Category Archives: time

lean into the unknown

six months into fort collins living – I went to a connect class at church today. it’s part of a four step process of learning about this specific local church, and diving into who I’m made to be at the same time – all of this prep to serve on the volunteer team.

i did not want to go this morning. i’ve been tired. like really really tired. and more than physical tiredness. i’m emotionally drained, spiritually apathetic. feeling sorry for myself and little entitled. i noticed my internal conversation this week went a lot like, “after all i’ve been through…this?”

so, i’m human.

and i didn’t want to go interact with people. i wanted to stay in the cycle of self defeat. why do we do these things?

good news though – i went anyway.

and when i arrived, the lady leading the group was stating her intentions for the day, that we would receive reminders, little sparks, (in my own words, synchronistic moments) that point us back to who we’re made to be.

i don’t know about you – but when apathy sets in, i build a thick wall against “feeling things.” against seeing them too – the small coincidences, or letting my heart swell with the vulnerable magic excitement of noticing – nope, not an option.

so with a puffed up chest, and you can’t touch me attitude, i walked into class.

“hmm,” i thought as she stated her intentions. i’ve closed myself off again. tired of feeling, tired of giving, tired of being open to pain.

and i allowed a portion of my guard down.

then we brainstormed the favorable qualities of a leader. she mapped it out on the whiteboard – “LEADERSHIP” with a circle around the word, then lines drawn out to the qualities we listed, “excellent communicator, servant hearted, inspiring, visionary, humble, altruistic, motivating…”

with her next question she erased the word LEADERSHIP, “how would you like your name written in the middle?” she posed to the class.

a few answered, saying it seems like a tall order, most said yes, it’s a high compliment.

then she wrote, “Amanda” in the middle.

again my mind went, “hmm.” out of the 25 people in the room, she chose to write my name, “ok, God, begrudgingly, i’m here. i guess i’m listening.”

we jumped into the lesson. first point she made – we hold ourselves back from incredible possibility. what holds us back? “insecurity, fear, inadequacy, reluctance” and then a bit about integrity (which after the past few years is one of my favorite topics).

and then she noted some values of this specific church: Jesus, a love for this city, family, radical generosity, sustainable rhythms, the importance of the details, and we are desperately dependent on the Holy Spirit.

i want to backtrack to “sustainable rhythms” because i was already planning ahead for my word of intention in July and SUSTAINABILITY came to mind. something lasting. something true; that forever kind of feeling.

and the paragraph under “sustainable rhythms,” went like this:

“we are passionate about going the distance and enjoying the journey. we work hard and rest well. we believe that work is God’s idea, that realizing a vision takes effort, that Sabbath is purposeful resistance against the rhythms of our culture, that recreation is restorative, and that health matters. we measure our pace, embrace our limits, laugh a lot, and trust God’s timing and provision.” 

“was this paragraph written for me?!” is exactly what i was thinking. “like what? how? how did they encompass all i’m searching for, all the themes scattered throughout my brain, and they even nailed the mic drop at the end – and trust God’s timing and provision.”

this is what has had me most sour lately. when some really really seemingly wonderful things have unexpectedly crept into my life and when these situations were climbing, obstacles overcome, the story was being made sweeter, grittier, complex, interesting, exciting, in ways – redemptive, and then –

nothing.

distance.

silence.

a screeching, confusing halt to what has been an incredible gift in my life.

cue the “WTF?” bubble over my brain.

however. because there has to be a however, people! apathetically, i dragged myself to connect class this morning. reluctantly, i opened pieces of me to receive. i (ok, unwillingly) heard trust and provision, and i let them in.

i remembered and can see how i’m in the exactly right place, and the timing is right on. because i can’t understand the pieces i don’t see, doesn’t make them bad.

i’m growing into who i need to be to accept the blessings meant for me in a way that is sustainable, in a way that is forever.

Jesus isn’t allowing easy because he knows my heart and knows i don’t want it that way. the gritty, deep, raw, everlasting, beautifully shocking, steadfast, full of grace, redemptive, hopeful, powerful, impactful story does not happen overnight.

multidimensional takes time, loads of effort, tremendous heart and will be well well worth the value expended.

God doesn’t draw us out to leave us here.

through no scheme of my own, i made it to fort collins. i’ve found work tailored for me and a church that feels more like home than anything i’ve known. i was eager to keep this option temporary, as this has been my pattern, but I see God at work.

maybe i can’t fully comprehend it all yet; and that’s ok. i’ll know when i need to, and i’ll continue to pour into what i’m doing and where i am and –

LEAN IN to all i’m becoming.

 

November 29th

In the midst of (unsuccessfully) studying for my CPT exam next weekend, I’m thinking about next year. Anyone else guilty of the same type of mind flow? I start a lot of projects and feel successful when doing them all at the same time. It drives Nigel crazy.

So, I’m thinking of next year and how I am going to launch a 100% health overhaul. I’ve mapped out posts to keep myself on track, and beginning December 15th I’ll be reflecting on this year and prepping for the next. But right now I need to study. Cannot wait to share all I’m learning!

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When Plans Change or When Everything Goes Exactly as it Should

Years ago I thought God had forgotten me. From my own perspective, my closest friends were being heard, prayers were being answered, and there I was.

I felt so lonely.

I thought maybe these rules, thoughts, and ideas didn’t apply to me. Surely not. I couldn’t see the evidence anywhere. While I’d cling to the hope in my tears being repaid tenfold in joy, I’m not confident I believed it was true.

The feeling came back again, a year and a half into marriage, when I felt all my dreams were shut down and my hopes were put on what could be a permanent hold.

“But I thought we were supposed to do this – together; and here I am feeling all the weight and all the burden and none of the joy,” were thoughts that consumed my mind. It was really tough. It was difficult to keep my heart and mind focused. I reacted and broke my own heart in the process. I felt stuck and resentful and hopeless. It sounds heavy but it’s true and that’s why I think it’s important to share.

My problem then and sometimes now, was my lack of vision. I couldn’t see past that month or year or past my own hurt. I couldn’t see this work that started years ago will be continued, and it will be for my own good.

I measured my life in nearsighted-ness, ignoring the decades I had yet to evaluate.

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Fast forward to now. I still feel lonely sometimes. I think we all do. But any and all of my feelings have been transcended by this thick, comforting blanket of peace. Almost ten years post endless nights of tears and my hurt doesn’t come from those feelings any longer. Almost five years post committing myself to Nigel and all we’ve experienced, through my fault or not, has been sobering and messy, but nothing I’d trade.

Sometimes all of these life events seem ironic. They aren’t. I think it’s more the beautiful detail that is woven through every interaction, pain, conversation, song, missed opportunity. It still leads me here. Those deep gut feelings or passions reside in me to be pursued, and those hurts I’ve caused are ways to learn and experience, and seek forgiveness and redemption.

When plans change, so do we, because we are meant to be more than we think we could be, and to make mistakes, and to work together and learn from each other, and be edified – and eventually made new.

So thankful for this story.

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A Second Thought on All of My Goals

A second thought on all of my goals.

I was reminded today. Even though I plan to push myself and reach higher, become better, do more, I was reminded that I am enough. All I have is enough. No matter the slip-ups, the set-backs, the mistakes, the small things that make me feel week, worn, and so far from who I want to be – it is finished. It’s already done. I’m forgiven. I’m free. I am holy in the sight of a loving and holy God.

He poured out all of His goodness on me, leaving me spotless.

Guys, I’ve (we’ve) already won.

I say this just because I was reminded of it today. And because I felt like it’s something worth saying 11 days into the new year. How are those resolutions? If they are going well, then wonderful! That’s great to hear! If they aren’t going so well, guess what, you are more than your resolution. You are more than 2015. Your story is precious and unique and woven into the greater story of Grace.

Do not give up hope. Keep trying and pushing (and praising!) I promise you, this story ends well.

you are enough

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On Teaching

What do you think about public school teaching? Have you had experience teaching? Do you know someone that has? Did you or did they survive?

I am at a crossroads. I have never ever wanted to be a public school teacher in America. Overseas, as a language teacher, yes. Here – never.

Yet, here I am. I am decent at it. I am respected by peers and administration and mostly respected by parents. I could keep working day and night and be one of the best, without a doubt. But I don’t really enjoy much of it. The kids, they are adorable and fun. They wear me out, but sometimes the things they say help me feel not so exhausted. The kids are only a tiny piece of the puzzle.  There’s also the testing (a ginormous piece), the constantly shifting expectations, the million initiatives imposed by those far removed from the classroom, the observations, the pressure to perform at 100% every day, to hold the entire world together while meeting the emotional and academic needs of 23 six-year-olds, teaching character and patience while hanging desperately to your own.

The planning consumes all of the time off-stage. The job is multi-layered. Sometimes other teachers can be cruel (with looks or quick comments) to each other as they are deflecting the stress of holding their own world of little people together.

What stands in the way of America adopting successful strategies used in institutions abroad? Maybe this time in my life is just as much of a learning period for me as it is for all of the littles involved.

A million questions surround me. I trust it will make sense. Until then, I will push on and continue to give all of me to this profession. Prayers for continued strength and sanity are much appreciated.

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What’s in a name?

Life events overlap sometimes. Common themes began to appear. A friend called it synchronicity.

Either way, I’ve found the dilemma is not knowing what to write about, rather, owning what I write. I hold back because I don’t want friends or family to knit my writing to me, to draw conclusions about me because of what I have written, or to be disillusioned by what they comprehend.

One by one, lots of happenings began pointing me toward something that would allow me the freedom to bleed: a mask, a name, a pen name.

Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask and he will tell you the truth. -Oscar Wilde

Dr. Suess; Mark Twain; William Shakesphere; George Orwell; Pablo Neruda; Voltaire – to name a few famous pens. Now to creating my own. What an adventure this will be!

 

 

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Secrecy

Oh, I can’t explain. When I like people immensely, I never tell their names to any one. It is like surrendering a part of them. I have grown to love secrecy. It seems to be the one thing that can make modern life mysterious or marvelous to us. The commonest thing is delightful if one only hides it. When I leave town now I never tell my people where I am going. If I did, I would lose all my pleasure. It is a silly habit, I dare say, but somehow it seems to bring a great deal of romance into one’s life.

-Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

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Motionless

I really thought today would be better. I thought I’d be smarter, more confident, more motivated.

I woke up wrestling the same demons that plagued me days before. Right now, as I reflect, I’m trying to draw out what has been helpful these past two months. I’m also been weeding out what has been hurtful.

I’m so thankful for a husband who allows me reflect and recuperate. During all of this “sabbatical” he’s willingly slaved away so we could still survive. He is truly one of a kind.

Also, I’ve realized a month away from busy and obligated is probably the most helpful time frame. Now that I’m counting down month two of not working so hard, I’m to the lazy, apathetic stage. What once had a purpose is now very much irrelevant. Yes, one month is healthy. Any more than one month is just plain lethargic.

I have a few money-making opportunities in the works. I am also waiting to see whether or not my efforts toward a certain something have been in vain. My gut tells me no way. My impatience fills me with doubt. Soon, this waiting game will be over…

 

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A Constant Fog

They were holding hands as they entered the fog. His grip was tight on her petite hand. We can do this, she thought. As long as we cling to one another we can do this. As she was allowing all of her doubt and insecurities pass, she noticed his grip loosening.

“Sweetheart, what is happening?” she asked.

“Nothing babe. I just heard something, I might need to check it out; see if everything is ok. Wait here.”

Before she could respond, his hand slipped away from hers. She had to stay still, to stay calm. He would be back any moment. Though the fog was thick and pressing, she noticed something standing a few feet ahead of her. She knew it wasn’t him, but for some reason it seemed to draw her near. She stepped toward the figure. “Stop!” Her mind screamed. With a deep breath, she ignored the impulse. He’ll be back any moment. It wont matter if I take a few steps ahead.  It appeared to be another person, another man. Maybe he knows the way out of the fog. Maybe he can help us.

“Hello,” she feigned confidence, but her voice reflected her unsure reality. The man extended his hand to hers. She reluctantly accepted his offer. Her mind immediately interjected, “What are you doing?? How will he find you if you’ve wandered? He is your protection. How can he protect you this way?” She silenced her thoughts by reminding herself that he walked away from her. His hand slipped away first.

There was something strange about the grip this man, this thing, held on her. She kept giving a little more, taking a few more steps. She kept silencing her mind until she could barely hear it screaming at her, until she could barely hear it at all. She continued to battle and justify, whispering things like, “he abandoned me, remember?”

Meanwhile, this figure kept leading her away, further and further from where she once stood. The fog has only become thicker, more dense. She can taste it. It is suffocating. Despite all of her attempts, the figure does not respond to her or her questions. It only continues to lead her deeper into what she cannot comprehend. She meant to find freedom and she is only more deeply entangled. Then the something stops. It drops her hand and simultaneously disappears.

At this point the fog is too heavy. She falls to the ground. “Where is he?” The sobs begin to rack her body as she realizes she is the problem.

If only he would speak. Then she could find him.

If only he would motivate himself to look, to search, to fight. Then he would find her.

If only he would cling to her as tight as he did when they entered the fog, then they could survive this; together.

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Transition

I’ve transitioned from extremely free to extremely busy in a matter of days. Maybe extremely busy is an exaggeration; however, I now have plenty to fill my days and I am relieved to not be overly-stressed with a 40-hour a week commitment on top of everything else.

In the third week of the new year, I began my Masters course: Classroom Discipline and Motivation. With the possibility of teaching beginning as early as this fall, I am pretty thrilled to learn a few classroom motivation secrets. I am also preparing for an interview in Nashville on February 9th; and wait, there’s more, I’ve been studying for the ESL Praxis (and will take this next week, ahh!) My stomach is nervous, which means I’m not as relaxed as before, but that’s okay.

I’ve picked up a few sub opportunities here and there, but for the most part I’m leaning on my wonderfully, amazing man.

Finally, amidst the new found busy I do not want to forget to make the space for relaxation, tranquility and a stillness before the Lord. (It’s all for Him, about Him, because of Him).

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