Monday, May 18, 2015

Day 40: Blessed Through The End- The Final Post

Honestly,  I struggle to write this. This project has been fun... well. I mean... let's clarify... fun, painful, torturous, nagging, insightful, eye- opening, revealing, terrifying, lonely.... a little bit of everything...

Let me start with a recap, then I'll go into a thoughtful anecdote to end our time together. Well... let's be real here. I know only about 3 people even read this thing, so my time reflecting on myself, along with a few who are along for the ride...

On Easter I started a 40 day journey and my goals were thus(a short version...for the long version, go here) :
-Less Facebook- well... that one worked:) I deactivated my Facebook about 1/2 way through because I was frustrated that I was wasting so much time on it and not fufilling my commitment to only being on it once a week and wasting so much of my precious free time on there instead of ya know... sleeping, eating.... things like that. 

-Less Sugar- I did pretty darn good, if I say so. I limited to one day per week in which I was allowed sugar, and even then I attempted not to over-indulge. I had my moments, lets be real, but I acknowledge that and know where my weaknesses are now. Also ,my week of being sick totally threw this off, so I plan to keep going with this one for at least another week- this may stick around for... ya know... for a very long time:) I may allow a treat here and there on a rare occasion, but once a week seems to fit best- I dig my weekly trip to get a scoop of ice cream from our local ice cream parlor. It's perfect. 

-Less complaining- Not sure I was successful with this. For about the first half I did well, but around the half way point, life pulled me under, but I think this is an area I'd love to see some future growth, as would those that are around me on a regular basis:)

-More MUSIC!!!! I wasn't able to have my musical moments as often as I would have liked, but I did find myself sitting in awe of the lyrics of songs much more frequently, sitting in amazement of the perfect timing of a song on the radio, playing tunes on my guitar in the basement, or taking time to hammer out a tune when I was feeling low.

-More Writing!! I was not able to journal daily, as the blogging pretty much took up any desire I had to do that, but I hope that now that I am moving out of blogging daily, I can do that instead. I hope to update this lovely blog once a week to keep people posted, write anything that's been rattling around this head of mine that has any meaning, any news that should be shared,  stories that need telling, etc. I also still plan to begin writing my own biography of sorts- no clue how, when, or where, but I hope to make that a summer project. 

-More Sharing- I like to think that some of what I've posted on my blog was sharing more than I would normally share, but I don't think I've shared as much as I would have liked to about what God has done in my life, what he's doing, what's going on with me, etc. I think that's something that I'll be working on soon, and perhaps a part of the next section of this post;) I do hope to continue sharing my music, but I feel incredibly vain doing so.... we'll see how that goes in the future.

-More JESUS- Again, while this didn't go how I had planned, I think it turned out better than anticipated. I wanted to get up early and spend time digging deep. Unfortunately, this semester ate me up and spit me out, so really, most days I roll out of bed, throw together a bag and run out of the door- lucky if I have my head on straight. Also, my morning schedule collides with my roommate's, which would make a quiet time a bit trickier than I had anticipated. Not a good excuse, but what happened. So, instead of feeling tortured, I made a new plan. I have a nice little commute to work, so I decided to make the best of it where I could. I listened to the Daily Audio Bible when I could, and most recently, a friend pointed out a few podcast series that focus on areas that I am struggling with the most right now, so I've been spending most of my drive time, or 'down time'(aka chores or cooking time) doing that. It has given me somewhere to focus my mind rather than on my mess of a mind and the thoughts that are swirling around it at any given moment.

So... all in all- the challenge was.... a challenge. It was not a complete success, but I learned and I grew. I had no idea how much I would struggle and what curve balls I would be thrown in the 40 days, but through it all, I am praising Him in the storm, thankful he's there to brush off my bleeding, dirty knees, there to clean my wounds and carry me through it. 

Now, Technically yesterday was day 40. I miscalculated somewhere and missed a day. It would have been the perfect day. It would have had I not been such a mess. It would have in a perfect world. It would have been a beautiful little ribbon to tie off a perfect little challenge for a figurative little life I have planned out. But, being that my life is definitely not perfect, it wound up a hot mess...

See, yesterday was the one year anniversary of my baptism. How fitting that the 40th day after Easter this year would be my one year anniversary of my baptism. Remembering the day that I said... You know what... I had absolutely no idea what I was doing at the age of five, nor does any child that young. I didn't know what it meant to be baptized and I feel this ache in my soul that God wants me to throw everything aside and say, "I will follow you.... To the ends of this earth I will follow you." I've already shown it in some ways, but I needed to show myself and declare to my community.

In a perfect world I would have had tons of family and friends around me on that day, a huge party after, celebrating the beautiful day it was. It would have been an incredible celebration- full of laughter, stories, and encouragement. Instead, the day was filled with feelings of loneliness and remembering that this world is not my home- this is not an act for anyone but for me and God. I had about six friends come and support me that day. Four came out with me to dinner afterwards. It was a great celebration. Everything I had hoped and more- It was all worth it. The one year anniversary holds some bittersweet memories, however, as two of those people are no longer in my life. Nobody could have foreseen the pain that would come in the year ahead that would tear us apart. I had no idea how much this bothered me until last night, when it all came crashing down on me. 

At the same time, I remembered that in 3 days- May 20th- It will be the 2 year anniversary of my departure from the Africa Mercy. My heart aches so so so much with this. I know the AFM is not the same place I left, but I think of what it was when I left- the people who were there when I left- all that I left on that day, and I cannot help but completely break down. The people I left on that day are all my family- a family that will never all be in one place again until we meet again in heaven. That is a hard pill to swallow, but true. I miss them. I miss feeling a purpose with every day. I miss being able to go a deck down and look into the face of a patient, or a mama, and know exactly the reason why I came to serve these people, in this place, at this time. I miss my family, I miss my community, I miss my Africa.

I have experienced seasons of intense loneliness, but somehow this one is different. It is overwhelming me to the core of my being. It's not just sad, but suffocating. I have never felt this intensity of loneliness in my life. I know there is a reason for it, but I certainly do not like it.

As you can see, yesterday was far from that perfect bow I so wish I could have put on top of the '40 day challenge' cake, but, really, it is perfect. It is the perfect 'Michelle' bow- It sums up my life and who God created me to be. I am broken, but in Him I am made whole. Without Him I am NOTHING, but in Him, I am a new creation. I am poor in spirit, but with Him I am BLESSED... No matter what I face in each day, no matter what comes my way, the thing this challenge taught me... I am BLESSED. Always. 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Day 39: Farmers Market

I'll say more tomorrow but for now...

Day 38:Dangerously Busy

Today was one of those days that was dangerously busy with no room for breathing, but also one of those days that I wouldn't have changed a thing about. I rolled out of bed late due to my very late bedtime last night, got myself together and went to church. There, I got to serve in a different way than I've ever served, by watching the kiddos of the team who was prepping for tonight's service. 

Some would come and play on their phones and be passive during this time. I would rather have fun. So, I brought my trusted bag of library books in. The kids LOVED the books I had and had me read them over the movie that was playing in the background. *BOOM* teacher win!!!!! 

Later, the kids stormed the gates, aka the door and made a run for it. That ain't happening on my watch. I made it clear this was not acceptable, then learned t was with the goal of acquiring a stash of candy, which said children had in their pockets. 

We had a chat and I was able to tie in our virtue of the month from our older kids rooms- honesty- into it, which my older two knew exactly what I was talking about. It was a moment that would have easily been missed if someone hadn't been looking for it. I also took a moment to let them know that this is not just a job for me- I love what I do- and I love them. While I do not see these kids often it is especially true of them, as their parents pour so much into our church. It is an honor and a privilege to love their babies. 

After our heart to heart a sweet baby came who quickly got restless. In hopes to keep her happy, we took a walk, which turned into me entertaining her and then putting her down for a nap. For a moment I thought I may be in for a year-filled afternoon, but those tears were simply boredom. I am so thankful for that. I am also thankful I got time to bond with this sweet baby and get to know her  bit better:) 

After that, I scurried to pick up one of my kiddos from work that I babysat tonight, then we came back to mosaic, where I dropped her off and went to Upstreet. Thankfully she was very happy and excited- no tears until we left mosaic- she was sad to leave. 

After 'the witching hour' of figuring out how to help a sad 2 year old, I finally got her to rest and fall asleep. Then the challenge was how to stay awake myself for 3 hours before her parents came home. What a beautiful problem to have.

It was a busy day, and I fear I am getting sick again, but it was a great one. 

Despite it all, I keep finding myself feeling down and unsure of the future- grasping for certainty that is not there- solid ground that is not close .... A few weeks to go until routine but... This will have to be the new normal for now. Before I had too much homework, now I'm drowning in over 50 hours of work that I need to pay rent, groceries, gas, hours lost during Kenya, and coming tuition....  New normal... I thought it would be so much better than this.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Day 37: blessed to be a blessing

Days like today I just feel blessed to have the ability to bless others- bless my kids by being the best teacher I can, which often means getting coffee on my breaks:), blessed to have just enough to be able to bless others by providing for them when they have a need, blessed to have skills that allow that to happen, blessed to have an able body that allows me to go non-stop standing pretty much exclusively for 17 hours with a few one ta of respite here and there. Blessed that I get to bless. I am thankful for that today. 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Day 36:Groups

Growth groups are back in session...well mine is...I think we are back a week early but I wouldn't have it any other way. We met for the first time- 18 women seeking Gods direction and aching for more from life... Can't wait to see what comes of it. 

Day 36: Food

Tonight, I rolled up to my house and suddenly remembered my roommate was hosting students. I was sweaty, tired, and most of all hungry. 

I shuffled in and said hello quickly so   get a shower and make some dinner. Upon my return back downstairs, I was offered I was starving and had just worked out after a long day at work..not to  mention the students are international students and my favorite foods are from all over the world - I was in great hands. 

It was a huge blessing And my favorite thing that happened today:)

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Day 35: The City

Today I had the chance to drive through the city for the first time since the riots. It was a blessing for me to be back down there again. What's striking is that it looks like nothing had ever happened... But it has... But I felt safe and I felt blessed to drive through my great city again. 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Day 34: A Good Tired

I am so tired. But... the GOOD kind of tired. The kind of tired after a day filled with having fun with the kids you adore working with, the kind after an evening kicking your butt into high-gear with friends after having your butt kicked by bronchitis and doing it... modifications were made, but I did it. Ohhh boy will I be sore tomorrow- already feeling it. Trouble. The kind where I will get to lay down and watch a movie for a bit... possibly totally passing out from being so tired, but in a fantastic way. All in all, this entire day, despite things that totally could have stressed me out and could have taken me town, the whole day was a blessing. For that, after a week of a rocky road, I am ever thankful.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Day 33: Hair

How cool is it that we have a part of our body that is always growing, that we can cut and give to someone else? I love it and while it hurts my soul sometimes, I think it's one of the coolest things I get to do every other year or so. 

My hair stylist took step by step photos for me because I told her I wanted my nephew to come and see the process, but he refused. I told him before I left that I would give my hair to be joined with at least 5 others hair to be made into a wig for someone with no hair so they could feel a little bit normal again. He asked 'will they take what makes them sick out of the hair?' I think he was confused, but I explained that it's like a hat for them and it is safe. He said 'they don't take a shower in it though right?' 'Nope...' 'Cool!!!'

I am so glad I did it and I feel much lighter. Can't wait to send it:)

Day 32: only hope

Today's is different... Video post...;)

For a look at how it was filmed...

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Day 31: One Day More

My biggest blessing isn't something that's today, but tomorow... I have one more assignment standing between me and summer. Well, really between me and needing to clean my room, organize things, do a whole bunch of other things I've had no time to do, but... school will be done until August... and for THAT... I will be grateful.

Do NOT get me wrong. Learning.... well... okay, guys... I am a teacher. I LOVE learning. For real. I LOOOOOOVEEEE learning. But. I am ready for a little breather to decide what I get to learn for a bit, to teach my kids some fun things, to rest a bit, and get ready for the craziest Fall I've ever had in my entire life, and possibly ever will... so... For now... I'm so excited I have 1 more assignment that will take me about 1 hour. And it will because I am so excited.

ONE DAYY MOOOREE... brownie points if you know what the reference is;) 

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Day 30: Broken to Whole

This photo was taken this morning. I saw it and thought... Wow...that sums up this week perfectly. When I cleaned it up this song came to mind...

'Broken heart, one more time,
Pick yourself up, why even cry,
Broken pieces, in your hands,
Wonder how you'll make it whole,
You know, you pray, 
This can't be the way,
You cry, you say,
Something's got to change,
And mend this porcelain heart,
Of mine.'

This morning I woke up with energy for the first time in over a week. I got ready for the day and baked for my class...then this happened. It grabbed my attention. It could've messed me up, but instead it let me reflect. This week felt a lot like that jar. Like someone took me and accidentally knocked me over the edge that I didn't know I was going over. The edge I have so carefully balanced on surface of to prevent the slightest disturbance and compensating when it came. This time there was a huge push that came out of nowhere and there was no saving me.

Thankfully, 3 days later, here I am, picking up the pieces, choosing to move on and keep going. I have cried many tears, I have begged and pleaded, but God grabbed my hands, wiped my skinned knees, kissed them, and pulled me out of them mud. A few new scars, mud on my clothes, new stories and experiences, but one day I will look back and say 'ohh that's why that needed to happen.' At least that is what I am praying will happen. 

Today I had the opportunity to present to my classmates about the tough out important subject of bereavement and how we can support our students through  grief-filled situations. I had no idea how charged this presentation would be or how impactful and I feel honored to be the one who had the opportunity to share it with the class. 

Afterwards I came home and made some dinner. Never do you find joy in cooking as much as after your body rejects food for 4 days.... Here's a shot of my dinner coming... Yummy!!! 

Excited for summery dinners!!!:)

2 more assignments then my evenings and down time will be filled with odds and ends and projects I've been wanting to do... Some will benefit YOU:) *wink* ohh you know some music projects and I want to get writing an autobiography that may or may not ever see the light of day.... Time will tell:) have a happy Friday!!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Day 29: My Guardians

It has been a rough week... some might argue the worst. I say there's still a little ways it could go wrong, so it's not quite the worst, but it's definitely not the best. However, I have been blown away by the people around me. So many people have said 'do you need anything?' I always thought people were kidding, but man are they serious. I've gotten so many offers for food, groceries, meals, a classmate took me to the dr, got me a milkshake, took me to get my prescriptions filled, a friend has been sending me thoughtful scriptures, another is bringing me a gingerale this evening because my stomach is killing me... these little tokens are absolutely a gift to me and 100% my blessing of the day. I am a girl who loves gifts and they are the way to my heart, so thank you from the bottom of my heart to those who have offered these little gifts of encouragements, acts of service, or tokens of acknowledgement. Thank you for saying, "I see you, I"m thinking of you and I love you." It means more to me in this moment than you can imagine. In the moment when darkness wants to flood me, those moments of light flood that darkness faster than the darkness can try to come back. It's awesome. 

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Days 26, 27, and 28- Mayhem, Tears and Agony

The title says it all. A bit melodramatic, maybe, but it captures it perfectly. Friday began an uphill battle I had no idea I was about to begin. It started in a doctor's office, who told me to rest. This may've been the right call, but I tried so hard to function and keep going, doing my normal Saturday tasks, which certainly blessed me with the gift of laughter as I led my 2-3rd graders in some awesome discussion about honesty, I went out with a friend after to bless her with the gift of giving to the Baltimore food drive, which then blessed me the next day when I got to bring the things back. I ended up in bed that whole next day as well as Monday.... the decision to call what I had viral and 'go rest', spun me out.. I had the worst migraine of my life Saturday and Sunday nights, almost driving myself to the ER Sunday.

Thankfully, an amazing classmate came and got me Monday and drove me to the doctor, because I was so unwell. They gave me meds, and later admitted they should've sent me to the hospital. Thankfully, however, I was able to break the migraine with the meds they gave me and am at about 50% of my normal self now. My appetite is slowly but surely coming back... To give you an idea of how out of it and easily upset I was today, someone took the spot I wanted and had waited for but missed by a second and I literally burst into tears, started sobbing and crying and hitting my steering wheel.... it was one of THOSE days... one of those days you think only happen in movies until you find yourself smack dab in the middle of one and go 'ohhhhh...'. One of those days where you're sitting in class and inexplicably burst into tears and need to excuse yourself. One of those days. I don't cry in public.... but... I'm starting to reassess that statement after the frequency I've cried in public lately....

If this wasn't enough, the job opportunity I wanted... that  I NNEEEEDDDED to keep myself sane next semester, didn't end up working out. I am so happy for those who got it, but am 100% throwing myself a pity party over this. I need to pick up a lot more work over the summer to compensate and need to figure out how to make this work next semester without getting as sick as I am at the moment again... and next semester is gonna be a lot harder... So that's where I've been. Headed back to work tomorrow and praying I don't end up with pneumonia and worse off.... final push to get these assignments done, even though the wind that was beneath my sails is long gone... 

Monday, May 4, 2015

Quick update

Hey guys- sorry for lack of posts- will post soon I promise, but I post tonight because I need some prayer. This weekend has been full of me being sick and today full of hard news and I am 1000000% overwhelmed and I feel like giving up. Please pray that where doors shut more open. I thought I was entering a new era of lots of doors opening but instead lots have been shutting, which has left me laying lifeless on the floor. 


Saturday, May 2, 2015

Day 25: access

Today I discovered I have viral bronchitis. While it took over 2.5 hours of waiting to see a doctor through the day, I am thankful to have access to a very thorough medical practitioner who checked me to ensure I did not have pneumonia, the flu, or strep, which was good and gave me some meds to ease the cough. Not exactly what you want to hear after a long wait, but better than being told you have a cold I suppose:) off to sleep and 'resting' tomorrow as I work on final projects all day. 

Friday, May 1, 2015

Day 24:Encouragement

Today was a long day. A long, long day. I am starting to get sick, which made it longer, but there was a bit of encouragement sprinkled in there. I sat in class, with low energy due to aforementioned foreboding sickness, which I thought was allergies but is proving to be more, and my classmates actually were super awesome. I mentioned that I would be presenting on a topic next Thursday instead of showing a poster about an illustrator/author, because I feel passionately about this topic and it needs to be discussed. Also, I love presenting, so it seemed like a good fit. This came up, and my classmates on several occasions throughout class told me that they think I will be an incredibly Child Life Specialist. One even said, "Michelle, me and another classmate agreed if our children ever need to be hospitalized, we want you there with them to help us through..."

This totally melted my heart and lifted it too. I have been fighting so hard for so long to get into the field of Child Life, and I am so glad that I am not the only person who sees that it is the career for me. I mean, I have been told before by a few people that it is a fit for me, but there has never been this much evidence encouraging me despite the forward motion propelling me. I feel so encouraged by those I am in class with, and I thank God for that. It is so wonderful to know that, while, yes I am in school right now to specifically be an ECE teacher, my end-goal is to be a Child Life Specialist, and I have the support of colleagues and professors. That makes my heart smile.

So after a hard day, where everything in me just wanted to crawl into bed and not come out till mid-May, this is the part that says, "Nope, 3 more projects and 1 more assignment, you got this... PUSH!!!! GOOOO!!!! This is for your future patients!!! You've got this!!! "