Friday, March 27, 2015

He Makes All Things Beautiful

I felt a nudge to blog this morning. This story has been on my heart and I love to share things on this blog. The good, the bad, the sad and the happy. All of it.
I woke up today realizing how much my life has changed in the past 6 months. Its truly God showing me that He had a plan. And His whispers to me throughout the day telling me- 'see, it all worked out'.

As Christians, we are always told to Trust. Trusting in God's timing is easier said than done. It's not easy- I can attest to that.
My career as a teacher was not a quick one where you graduate college, and have your dream job. This did not happen. Actually, during that time I thought it would NEVER happen...but I trusted.

I started teaching when I was 20. I was in college, and working part time at First Baptist Church Orlando's Moms Day Out program. This is where I met Julie, the director of the program. I learned so much from her during my time there, and when she went to direct Delaney Street Baptist's Early Learning Center, I quickly followed. I was there for five years, teaching prekindergarten. Oh how i loved that little school. I became friends with a lot of the moms, and we were all so close. I still keep in touch with them to this day.
This school was wonderful to be in, but it was not a place I could survive financially. Actually, I wasn't surviving- I still lived at home and everything was paid for. I prayed that once I graduated with my Bachelor's degree in education, I would get a job at Lake Highland Preparatory School. That was my dream.

I prayed and prayed that I would find a teaching position in a private school. In 2011, I got a voicemail from The First Academy's special needs division, First Hope. I had experience with special needs children and took some classes, but I did not have a degree in this field. I am not sure how I got this job, but knew it was God. 
I cried when I got the offer call, mostly because I didn't want to leave the comfort of my little school. But I knew it was necessary. I met so many great people at this school. People who I didn't realize at the time would be in my life now in a very important way. That was God working.

I stayed at First Hope for only two years. I was also working on my masters degree at this time. It was tough, and I hung in there the best way I knew how. I knew that again I had to trust. It became so hard on me that I needed a way out.
I called a former coworker who was working at a small Christian school and I immediately got a job as a prekindergarten teacher. I was thankful for this, but in a way I felt like I was going backwards. I didn't want to be a pre-k teacher, I wanted to be a kindergarten teacher in a school where I have great benefits and made enough salary to survive. Again, God said no. This was His plan at this time. 
I took the job with a happy heart. It felt nice to teach pre-k again in a typical classroom environment. I then taught Kindergarten the following year at the same school. It was ok, but I knew deep down this was not where I was supposed to be. I also graduated with my masters degree during this time.

I talked to one of my co-workers from First Hope about my plans. She was our occupational therapist who worked with our students one on one. She and I became close while working at the school- mostly because we needed someone to lean on. It was tough. She told me that I should look into getting my certification through the state to become a pediatric developmental specialist. I looked into it, and was overwhelmed with the to-do list. I started this list in spring of 2013. I knew something was going to come of this, I just didn't know when. There was too much to do to prepare for certification. 

I prayed- I prayed all the time, even in the middle of the day on the playground while my kindergarten students were running around playing. 'God, send me a sign. Tell me what to do'.
He answered. He answered with- you need to tell the school you might not be coming back. 
I didn't even have a job lined up! You are telling me to tell them I am not coming back, and I have no place to go?! Well, I told them. I may not be coming back. The last day of school, I was told that my contract was not going to be continued. They knew I wasn't coming back and did not want to wait on an answer. I was sad, and scared. What was I going to do? I was terrified. 
I went to Amelia Island June of last year right after this happened. It was a week long vacation that I needed for sure. I felt a sense of peace. God was speaking to me. I had no job, no income. But felt peace. I had 2 months of working at my mom's summer camp at her school for not even half of what I made at my teaching job. I was not surviving. And I kept praying. 
I planned on getting my certification for therapy approved by late summer, and I called daily to check the status. This was my only hope. Therapists do very well. And I was excited at the possibilities. 

I kept calling all summer. Setbacks after setbacks with the paperwork. I was getting so discouraged. In late July, I got a call. It was from The Christ School. After I listened to the voicemail, I sat in my car and cried. I was overwhelmed with God's perfect timing. I called back. After many interviews, I got the job 2 weeks later. 
Full time benefits, vacation time, and a wonderful school. It was all I have been praying for. God answered, but He wasn't finished. 

My paperwork with the state finally was approved. It was approved after I settled into my new school environment. God knew exactly what He was doing. He knew what was best for me. 

As I sit here and type this, I am joyful. I am in awe of how all this worked out. I have a wonderful kindergarten class in a school that I adore. I have seven therapy clients and the number is rising. I am able to support myself financially, I am able to help my grandmother with her needs, I am able to help children with their disabilities. I am able to teach in a Christian environment. 

Thank you God for all these things. Your timing is perfect.

Monday, January 19, 2015

My Best Yes

I am not a New Year' resolution person, but if I do make a "resolution" it's usually a goal or something very reasonable to accomplish. 
This year, I decided that I need to read more books. I have books, love to go to book stores and browse and browse, but I never really read much. Unless you count life and style, US Weekly or People Magazine, I have not been very good about reading. 

While browsing Facebook one morning, I came across a blog that I love to follow, and saw some recommendations for books. It was all in perfect timing! Courtney is one of the moms in my class, and author of In this House We Will Giggle. I just love her giving and gracious heart! 
I looked over her book list and drove to Barnes and Noble to see which one I wanted to purchase for my first read of 2015. The Best Yes by Lysa Terkeurst was the winner. Something about the cover got me, and off I went with my new book in hand. 

I am just about finished with this eye opening book. It teaches us how to say no when our life is already full of obligations. It teaches us to give our Best Yes to the person or situation that needs us most, without expecting anything in return. Two chapters that really stood out for me:

"But what if I say no and they stop liking me?"

"A Best Yes is seen by those who choose to see"

I know I have had issues with these situations, just as most women have. I want to please, and I want everyone to like me. But you cannot please everyone, and not everyone is not going to like you. You have to accept that. 

After reading till almost the end of this book, and realizing that I have to give my Best Yes when I already have a full schedule of teaching, tutoring and soon to be taking  on another job of providing early intervention therapy, my plate is full! I get a text...

"Would you be interested in being one of our volunteers for Whipping Childhood Cancer?". Before I give you details of this, I want to backtrack and explain what this organization is. 
My friend began this organization with another mom who has a child with cancer. This was formed to help spread the word about pediatric cancers and raise awareness of the reality these children and families face daily. My friend Candice has a child who is battling leukemia. 

Now, I am reading about the Best Yes right when I received this text. The book talks about God putting things right in front of you when a Best Yes answer is needed. I believe this was one of those moments. A few of my favorite reminders from this book are:

Today's decisions will become tomorrow's circumstances

Saying no isn't an unnecessary rejection. It's a necessary protection of our Best Yes answers

The decisions you make determine the schedule you keep. The schedule you keep determines the life you live. And how you live your life determines how you spend your soul. 

And I replied to my friend...Yes!