You Just Never Know

Friends, meet the newest TA and graduate student at the University of Texas! This is crazy. I’m going to GRAD SCHOOL. All the student-ish nostalgia I wish I had had at Bradley is now mine! Along with many many chai lattes purchased at Kinley’s…

I got a call yesterday from the advisor of the MA program in linguistics offering me a last-minute teaching assistant position that had opened up. Along with that I will be studying full-time with a graduation date of May 2014. (And I’ll get to wear one of those cool hood thingies…)

HOLY COW. I applied back in January, really out of curiosity and as a possible way out of my last full-time job. Since the beginning of the year, I’ve tried to slow down my ambition, sometimes aimless and fruitless. In the past I’ve applied to several grad programs, never feeling peace about any of them, and treating them as a Plan B to whatever I was doing at the time.

I guess I felt back in January that it wasn’t the right thing at the time. I didn’t feel at peace, especially about taking out more loans to study more and put my career on hold, and that I was trying to find any reason to get out of a job I hated. What I really would have liked was a teaching assistant position, and definitely not a research position. UTEP’s graduate tuition is very reasonable, but I still couldn’t get myself to commit. Forcing things just isn’t my style any more; I usually end up disappointed and remorseful of my efforts that could have been better used somewhere else.

My plan for the fall was to continue nannying part-time and be a stay-at-home wife the rest of the time. Aaron’s been gone a lot since April, and it’s nice to have evenings and weekends to spend together. Just live a simple life, you know? The past few weeks I’d really been feeling a contentment and peace wash over me… one morning I woke up thinking, “This is my lot in life. Better to make the most of it rather than squander time and energy wishing life were different.”

Also over the past couple weeks I’ve really felt as well that this is not the time for us to start a family. Even if Aaron told me today he was ready, there was something that would hold me back. Maybe two, three years down the road. We have no idea what life holds for us after the military, or maybe he’ll stay in the military. Only God knows. After years, seriously, YEARS, of off-and-on baby fever, I feel like I can breathe! God’s peace is just amazing.

So when I received that call yesterday, it felt right. In my undergrad, I’d plan everything out weeks, if not months before hand. Books and notebooks and pens would be ready and stacked way before the required time. I bought my parking sticker way in advance. I even planned out my study time. Now, I have to crunch all this into just a couple days (I register tomorrow) and when I get back from Honduras, I’ll be hitting the ground running to catch up with the first week of classes that starts on Monday.

But I’m okay with that! I’m not freaking out, and there’s no panic attack in sight. UTEP is HUGE compared to Bradley, but I’ll figure it out, right??

This feels good. This feels right. And I can’t tell you how ecstatic I am that my plan to go to grad school is finally working out. Maybe in a perfect world I would have started right after graduating Bradley, but only God knew the preparation I’d need emotionally and financially. Only God knew that I’d be in the right place at the right time.

I love that I’ll have a job for the next two years. There’s a plan in place. I’m investing more of myself into this city and its people, which lately I’ve allowed God to give me a heart for. I get to study something that I want to study, that can open up more doors than other grad programs I’ve applied to. This is really happening!

So don’t be surprised if you don’t see regular blogs (um, I don’t think you do now…), or if you don’t hear from me as often. I’ll just be grabbing hold of what’s been waiting for me… drinking lattes and writing papers, reading textbooks, walking across campus (just a much larger campus), and oh, you know, TEACHING COLLEGE. No big deal. ūüėČ

Legacy of faith

—————————

“I believe in God, the Almighty, Jesus his

son, born of the Virgin Mary. Jesus was

born in human form and lived and died as a human.

Jesus was crucified and gave his life for us.

He was sinnless and God raise him from death

to be the only Judge of us.

Jesus preached to all — good, bad, poor, sick

believers and non-believers. He heald the sick

and forgave sinners.

He believed all people equal, men, women, and all

races and creeds.

He asks us to live in peace + love each other as

He loves us all.

He asks us to pray for ourselves, other who stray,

for the sick, for him to have mercy on us all.

He asks us to live our lives serving him +

the Trinity.

God is the director of our lives and all that we do.

By our free acts, we need to be obedient in our worship

and service to him.

His life, as supported by the Old Testament writings,

is recorded by the New Testament witnesses of the

Apostles.

By his gift of Grace we will be forgiven of our sins

and be made whole

thru salvation and Faith we will be made acceptable

for the life hereafter — eternal life.

In God’s Name! — Amen! R A Little

—————————

This is a copy of my grandpa’s statement of faith read at the memorial service. I will be framing this and hanging it in my house. He has certainly entered into his eternal rest, for which I am so grateful, though it hurts to have lost his presence here on earth.

Do what you love & leave your legacy

I’ve really been thinking about my legacy lately. While it’s something that can’t be touched, it’s probably the most important “thing” I will leave behind on this earth. For such a long time, in fact, until just a few weeks ago (!!), I thought my “career” defined me. I’m a very driven person, and success is something I’ve always strived for. Then I thought about people I’ve felt have left an amazing legacy. People like my Grammie Leta (great-grandmother) who had five children and outlived two of them plus her husband. She sewed, knitted, crocheted and crafted her little heart out. I don’t think there’s a wall in my parents’ or grandparents’ house that does not have something of hers hanging on it. She dyed her own yarn to make rugs, stitched tiny stitches on beautiful quilts and ¬†made needlepoint projects like you would not believe. Absolutely gorgeous stuff.

So, I was thinking about her and her legacy. She passed away when I was only 11, but I remember that she loved her family, poured into others’ lives, and used her God-given talents to bless others.¬†That’s what I want my legacy to be. It doesn’t¬†matter if I teach full-time, start my own business, or stay at home as a wife and someday a mother. (Seriously, being a stay-at-home mom is my dream job. Always has been.)

What do I love??

I love…¬†sewing/crafting/anything you can think of that involves fabric, yarn, thread, and the hum of a sewing machine.

I am seriously, very seriously, considering opening my own Etsy shop in the next few months. Many would say, “Finally!” Although at the age of seven I was armed with a needle, thread and embroidery scissors, I have my reservations. What if no one buys anything? What if it’s too cheap? What if it’s too expensive? What if my products don’t fit my customers (or their children)? Those are silly worries… I love sewing. Like, LOVE. I am not an expert by any means. I don’t have a ruffle foot, or a zipper foot, a rotary cutter, a fancy sewing table, or a serger. I plan on investing in some of those things, but for right now I’m turning out projects on a sewing machine I inherited when my mom’s father passed away seven years ago. Sewing and crafting is a way for me to honor my family’s traditions, and I experience such joy when someone tells me her daughter feels like a “princess” in the dress I made.

Annnnnd, I need a name for this shop! (Suggestions welcome!) I have no idea where it’s going to go… but it’s exciting and it will offer me a great creative outlet.

I love…¬†teaching, creating relationships with students, impacting their lives for the better.

I am blessed to be able to be a nanny. I can’t wait to see where the summer takes us, and I much prefer having a closer relationship by having only two “students” than having 100. Don’t get me wrong; I miss teaching in a classroom every day, but I love feeling like I’m part of their family.

I love…¬†running. When I actually run.

Today I went on a two-mile run, on the treadmill. It reminded me that I can. (I doubted for awhile after Bataan;)). I have no races on the calendar any time soon, but just because I’ve been maintaining my weight for 2+ years doesn’t mean I can give up on what got me there! Plus, it makes me a happier wife.

Anyway, here’s something that’s in progress… hopefully soon I can offer you a link to my shop!

 

A new direction

After praying, seeking counsel, and what felt like fasting (still don’t have a normal appetite), I put in my resignation yesterday. I feel that it was the right decision to make. I didn’t waver when speaking to my boss. I didn’t have any second thoughts. I don’t feel the need to constantly defend my decision. I’m not worried about what will happen next. I’m getting a recommendation and I’m not leaving on bad terms. I normally go crazy with planning every detail of what will happen next, but I’m waiting on the Lord. I have a few ideas of what I want to do with my time, but nothing concrete yet.

It was a decision that was based primarily on internal and spiritual factors, not outside factors. I almost second-guessed myself, since we’re having changes in staff and there’s some instability. However, I knew that soon I would be offered another promotion for a lot more hours and not a lot more money and it just isn’t worth it. And of course, the question of “What would Dave Ramsey do?!” popped into my head.

I am a very blessed woman to have a husband who is supportive of what I want to do. I’m blessed that I have the luxury of quitting my job. We’ve also worked really hard to be able to live on one income without being desperate.

The desperate Elizabeth would be second-guessing herself, profusely apologizing to her husband for the lack of extra “fun” money they’ll have, going crazy with what to do with all her time… What if he deploys? What if he goes TDY? What if this looks bad on my resume? What if….? Ya know what? I’m done with the “What if…?”

I’ve regretted some decisions I’ve made in life, notably my major in college. However, I believe we make the best decisions for the current time in our lives. You can try as you might to weigh all the pros and cons, but only hindsight is 20/20 and fully capable of making us feel bad if we let it.

In that case, I don’t regret decisions I’ve made, and it seems I’ve made quite a lot of big decisions in the last eight years… going to Bradley, majoring in Spanish, deciding to teach, marrying Aaron, encouraging him to join the Army (that was a joint decision), staying in Illinois to teach/work, etc etc etc. I feel that I make sound decisions and this is no different.

I feel like a weight has been lifted, but also that my responsibility is greater now. I’m not sure what I’ll be doing, but as always I desire to do the work of the Lord. My passion is teaching, and He knows that. He knows the desires of my heart. He’ll provide financially. I can’t describe how freeing it is to make this decision because I¬†want to, not because I¬†have¬†to.

And, by the way, HAPPY ST. PATTY’S DAY!!!! We took it easy at the on-post 6-miler this morning. I ran in the Minimus and am feeling it now!

A life fulfilled.

This morning was great! We ran our first race together, in the same zip code, in the same country! It was the Ft. Bliss Holiday 8K Run on post.

We don’t have official times yet, but Aaron ran around a 40:40 (8:05 mile! SO PROUD) and I ran around a 48:30. My goal for this first race in Texas was 51:00… pretty conservative considering my last 8K was a 46:18. I guess I just didn’t want to be disappointed.

The gun went off. It had the feel of a small hometown race, with about 200 participants. It was cool outside with a crisp breeze. However, when the sun comes out in Texas, it warms things UP! I could have run in shorts and a t-shirt and been fine.

I always try to save energy at the beginning. I looked at my watch and was starting out at a 9:00 mile… WAY too fast. So I ran between a 10:00 and 10:20ish mile throughout until the last mile, and I kicked it into gear. I ended up passing several people I was contending with the whole time; always feels good to do that towards the end of a race! It was a silly fear, but I was worried I’d be towards the end. My slowest split (I have the Garmin set to .5 mi) was at 10:16 pace… sweet!

Aaron met me at the finish line… that was great to see him! So many times I’ve had to call him and give him a report. We recouped for a second, then grabbed Starbucks and headed back to the gym for the awards. I was disappointed that the age groups were so large… there was no way I was gonna get an award when the group is 20-29. Maybe someday….

I feel elated, like I usually do after a great run, an appreciation and an attitude of I. Love. Life.

Despite not having a ton of extra money…

Despite unexpected bills…

Despite not going all-out for Christmas…

Despite not being with family for the holidays…

My life is fulfilled. If you’ve been reading my blog for two seconds you probably know that I’m Christian. Thank you for continuing to read even when you don’t agree with my views or how I got there. I never want to sound preachy; my goal is just to tell the good things God has done and let you take it from there.

I just want to tell you that these past couple months of trusting God for our needs have been some of the most rewarding. We’re seeing things happen, opportunities for relationships arise, and of course, all of our needs met. We are committed to giving sacrificially to missions. I was listening to KLOVE radio the other day (not generally a huge fan of “Christian” radio…) but I heard a song by Matthew West with a line that goes like this:

“I throw a twenty in the plate but never give till it hurts.”

Wow. When I heard that, I didn’t feel conviction but confirmation. We are¬†giving sacrificially, even when it looks like we can’t afford it. Even a lot of Christians will say it’s foolish to do this… what about the bills? Food? Gas? Saving? What about retirement? Saving for kids’ weddings and college tuition?

And I counter that by saying… Have we ever gone without? Have we ever run out of gas? Food? Nope. As far as savings and retirement, we’ll get there.

So… trusting, living to the end of ourselves (physically, financially and spiritually), looking ahead to the future with unbridled anticipation… these are the things that make my life fulfilled.

Being a servant

I look at my recent posts and I’m surprised, and not surprised, that I’ve posted about once a week. What is that?! Usually I have a lot more to say.

But as it stands, I’ve been learning a big lesson on how to be a servant. I can thank my current job for that.

I know I’ve been called to my job right now for a reason. I know positive changes are being made. But the only way to gain real¬†respect and trust is to be a servant. I try to compliment “my” teachers (I say “my”, since I’m kind of a boss… or something.) If someone shows frustration, I try to get to the bottom of it and fix the problem.

Pastor Lee’s sermons recently from The Sermon on the Mount¬†really have me thinking about what it’s like to be a servant.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” Matthew 5:9

As a peacemaker, amateur as I may be, I’m supposed to be bringing God’s peace into situations, and living it out in my life. I should not sacrifice integrity for peacemaking, but I think I’m good at not doing that. I’m the kind of person where if I know I’ve wronged someone, or even think I might have wronged someone, I have to make it right otherwise I can’t sleep at night. (I didn’t always used to be like this! Ask my family…)

At work I’ve really been focusing on having a good attitude, not getting stressed over anything, even if it’s big, and being consistent. I think the last thing there is key to gaining respect… being consistent. People can then see my commitment, that I’m all in.

I’m not going to lie to you and tell you I was jumping up and down when I was offered this promotion. In fact, my heart sank. But I know I’m there for a reason, and slowly things are improving. I’m so thankful to have the opportunity to use my God-given gift of teaching… I have been dealing quite a lot with educational issues. I’ve also been able to continue teaching some students. And I can guarantee you that when I have my own classroom again, I won’t be nervous to talk to parents!

On a different note, if you want your faith to be stretched, your soul to be refined, or you want to learn how to be a servant… get married. Aaron and I have been doing very well lately with communication. In the midst of things happening in marriages around us, we are thankful for what we have. Couple that with being apart for two years (five total in our relationship) and you have a strong bond! I get emotional with him, he gets impatient with me, but we work through it and talk it out. Communicating our fears and weaknesses is one of the hardest things to do, I think.

And I don’t mean that when you get married you become that person’s slave. You serve them with your attitude, your listening abilities, your willingness to work through things, your blatant refusal to be selfish. If you want to add in some dishes or laundry, you can do that too. ūüôā In a true relationship of mutual servanthood, it won’t go unnoticed.

It will flood into other areas of your life, too. Before you know it, you’re being a servant to your friends and family… by praying for them, listening to them, offering a shoulder to cry on or a sounding board for venting… it’s pretty cool how it all works out!

I just love the Beatitudes… (and I did not know this but Wikipedia taught me that “Beatitudes” comes from the Latin adjective¬†beatus which means blissful, happy, or fortunate.)

Matthew 5

 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, 
   for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 
4 Blessed are those who mourn, 
   for they will be comforted. 
5 Blessed are the meek, 
   for they will inherit the earth. 
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, 
   for they will be filled. 
7 Blessed are the merciful, 
   for they will be shown mercy. 
8 Blessed are the pure in heart, 
   for they will see God. 
9 Blessed are the peacemakers, 
   for they will be called children of God. 
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, 
   for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 

12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven,

for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Mercy triumphs over judgment.

James 2:12-13 says, “Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom,¬†because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.”

This was the basis for Pastor Lee’s message today. I don’t know what it is about his sermons, but they really stick with me throughout the week. He really hits each point home, and it is a convicting word. I need it!

Lately we’ve been learning more about the Beatitudes. I love hearing well-known passages that I loved as a child rehashed as an adult with adult perspectives. It really puts the Word into practice; or, at least it should. I’m trying.

I love this quote: “Grace is getting what you don’t deserve; mercy is not getting what you do deserve.”

Being merciful is hard… it’s just not our nature. But when we read the story of the unmerciful servant, it’s easy to get upset at him! It’s a story told by Jesus to illustrate how mercy works. A servant was forgiven a huge debt by his master, but failed to forgive his¬†servant of a much smaller debt.

The truth is, this is what we do, all. The. Time. I do it, all the time. I think… “Hmm, it would teach this person a lesson to do such-and-such or say such-and-such.” It’s not our job to “teach lessons”… it’s the Holy Spirit’s.

Jesus also teaches to forgive seven times seventy. Whoa. I don’t know if I’ve even forgiven seventy times in my whole life. The point is not the number though, it’s the “attitude of forgiveness”, as it was put this morning.

The way judgment was explained made sense to me. Like, if someone acts a certain way and I think, “Man, they must not be saved,” or “I hope they get what’s coming to them! They really hurt me,” or “No wonder that happened to them.. they’re a sinner.”

The problem I have is how to apply that in real life… but it’s best to err on the side of mercy.

I can ask myself these questions and answer them pretty quickly:

Who do I need to forgive? How do I show them mercy? 

I want to forgive more, and in turn, I will be forgiven more.

I need the peace that comes from forgiveness and showing others mercy. Without that peace, I am left to my own devices… my sin, my guilt, and will be tortured by them.

Praise God that we don’t get what we deserve.