On Being Single (Letting down my guard here… be kind)

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You graduate high school. You go to college. You meet that guy. You get married. You have kids.

That was how life went. That’s what I thought. But then it didn’t happen.

New plan. You wait. You wait for love. You wait for marriage. You wait for sex.

That was how life would go. But I kept waiting, and nothing happened.

And I got so tired of waiting. It was discouraging and frustrating, and it made me angry. I was doing everything right, and I wasn’t getting what I wanted! So why keep waiting? Waiting is the worst!

So I stopped waiting. I went my own way, and did my own thing, and not in a good and holy way. But, I did not find what I thought I was looking for. Instead, I found conviction. Thank you, Holy Spirit, for speaking truth to me when I was in sin. While I was in this, “Forget waiting! It’s never coming to me the right way!” I came across a blog about “waiting.” I wish I could remember it, so I could link you to it, because it opened my eyes to what Jesus wanted. What Jesus wants.

It said something along these lines, or at least this is how it spoke to me: “Your purity is not about your future husband. It’s about obedience to your Holy Savior. You shouldn’t be waiting, you should be obeying. Your love for Jesus should motivate you to walk in holiness.” If you’re waiting, you’re expecting something. And sorry, but you’re not promised marriage, husband, sex. You’re not. I’m not. And waiting for those things… that’s when I became discontent, frustrated, angry. And anger led to sin. Like Moses, like Abraham, like so many of us humans (ok, all of us, at times), I decided my way was better. I was wrong.

So I stopped waiting—this time, in a good and holy way.

The answer begins with a deep love for Jesus, a love that pours out in obedience.

Contentment is the result.

Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.

Philippians 4:11

I find that when I am content, I’m not looking, I’m not waiting. And you know that “When you’re not looking for it, it will come?” Don’t say that. ever. Because if that’s the mindset, then you really ARE looking. You’re just pretending you’re not, thinking it will work some kind of magic. I know this because I did it. Don’t lie to yourself.

But when I’m truly content in each moment, the things that come my way are blessings, and the things that don’t come are never missed because I was already in a state of contentment. A life of waiting is a life wasted.

So, I’m approaching my 38th birthday, and I’m single. I’ve never been married, and I’ve never had a relationship for any longer than 3 months. And sure, I get lonely at times. I’d be lying if I said otherwise. But when I’m giving, loving, serving, when I’m content in this amazing life I have, I don’t feel lonely. I’m not waiting. I’m living.

Family-arity

As soon as I got out of the truck in front of my apartment, I yelled for Juliet, my little 3 year old neighbor. She wasn’t home, but her 9 year old sister came running out to give me a big hug.

After I unpacked a little, I took a ride to the grocery store. I felt so at home as I saw so many people just on that short little trip. On my way, I passed the old gentleman I always smile at on my way to and from baseball. I waved and he waved vigorously with a giant, welcoming smile. Shortly after, I passed Justin, a man from our church who helps with baseball, and is also a moto concho driver. More smiles and waves. Then, another smile and wave from a former neighbor who lives on the route to the grocery store.

It’s that small town feel. How does this silly gringa know so many people? I don’t even know the answer. I guess I just love people.

In the grocery store, I immediately ran into some other American missionaries and caught up with them. While walking through the store, I saw one of my 7 year old baseball players, so I chatted with him for a minute. Then I turned a corner, and there was Jose Valverde, former pitcher for the Detroit Tigers. Yep, I’m home.

Juliet arrived home shortly after I returned from the grocery store. “Ven aca!” Come here, I told her. “Tengo un regalo para ti.” I have a gift for you. I’d bought her a candy necklace/bracelet set from the dollar bin at Target. She looooved it. I also gave her sisters a box of sidewalk chalk to share, and they—along with the other neighbor kids—were soon playing hopscotch in the parking lot.

There are a lot of kids in my apartment complex. It's fun, most of the time.

 

I called Franci, my friend (and favorite moto driver), to come get a Spanish-English dictionary I’d brought for him. I delivered a few other gifts, unpacked some more, and enjoyed my quiet evening.

I look forward to another day of smiles and waves and hugs.

I’m a terrible blogger!

I’m just not good at it.

I do like taking pictures though!

So I’m gonna make a plan.

Oh, I’m not good at following through with plans either.

See, I think I have a bit of a commitment problem, but I don’t want to say for sure.

So, for now, gonna brainstorm some topics I might organize better later on…

1. My Teacher Life

2. My Jesus Thoughts

3. Dominican Living

4. Pictures!

5. My baseball — coaching and watching!

We’ll see what happens…

Summer Schedule!

1. See friends and family!

2. Visit my supporting churches!

3. Watch a lot of baseball!

4. Get my VISA!

5. Get my TEFL certification!

6. Maybe rest?

I feel like I have a really full schedule this summer, and not a whole lot of time or money. Isn’t that how everyone feels? Please pray that all goes smoothly for my visa process. It should be pretty simple, but I just get nervous about everything coming together at the right time.

Financially, I have plenty of monthly support for my Dominican living. Unfortunately, summer living in the states costs a lot more. On top of living/traveling expenses, I’ll have to pay for my visa costs as well as the TEFL course. I know God will provide, and I’m not really worried about that. It’s kinda nice how God has calmed my nerves about money. Now, I just need to lean on Him more for circumstances!

What Makes It Worth It?

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I’ve said it many times to my friends, family, and those who ask about my missionary life … this job is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. And I’m not saying that to complain. I’m saying it because that’s how I know it’s God’s doing. I have never in my life been the person to go after a challenge. I know people who love a challenge, and honestly, I don’t understand them! I want the easiest, most efficient way to do something. And if it’s not easy, I’m probably not going to try for very long. So when I say this work is hard, I’m saying, Thank you, Lord, for the strength you give me to do it! Because I certainly could not do it on my own.

So what makes it worth it?

Being hugged by a child?

Being told by a Dominican that they’re blessed and honored that I would come here?

Seeing a child’s attitude change after an encounter with Jesus?

All these things make it worth it.

But …

What if no child ever hugged me? What if no one told me, “Good job!” What if I didn’t see anyone come to Jesus? Would it still be worth it?

I’m not the best about sitting down and having a long prayer time with God. But, I am definitely talking to him all day. Questions, praises, requests, and just conversation. And I find myself telling him sometimes, “I just need something. I need to see You working. I need to know You’re in this.”

It’s me, doubting.

It’s me, needing affirmation.

It’s me, being HUMAN.

The truth is, God asks for my obedience, no matter the outcome. My obedience is being here. My obedience brings honor to God. And that is what makes it worth it. My purpose is to glorify God. That is where my worth is found. And if I never see any results of my obedience on Earth, it really shouldn’t matter. My responsibility is to glorify God, and I want to do that through obedience.

I’d end there, but I confess I’m so thankful God understands our humanness and does give us what we ask for, even when we really don’t need it, or deserve it. I’m glad the children hug me. I am honored by the kinds words of the Dominicans. I rejoice that one of my students has been changed by the power of the blood of Christ. Thank you, Lord.

My baseball boys

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For the last few months, I’ve been going to the baseball field to help coach the 6-9 year old group. I quickly learned that teaching in a classroom is so much easier for me! I love my boys. They bring smiles to my faces.

I didn’t know if they’d think it was weird to have a girl working with them, but they high five me and hug me and sometimes they listen to me!

Jhonny and Joel

Jhonny and Joel

Waiting for their chance

Waiting for their chance

Carlos Juan is 8. He's a stud baseball player. He's so small that we usually play him with the 6-7 yr olds, but lately he's been playing up because he's too good for the little ones.

Carlos Juan is 8. He’s a stud baseball player. He’s so small that we usually play him with the 6-7 yr olds, but lately he’s been playing up because he’s too good for the little ones.

Berny ... I taught him how to catch a ball. He hasn't perfected it. "How do you know so much about baseball? he asked me.

Berny … I taught him how to catch a ball. He hasn’t perfected it. “How do you know so much about baseball? he asked me.

These kids are my Wednesday afternoons and my Saturday mornings. And now they are my heart. I’m grateful to know them and to be able to be here with them.

A Little Post for a Big Cause — also, COFFEE!

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Hey coffee drinkers, The Timothy Center, an organization I’ve known for a while, is selling Haitian Perle coffee, gourmet coffee from the Caribbean mountains of Haiti. $9.00 from every $12.00 bag of 12 oz. coffee goes to help lift people out of economic and spiritual poverty. Coffee with a cause!

http://thetimothycenter.org/index.php/what-we-do/item/40-timothy-center-coffee-club

Love God. Love others. Then drink coffee!

Those Parents of Mine

My friends, my family, and even those who may not know me very well, know that my parents are kind of crazy. My brothers and I spend a lot of times telling stories about their lives and ours.

PARENTS1

But, for today, I want to tell you some of the pretty cool things about my mom and dad, who are still together, after raising 3 crazy children, and going through a whole lot of LIFE.

parents2

My dad always took care of us financially. He worked and worked and worked. We were really poor when I was younger, but I never knew it. We had our needs met: food, a home, a car, and even some new K Mart clothes for school each year. I’ve heard stories of alcoholic dads or gambling dads losing the family’s rent or even the house. That wasn’t my dad.

My dad is generous. His dad was not generous to him, and I think he made sure that didn’t happen to his kids. We earned $5 (sometimes $10!) every other week for our allowance. Looking back, I appreciate it more now, because really, I didn’t have any chores. He just gave us the money. Once in a while, we’d get a task, and that’s when he’d double it. There were a few times in my life where my dad came across some extra chunks of money, and without hesitation, he split it among us. He didn’t have to do that, but he did, because he’s generous.

I think my favorite thing about my dad is the time he spent taking us to sporting events. I’ve been to Detroit Red Wings games, Tigers, Lions, and Pistons, all with my dad. I didn’t know until I was older what a special treat it was to go to the professional games. It was just part of my life! From 1991-2005, I went to at least one Red Wings game a year. Maybe now you understand my love of sports a little more. :) It was time spent with my dad.

My mom took care of us. She did our laundry. She cooked our meals. We ate meals at home together as a family for most of our young childhood. Once we were in junior high and had sports, the schedules changed, but dinner together as a family at the dinner table was a regular thing for us.

My mom worked. My mom went back to work so that my brother and I could go to a private, Christian school. And so she could get her nails done. Just kidding, Mom. Even when I went to college, my mom worked and helped as much as she could to pay for my school. That was huge. I have no idea what it’s like to pay my own way through college. My mom sacrificed so I could go through school without that stress.

My mom kept the house clean all the time. She was up early every morning to clean the house (I hated when she would vacuum at 6 in the morning!). If we got up early enough, we’d see her sweating to the oldies, doing laundry, or reading her Bible.

She was faithful to church. Once we started going to church, we rarely missed. She taught me a lot about commitment in that way. She was always in the Word, and always praying.

Today, I was listening to a pastor and he said, “Give your dad a break. He did the best he could with what he had.”

Sometimes, I forget that my parents are human. :) So, today, I’m giving them a break. I’m saying thank you for doing what you could for me.

I love you.

That one time I saw a bunch of MLB players!

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A couple months ago, my friend told me about a baseball clinic happening at the stadium. I walked to the stadium to check it out. She mentioned there would be some MLB players. Then, a friend of mine was on the field, so he brought me on the field, too. Then… I wandered and took pictures. Living the DREAM.

See the photos here.

Some of the people I saw…

Big Papi — David Ortiz

Encarnacion

Pedro Ciriaco

Santana

Nelson Cruz

Robinson Cano

Jordany Valdespin

Jean Segura

 

Now You Know How I Feel

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I love love love my students. They laugh at my really stupid jokes. They give me huge, painfully strong hugs. They forgive my faults. They smile a lot. They make me laugh.

But what about when they’re not doing those things? What about when they forget their homework, or talk during quiet time, or fight with each other? What about when they talk back and disobey and get angry?

Do I love them then?

This week, I was praying, “God! They don’t listen to me!” And He calmly and quietly said, “Now you know how I feel.”

Oh.

His simple response has challenged me in two ways. First of all, it has helped me to realize why I am loving these kids. I’m not loving them with the primary purpose of conforming them into obedient creatures. I’m not loving SO they will listen. If that’s my goal, I would surely give up.  I’m loving them because God has commanded me to love one another. My love for them isn’t dependent on whether they obey me or not. My love for them is unconditional. And in those moments where I might want to give up, I have to remember the purpose! Love because Jesus loves. It’s not really love if I’m only “showing love” to get something in return.

Second, his response has chastised me in my own disobedience. When I don’t listen to God–when I know what is right to do, and I disobey, how frustrating that must be for Him. How hurtful. I use that “How would you feel?” line all the time with my students when they hurt someone else. Now God is showing me the same. He knows what is good and best for me. And I don’t listen. And it hurts Him, not because He wants me to be an obedient creature…but because He loves me and knows what is good for me.

Lord, help me to love unconditionally.

Lord, help me to let your love be my motivation for obeying you.

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