This has been a long and crazy summer, full of a LOT of life changes that I was not expecting at all. I have been working on this blog entry since mid-July at least, and am finally finishing it right as summer closes. Even after I posted it the first time, I have gone back two or three times to add things I forgot to mention. It is interesting to look back and see where I was a couple months ago with all of the changes that have taken place. In some ways, I am still there. However, looking back, I am able to see God’s constancy and His grace. I am so thankful to have a God who loves me in spite of myself.
This will be a very long entry, so feel free to skip. It will not hurt my feelings. I needed to post this for a couple of reasons. #1: Writing this entry has helped me process a lot of the changes that have taken place and I wanted to share that with you. #2: I have several ideas for different blog entries that I can’t get to until I get this one posted and we move on with life.
All that being said, let me tell you about my summer….
*The day after school ended for the year, my co-workers and I were told by our Board of Trustees that the school would be closing due to low enrollment for the Fall semester. This was not something any of us had been expecting. Enrollment had been down for a couple of years, due to a lot of factors, but I think most of us felt that we were past the scary part. We had a donor ready to build us a building, we had an advertising deal with a Christian radio station, the staff had put countless hours into making each event a success, and the parents were supportive.
To say this was a devastating blow would be an understatement. Many of us had worked at this school for several years. This was my first job outside of college. Matthew had started working there part-time while going to school so it was as much his school as mine. We were each other’s family. My co-workers’ kids were like my nieces and nephews. My students were my babies. We had watched these kids grew up. We had their parents’ numbers on speed dial. I felt like the rug had been pulled out from under me. We sat in the room weeping and going through all five stages of grief like a hamster on a hamster wheel.
When I packed up my room, it was for the last time. I had no idea what I would be teaching next year if I would be teaching next year, or where I would be teaching next year. All I knew was that the best school in the world was closing and my heart was breaking.
*One week later, this happened:
So, hubby and I have not exactly been “trying” but we were okay with an “accident”. That is, we were okay with an accident when I had a full-time job and we had a regular income.
Here’s the thing about accidents: Apparently, you don’t get to choose the circumstances of the event. Hence it being an accident.
I had been two weeks late, which didn’t necessarily scare me because I had been irregular lately. But I wanted to be sure, especially in light of recent events. I took the test, expecting the one little line to confirm that I was not pregnant.
I did a double take when there were two lines, and took a second test to confirm that my eyes were not playing tricks on me. Then, I looked up at the ceiling and went, “Really, God?! NOW?!”
In all my daydreams of getting pregnant, accidentally or otherwise, none of them included this scenario where both of us were unemployed. I was not excited, and that frustrated me because something like this was supposed to be a joyous occasion! All I could think about was the fact that we were both unemployed, my support system was disintegrating, and I had no idea how to make plans.
*The following week, I went to serve as a senior counselor at Camp Lu-Jo KISMIF with one of my best friends, and former Principal Julie. I’m not going to lie, it was the last place I wanted to be and I tried to think of lots of excuses for backing out. Fortunately, hubby wouldn’t let me.
That week was rough, but I ended up being so glad that I went. For starters, the theme was Unstoppable Faith. Every single day there was a message that I specifically needed to hear. Sometimes, quite unintentionally, it was through my own lessons as I talked to my 7th-grade girls about faith. It was like God was shouting at me, “You’re going to be okay! I’ve got you!”
*The week after that Julie and I took a trip to Washington DC and New York City for some MUCH needed vacation time. We had been planning this trip since October when we found out that Anastasia was going to be on Broadway! We had a blast nerding out at the Smithsonian in DC and all the awesomeness of New York. One of the best things was that her cousin got us backstage passes and we got to see the set up close and personal! We even got to meet a couple of the actors, though sadly, I missed out on getting Anastasia’s autograph. I was very thankful for this trip. It was a good time for processing and enjoying life before going back to the real world.
*Before we left on our trip to New York, I had been offered a position teaching at another small private school about 40 minutes from where I live and I had almost accepted it but decided to wait. While I was in DC I got another offer for an interview and decided to delay my decision even longer. I went to the interview, really liked the job, the people, and the environment, but unfortunately, they chose to go with someone else. While I was disappointed, I am thankful that I chose to go to that interview because it highlighted for me several things that were missing from the other offer. Consequently, I decided to turn it down. This felt, and still feels, like it was the right move, but unfortunately, it put me back to square one on the job hunt.
*The first week of July things started to change fast. I was frantically filling out applications to every school district in the area and applying for every opening listed on their website. Julie started the process of moving to her new job in another city. Matthew and I got our first sonogram and the whole pregnancy thing started becoming real to me. As I smiled for the first time about my pregnancy, my train of thought went something like this:
The following Monday, Matthew’s school called and said that, due to enrollment, they were cutting his classes, and therefore his salary, to half of what he had originally signed up for.
We took that as a sign from God and San Antonio went from being a possible backup plan to our only consideration. The more we thought about it the more right it felt. Matthew started working on fixing up the house that week and we began making plans to move to San Antonio by the end of August.
While selling our house and furniture, putting our stuff in storage, and moving in with parents may not seem ideal, this is a huge blessing to us for a lot of reasons:
1. We will be able to pay off the rest of our student debt which means we can focus on saving for our own house.
2. Matthew’s parents are allowing us to stay at their house rent free
3. Family connections can help us find jobs and give us support when the baby comes
The tentative plan was that, after fixing up the house to sell, Matthew would come down and continue to go to school and get his Computer Programming certificate. I would substitute teach for the year. I had pretty much resigned myself to this plan and felt good about it. It would give me time to build a relationship with the school districts, and I would have the flexibility I needed for when the baby came.
Then came August….
*Remember the part where I get a whole year to adjust to my new circumstances? HA! That was a good one.
*So, as I am fighting pregnancy fatigue and trying to pack up our earthly belongings, and reconcile myself to my new life, I get a call from a school called Living Rock Academy in Bulverde, Texas about a Math and Science position for Middle School. This is a week and a half before school starts.
I actually debated with myself.
Math and Science. Taught Math before. Not Science. More of a Language Arts/History person. On the other hand, it’s a small private school which is what I want. But Math and Science! But regular paycheck….
After more “discussions” with God, I called them back. I had a phone interview with a board member. I scheduled an interview for the following Monday. I went to the interview the following Monday, was offered the job and accepted it on Tuesday, and began in-service on Wednesday.
Since then I feel as if I haven’t stopped.
Since then, I have set up my classroom, begun learning new content and curriculum, navigated new waters with my new school and location, bought a new(er) car, carpooled for school trips twice, found out we’re having a boy, and seen my husband four almost-consecutive weekends in a row.
Matthew is still in Dallas renovating our house to sell and probably will be for at least another couple of weeks. Most of my stuff is in storage, and I haven’t had a whole lot of time to go through the stuff that is not in storage. There are many things about our situation that are not ideal, and many times I cry out to God, “WHY did you have to mess up my perfect life!”
Have you ever tried to argue with the Creator of the Universe? He’s much better at it than we are. Something about being omniscient or something. After I am finished telling him what should have happened and how much better things would have been if they had, He reminds me of where I am and how good I actually have it.
The people I work with are great, and I am so thankful to be in a small private school with a regular income, rather than having to depend on a call from the school district for a one-time job. The Principal has been very flexible in allowing me to leave early for prenatal appointments, and he didn’t even bat an eye when I told him in the interview that I was pregnant.
There are still adjustments to be made, and things that take some getting used to, such as learning how to teach different subjects than I am used to. But I feel as if this next school year is about growth for me. I definitely feel the growing pains.
I have found a place to have the baby that is run by midwives who work with the hospital, and they accept Medicaid! So far, I have had a great experience with the two women I have met with, and look forward to continuing to build a relationship with these women who will deliver my baby.
I am closer to my sister and my best friend, Kayla and could see both of them in a day trip.
I am living rent free with my in-laws while we work out the details of selling our home, paying off debt, and figuring out this next phase of our life. Many people in Texas have lost their homes and their possessions and do not have this luxury.
I don’t understand why my school had to close and everything had to change. But looking back over the past several months I see God’s faithfulness and His patience with me. A patience and a faithfulness my impatient and faithless heart does not deserve. When I throw spiritual tantrums, He responds with gentleness like a parent who knows their child is just scared.
There are many things I still do not know about our future. I can’t even guess where we will be a year from now. I will probably continue to have days when I mourn the loss of my old life before I can move on.
But as I was writing about this whole mess in my personal journal, telling God how much more comfortable I would feel if there was a plan, He reminded me that there is a plan. He’s got it all worked out, and I need to trust Him.
There is a purpose. God will not waste this time. He is working something out that I can’t even imagine. I will look forward to the day when I get to know what that is. I will continue to wait. I will trust in Him.
Matthew says I rely too heavily on knowing all the details. He might be right. My plans did not involve the school closing and my co-workers, friends, and students scattering. But so far, everyone who has gotten a job has ended up exactly where they need to be in a situation that makes sense for them. God has been present throughout this whole yucky mess and reminded me through His people that He loves me and I’m going to be okay.
A month before school let out I had ordered a t-shirt for Julie that said, “Faith Over Fear”. It arrived the DAY they told us the news about the school closing.
A few weeks ago, I received this postcard and keychain from the staff at Camp Lu-Jo, reminding me to have Faith.
Julie found out while we were at camp that she had gotten a job as a Principal in a city two hours away from where we lived. When I was simultaneously trying to be happy for my friend and trying not to cry, someone from her home group noticed me struggling and made a point to give me a hug and encourage me.
As soon as they heard the news, my sister, best friend since childhood, and my part-time sister all reached out to me with specific gifts and notes of encouragement letting me know they were there for me.