience into how cruel and rude people can be.   My heart has reacted in  three ways to this.

  1. Confusion: I do not fully understand the anger and irritation I have received from people.  I literally do not understand why there is anger because I do not understand what the problem actually is, regardless of how many times I ask for an explanation.  I also do not understand the depth of this anger, because it seems seeped into hearts at a level that goes beyond paper work and planning.
  2. Anger: I am angry at moments because I’m being yelled at. And I’m being yelled at by people who do not know my situation at all.  They don’t see the hours I’m putting in, or my devotion to my students and to a job well done, yet I sense an enjoyment in their fury. I sense an enjoyment in their ability to criticize and in their harsh cutting words.
  3. Pity: And yet in this anger I sense brokenness, a brokenness that has existed for far longer than my short time in their presence, maybe days, maybe weeks, months, years, decades… and my heart breaks because to be so angry for so long would be unimaginably damaging to one’s heart.

These three things mixed together is burdensome and hard to sort through.  At moments when I’m most weighed down I get flashes of my Father.  Almost as if my life were a black and white movie, so dreary, and for a slight moment there is a shift on the screen and you see behind this grainy film the true colored picture that is in action.

A perfect and just Father, angry on His beloved daughter’s behalf stands over her, perfectly protective, ready to defend her against whatever this cruel world dares to throw at her.  In these moments my soul leaps for joy as I see my Dad and know that not only is He here but He is actively involved in my situations, deeply devoted to me.  I feel precious, I feel protected, I feel I can remain purposeful.

But these are flashes, brief reminders before returning to my visible reality.  My grey world where words hurt and in pain I feel isolation.  Where I curl up and cry to my God that I just don’t have what it takes to work hard while also fighting never ending negativity and criticism.

My mom keeps assuring me that this is a time of growth, that I’m here for a reason, and I think she is right.  I think God is breaking me, and remaking me, again, like so many times before.  Building endurance as I live for my unseen reality, my truest life, my perfect protector, my home.

Growing Pains.

They are pretty painful.  I’m floundering and falling and stumbling as a wife, an educator, and daughter of the King.  I am fragile, like a jar made of clay.  I feel “afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair, persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.”

II Corinthians 4: 8 & 9

In other words, though I am enjoying aspects of this year, so far it sucks.

I say these things all for one purpose:  I’m floundering and falling and stumbling, I’m as fragile as a jar of clay, and in all of this, this pain and confusion and frustration and these tears, inside this fragile jar beautiful things are happening:

  • I’m loving my students and they for the most part are returning this love
  • I’m getting good remarks from parents and administrators
  • I’m developing my leadership skills within education
  • people are being so gracious in their encouraging comments about my blog

Inside this jar of clay beautiful things are happening.  I can say this in true humility, wearing my humanity on my sleeves, being honest in my fragility, and bearing the cross on my heart.  I am frail, and I am floundering, but inside, my heart is being continually made new and a strength beyond myself keeps me smiling and pushing.   I am so weak, and I hope people see this, so that if any good work comes from me, the true source is seen.

My Lord, My God, My Perfect Protector and Father.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.”
II Corinthians 4:7

 

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.

 

Of the many inspirational and practical phrases I was raised on “waste not want not” is not only the first lesson I recall learning, it has been the most heavily ingrained lesson from my mother.

For those not familiar with mom lessons, here is a little back story: As a child my mother referenced key phrases during learning moments.  I can’t recall all of them at the drop of a hat, but in seemingly random scenarios in my daily life I find myself basically freezing and repeating these life lessons verbatim, either reminding myself or trying to enlighten someone around me. Friends familiar with these phrases have often joked that I should write them in a book or stitch them on pillows because of how often they heard me make references to them.

As I said above, waste not want not is basically the mother of all mom lessons.  I distinctly remember the first time I heard this lesson, I was in the kitchen of our house on Cody St. and I wanted my mom to make as many microwave mini corn dogs as she possibly could.  While trying to convince her that she should make the whole box my mom said something along the lines of “first eat these, and if you still want more, than I will make some.”  As a young child, that just didn’t make sense, why put those dogs away and pull them out later when you could just make them all right now.   After trying to enlighten my mom with such logic she repeated very kindly waste not want not.

And my world was forever changed.

Sadly, I didn’t actually get the phrase at the time… I won’t say how long it took me, because that would just make you sad, BUT I did take away that my mom didn’t think I could eat the whole box of mini dogs, and she didn’t want me to waste them.

So wasting is a bad thing? ah ha… good to know!

Fast forward a decade and some years and what does this look like now:

  1. I hate to waste things.  If I do waste something I get mad and then sad. Every time.
  2. I reuse things past the point of salvation and then some
  3. If I can no longer use something that is in fine shape, I’ll find someone else who will
  4. I don’t really like to buy things new all the time… mainly because to me that is a waste of money, so instead I’ll buy something that has been used by someone else and make it my own. Therefore the majority of my apartment has been purchased from garage sales (no shame!)

However waste not want not has gone far beyond a lesson against throwing things away.  To me, by not wasting something today, not only will I not be wanting tomorrow, but someone else may not be either.

It’s already pretty well known if you read my blog that I’m a Christian, and part of that means I really care for God’s creation, which includes both the earth and the people in it.  Therefore I feel responsible for my how my actions affect people around me and tomorrow’s world.  Thankfully Tim is on the same page as me when it comes to this, so not only is he willing to at least try some of my crazy ideas, but he comes up with his own and it can be fun, and un-fun, and like today, a mixture of the two.

One of the big things we like to do to prevent waste in our apartment is make sure we know exactly what food is in our kitchen, and exactly when we are going to eat it. We have found that the most effective way to do this is by making weekly trips to the grocery store.  I’m sure some would give a big old ugh gross to this idea, which is why I’m not saying anyone else should do it.  We enjoy going to the grocery store, its kind of like a game to us, and we are a lot better at planning meals out a week at a time than a month at a time.

Today we made our weekly trip to the grocery store and, for the first time, were able to walk! We felt so eco-friendly and pumped up, very city chic making our way around on foot.  We got to Kroger (we are very loyal customers) and made our first stop at the Manager Specials Meat Section.  One of the pros of shopping once a week means we buy our meat at super low prices knowing we’ll use it soon.  We then figured out what meals we could make using the meat and made our way through the rest of the store.  We both found a few extra items to get excited about (yay special cheeses!) and went to self check-out.

Here we totally have our method down.  I scan and Tim packs.  Our favorite part is when we scan our Kroger card and we get to watch the prices go down.  Our second favorite part is getting the receipt and seeing all of our gas points (how nerdy do we sound? Tim says very… perhaps).

Here we became a little nervous because now we had to walk back to the apartment with our groceries.  No big deal.  Tim took the heaviest bag, I took the cutest bag and the bread, Tim took rest and we were off.  Perfect!  On the way out I started pushing the unlock button for my car out of habit, hilarious! I giggled, and we were on cloud nine! Living the dream, in the city, walking to the grocery store, does it get any better than this? (it should be noted, that I am very easily amused)

A cool evening, on a purposful walk, saving the environment and burning calories simultaneously.  We were half way home when we realized we had left our cash back cash (say that five times fast) back in the store.

Oh crap.

We paused momentarily and looked at our options:

  1. We both go back (well that’s a waste of time…)
  2. I go back and Tim takes the bags (then I’ll get sweaty…)
  3. Tim goes back and I take the bags (how heavy can the bags be?)

We both decided on option three and thinking this was no big deal Tim handed me the final bag.

I didn’t expect it to be so heavy and I accidentally just fell along with it to the ground. Tim was already running back to the store when I yelled “babe! I don’t think I can do this!”

I considered just staying there until Tim got back but then I felt bad for making him do all the work while I just sat around, and I felt like people were staring at me and felt awkward, not saying they were, but off I went shuffling along the road.  I made it about a block when I began wondering if I could do this.  Thoughts about my air conditioned car and questions like “is this worth it?” began crossing my mind.  But determined to be eco-friendly I began chanting do it for the earth Hailey! do it for the earth! I had to pause a couple of times because, and I can’t emphasize enough, I am SO weak.  As I slid my way up the final flight of stairs (we live on the third floor), basically hanging on the rail, I decided that it was time to tell the world about  waste not want not (hence this post).

We don’t want to waste gas driving to the store when we can walk

We don’t want to waste plastic grocery bags so we try to use our own bags, even if that means weight distribution is off

We don’t want to waste, because that means we’re using something that someone may have needed

I know I’m just one person, with my husband we’re just two.  But in my heart of hearts I hope and believe that by not using excess or by avoiding waste, someone else may get not what they want, but what they need.  So, even though Tim and I get totally nerdy about our simple attempts at saving, reusing, and recycling, and even though we make many mistakes while we figure things out, we’re having a blast, we’re laughing, and I’m smiling, because I’m honoring not only this lesson, but the one who taught me it, my mom: I hope she knows how much I value all she has taught me.

We live in very confusing times.  As a Christian this really isn’t surprising.  God never said the world would get fixed after he left, he said it would continue to spiral until he came back.  The problem though, isn’t the confusion in the world; it’s how the church and non-church respond to our circumstances.  From my perspective, the two most controversial non-essential spiritual issues I have faced have been drinking and views on gay marriage.

 My experience with alcohol has presented itself to be the epitome of how poorly we handle confusion and of the tension Christians feel in and outside of the church.  As a kid, I knew that beer and wine were for the adults, and I never had a problem with that.  My dad usually had a few of what he called, cold “brewskies” in the fridge and it was never a shock to find a box of mom’s weird grape juice in the lower cabinets.  I knew the rule that the wine was for my momma, and the brewsky for dad, leaving all other liquids in the fridge up for grabs for my sister and I.  This never concerned me, and alcohol never stood out to me, it was just there.  This isn’t to say I didn’t see the problems alcohol could cause.  My parents and adults around me weren’t perfect, but they were great at teaching me from a young age that when I would drink when I was older, moderation would be the key word (though to say I didn’t learn this lesson fully the hard way would be a lie).

It wasn’t until college that I first began to see that alcohol was the great divide between the prudes and the popular.  As a freshman before becoming a Christian I drank underage a few times thinking that it was just “what you did.” However, after becoming a Christian and getting involved in a youth ministry I chose to stop drinking until I was of age.  No big deal right? It’s not like I actually enjoyed the Natty Light frats served or that disgusting mix o’ crap they called punch. 

WRONG!                          

Oh my gosh, you would have thought I was a leper from the way some people reacted to me and my friends for not drinking.  Not all people, I met some really awesome people who drank underage and were really cool with me not joining in.  But oh my gosh, this was like THE thing that distinguished a “Christian” from a true Christian in college, or it was the thing to defend if you were a Christian.  I felt so on edge and left out all because I wouldn’t drink! In the defense of the insiders, I probably acted as awkward as I felt, which was probably more of the cause for being (or should I say feeling) on the “outside” than drinking.

No big deal, push through and it will all be over after college.  We’ll all move on from the drinking issue and no awkwardness will exist when the drinking age has come and gone along with the rebelliousness or newness that had come with it in school.

WRONG!

Now I’m not worrying about people on the outside of the steepled buildings thinking I’m a prude, I’m more worried about the people inside thinking I’m living in sin (gasp!).   This feels ridiculous to write about, but I know I’m not alone.  Once when I offered wine to a couple friends, a girl came up to me and whispered “I really needed some Christian friends who drank, thanks.” I totally knew where she was coming from, and I totally understood her need to whisper.  For whatever reason, alcohol has become this very uncomfortable topic.

What? Why?

Why is this such an unspoken hot button issue for the church?

I’m going to go ahead and get it out there right now: I drink! I love a good margarita, white wine, Dos Equis, or hard cider! Yum!

To some people that may not seem like a big deal, and back in the day I wouldn’t have thought so either.  However, having experienced people whose view is that drinking means I can no longer be a part of the church, and having felt the pressure of not letting others see me participate in what is really such a simple thing compared to, oh, I don’t know, war, hunger, poverty… just to name a few, I love being able to just put in writing that I drink.  Moderation, like my parents so wisely taught me, is key.

This isn’t to downplay that drinking can be a problem. I have seen what alcoholism can do to a person and their family, and I always want to respect that person and their sobriety over having a freaking drink.  In other situations a person may not be able to drink because of medication they are taking (I have been this person at times).  In instances such as these, a beer just wouldn’t cross my mind. It just isn’t a big deal to not consider alcohol in that case.

I write all this to show how something so unimportant in the big picture (again, war, poverty…), can be blown out of proportion.  And amid all of what I wrote about, amid my whole experience, how often did Jesus come up?

It should have been simple when I was in college: I met a man named Jesus, and his love has changed me, so now choices I make look different than before, but that doesn’t mean I love you any less or look at you as any less.  If anything it is the exact opposite. I love and value you more than ever. 

The same awkwardness and tension arises in our nation over things such as the marriage debate.  In our hearts there are so many devoted followers of Jesus that know that our job is well defined: love others.

Not love others unless they drink or unless they are homosexual or unless they use bad words.

And yet we’re scared because you see all of these controversies where the church is trying to protect the “sanctity” of marriage (let’s just ignore the 50% divorce rate in and out of the church), and we’re scared into silence.  Are we not being truthful enough? Defending what God defined as marriage? Are we not honoring God if we vote the “wrong” way? God, am I going to have to be the prude once again?

And amid all of this, how often am I, are we, mentioning Jesus?  How often do we ask about him, talk about him, consider him? After all, he is the cornerstone of our beliefs and our church, and yet we aren’t talking about him at all.  No one is discussing the man who lived over 2,000 years ago, let that soak in.  People will argue till they are blue in the face about the morality in marriage without considering who they are following, a man who died, over 2,000 years ago.

Everything about this situation is strange. 

First, that we aren’t talking about the foundation of what we believe; the one who started our movement, the reason we (Christians) exist, while we exhaust ourselves trying to figure out how to defend which politics we side with.

Second, that who we are forgetting is strange in and of itself considering he died over 2,000 years ago.

We are distracted, as individuals, as groups, as a nation.  We are so caught up in defending what we believe is morally “right”, that we have forgotten to discuss the one we believe in.  This is really our loss, because it is quite fascinating that 2,000 years later, a lower-class individual from an afterthought of a country still has people so devoted to his story and to him.

My sincerest desire is to step outside of our cloud of confusion, step outside of alcohol, outside of the marriage debate, outside of the politics and the mundane distractions, and focus on the question that matters, the question that started over 2,000 years ago, the question that changes everything.

I want the masses to stop bickering, so the individual can ask: Who was Jesus?

 

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!

Who this entry is not for:

  1. If you have your life completely together/you have life figured out
  2. If you have never experienced shame
  3. If you have never held a grudge
  4. If you never experience failure
  5. If you have never made a mistake
  6. If you have never been hurt by someone
  7. If you have never hurt someone badly
  8. If you have never felt sick to your stomach with worry
  9. If you have never been floored by confusion
  10. If you have never been broken

Who this entry is for:

  1. The messy
  2. The shamed
  3. The grudge holder
  4. The failure
  5. The imperfect
  6. The heartbroken
  7. The heart breaker
  8. The worried
  9. The confused
  10. The broken

My message: you are not alone.  My mission: to help set you free.

I’ve had a lot of reactions to my blog posts.  People have told me they are funny.  People have told me they are inspiring.  People have told me they are uncomfortable.

My most recent post, which was several weeks ago, and referred to problems experienced several weeks prior to that, stirred up probably the most extreme emotions yet.  For those of you who have not read the post, I wrote about the raw emotions Tim and I experienced as we encountered the first truly hurtful problem in our marriage.  I wrote about how we overcame the problem.  I wrote about our commitment to each other.  I would like to point out here, now, that I never wrote about the problem itself.   Not now, maybe not ever, not until the Spirit leads us in wisdom to do so in a way that would be beneficial to others.

Why then, do I write these things? The “bad” emotions?

Because somewhere out there, in this image obsessed society, there is someone like me, who is broken and messy.  And to that person I say, you are not alone.  Look, look at my mess.  My beautiful, broken, bleak, and wonderful mess.  It is just as real as your mess, the details may be different, but I am a mess all the same, you are not alone.  Read through my entries, they are a reflection of this mess we share.  I am not perfect, my stories will not all be about good times, that’s just not real, but you know this, and that’s why I write to you, because you share in my mess.

How then, do I write these things? They clearly make others feel uncomfortable at times, how do I feel so comfortable saying I am broken, but beautiful?

I have been set free

Here’s the honest truth, you may not like it: you are going to die.  So am I.  Soon.

“Our days on earth are like grass, like wildflowers, we bloom and die.”

Psalm 103:15

Death, to me, is so real, I hate it.  I don’t fear it, I hate it.  I hate everything it conjures up: fear, anguish, grief.   I am disgusted by death.  I am enthralled by life.  By Him. By my maker. By the one who has conquered death.  By the one who has made heaven more real than death.  By the one who will bring me home.  By the one who is perfectly good, perfectly loving, perfectly perfect.  By the one who is not a mess, who is never confused, and can never be broken.  To the one who has come for people like me, people who are imperfect and messy.

I no longer have to be perfect, because I have been set free by the one who already is.  I am free to live life with out shame, without regret, and without the chains of the law (biblical law, not an anarchist) holding me down.  I have been redeemed.

Why?  Why then, in my freedom would I hide my mistakes, my mess, when I know they do not define me? They are simply a part of my story, my journey, but me, I am incredible. I was made this way, and I am not alone. If you are a human, you are a mess, in some way shape or form, you have been broken, you have broken, you have tried and failed, you have felt shame or guilt, confusion, sadness and the list goes on, but you too, are incredible.

Why? Why would I hide my mistakes, my mess, when I have been set free?  I don’t have time.  I don’t have time to try and set up a perfect facade to try and convince people that I’m awesome before I die.  Besides I already know I’m awesome, my God made me that way, like I said, I’m broken, and beautiful.  I am not going to be a slave to this world by going along with its norms which say we must have it all together.  I am here now yes, but I am going home, so I’m not worried about trying to please this world, or fit into it.

I feel my home in my heart.  It is so close.

I am broken, and I am beautiful.  I am free.

My message: You are not alone.  

My mission: To  help set you free.

See that you are broken, own that you are broken, confess that you are broken, and then see that you are beautiful.

On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Mark 2:17

To the sexually assaulted, addicted, and obsessed.  To the narcotics user and the alcohol abuser. To the person who just can’t catch a break in life.  To the money poor and anxious.  To the approval seeking, power hungry, gluttonous sinner.  You are not alone. From the fall, to the return, there have been, are, and always will be messy people like you.  What you do, your actions, they are ugly, they are awful, they are everything you know them to be.  But you, you are beautiful, you were made to be incredible.

In English 101 (because I’m a math major, and a pretty poor one at that) they tell you to end these things with a call to action.  So my call to you is His calling on your heart: Lose your life, confess your mess, and find true life in a love that frees.

It is with a love beyond myself that I write tonight. Good night, and God bless.

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