Honesty, Stress, and Prayer

So, I almost didn’t write this post because I didn’t really want to admit my struggles in such a public way. And then I remembered my last blog post—about honesty. So I decided to be honest.

I am asking for your prayers as I face the next several weeks of school.

My work load at school was finally getting easier and I was excited about finishing out strong. I, being the organized firstborn that I am, had everything coming together very nicely for my class to get done with their work in perfect timing. Then, school ending date got moved up a week, throwing all my nicely laid plans awry. So now we have to do extra lessons and have a very full schedule to get done on time. I know my students can do it. I’m not worried about that. But what makes it hard is that I was finally getting on top of things and now I feel overwhelmed again. On top of teaching lessons and doing checking I have to plan something for ending program.

I had a wonderful Easter vacation, but already this afternoon and this evening I could feel the stress level building up. I try to tell myself to relax and give it over to God and just live one moment at a time rather than letting the stress of 3 weeks come all crashing on me right now; but it sounds much easier than it is.

So I would ask that you would pray for me as I go through each day. That I could just give it all to God and be able to enjoy these last weeks with my students without being taken under by stress. And if anyone is bored, come on to school and I will put you to work! Winking smile

One of these days hopefully I will have time for a more fun, upbeat post with some pictures. Smile

Buenas Noches!

"If We’re Honest"

After my last blog post I wondered if I really should have written it. In my weak humanness I was afraid of what people would think. I mean so many people are going through so much tougher stuff than me. They probably think my problems are quite pale in comparison with theirs. I wanted people to read it and at the same time I didn’t want them to read it. A selfish part of me wanted them to read it and have sympathy for me. Another part of me didn’t want people reading it, because I didn’t want them to treat me differently. And so the argument went back and forth in my head. Another part of me knew that it was something I needed to do so I can move forward with life.

Some of you may wonder how in the world can I “spill my guts” on the internet. Other’s may think I enjoy doing so. For years I have used writing as an emotional outlet. Writing things down and getting my thoughts organized always helps me put my problems into perspective. In the last year I’ve decided to move beyond my journal and share my thoughts on my blog. I’ve been very encouraged by reading others’ blogs and decided that possibly sharing my story could be an encouragement to others. And I have found that it encourages growth in my life.

One of my favorite songs is “If We’re Honest” by Francesca Battistelli. It talks about how we need to admit our brokenness before we can find healing. This is so true! The part about building walls also speaks to me, because I have been there building those walls.  I love the thought of being honest not only with God, but also with each other.

“If We’re Honest”

Truth is harder than a lie
The dark seems safer than the light
And everyone has a heart that loves to hide
I’m a mess and so are you
We’ve built walls nobody can get through
Yeah, it may be hard, but the best thing we could ever do, ever do
Bring your brokenness, and I’ll bring mine
‘Cause love can heal what hurt divides
And mercy’s waiting on the other side
If we’re honest
If we’re honest
Don’t pretend to be something that you’re not
Living life afraid of getting caught
There is freedom found when we lay
Our secrets down at the cross, at the cross
So bring your brokenness, and I’ll bring mine
‘Cause love can heal what hurt divides
And mercy’s waiting on the other side
If we’re honest
If we’re honest
It would change our lives
It would set us free
It’s what we need to be
So bring your brokenness and I’ll bring mine
‘Cause love can heal what hurt divides
And mercy’s waiting on the other side
If we’re honest
If we’re honest
If we’re honest

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lDcTvtuuVU8

026

What is normal?

The last two weeks have been pretty good. Some days I almost felt “normal” again. But then I’m not sure if I really know what “normal” feels like. The reason I don’t know is because the change came so gradually. I can’t really look back and pinpoint a time when I stopped having energy or when my mental health started declining. When I start trying I realize some of it goes back pretty far.

Back to eighth grade when I decided to lose weight. I did lost weight. But skipping lunch or eating just a granola bar and yogurt wasn’t probably the best idea.

Back 5 or 6 years when I had a spell of no energy. I started taking B vitamins and that seemed to mostly take care of the problem.

Back to when I worked an office job 4 days a week. Since I was sitting all day, I had to fight against gaining weight. So, what did I eat for lunch? Most days a granola bar and yogurt, which took about ten minutes to eat; then I could go on a walk for the rest of my lunch break. Then at the end of the day I would have a sugar low so I’d have to eat a candy bar to get my sugar back up so I could drive home from work. 

And, I’m sure the list could go on. But I’ll get on with the story.

I hesitate to even write about my health problems because I’m sure everyone will be like “Hey, you need to try this product,” or “This is what you should be doing.” And I don’t tell my story to bring pity to myself. I share it to help bring encouragement to those who may be facing similar struggles.

The other day I was sharing with one of my friends about how the last couple weeks have been. I was telling her how I decided I need to take time each day to walk or work out, even if it is just for ten minutes. I was exclaiming over the fact of actually having the energy to desire to do this. She wondered how I ever made it teaching school when I had no energy.

I said, “I don’t know how I did it.” Mostly by God’s strength. By taking one day at a time, one moment at a time. Looking back now it is kinda a fog. It’s like I knew things were bad, but I didn’t really realize how bad at the time. I knew I wasn’t the teacher I wanted to be. I didn’t feel well most of the time. I had headaches a lot, stomach troubles, back pain, and no energy. Some days I had to admit to my students I didn’t feel well because I just didn’t feel well enough to play at recess.

I’m not sure when it all started. I had headaches some the fall before, but then they mostly went away. I did have stomach struggles last school year. Also I developed a pain in my lower left back. And till I went home to Virginia in the spring I had a pain in my heel. I had no idea why I was having these issues. I really didn’t want to spend the money for the chiropractor last spring so I hoped that once school was out for the summer I would be able to relax and the pain would go away. But it was not to be.

My summer was good but super busy. I felt like I never really had time to recuperate from the previous school year. Till the end of summer the pain in my heel did go away. When I got back to Colorado in the fall I was not really feeling ready for another school year. But there was no choice as I was already signed on for the job. I went to the chiropractor and got several treatments for my back. It seemed to help, but not totally take care of the problem. I soon came to discover that the root cause seemed to be stress. Anytime I was under a lot of stress, the pain in my back would flare up. I decided that is also what had caused my heel problem. And I figure, most of my stomach problems too.

All fall I never really felt on top of my school work. In fact, it felt on top of me. I felt like I had no life. I did school all day till almost 6 in the evening. Then we came home and had supper; and after supper it was back to school work. And since it was late till that got done, I didn’t do any other projects but just went to bed. Any time the other girls wanted to do something, there I would be dragging my schoolbooks along so I could get my checking done. Or else, I would be fretting and couldn’t really enjoy myself because I knew I had work waiting on me. I felt like a workaholic. To get away from it I would stay up at night and watch something on YouTube just to give me a break from reality. But that wasn’t really helpful as it made me lose sleep and then I couldn’t function properly.

I had a student who advised me to relax and enjoy life. But I couldn’t figure out how. How could I when I had all this school work to do? I couldn’t remember how I had managed to functioned before.

In November I realized I was in a terrible pit of despair and made the initial step toward trying to get out. But my schoolwork didn’t vanish and I still had to figure out how to juggle life. Till Christmas break came I was exhausted. I was so tired I couldn’t even keep my words straight when I tried to teach classes. My brain was a jumble and things just wouldn’t connect. As terrible as it sounds, I wasn’t even excited about Christmas or about getting to go see my family. All I wanted was to go to bed and sleep for about a week. I was emotionally and physically exhausted.

I did have a good Christmas vacation with my family in VA and was able to take some time to relax.

I still felt very overwhelmed at times over the next several months, but I think it has gradually been getting better. I’ve been trying to step back from my school work a bit and not let it control my life. I feel that my student had some very good advice about relaxing and taking time to enjoy life.

Something I decided a little more recently is to try to start each day with worship and praise of the Almighty God. Through the Bible App on my phone I can access a lot of different devotional plans. The last ten days or so I did one called “10,000 Reasons.” I’m excited to start another one. It definitely seems to help my day flow better to start it with a focus of worship.

Another thing I have realized is that when other people annoy me or say something against me, I need to pray for them. They may be going through a rough time which is causing them to act or react they way they are. As a rather insecure person, I tend to take things very personally and become even more insecure. But asking God to bless the person who has hurt me has helped me in releasing these hurts and becoming more secure in Christ. 

And sometimes the hurt is totally unintentional. Like when someone ask you about some plans for later in the week because they know you “tend to get overwhelmed.” And you know they mean well, but you can tell they totally don’t understand what it is like to be completely and utterly overwhelmed. The way they come across makes you feel like they think it is ridiculous or stupid that you can’t handle life.

Or when someone accuses you of being secretive when the only reason you’ve been quiet is because  you are so overwhelmed by life that your brain is a scramble. I recently saw a quote that I felt fit perfectly: “When she is quiet, there is a reason. She is sorting through all the chaos in her head…”

The last two weeks have given me hope that I am moving forward and progressing.

Thanks to all my friends who pray for me! I know this has been a huge help in my spiritual journey. I am blessed by many amazing friends.

If you made it this far, congratulations! I know this was a lot to get through and it felt a bit scrambled even to my brain. I have so many thoughts rolling around in my head but it is hard for me to get them to come together into something sensible and readable. I feel like there is so much more I could say, but I’m not sure how to fit it all in.

worship

FEAR

So, some of you may have seen my request for prayer on Facebook the other week. You may have been wondering why I was struggling with fear. Well, here is the story.

The afternoon of February 21 seemed like any normal afternoon as I sat at my desk doing checking. Then, just like that, the electricity went off and everything was dark. There was not a storm, so I was guessing someone hit a pole and messed up the electric line. I thought maybe I would hear sirens, but never did. But there was still enough light coming in through my windows to continue checking. I talked to Connie on the phone as I checked. We got done with our conversation and hung up. The lights still weren’t on, but I kept checking.

Around 5:00 a strange blue-green astro minivan with a dent in the side pulled around behind the school (the side where my classroom is). I didn’t freak out right away as it is not totally unusual for people to stop by the church/school, thinking they will find the pastor or secretary there. But they didn’t park by my door. They pulled up by the dumpster. I thought, They must be going to throw some trash in our dumpster. I wasn’t very impressed by the thought, but it seemed harmless enough.

But, no. This blonde-haired women with brown leggings gets out of the front passenger door and heads toward our storage shed. I watched for a little but she went out of my sight behind the school building. I waited for a little and then thought, It seems a little strange. Maybe I had better go check what is going on. I locked my outside door and then stealthily walked across the gym to the doors looking out the direction she had gone. But, she was nowhere to be seen. Well, at least she’s not trying to steal out of the storage shed. I thought, Maybe she went over to Jen’s classroom. I had better go check with Jen. But, no. Jen had seen the van drive in but nothing more. Not sure what else to do I headed back to my classroom.

When I got back to my classroom. I pulled the curtain over the door window as stealthily as I could, hoping they hadn’t paid attention to whether it was closed or open when they drove in. Then I proceeded to sneakily peer out around my curtain. I thought maybe I would see the women come back to the vehicle or some action of some kind. But I couldn’t see any action. Maybe she had went back to the vehicle while I was walking through the gym. I tried to get back to my checking, but it was rather hard to concentrate.

Every so often I would sneak a peak out the window to see what was happening. I eventually decided someone was sitting in the front passenger seat because I saw just the slightest movement every now and then. I also saw someone, possibly the driver, moving around—possibly from the back to the front. Of course my imagination was going wild. What was he doing back there? Did they have some type of hostage? The van really didn’t look that reputable. But, if they were doing something wrong, why did they park where they could be seen from the road? They could easily have parked behind the building. But where did the woman go?? I wondered if I should call the police. I have a friend whose dad is a police officer, but I had neither her number or her dad’s number.

The electricity came on between 5:10 and 5:15. Good, maybe that will scare them off, I thought. Maybe when they realize someone is actually here, they will leave. No such luck. The whole time I was praying to God asking for protection. I wasn’t really that scared for myself as Jen was there and all the school doors were locked and the people had made no point of trying to come in. But still, it was rather nerve wracking not knowing what in the world they were up to!

Around 5:20 Jen came over to my classroom and was ready to leave. We weren’t sure what to do. Our car was parked out back of my classroom where this strange van was. We didn’t really feel comfortable walking out and exposing ourselves or with leaving and having them know the building was unattended. We decided to call Arlin (our CO dad) and see what his advice was.

Arlin said that no, he didn’t think we should leave. We should either call the police or call Brian, as he lives close. Jen decided we should call Brian. He said he would be right over. By this time it was 5:30. Although it didn’t take Brian but 10 minutes or so to get there, it felt like an eternity. Meanwhile Jen got a phone call.

Brian got there and the van was gone! I guess while Jen was on the phone they must have left and we didn’t hear them. I really wished I would have been watching out the window instead of trying to do checking! It would have been nice to know why they were there, but I was thankful at the same time. Thankful that Brian hadn’t had to confront them and perhaps endanger himself.

So, we left school and headed into Olathe. I watched carefully to see if I saw that van lurking anywhere watching us. But I saw nothing unusual. We stopped at the grocery store and then headed home for supper.

For some reason that night, FEAR gripped me like it never has before. I was fearful of going to sleep for fear of having nightmares. But thankfully, through the prayers of others and myself, God gave me peace and I slept just fine. But I still had to fight some fear the next couple days. I kept my outside classroom door locked and when we drove to and from school I kept my eyes pealed for a blue-green astro minivan with a dent just in front of the right rear wheel.

I kinda wished we would have just called the police. Then maybe I wouldn’t have to wonder what they were doing there.

If it happened again I would handle it a bit differently, but I sure hope it never does happen again!!

Leap of Faith!

Here is a post from my Instagram a couple weeks ago.

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Let go, Let God

Although I know this is true, it is so hard to do. Pray for me that I could let go and trust God. I want to follow Him, but taking that leap of faith when you can’t see the landing is very scary. It’s hard to let go of the edge for fear of falling.

************

For the past month or so I have been struggling with the question of whether I was to teach school again next year or not. Soon after Christmas I came to the conclusion that I wouldn’t teach again and I had peace about that. But, that peace only last for a day or so before doubt began to arise. I thought, Well, maybe I’ll say I can teach if I have fewer grades. Because it felt scary to quit my job, which would mean I would have no job, no car, and no money. How could I get another job if I had no vehicle, but how could I pay for a vehicle if I had no job?

I continued to pray and seek God’s will; but I was still hanging on to the edge of the cliff, scared of what would happen if I let go. I thought, If I can just teach for even another year, I could buy a vehicle and pay it off and be set for another job.  And so it went. I felt like before I could quit one job, I had to have planned out what would happen next.

Finally it came to the third weekend in January—the weekend of our church’s deacon ordination. As I sat in church Sunday night I thought, If I could just take a lot and know one way or the other. Then it would be decided and I would just have to accept whichever answer it would be. Then we sang the song “I Surrender All.”

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All to Jesus I surrender;
All to Him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust Him,
In His presence daily live.
Refrain:
I surrender all,
I surrender all;
All to Thee, my blessed Savior,
I surrender all.
All to Jesus I surrender;
Humbly at His feet I bow,
Worldly pleasures all forsaken;
Take me, Jesus, take me now.
All to Jesus I surrender;
Make me, Savior, wholly Thine;
Let me feel the Holy Spirit,
Truly know that Thou art mine.
All to Jesus I surrender;
Lord, I give myself to Thee;
Fill me with Thy love and power;
Let Thy blessing fall on me.
All to Jesus I surrender;
Now I feel the sacred flame.
Oh, the joy of full salvation!
Glory, glory, to His Name!

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And I realized that maybe I hadn’t truly surrendered all to the Lord. I was trying to be in control rather than giving it over to Him. So I sat there and struggled through the service with this heavy on my mind.

The next morning in my devotions I read this statement: “Very often it is not until we let go and commit a situation into the Lord’s hands—perhaps fearing the worst—that God works it all out.” And I posted it to my Instagram and Facebook, asking for your prayers. The struggle was very real that day. The intensity gave me a major headache. But till the end of the day I had my answer. My answer to the school board would be “No.” The peace didn’t come right away. It wasn’t until the next day that I felt the peace of surrender. Thanks to all of y’all who were praying for me! I could feel your prayers strengthening me.

And, it wasn’t half as scary making that leap off the edge as I thought. The whole time I was clinging desperately to the edge of the cliff I didn’t have peace, but now I feel completely at peace. No, I still don’t have a vehicle; I still don’t know how I’m going to survive after my last paycheck. But I do know that God holds the future and I don’t have to see what is next. I’m excited to see what He has for me!

So, I would ask you to pray for me as I seek God’s will for my future.

Also I would ask for prayers for the school here and the need for an upper grade teacher. This is something else I have to give over to God. It is hard to entrust “my” children into someone else’s care. But knowing that God has led me to quit I know He can provide the teacher that they need.

Change of Plans

Right now I am really struggling. What over? A change of plans. I know it sounds absolutely silly. It makes me feel like a kid who cries when he doesn’t get his way.

I would say I’ve had a pretty good week. Although I was not feeling top-notch, things were going pretty smoothly. Today started out pretty well. I woke up feeling decently well and excited for the day. Then, just like that, someone stepped in and totally wrecked my plans.

At first, I wanted to strike back and say, “Don’t you realize other people besides you have plans? You’re being selfish! Don’t you know how hard I’ve worked at making MY plans?!” Then God convicted me. I realized that I needed to pray for that person. I have no idea what they are going through. They may be having a very tough time and need my prayers.

I also have to realize that God knew exactly what was going to happen and He made the choice to LET it happen. Knowing that, I want to submit to His perfect will. I want to allow this experience to help me grow, to help me learn to let go and enjoy where God is taking me.

God has really been working on me to just let go and give everything over to Him. But, I hold back, afraid of what will happen if I let go of what I know. It’s scary to make that leap of faith when you can’t see the landing point. It’s so easy for me to get stressed and depressed over my finances (or lack thereof), my job, lack of vehicle, etc. But, getting stressed over it sure doesn’t make life any easier. I’ve already tried that way and know it doesn’t work. I ended up physically hurting all due to stress; and I was in a dark place that I don’t want to go back to. I’ve been trying to let go and it is freeing, but I still have a long way to go.

I don’t know why today is so tough on me. Perhaps being physically worn down from not feeling well and crazy hormones. But whatever the case, I would just continue to seek your prays. I’m so blessed with many wonderful friends! I accept Hugs and Prayers at any time! Smile  And if you ever need someone to pray for you, please let me know. I would love to do that for you!

This was my inspiration this morning from my devotions about Joseph. “Even if you are in a pit today, God can still raise you up and do great things in you and through you!” –Joyce Meyer

When I realize what other people are going through, it makes me realize how small my problems are. And I ask myself, “Why am I getting upset over a minor change of plans, when some people are facing much more devastating, life-changing circumstances?” I would ask you to pray for my friend Sharla who has just found out that she has Stage 4 colon cancer. It is devastating to her family. Pray that they could have strength through this time, wisdom as they decide what treatment to pursue, and the peace of God as they rest in His will. 

Verses of Hope

I would like to share some Bible verses that have been encouraging to me. I decided to make it a bit more interesting and put them on pictures I have taken. Hopefully they can be an encouragement to you as well. If you would like a copy of any of them for your encouragement, I would be happy to email it to you. I also hope to share these in an album on my facebook photography page.

^Photo credits: Rose Shaum Musser

(Let  me know if you found any typos, I tried to be accurate; but sometimes things just slip by.)

If you found these verses encouraging, I would invite you to share in the comments a verse that has encouraged you!