Monday, February 9, 2015

Paradise and Mickey

Hey, guess what? I'm not talking about community in this post.

In the midst of all of this transitional crap and sanctification, a ray of sunshine came out. My friend Erika took me on a Disney cruise on Friday. It's our 3rd cruise and we're now trying to obtain Gold Member status (you get Silver on your 2nd). I'm sure many of you are like "Why the same cruise? Why a Disney cruise without kids?" Um...because it's amazing! And kids? There aren't kids in the adult section of the ship nor are there kids in the spa, which is where the majority of our time was spent.

Yesterday we both splurged and decided to get this spa treatment involving chocolate. Like, we were essentially wrapped in a chocolate body mask and after that came off we got a full body massage. I KNOW!!!!!! I came out of the treatment literally feeling like a million dollars. And my skin has never felt so soft!! Nor have I ever spent 100 minutes in a spa treatment before. 100 MINUTES!!!!

The cruise was pretty much awesome. I'm tired but it's a good tired. I got a chance to process some stuff with Erika and catch up on life with her, too. We definitely spoiled ourselves rotten but I feel that sometimes you just have to do that.

Now, I'm back on the couch job hunting and slowly getting back to the real world. It's nice to escape for a few days. I'm so glad Erika was able to do this.

Also, could you (whoever you are that read this) please start praying I get a job? Even just a part-time, answering phones, whatever kind of job? Thanks.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

What I Missed/Am Missing/Will Probably Always Miss

Tonight I came to Barnes and Noble to have some 'me' time. It's kind of something I've done off and on for the last month.

I went to a spin class tonight and it kicked my butt and I loved every single minute. It helped that the instructor played "It's Gonna Be Me" by Nsync. According to my Polar Fit watch, I burned 679 calories. I also burned off a lot of stress and some emotionalism (is that a word?) that's been plaguing me for the last week or so.

I realized last night just how much I miss my Kandern community. John and I were talking and he said, "Tell me about BFA. What do you miss?" The tears flowed freely (so freely in fact, that through my tears I told him, "Now you've opened the flood gates!") and I opened up and told him that I missed going over to the Martins after school. I missed sitting in Kristy's kitchen and just talking to the girls and hearing them shush Drew as he played his Wii. I missed the atmosphere of Audrey's tutoring sessions and how she would always stop what she was doing and ask me how I was doing. I missed Abby's excitement over getting a role in a play and Anna's sweet smile while she talked to me over a cup of Senseo flavored coffee. I missed Drew's inquisitive "What are you talking about?" "Wait, what happened?" and the inevitable "Nothing, Drew." I missed taking down the Tree of Trust and just venting and laughing and just being in a home that felt like partly my own.

Then I told him about the Stemples and how Jen and I would meet for lunch. How Ellie always smiled when she saw me. How the last time I was with them we did nothing but sit on the couch and watched a Christmas movie and ate döner kebabs. How Jen would meet with me every Friday and hug me and encourage me and assure me that life was just like this. I was normal and all of what I was experiencing was normal. I told him that I felt like a part of their family and going over to their house was like going over to my own.

I told him I hadn't always been such a planner and that many nights I'd sit on my bed and be messaging with a fellow BFA co-worker and in a few minutes she'd be over at my house sitting on my floor and laughing with me.

I sound like a broken record (or a skipping CD? What do we compare that to now?) but the hardest part of being back here is that I've lost that instant community. Sometimes I wake up and I feel like it's all over and I've completely acclimated. And then I get out on the 408 and realize I have no idea where the heck I am.

I think last night had been the first time I'd really opened up and I think that it really hit me that I wouldn't be back at the Martins or the Stemples. Or that randomly messaging a friend and asking her to come over in five minutes was really a thing of the past.

It comes and goes and as much as I want all of this to be over and as much as I just want to feel "normal", in a sense I know it's just beginning.

Today my encouragement comes from the first few verses in Ephesians 2:
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body[a] and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.[b] But[c] God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:1-7)

Thanks be to God....even in the sanctifying process of transition.

Monday, February 2, 2015

So...Transition's Not Over...

I'm sure many of you read the title and thought "Duh. Of course it's not."

I know it's not. For goodness sake I've only been back a month and 9 days.

I guess it feels longer. Sometimes I think that last semester was a year ago already. Other times, it feels like I was just there. I guess, in essence, I was.

Last week was rough. As you read in my last blog, I was struggling with loneliness. I still am. I'm yearning for community and a "real" job.

Over the weekend, I realized I was closer to community than I thought. On Saturday, a new friend from my small group and I went to dinner and to see a One Act play put on by the high school where she is a teacher. Watching it made me yearn to do what I love to do - direct - and as spectacular as the actor's were, all I could think about was how I would've cast it using my BFA kiddos. Nonetheless, it was nice to go out with a new friend.

On Sunday at church, I walked in and instead of feeling like I knew no one, I was immediately able to start up conversations with three people that I've started to get to know. I sat down next to John before the service and said, "I know people here!" I know I sound like a kid but I kind of felt like it. The new girl in school is starting to make friends.

There are still sides of transition that aren't fun and sides that I wish wouldn't rear their ugly head. The fear of not having money seems to always creep its way inside my head and those fears come out in snippy remarks and with an attitude that I'd more or less like to repress. Or it comes out in my oversensitivity. If you know me well at all, you know this is something I've always struggled with. In the Spirit, my overly sensitive nature can be a beautiful thing. In my flesh, it's ugly plain and simple. Mix all of that with transitioning to a new place and being in the center of confusion 90% of the time and it does not make for a fun person to be around.

Wow, if you don't know me I probably haven't given you the best impression just now.

The thing is, I just want to be done with it all. I want to have a normal job again where I have a salary. I want to call up at least three girlfriends and say, "Hey, there's happy hour tonight. Wanna go?" I want to be the caring girlfriend who is always sweet and kind and caring to her boyfriend and doesn't let the insecurity of transition and past relationships bombard her thinking.

I remind myself daily to give myself grace to get through all of this new stuff. I remind myself that God hasn't forgotten about me and even in today's Jesus time I read the scripture in Matthew that says "Fear not, therefore; you are worth more than many sparrows" (Matt 10:31).

My sweet mother made a great point this morning on the phone - "Allow God to meet you in the midst of your transition. He wants to use this time to show you who you are so that you run to Him and not to anything else."

So, that's my prayer. That my Abba would constantly be the One I run to during this time of wanting to forget that transition takes time. That it's not an overnight process. And that all along, He's not abandoned me or forgotten the desires of my heart. The desires to be in community, to have a job, to just be an all around nice person. The desire to just be in His presence and let Him take control from me, living out this season of uncertainty.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Frustration of Loneliness

My struggle this week - discovering that I'm lonely.

I just came from a large community with a lot of friends. Like if I wanted to, I could've scheduled coffee dates for the next six months with people in Kandern. I was the one who planned stuff, who liked to travel with my nearest and dearest there, who loved it when my neighbors were some of my closest friends.

Now I find myself in a large city with a lot of people. And the person who was the most social, is now the least social of anyone.

I talked with my former roommate, Justina, on Friday and she told me community was something she was missing, too. It was not like it was in Kandern. Other people who have left BFA previously have told me the same thing and I heard it long before I left. But once you're in the middle of it and experiencing it for yourself, it's not real.

I know it won't ever be like it was in Kandern. The walks to and from friends' houses are over. Walking to the cafe to meet for a coffee date four out of five days of the work week are done. I guess I'd just like a community of girlfriends of some sort to at least meet up with once a week.

Also, this isn't a blog to say that there haven't been people who have reached out to me. That would be a lie. I'm just expressing the desire I have for community again and to feel a part of something once more. And in this stage of loneliness. it only brings me closer to the One who created us for community, which is a sweet reminder that once more He knows my heart better than I know my own.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Abundantly is a Great Word

"Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen."

If you're like me, you've heard that verse a few times in your life, possibly at the benediction during a church service. Or if you're a seminary student, perhaps your professor used it to dismiss class like a few of mine did at Gordon-Conwell. Regardless, many of you have heard it before. Maybe unlike me you've just not really paid much attention to what it says and it's become something you've gotten used to hearing.

Yesterday, I really listened to what these words were talking about. "Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us..." I kept repeating that in my head long after the service ended yesterday.

For the last two weeks I've let myself start to worry a bit about money and bills and everything in between. Not only that, I've started to miss teaching. I mean really miss teaching. I like the K-2nd graders I see twice a week, but let's be honest - once you've taught high school and middle school, it's hard to get back into the habit of little kids.

Perhaps I made the mistake of going back and looking at pictures from High School Musical. And a few of my former kiddos have contacted me telling me how much they miss me. So there's that.

And it's been hard to find community here. Don't get me wrong - I love the small group I'm now a part of with John as well as the church - but I miss being able to see friends on a daily basis. I'm not giving myself enough grace and I know it. I've only been in Orlando 2 weeks (on Wednesday) but I think I'm somewhat guilting myself into thinking that it's wrong to have so much free time. That I should be doing more. And in all that, I lose sight of all that God is doing in and around me.

Ok back on track here. So Ephesians 3:20-21. Where does that come in? I'm getting there.

Yesterday after church, I was waiting around for John to finish tearing down and this woman approached me and introduced herself. We got to talking and she asked me what I did - which to be honest, is kind of a hard question to answer right now. I teach. Or I taught. Or I was teaching but now I'm here. So I told her I had been teaching Drama and Choir in Germany for the last 2 1/2 years. Immediately, she gave me the email address of a high school principal at a local private school. Then, she introduced me to another person who is the choir director at another public school in the area. Another friend told me how to go about applying at another private school and by the time John and I left, I had a plethora of information to get me started on applying to other schools here.

This is where Ephesians 3 comes in. He is able to do far more than I could ever dream or imagine. Like really, six years ago when I had to resign my job, I had no idea the journey was just starting for me. And I love that it says "far more abundantly." In definition, what that word really means is "present in great quantity; more than adequate; over sufficient"  . I love that - more than adequate, over sufficient.  

Also, this is not my way of going on and saying "And now because of this verse I will not ever worry about anything ever again." Ha! I'm not sure I'll ever reach that level of excellence.

But it's a good reminder that He cares for me far more than I'll ever know or understand and that his plans for me exceed anything I could have ever planned for myself.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

712 Things to Write About

In the midst of transition, my re-entry counselors in Germany stressed that I take time for myself. For someone who is used to being "on-the-go"all the time, I've found this kind of tricky.

Yesterday, I decided to create some space for myself and drove to Barnes and Noble. I had some paperwork to fill out for a substitute position at a school here and figured it would be good to do that in a cafe-ish atmosphere.

It took about 5 minutes to complete the paperwork and so I just kind of sat and observed people around me and then decided to walk around the bookstore. I found myself in the journaling section and picked up a journal entitled 712 Things to Write About. It sparked my interest and I picked it up just to browse through. Two minutes later I found myself at the cash register and then back in the cafe to scour its pages.

The writing prompts range from "List Five Favorite Smells, And What They Remind You Of" to "Write the Interior Monologue of Someone Waiting for a Blind Date to Show Up" and "Write 12 Lines of Dialogue Spoken at the End of a Long Day."

I don't really make New Years Resolutions and let's be honest - it's been 2015 for nearly 2 weeks now. But I am making a point to write in this book once a day throughout the year. Maybe some days I'll have time for an entry or two. Regardless, it gives me a sense of accomplishment and right now in the midst of many days of sitting and pondering and discovering this new city, it's nice to know that I have something to occupy my mind.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Everyone Speaks English...and Other Observations

So I've officially been back in America over 2 weeks now. I've been asked several times how I like being back. To be honest, right now I'm completely in the honeymoon phase. I'm like a kid in a candy store whenever I see just how much there is right around the corner. The area of Orlando that I'm living in is not far from a Target, Old Navy, LA Fitness (gym), Publix (grocery store), bank, post office, drug store, and most importantly - Starbucks ;)

Yesterday, I ventured out to run some errands. One of the first things I observed was that I was still expecting people to speak in German in public. Walking into the bank yesterday, I found myself going over in my head what to say in German just out of habit! It didn't take long at all to realize - "oh, wait, this is all in English..duh!" I still felt a little shell-shocked making the transaction with the bank teller but he was nice enough and I don't think he could tell that I felt completely out of my element for a bit.

Another observation - people are just really helpful here.....and whether or not they mean to be, I find it.......annoying. I hate to say that and sound rude, but you have to understand that I've just come from a place where you're not really offered tons of help in a store. So yesterday, I decided to spend my Yankee Candle  gift card from my colleagues in the music department at BFA. I walked in and was immediately greeted and surrounded by one of the employees. She told me everything that was on sale, everything that wasn't, the 75% off display, the 50% off display, and so on and so on until I was feeling a bit overwhelmed.

"Do you need coffee beans to smell in between the candles?" This was just one of many questions she asked me along with - "Still deciding?" Which then made me feel like I needed to hurry up and I hate being rushed or feeling like I'm being rushed. Again, I know they are just being helpful and nice. Maybe I just went on an off day.

So today I'm venturing out again. Maybe the more I do it, the less overwhelming it will feel. I do have to brag on my boyfriend because he is always asking me how it's going and how I'm doing with all of this. And I really like what I've seen of Orlando -which granted, because it's such a big city, isn't very much ;)