purpose.

As you all know, losing my job this year was such a difficult transition, but one I was aware had some bigger purpose to it. I wasn't sure what that looked like, but knowing how God has worked in my life in the past, I knew I had to trust Him completely on this one.

I was very blessed to have received several interviews for positions during this month of June, but nothing really felt "right." I was caught between waiting for my previous district to open positions later in the summer, or accepting a job that was posted earlier and risk leaving the district altogether. I knew that I wanted to follow God's plan for my life, and was really open to anything where I felt his peace and confirmation.

Before an interview in another district that I was particularly looking forward to this week (without getting my hopes up too much), I prayed that God would just give me wisdom either way, and I'd move forward where he wanted. I went into the interview so at ease and so impressed with the staff and administration, and really knew that it was where I wanted to be. I felt so fortunate to have even been in that interview chair, because it was a place I could really see myself becoming invested in.

I prayed the next morning, feeling so confident in the promise of God's Word in that He "works all things for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose." I tried not to think about whether/when I would get "the call," but sure enough, every time the phone rang I jumped up to check caller ID. (Sorry dad, but I was definitely a little disappointed to see your name on there a couple of times...)

When I least expected it (shopping with my 2 year old niece at H & M!), I received the call that I was being offered a 7th grade Language Arts / Social Studies position-- my dream grade/subject combination. And not only that, but it was at a school I am so excited to be a part of annnnnd it's not a temporary job! Hooray!

Just like in previous postings, all I could base my hope on this year was that God was faithful, He only does good, and that through losing my job, He must be taking me from good to great even though I didn't know at the time what that was going to look like.

I am so humbled, daily, by how God is so faithful in even the smallest details. I am blessed to be His daughter, and so looking forward to this next journey that T and I get to go on together (in schools and jobs that we love!). 

...God's purpose for me is always better than what I think I know for myself.

Happiest Place on Earth?

Right now I could be complaining about the fact that there has been turbulence + crying babies + seat kicking (mine) for the past two hours on this flight, but instead, I'm going to focus on the fact that, when I recover from jet lag and sleep in tomorrow, I will be able to smile about the different adventures we've had and memories we've made on this trip.

I love Disneyworld. I always have, and really, Disney makes it so easy to get there. Hop on a virtually direct flight from Portland, be whisked away in complimentary airport transportation, arrive at your hotel and you're just another (free) bus ride away from the parks. One minute you're in the Oregon rain (well, it was raining when we left last week), and the next you're in Disneyworld (even if it rains nearly every day there). Somehow, even when it's raining in Disneyworld, it doesn't seem as bad as when it rains at home.

T and I took my 14 year old brother to Disneyworld this past week and it was such a fun experience for them to get to bond and do guy things that I don't normally like to do. From racing down the tallest water slide in the world to riding a backwards roller coaster over and over again, they definitely got their man time in. My favorite thing is to just stroll through the countries at Epcot and taste all of their different foods, and watch all of the different travel movies about each country. The weather was really, really nice the first four or so days, and then it started to get rainy/thunder-stormy around 6:00 each night for a few hours for the remainder of our trip. Thankfully we got each park in to its fullest before the rain hit at the end of the week.


I counted that this particular trip to Disneyworld was my fifteenth, and each time I've gone before there's been something magical and special about it. It's not that it wasn't like that this time; however, I think going as an adult without my family for the first time and being more aware of things like cost vs. value made the trip a bit more realistic this time. That, and the fact that we had countless different "incidents" which I've never experienced on a trip to Disney before, that I'll go into detail below.


Flash flooding / power outage:
When we first landed in Orlando, we went to grab our rental car, (a Prius), which ended up being broken and we couldn't even drive it out of the lot (their fault, not ours). After spending about 45 minutes trying to back up and sweating profusely because the air conditioner wasn't working, the crew realized there was something wrong with the electricity and kindly provided us with a new (and much better) car. We were totally starved, so we decided to plug in "Chipotle" to our trusty Garmin (lifesaver last-minute-packing-addition on this trip), and saw that our cilantro and chicken cravings were about to be satisfied in less than five miles. As we were driving (or should I say, I was driving), a random flash flood appeared out of absolutely nowhere, and the rain was coming down so fast and torrentially that I literally could not even see out my front window. At. All. I had a minor (okay, major) freakout and pulled over into the middle of an intersection (oops) to try and wait it out. Several car honks later, my studly husband took over driving and coasted us smoothly the rest of the way to Chipotle. The rain was coming down SO HARD that we literally got drenched from head to toe when we ran to the door, parked directly in front of it. We shivered inside (Florida has got AC totally taken care of!) and scarfed down our burrito bowls when all of a sudden a gigantic boom struck directly above us and knocked out the power in the restaurant. The staff were pretty funny and offered to let us huddle in the back room with them in case it got worse, but we took our chances and ran back out to our car to try and navigate to our warm hotel room. Finally, after a very, very long day of travel, we arrived at the Animal Kingdom Lodge looking like a pack of drowned rats. But who cared-- we were in Disneyworld!


Fast forward a couple of days, and that brings us to.... drunk/sleepy/unaware Disney bus driver.


Chaos on the Disney Bus to Typhoon Lagoon: 
So this Disney bus picked us up from our hotel and headed towards Downtown Disney / Typhoon Lagoon, where we were going to cool off at on our second very hot day in Orlando. We weren't in the bus more than a minute, when the bus driver kept slamming on his brakes for no reason. We hadn't even left our hotel yet! The people standing kept being swung into our laps, and the bus was filled with lots of families heading out for the evening like we were. When we entered the main freeway, the bus driver took the turn so sharply and drifted across three lanes that it literally lifted the right wheels off of the bus.  There were a couple of screams and looks of panic (including mine) and we were all looking around to see what was going on with this driver. Unfazed, he began swerving the bus and nearly coasted it off into a ditch until he over corrected again and rammed it onto the road. I was starting to get really terrified and a lot of the men were looking around at eachother for which one was going to go talk to him. All of a sudden, in a 25 MPH zone, the driver sped up to nearly 50 and zoomed past so many cars that people in the back of the bus started crying. When the bus driver came to a stop, T and I looked at him in the rearview mirror, and we could see him nodding off to sleep and then shaking himself awake again. At that, another man literally flew up to the front and yelled at the bus driver to ask if he was okay and yelled that he was scaring families in the back and going way too fast. I think that startled the bus driver because he literally crawled the rest of the way until our dropping off point, but had at least three different people ask for his name and write down his information. In all of my times at Disneyworld, I have never been more scared of safety than I was at that point. Until, our experience on Hollywood Studios's Rockin Roller Coaster...


Locked in and Stuck on a Roller Coaster:
So the Aerosmith Rockin Roller Coaster at Disney's Hollywood Studios was one of my favorite rides until this trip. We waited in a long line to finally get our turn, and were locked in and strapped down by shoulder restraints as we took off on a 60MPH crazy indoor looping roller coaster experience. We were all having a blast and laughing... until the end. Our car got stuck on the track and wouldn't move and we were all totally locked in and couldn't get out. We were yelling for the crew to help us but were too far back for them to hear us, when all of a sudden we heard the roller coaster behind us zooming up ahead and literally thisclose to crashing into us. My heart nearly lept up out of my throat as it pounded a million miles an hour. My mind was racing because we couldn't get out of our seats and I had no idea what was going to happen. Thankfully, the minute the second coaster was charging up, ours lurched forward and dropped us off. All of us exited our cars with wobbly knees and shaky hands (or maybe it was just me), and I knew I had my fill of the Rockin Roller Coaster for this vacation.


Getting Rear-Ended:
Here we are, happily driving home from a fun dinner at the Rainforest Cafe at Animal Kingdom, inserting our room key into our gate at the Animal Kingdom Lodge and recounting our favorite trip highlights so far, when all of a sudden our car lurches forward because a man fumbling with his wallet behind us wasn't paying attention and ran his car into us. It was pouring down rain outside so it wasn't exactly the best time to get hit by a car, but we pulled over (in our hotel parking lot, nonetheless), and examined the damages. Praise the Lord for all of us, there were none! The man looked absolutely white as a ghost and apologized profusely (along with his ice cream cone-eating wife and Mickey-eared children) and we were very happy that not even a scratch ensued on either of our vehicles. We wanted to be a blessing to him since there was no evidence of his mistake, so we just said,"Don't worry about it- there's no damage and we're not interested in taking down your information. Have a great rest of your trip." He was beyond relieved and we were just happy that we could continue on our merry way and not have to make calls to insurance companies. And darn it if that Budget rental car woman had been more persistent against Timothy's "we don't need the extra insurance coverage, thanks." It could have been a lot worse. :)

Witnessing a car accident:
On our way to pick up our baggage at our hotel, after spending the morning visiting Starbucks, the idyllic town of Celebration, Disney's Wide World of Sports, and the Pop Century hotel, we see this guy next to us speeding nearly 40 mph up towards the red light ahead of us. In a mere blink of the eye, he slammed into the car in front of him, accordioned his hood, took off his bumper and ejected his air bags, while doing some extensive damage to the other guy, too. We pulled over right away and T ran out to call 911 and help the car that was hit, while another passerby took care of the guy who did the rear-ending. It was a pretty grisly scene with smoke and car parts all over. We were so thankful because just a car away and it could have been us. After attending to the injured and calling 911, my dashing hero returned to the car and we made our way to the airport. (And to top off my super hero husband's good deeds for the day, he helped a single mother get her stroller put together and helped push her baby as she flew with him for the first time amongst armloads of luggage. So proud for such a studmuffin.) :)

The three of us did a lot of ride riding, ice cream eating, McDonalds coffee drinking, Sleeping in and staying up late on this trip. We had running tallies of pouting/yelling/crying children (had to be at least over 5 years old to qualify) in the Happiest Place on Earth (my prized spotting? A boy about 7 years old who yelled to his dad, "I HATE this place!" in the Magic Kingdom). Timothy spotted 11 on this trip, Taylor spotted 9, and I spotted 7. We also counted very unhappy-looking parents (about 12 total-- they had to be visibly distressed/fatigued/frustrated/upset), and people who wore shirts that communicated some sort of sarcasm or anger towards the world (I think we counted at least 10). We are in the Happiest Place on Earth-- come on people!

Last but not least, this trip wouldn't be complete without at least reference to the following that Taylor contributed to our trip:

*Taylor's six pack references about himself; "Six pack! Yeah! Six pack!"
*Animal noises/songs in the shower from Taylor "Meow, meow, meow, meow-meow-meow"...
*Smelling chocolate Axe body spray as  a permanent scent in our room
*Listening to "Reptile" far too often than we would have liked...
*Taylor venturing on his first independent experience by riding the bus to Typhoon Lagoon by himself
*Taylor being totally freaked out and ruining the birthday surprise we had waiting for him at T-Rex... when the singers came out, he said, "It's not my birthday! I don't deserve this! Take it back!" They were a little confused...

We had a blast, are very tired and missing the humidity already as we watch the sun set from 36,000 feet with our ginger ales. I think we'll have to make a road trip to Disneyland sometime soon... :)

-m.

Why I teach.

Today was a particularly difficult day from me as I had to say good-bye to the school and staff members I have grown so close to this year. It's been one of the harder things in my life I've had to go through, especially when I worked so hard to get there. And yet I have to just move in faith that there is someplace better I am supposed to be, without my knowing where that is right now. I'm wholeheartedly trusting God and His provision because it's been an emotional ride having to let go.

As much as I'm discouraged that I had to pack up my classroom and head out today, I would go through this every year if it meant I got to spend 9 months having the kinds of experiences with students I had this year. Here are a few highlights from my year, to give you a glimpse into why I teach.
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I teach for L., who began the year unable to write straight. Who was unable to give a speech to the entire class or write longer than a paragraph. Who had Ds and Fs in his subjects, and who then raised his grades to As and Bs, wrote six page papers and gave a fully memorized, 8-minute speech to the whole class by May.

I teach for K., who had an attitude of unwillingness and apathy. Who wrote backwards and wouldn't read. Who gave a speech in front of the whole class, which is worlds away from the beginning of the year when she couldn't give a speech in front of just me.

I teach for J., who I know is going to be a future author someday. Who worked so hard and was so focused, always giving his best and always helping others whenever he could. I haven't met a more selfless student in a very long time.

I teach for S., who made me laugh every single day when he asked me (literally every day) if I liked Bruno Mars and whether I played "Just Dance" the night before.

I teach for A. and his brilliantness, recognizing that he is absolutely going to be a future leader someday (and I will vote for him!).

I teach for R. who worked so hard to grow into herself and really be confident in who she was; standing up for other students and not giving into the pressure to become like someone else. She knows who she is and is completely content with that.

I teach for K., who struggled at math for several months and finally grew after her confidence gained momentum. She worked hard, stuck with it, and improved her grade from an F to a B in three months.

I teach for A., who started showing up to class on time, turning her work in, coming to visit me and improved her grade substantially when I invested effort into her worth as a student.

I teach for N., who really came into his own by the end of the year. Who became well-liked by his peers and saw his confidence grow tremendously. Who figured out who he was and ran with it; who was transparent and honest, and took risks that paid off.

I teach for S., who started the year always making an entrance, and who progressed into a compassionate, empathetic and mature student who included everyone and offered sincere compliments to others whenever he could.

I teach for C., D., M., G., and K. and E., who always made me laugh with their silliness when the mood got too serious.

I teach for M., M., E., E., G., K., H., and R. who are compassionate, helpful, patient, inclusive students, who will make wonderful leaders someday in whatever field they pursue.

For these students and so, so, so, so many more: I teach. Every day. Even when it's hard, and even when it hurts. I wouldn't have it any other way.

Contentment in the waiting

The news was officially in this week that my position was merged into one subject and I had to be bumped out due to my temporary contract status. While I knew it was inevitable, it still didn't relieve the heartache that I felt as I began packing up my things and processing the fact that I have to say goodbye to colleagues and students I have become so connected with over this year. I poured my heart into my job because it was, during this season, the absolute best job I could have asked for. I was so privileged to have been called a staff member at my school, and a teacher to my students. And yet, my hope throughout this process is that beyond what I can see, this might mean I'm going from "good" to "great" without even knowing it; or from "great" to "amazing."

As I took a break from packing my room yesterday, I stopped to read my devotional. It was so perfectly fitting  that I couldn't help but just thank God for His comfort in those words. Rather than try to re-articulate what was written, I'm just going to write excerpts from it for you below, so that if you're experiencing any time of uncertainty in your life right now, you can be encouraged as well: (From the June 10 - 11th devotional in Streams in the Desert)

"I once met a poor woman who earned a meager living through hard domestic labor but was a joyful, triumphant Christian. Another Christian lady, who was quite sullen, said to her one day, 'Nancy, I understand your happiness today, but I would think your future prospects would sober you. Suppose, for instance, you experience a time of illness and cannot work, or suppose your present employers move away and you cannot find work elsewhere. Or suppose--" "Stop!" cried Nancy. "I never 'suppose,' The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. And besides, it's all that supposing that's making you so miserable. You'd better give that up and start trusting the Lord. "Be content with what you have, because God has said, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.' So we say with confidence, The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?" (Hebrews 13:5-6)

Romans 8:28 "We know that God causes all things to work together for the good of those who love Him and who are called according to His purpose." What a tremendous claim Paul makes in this verse!He does not say, "We know some things," or "most things" or even "joyful things," but "all things." This promise spans from the very smallest details of life to the most important, and from the most humbling of daily tasks to God's greatest works of grace formed during a crisis. Paul states this in the present tense: "God works." He does not say, "worked" or "will work." It's a continuous operation. 


Then, when God orchestrates "all things...for the good," it is a beautiful blending. He requires many different colors, which individually may be quite drab, to weave into harmonious patterns. Separate notes, tones and even discords are required to compose melodious musical anthems; a piece of machinery requires many separate wheels, parts and connections. One part from a machine may be useless, or one note from an anthem may never be considered beautiful, but taken together, combined, and completed, they lear to be a perfect balance of harmony. We can learn a lesson of faith from this, "You do not realize now whatI am doing, but later you will understand." (John 13:7). In a thousand trials, it is not just five hundred of them that God "works for the good," of the believer, but it is nine hundred and ninety-nine, plus one.

Weekending

Oregon summer weekends are simply idyllic. We've been cooped up indoors for nine months and everyone is practically crawling to be outdoors. {Well, at least I am, anyway.} When I heard last week that we were going to have not one, but two 80+ degree days this weekend {a 2011 first here in the NW!}, I knew I had to break out my workout gear and hop on my bike for a little scenic tour.

I cruised around the area, passing by vineyards and orchards, and clocked 15 miles in about an hour. I had product tested these amazing compression athletic capris with a split-leg feature, and decided to wear them on my ride. They were incredible! I had to write about them here so you'd go and get a pair for yourself. There was a lot of support in the upper thigh, but on the calf, it splits open so that when your leg is constantly moving (like with pedaling), there is no restriction and more air flow. It was perfect-- so much better than my regular biking capris. I also did not have nearly as much soreness as I normally do in my upper legs after a ride, and this was my first one of the season! (In case you're interested, here is the link to what they look like: http://oldnavy.gap.com/browse/product.do?cid=53935&vid=1&pid=839333&scid=839333012)

Anyway, between bike rides, pool time, beach trips and wine tasting, I'd say this was a pretty good kick-off to the summer.
 
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