Thursday, July 02, 2020

Lessons Learned in June (2020 Edition)

I feel like April and May flew by, and then in June, time slowed down.  I enjoyed the slower days. When my husband was home, we spent a lot of time dreaming and thinking about what's next for us.  Many mornings began with dodging rain drops on my run. I watched too many Hallmark movies and drank a lot of iced coffee. I  also found myself stretched as I began to learn some new technology and figure out how to best use my time.  Here are a few things that I learned this month.

What I Learned This Month:

1. New to Me Technology

As we think transition, I have been exploring some online teaching/math options. One option is answering math questions online for few dollars per question. It is not a money maker but has helped me learn about how to use a codex editor and a site called Geobra. 

For another option, I am learning to use an online video teaching platform.  Truthfully, I am not sure if either is a good fit long term. For now, they are a way to keep learning and growing in my profession.

2. Bible Study is Better Together

At the end of May, I finished writing a Bible study called Rebuild that I had been working on for almost a year. I asked some friends to go through it and test it. One friend suggested doing a zoom call every two weeks to share what we are learning from the study. The ladies range in age from 23 to 74 and are in 5 different states. It has been life-giving for me to see their faces every two weeks and hear what God is teaching them. 

For the study, my husband is graciously going through it and helping me edit it.  I have been grateful for his help. I haven't decided what to do with the study once we are done testing. For now, I am praying about next steps. 

3. Endurance

This has been a season for endurance. Physically, I am building endurance as I get closer to running three miles without stopping. Mentally, I am building endurance as I challenge myself to answer math questions accurately or finish well a writing project I started. 

But the most challenging is having endurance spiritually.  Do I trust God even when I might be here longer than I planned? Do I trust that God has a plan? Our tickets are for July 31st.  Friends who have tickets earlier in the month are getting their flights canceled.  So far, our flight is still on the schedule.  We are trying to hold our plans loosely as we continue to plan and dream. 

4. More Time Does Not Equal More Productivity

Mondays are my worst. I get up and exercise but after that I find myself scrolling through Facebook or meandering around the house.  I am finding a checklist helps, but also realizing that this is a season to not get as much done.  

As long as my husband is taken care of and my obligations are met, I shouldn't get too stressed.

5. I Can Survive Without a Meal Plan

I am one of those people who usually plans all her meals and then makes out her grocery list.  I never stuck to the meal plan religiously, but at least I had a plan. The past few months, I make a list of the basics, and my husband gets the groceries on his way home. We have done a lot more winging it, but it has been fun. The great thing is that my husband doesn't always stick to the list.  He will often bring home a meat that he found that isn't usually available or some other surprise ingredient.  I am also grateful when he restocks my cokes and  pretzel crisps even if they aren't on the list. 

What are some things you have learned this month? Share in the comments.

Wednesday, June 03, 2020

Asking For Help

It happened so quickly. My hand hit the off key on my computer and it crashed.   The computer is not fixable by my techie husband and will need to go to an Apple store on the other side of the ocean. All of this could have been prevented if I would have thought through my actions or if I would have asked for help from my husband sitting right beside me. Instead, I panicked thinking a 1000 pictures were going to download on my computer, and I wouldn't be able to stop them. Why didn't I ask for help? Truthfully? I didn't want to look like I did something stupid.  Which is funny since I ended up doing something more stupid. It would have all been prevented if I would have asked for help. Thankfully my mistake only caused me to lose a week's worth of work and the use of my computer until we get stateside.  

Depending on the situation, not asking for help can have severe consequences. I was lucky. This season of staying at home and dealing with a pandemic has put an extra weight on many. It is a season where you might need help. You might be overwhelmed trying to keep up with housework and regular work. You might be questioning your sanity as you spend 24/7 with your kids and spouse or spending 24/7 by yourself.  Maybe you lost your job and don't know how you will pay next month's rent. Or maybe this isolation has brought up anger or anxiety issues.  

It started me thinking about why we don't like to ask for help.   Some reasons could be any of the following.
  1. We don't want to impose on others who are already busy.
  2. We don't want to seem weak or "stupid".
  3. We don't want to be rejected or have been rejected in the past.
  4. We got ourselves in this mess so we need to get out of it on our own.
The thing is I like to help people. I don't mind others asking me for help. I don't think less of them or that they are imposing.  If I can help, I will.  That is what friends do, they help each other out. So why would I think that my friends or even family wouldn't feel the same way?  Because I am believing a lie that I am not enough or loved enough for people to want to help. Isn't that what all those reasons are really saying? Can you relate?

Do you need help? If so, what's keeping you from asking for help? I may not be able to help you out in person, but I would love to pray for you.  Psalm 121: 2 reminds us that our help comes from the Lord who made the heavens and earth.  Even now I pray that God will give you the peace and answers that you need. I pray that you will see the people He has placed in your life that are willing to lend a helping hand or listening ear.  I pray that God will bless you this day.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

A Story of When Life Doesn't Go as Planned

Back in 2015, I wrote a blog post called A Tribute to My Daughter.  In the post, I talked about a dress W had bought for her senior banquet that never happened.  W's school had closed in during winter break because of security concerns. It was a time of unknowns for us in our area of the world.

 As I see the pictures of seniors making their own memories by having proms at home or finding ways to celebrate this last year of high school, I am reminded of the spring of 2015 and the memories we made. The situations although different have many similarities. I thought you might enjoy W's take on that time.  Here is her Story...

Life does not always go according to plan.  During winter break, right before the last semester of my senior year of high school, I learned that my school would be shutting down and that I would have to find a different avenue to be able graduate.  I was already accepted into Liberty University for the fall and I didn’t want to be delayed a year. Since we lived in Central Asia, there weren’t any other schools that we could switch to.  My mom, having homeschooled us before, had to find a way to get us accredited to finish off the year. Thankfully we were able to sign up through Home Life Academy in Tennessee.  Not only were my brother and I to be homeschooled but also another fellow senior, N, and his brother J.  
The plan to finish my year at the international school had flopped but the arrangement to homeschool and also have some fellow classmates really did make it the best semester I could have imagined.  You see, I had a crush on N, and it was nice to have the opportunity to spend time with him and get to know him better. N and J would come over three times a week to work on homework and for my mom to go through some of the lessons.  Our semester was really fun. We would order out food on Wednesdays and watch a show during lunch.  After lunch, N and I always washed dishes together and that is when we grew closer.  Even though we weren’t able to celebrate with the senior class, we had a wonderful evening with both our families celebrating our graduation.  
Even though I would not have planned my last semester to be homeschooled, I would not have had it any other way.  If it had been different, my family wouldn’t have been able to get to know N and his family better.  Most importantly, N and I started dating our freshman year of college and four years later got married.  Isn’t it cool how God works in mysterious ways?  How through such a difficult and unexpected turn of events. Through the confusion and the uncertainty, God still used a such a tough situation for good.  Even without being able to have a normal graduation or enjoy spending my last semester with my teachers and classmates, God still used the last semester to bless me in a way that continues to this day.

This story is a reminder of how God uses all seasons in ways we may not expect. Your story may not be a love story like this one, but God is always working something good.  No W didn't have a graduation ceremony with all the bells and whistles, but we were able to celebrate her.  If she would have had a regular ceremony, I am not sure that we would have affirmed her as well as we did that day as we blessed encouraged, and prayed over her.  In the end, the celebration was a perfect fit.

I know this is a hard season for many as they seek to find some closure and worry about what comes next, but I also know that each season has its blessings.  I pray that you will be able to find joy, creativity, and celebration in the midst of all the craziness.  I pray that good memories will be made as you navigate this new season.
Blessings, TJ