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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.

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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.

 

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.

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.

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.

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