"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us..."
I haven't been blogging lately, mostly because I've been mentally exhausted at the end of each day, attempting to learn and become acclimated into a new job, a new climate, and a new professional identity. I now work as a Field Experience Coordinator at UNI, mentoring, coaching, and supervising several language arts majors as they complete their field experiences in schools in the Cedar Valley, as well as providing resources and support to the many teachers who have agreed to open their classrooms to these future teachers. The last couple of weeks, we've had the monstrous task of trying to schedule these students with teachers, making sure they have all the nuts and bolts ironed out, and teaching them all they need to know about education in an intense 'boot camp' course for six hours each week. It's been busy, and challenging, and at times, a little mind-numbing, but it's also been exciting to push myself in a new way. I'm learning and I'm reflecting, and after seeing the fear on the faces of 22 future language arts teachers today, just days before they begin their Level II Field Experience in a new school --- I'm seeing the important purpose I have as their mentor, their coach, and their friend.
But just because I've been neglecting this blog space this week doesn't mean it hasn't been on my mind. It's actually quite the opposite. Ever since I stepped out the doors of Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center on Sunday, my writing wheels have been turning and I've been aching to fill this space with my thoughts --- but, I've tried, many times, and am left with a lot of unfinished fragments that lack connection and fail to do my mind's talk justice.
I'm feeling kind of 'in-between' right now. Do you ever feel like that? I would use the fork-in-the-road analogy, but it's more like wandering through a mall for me. Sometimes, when I'm not exactly sure what I'm supposed to be doing with myself, I assume the mall can fix just about anything. So, I drive to the mall for a little retail therapy, wander from store to store, but don't really feel in the mood to shop. I see things on the rack I like, but can't quite make myself try them on, and likewise, I see things I'd like to buy, but can't quite make myself do it. I don't really even feel like being there, but I continue to wander, feeling indecisive, unsettled, and non-committal.
My life feels like this. I'm in this weird transition time of my life right now, and although nothing is wrong, everything is just kind of there. I'm in between two jobs, we can't quite decide if we want to buy, build, or stay in the house we've called home for five years, and I'm struggling to understand God's timing in a few other important parts of our life right now. I'm just wandering and waiting for a lot of uncertainties to become certainties and I've never been a very patient person when it comes to waiting.
I carried these uncertainties with me to church on Sunday, hoping that my church's 50th anniversary celebration would light a spark under my blah-ness. After all, if anything can, it's that service. Every year, our church combines all its services from three different campuses into one service called 'The Gathering,' on UNI's campus. With more than 2100 people in attendance, it's always an amazing experience and the perfect kick-off to a new year and renewed walk with Jesus. I always leave feeling so uplifted, so energized, and so ready to stare my life in the face with conviction, courage, and compassion for others.
Halfway through the service, however, I just wasn't feeling it. I was distracted by Cruz, who loved the first ten minutes, but decided to yell and throw Cheerios on the floor during the first prayer. After getting the stink eye from a girl in front of us, I took him to play in the nursery. I missed a good part of the service, and when I got back, I was distracted by thoughts of school, of what I needed to get done after church, and whether we should attend the open house (for the third time) of the house we can't decide whether we want to buy or not.
And just like that, God's power swooped in like a bird eying its 'distracted' prey, and turned my sights on Pastor Dave's message. A message that hit the core of my wandering, my uncertainty, and my desire for control.
Dream your best dream. Dream it big, dream it in color, and then set it aside. Trust in Jesus and put your faith in the plan He has for your life. He will blow you away in ways you never dreamed possible.
As I listened to these words and let them really sink in as I stood in that aisle seat at church on Sunday, I literally felt the weight of control slip from my shoulders. In that moment, I knew that the plan for my life may look very similar, or completely different from the plan God has in store for me, and that I can't even begin to see how immeasurably better it is going to be with him. Immeasurably more. God is there, all the time, and is ready and waiting to do more than I could ask or imagine of him, as long as I am willing to let his power work in me (Eph. 3:20).
Then I thought about my friend, Josh. A pastor himself and friend from high school, anxiously awaiting the birth of his first baby, Josiah, only to find out that their precious baby boy's heart had stopped beating just two weeks before his due date.
And I thought about Taylor Morris, our hometown hero. A sailor who lost all four of his limbs when a bomb exploded in Afganistan. I thought about his girlfriend, about the little girl dreams we all dream when we fall in love with the person we want to be with forever.
I thought about all of these people, walking aimlessly into so much uncertainty right now, with sadness and concern far deeper than mine. I hurt for them, but felt an overwhelming sense of trust in the plan we can't begin to see. I smiled at the thought of the joy He hasn't begun to reveal to Josh, and Taylor, and everyone else walking through a time of uncertainty. There's hope in something so much greater than what we have control over - and the release I felt in letting my own desires go and letting God take over felt amazing. For the first time in several weeks of aimlessness, I left that building in absolute peace - and excitement as I dreamed of my life a year, or five, or 25 years from now.
Today, I stood on the sidewalk in 100 degree temps with thousands of others as we welcomed Taylor Morris back to Iowa for the first time since his injuries. I took pictures, waved my flag, and smiled as he rode past in a convertible, astounded and humbled by the mass of people changed by his story. And as I walked back to my car, I smiled when I thought about what Taylor will do with his life. God didn't detonate that bomb that changed the course of Taylor's life forever, but I'm confident he's walking beside him now and hasn't even begun to unfold the plan he has for him.