Just Look...

Just Look...

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

I Probably Should Have Put my ATTITUDE in Park

I'm going to speak pretty freely here, so if my boss reads this, I  hope she reads all the way to the end...

We have a new parking situation at work. It's a parking situation that is caused by a tremendous blessing, a beautiful new building that is going to be an awesome addition to our school. However, that beautiful new building construction means that we teachers have been displaced. We have two parking options, neither of which are optimal if A. your classroom is where mine is and you aren't up for a 5K each morning and evening or B. you would like to get through traffic sometime before dinnertime. I have been..... let's just say a little bit of a baby about it. I have complained in my own head basically every single morning and afternoon and occasionally to those close to me. I also attempted to buck the system by always having something heavy in my car so that I could use "carrying" as an excuse, but someone became wise to that and told me specifically (directly to my face) that there isn't room for teachers on that side; once you have been told directly, there isn't any option at all to continue in your evil ways. ;)

This morning I was late. I misread my clock and read too long in bed before I got up, the middle schooler was moving slowly and time was crunched. There is a tiny tiny itsy bitsy traffic window at CMS and if you miss it, GOOD LUCK. Today, we missed it by a mile and that window was SLAMMED shut. That, of course, made us later and so by the time I got to my school, I was pretty much a total grump. I parked in option A, meaning a trek to my classroom (already late, remember). Because I was so late, I had to take the last possible spot in that lot which meant an even longer walk to the door. By the time I got to the door, I was HUFFING and PUFFING with irritation. The door is a keyed door. (See where this thing is going???) Guess who couldn't find her key. Yep. It's also not a door that people walk by, so when I realized I would have to stand until someone came along, I knew that might mean a long wait. The anger and irritation and brattiness just surged inside me.

After what felt like a 30 minute wait but was actually only about 3, I heard movement behind me and turned to see a student whose life has not been the easiest. Due to circumstances I won't divulge, this student struggles every day with tasks that you and I never even give two seconds of thought to. As I watched this high schooler painstakingly approach me, I was chastised and rebuked and chastened and convicted and every other word that goes with those. I thought to myself, "Who do you think you are? How DARE you complain and act like a giant obnoxious baby about having to walk (on two good legs with feet that were even HEALED of plantar fasciitis over two years ago) from your car (that runs well and is almost paid for) into your school (that you love with all of your heart and that was your TOP choice for jobs after college) to your job (that not only earns you an excellent paycheck but that gives you sick time and personal days and lots of breaks) and a classroom (where you sincerely adore every moment of your time) of students (who are, bar none, the best kids ever, who treat you with kindness and respect and are funny and smart and witty and caring), waiting to read Macbeth (and so much more fantastic literature, the stuff that makes your heart beat fast and your eyes light up and your purpose so clear)??? WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?"

Just in case I missed that point, there was another situation later in the day where God drove the point even deeper into my brain and heart, reminding me that there are far larger obstacles in life than having to walk a long way to the car and far greater needs than parking.

I know we love to talk about perspective. I don't even think today was about perspective. I think it was about remembering that where we start and end our day doesn't matter nearly as much as what we do with it. And if you look for me around 7:25 or 3:10 every day, I'll be the one whistling across the school or smiling my way through the traffic. ;)

Tuesday, January 13, 2015


I have so much I need to be doing right now. But instead I'm sitting, tears flowing, in a dark, silent room, utterly amazed at the sweetness of my Savior.

Last year, we were raising money for Cambodia. In that process, we hit on a few things that we truly enjoyed doing so we decided to start a small business. This is mostly a shirt business, although there are (and will be) some other extensions at times. The business took off (far more quickly than we were prepared for). We had talked a little this past summer about some goals for ourselves and ways that we could run an intentional, humanitarian-oriented, mission-minded business. We decided we wanted to offer "shirts with a purpose". The latter half of 2014 was a little bit of a shotgun approach because things were just moving faster than we could handle. We did agree early on that we wanted a quarterly focus of our giving to be a PCL missionary named Isaac. Kraig and I were both so drawn to him and impressed by him during our time in Cambodia. He runs the Integrated Farm in Takaam and has also planted a church in the nearby village. We knew that we wanted to sow into his work in Cambodia.

Our family already sponsors a boy in a PCL orphanage, our sweet buddy Phirom. I met him on my first trip there in 2013 and we decided to sponsor him as soon as I got back. Emma and Kraig got to meet him this summer and I'm so excited for Kelsey to have that opportunity in 2016. Somewhat unexpectedly but yet also a product of several years of consideration off and on, we have signed up to use the business to sponsor a Compassion International child. For Such a Time will be a monthly sponsor of Libni, an adorable four year old girl in Mexico.

Through the amazing community of shirt-wearers in this town, ;) we have been able to donate shirts to the Royal Family 5K as well as do some low cost shirt work and a fundraiser for The Refuge, another local non-profit. In 2015 we hope to add to our support of Isaac and Libni with regular donations to a different organization every month. Kraig came up with the awesome idea to allow people who place screen printing orders of $300 or more CHOOSE the organization they want their order to support. We composed a list of (mostly local) organizations that we have vetted and know to be full of integrity and purpose. Those ministries are
Royal Family Ministries- ministry to foster children by SCCOG
The Refuge- sustainable living, job assistance, coordination of services
PCL- sustainable living in Cambodia and internationally as well as local work
Transition Furniture- provide furniture for people in need
Family Promise- assists families in moving from homelessness to housing
Caring Place- food, clothing, and other benevolence
Family Kitchen- provide meals to local homeless families every Saturday
Carl and Anna Nobles- missionaries to the Native Americans in the Dakotas
Project Free2Fly- teaching women sewing skills to help them become self-sufficient
The Prison Ministry of Eddie and Gloria Murphy - retreats for wives of prisoners, services, counseling, Bible study, care packages

Anyway, all of that to say that I had really built tonight up on our fb page as a big sort of unveiling of our plans for 2015, ways that our customers helped us #bethegood in 2014, and showcase of winter/Valentine designs. I started posting tonight and at one point I looked up to see 89 notifications. It wasn't all (or even most!) sales. It was just interest. Involvement. Support. And that's when it hit me, and I nearly lost it all over the keyboard.

I have known since my junior year in college that God's plan for my life was to teach. I spent many years leading up to that point denying and avoiding, but that year, in one day (in one HOUR), I dropped a physics class in one room and walked to the room next door to change my major from physical therapy to English. (As you might imagine, these had ZERO common class requirements.) :) But I'm here to tell you, I walked out that door and down "Cardiac Hill" and I felt different than I had ever felt in my life. I KNEW, at that moment, what it meant to be in God's perfect will. And that feeling has never left, not for a second. I have had rough days and a few rough classes but I have ZERO doubt that teaching in room 222 at Cleveland High School is the place God has for me. Today, tomorrow, and most of forever. 

BUT. There are also so many other things I want to do and have wanted to do. I have two (actually four but two don't fit into this category) dreams that I have always held so close to my heart, dreams that I have kind of deferred until I retire. One is to write a book and the other is to work for or run a non-profit. (I also have a dream of taking a photograph of something or someone that really matters in a place that my life is in danger. I don't know. Weird, I know.)

Tonight I was sitting there typing onto our facebook page, seeing those notifications, and I realized that one of those dreams is being fulfilled right this very minute. And I didn't even have to quit my dream job to do it. It's not a non-profit, but we have found a way to do something we enjoy and use it to support not ONE non-profit, but ALL of the non-profits we love! How very like my God to take a deeply held (and somewhat secret) dream and bring it to pass right before my eyes in such a quiet, gentle way that I didn't even realize what was happening? 

The mercy of a Father who longs to give us the desires of our heart is not an image often presented in religion. But it's such a beautiful part of relationship. And ultimately, it's relationship that saves us. 

So if you have some dreams tucked away somewhere like I did, dreams that you think will have to wait until you have time or money or plans or age to accomplish them, be willing to let them seep out of the little corners of your heart. Don't hold onto them so tightly that He can't bring them into the light. And if you ever find yourself staring full-on into the face of a dream you thought was 16 years away, make sure to give Him the honor.