Friday, January 30, 2009

Beating myself upside the head

Tonight things got real. God has once again opened my eyes and my heart. I was vulnerable and shared a struggle. I know there is more to share, I just didn't have the courage to tonight. I wanted to be invisible. I didn't want anyone to see me. I felt shame.

"My grace is sufficient for you, Kathryn"

Hard pill to swallow, that's for sure.

Keep taking those baby steps. Keep taking one step at a time, in the right direction. Let it all out, let out a big sigh.

I have this book called "e-mail from God for Women" by Claire Cloninger. Kinda cheesy sounding, I know. But it is so sweet to me. Each email starts with something like "Dear Daughter" or "My Daughter" or "Dear Child of Mine"...which is very endearing to me. I miss getting notes in the mail from my Dad, or emails....I plain just miss him. I miss getting to talk to him on the phone. I miss his voice. I miss his hugs.

I can't believe it's almost been 6 years since he died. And yet, right now, it feels fresh. I recall those lonely nights in my dorm, tossing and turning, calling his cell phone just to hear his voice, mad at everyone and everything for continuing while I was left alone to sort out my feelings. I would often finally drift to sleep just minutes before the dorm cafeteria would open to serve breakfast.

When I got home from the hospital, the night before he died, I found the valentine's day card and chocolates he bought for me. It was only 11 days late, but still so sweet. Dad had baked barbecue chicken for me to eat while I was in town that weekend. It was in the fridge. I couldn't bring myself to eat it. I don't know why.

I promised him that I would come see him before his surgery. But that meant waking up at 6am on a Sunday. I couldn't bring myself to do it. I slept till 10am before finally driving to the hospital. I wish I could take that back. I wish I had been there before he went in for surgery.

....kinda got off topic there...but the point remains the same. I need to learn to extend grace to myself. Here is the email that I flipped open to in my aforementioned book:

My Daughter,

Everyone knows that caterpillars turn into butterflies eventually. But they are definitely caterpillars first. They can't fly; they move slowly; and they look like big, fat worms.

When you start your spiritual walk with me, I give you the promise of spiritual maturity, healing, and wholeness. But you aren't there yet. You are still a spiritual caterpillar. So stop beating yourself up for not being perfect and just keep moving toward the promise. I've created you to fly, but it is a process that takes time, patience, and lots of grace.

In fact, no one ever truly comes into the fullness of my promises until they pass through the cocoon of death into my perfect kingdom. So live graciously in this caterpillar state, being the woman I've created you to be. And keep moving toward the promise of flight.

Your Creator,
God

"I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus" Philippians 1:6

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Pushing through the dirt

Lately, I've been painting flowers with pastels...it's been quite therapeutic, and I've really enjoyed expressing myself creatively. But then I started to wonder why I always want to draw flowers. I mean, they aren't even flowers I've ever seen before. Which led me to wonder how awesome it must have been for Jesus to be with God during the creation of our world! Creation takes such great amounts of creativity!

I also love discovering parallels. For example, God using Moses to lead his people out of slavery in Egypt through the Red Sea, and into the Promised Land (which was prepared in advance for us)...and Jesus buying us out of slavery to sin through shedding his blood, and walking with us on our journey until we come to live at our Father's House (which is prepared in advance for us).

With that in mind, I've been wondering why I always create flowers. Then, as I was pulling into Tom Thumb, listening to Wholly Yours by David Crowder Band, I heard these lyrics:

but a certain sign of grace is this
from the broken earth
flowers come up
pushing through the dirt



And I couldn't help but smile....then I quickly grabbed my journal, rewound the music, and copied it down.

In a book I'm reading, "Changes that Heal" by Dr. Henry Cloud, I've learned that 3 components necessary for change are Truth, Grace, and Time. The truth is readily apparent in scripture. And in counseling last week, I discovered that I have quite a bit to learn about extending grace (especially to myself). And time? Well God takes care of that one. :)

Back in October, I was asked to pick a picture which represented where I am right now in my walk with God.

I picked a broken plate.

I thought it was rather sad at the time, until I started to realize that the plate could serve a better purpose now that it was broken. It could be rearranged into a beautiful mosaic, held together by Jesus, the only bond that will never break or sever. I have prayed since then for God to continue to break me. He has been faithful, yet merciful.

I have been experiencing both back pain, illness, and emotional distress (to say the least) over the past 6-7 weeks. It has been overwhelming, at times I have wanted to cry, yet had no tears. And when I finally had the tears, I was at church, and cried in the arms of a dear friend. Another dear friend has encouraged me recently with these words:

I know it has to be hard to go each week and find that things are much deeper than you thought before, but I truly believe that the Lord is showing the "roots" of the issues, and not allowing you to just "trim the fruits" off the tree. But like uprooting anything, it hurts and leaves a scar in the ground - but He is so faithful and will not leave you empty, my sister.



So all that to say, I am continually encouraged to persevere and surrender. The journey will not be easy, but I have the best Guide leading me, and preparing the way ahead of me. He has continually built my trust and faith in Him, and I have no doubt that He will continue this work in me until it is finished.

I can't wait to see the flowers that will be pushing through the dirt!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Snot Princess

So I've been sick for the better part of 3 weeks. I've also had a lot of alone time, rest/down time, and have done some soul searching.

Most of my life I have been a suppressant kind of gal. Push those feelings down until I can deny their existence. Kathryn just isnot the feeling kind of person, she HAS to persevere, and live in survival mode, there isnot time for living in the here and now.

Not a great thing to do. I really only know how to identify 3 feelings: happy, sad, angry. And that's only because they are usually accompanied by laughter, tears, or outbursts. I can't deny those.

Well, I can't really deny being sick. I tried. I'd pretend I was sneezing from allergies (when there weren't any cats around). I'd pretend it was normal to constantly need a kleenex within arms reach, and have needed them so often my students just hand them to me.

This healing journey I'm on with God has been trying to say the least. Feelings are starting to surface, with much of the same violence and unpredictability of my fits of coughing. Only now, I am determined to face the truth, and hopefully learn how to extend grace to myself during the process. No more suppressants for me, I'm all about the expectorants now! I've discovered 3 types of expectorants: OTC medicine, laughter, and tears.

I am really tired of being sick. I am ready to let God heal me. I don't want to live the rest of my life as a snot princess! I'm ready to live in the here and now. To truly experience this journey. I don't want to just survive my life, I want to live it out loud!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Closer

It is so amazing to me how faithful God is at answering prayers! I noticed recently that I have 3 songs on my iPod with the same title, "Closer".

The first one has been my prayer several different times over the past 6 months. It is by Charlie Hall:
Beautiful are the words spoken to me
Beautiful is the one who is speaking

Come in close, come in close and speak
Come in close, come closer to me

I love that song because it is so simple, yet so profound!

The next song I was priveleged to hear on my iPod is by Sanctus Real:

I'm not satisfied in this lifetime
I'm following you to the other side
There's nothing that can change my mind
You're all I need

You're the only tie that binds my heart
Away from you I'm falling apart
We need to be closer than we are
You're all I need

So what can I do to get closer?
I know there is more my heart can bear
I give you control 'cause I need you
To take me there

Like a bird flying southI'm seeking you out
And there's no rope that can tie me down
I'm running home, I'm a slave set free
You're all I need

I am waiting
Draw me closer
I am waiting
Make me stronger

The lyrics of this song match up so well with the journey I am on right now. I'm not satisfied in THIS lifetime. There is nothing that can change my mind, God is all I need! Whenever I take matters into my own hands, and keep God out of my life, my life falls apart! Jesus is the glue that holds me together. I daily am giving God control to take me where he wants me to go. I am a slave set free! This journey is so liberating, and I am yearning for the day that I have the strength to run! Draw me closer, God! Make me stronger!


Come near to God and He will come near to you! James 4:8


The 3rd and final song on my iPod is by Group 1 Crew:

Lord can you forgive me for the way that I have been
Bring this heart around to where it all began
I've been too blind to see the signs that you keep sending
So I'm ready, no more pretending.

[Chorus]
Take my life, I need you now
Draw me closer draw me closer

I'm on my knees, I'm crying out

Draw me closer I want to be closer to you

I've traveled down so many roads that only brought me pain
And with every bridge I burned you could've turned away
But you never let me go your love is so incredible
So let it over flow

Cuz I'm too far, too far away God, You are You are the Way
I'm too far, too far away so I'm hanging
on every single word You say
Oh Lord, I wanna be closer, take me over, take me over

God has been pursuing me lately, He is truly drawing closer to me! I love how He responds to me coming near to Him in such a loving way! Yet, I am not satisfied, I want to continue drawing near to Him!



Friday, January 02, 2009

Starbucks

(definitions provided because I love dictionaries)

com·mit·ment:
The state of being bound emotionally or intellectually to a course of action or to another person or persons

lib·er·ate: To set free, as from oppression, confinement, or foreign control.

tyr·an·ny: Absolute power, especially when exercised unjustly or cruelly

crit·ic : a person who finds fault and criticizes [Greek krit─ôs judge]

fear: A feeling of agitation and anxiety caused by the presence or imminence of danger

ra·tion·al: Of sound mind; sane

hes·i·tate: a. To be slow to act, speak, or decide.b. To pause in uncertainty; waver.

head: Freedom of choice or action

bar·ri·er: Something that separates or holds apart

life:
Human existence, relationships, or activity in general

I shared with a friend today about my resolutions, and was asked how I plan to accomplish these resolutions. I honestly had not thought about that yet, but a phrase that was stuck in my mind after waking up in the middle of the night was "to begin a journey, let out a big sigh, and take a step in the right direction". So when my friend mentioned taking baby steps, the journey phrase resurfaced in my mind. I'm not sure where the "journey phrase" came from, but it has got me thinking about this journey that God has me on; I know where it started and how I got here, but where is God leading me? Will I go willingly, and courageously submit to his plan for me? Or will I try to control and manipulate "my life" to accomplish my goals and plans, as I have so often done in the past?

What I do know, is that I want and need to take some steps in the right direction; I need to appreciate the gift of the Holy Spirit by listening and obeying. I have discovered recently that often the depth of my guilt is in direct relation to the depth of my ignoring God and going my own way.

Having a commitment to my resolution this year has been very liberating thus far (yes, I know it has only been a few days!). I am excited for what God has in store this year, and am ready for God to remove the barriers so that I can live the life He intends for me to live.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Resolutions & Courage

Today, I decided that I would make a New Year's Resolution. I Googled the definition for resolution: the act of determining; synonym: courage. That piqued my interest! I have been praying for courage lately, so it was a welcome surprise! Courage: mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty. So with this in mind, I decided it would be best to reflect on 2008 prior to making a 2009 resolution.

Fascinating how time flies! I remember my Dad and I talking at the dinner table one night, Larry King Live was on in the background. I think I was probably antsy for my birthday to arrive, the countdown had begun, there were about 20 days to go. "Time seems to pass faster as you get older, Kathryn. Enjoy today." Such wisdom!

This past year, I remember filling out my application for Dallas Christian College's Alternative Certification Program in Feb/March; from then on out, I was literally counting the weeks and days until I could say goodbye to my accounting job at AAFES, and hello to becoming a teacher!

Then in April I decided that I was ready to get out of apartment life, and began looking for a house. I found a foreclosure, that was in my price range (actually quite below), but would need remodeling. I was excited for the challenge, and thought that I would have plenty of free time to work on it while going to school in the summer. So I forged ahead! Counting down till I could close on the house. Then count down till my apartment lease ended...which meant that all of a sudden I felt the time crunch! I had 8 weeks to get this house move-in ready...and it was the same 8 weeks I had school 4 days a week, and did I mention that I was working 6 days a week? I really don't know how I survived!

Then next thing I knew, those 8 weeks were gone. GONE! I then realized that there were only 3 weeks until school would start....and I still didn't have a teaching job!

My prayers became desperate! I was literally CRYING out to God to rescue me from this mess! I started to set aside time for regular quiet times again...something I had not done for most of those prior 8 weeks. During these sweet times I kept stumbling upon Psalms that mentioned God's unfailing love. I cried.

I sent out an email to friends and family members, practically begging for their prayers! There is truth to Ecclesiastes 4:12 "Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three is not quickly broken." I felt renewed. I made a plan to visit every Irving ISD elementary school; and was told at every school that they were fully staffed. The next day, I moped around the house, and planned a route that would take me to every Grand Prairie ISD school. But the following day, I still felt bummed out. So I started calling the GPISD schools instead. After more let downs, I humbled myself and decided to give Dallas ISD a shot. I called about 30 more schools and called it a day. Did I mention that my plan for the day was to drive around town, and that instead I ended up making phone calls? I think that was definitely one of the first wake up calls I received that my plans are no good if I don't invite God into the mix!

I got an interview the next day, and got the job! It was such a HUGE blessing! And the best part? I got to share God's faithfulness with everyone that had been praying for me!

Teaching has definitely taught me a lot about myself, and I know I've been humbled more times than I can count! I love my kids and my school, and am thankful for this blessing God had prepared in advance for me! My first thought in my classroom, was "I can't believe they hired me! Do they realize that I have never taught 3rd grade before? Are they really giving me the responsibility of educating 3rd graders? How in the world will I do this?.....The room isn't decorated....How do I make a bulletin board? How do I arrange the desks? Where does the word wall go?" and on and on and on.

The first day went well, it was a bit of a blur, but I survived, as did the kids. :) The first 8 weeks were tough, but manageable. There were discipline problems, which I began to realize were mostly due to a lack of clear identified/communicated/enforceable procedures and rules. I came to develop a loving bond with my kids. It was awesome!

Then the Dallas ISD Budget Crisis! We were told it wouldn't affect our school, we had good enrollment. But it did. And not just my school. But me. My kids lost their teacher. We had a lot of crying those last 2 days! I had that weekend to process and pray through it all at a Women's Retreat for IBC. My mourning for me, changed when I began to realize that I can't control this. I can't change it. So I began to pray for my kids. I prayed they would get an amazing teacher to get them through 3rd Grade. I prayed for healing in my heart, I wasn't ready to get new kids, though I knew I needed to get a teaching position. I emailed the prayer warriors, and asked for their prayers.

Relunctantly I revamped my resume, and got ready for a career fair. Before I left, my principal called to ask if I would like to come back, either teach Pre-K or my 3rd graders! I said YES! I was so ecstatic, it felt so unreal! I was definitely encouraged and amazed at God's amazing answer to that prayer!

Transitioning back to school was tougher for me, I had to jump back into the lesson plans, and re-set up the classroom. I think it was a lot tougher coming back, than it had been the first time around. I was more stressed out, and had a few moments where I had to hide in the bathroom and cry because of how overwhelmed I was! But it was all worth it.

Now I'm on Winter Break, and trying to figure out what my resolution should be for the year 2009....So what does all of this have to do with Resolutions and Courage?

I think that my resolution will be to Live Courageously for God, and to Rest Humbly in His Plan for Me.
I will give up my "need" for control. I am not in control; God is.
My plans fail; God is unfailing.
I will not do life alone; God designed us for relationship with Him and others.