Monday, December 30, 2013

The Weary World Rejoices

2013 was a weary year for me, in all aspects of my life: financially, spiritually, emotionally, physically, professionally, and relationally.  I look back on it glad I traveled the journey but also glad the journey is over for now.  I was hit with trials I felt inadequate to handle, I would get back on my feet only to be knocked down again. I spent a lot of my time questioning what career path I should be on and I spent countless hours crying out to the Lord in frustration.

It seem cliche to reflect on my year as it draws to an end but in scripture the Israelites took time to reflect on what the Lord has done (Joshua 4).  I grew in painful, stretching ways this year.  I lived in a constant state of transition.  I came face to face with the ugly sin in my heart.  I lived paycheck to about 4 days before my paycheck (thank goodness for quinoa).  I watched countless people in my life move to a different life phase while I am still living in this one.   I looked at each the problem and thought of all the ways it couldn't be solved instead of looking at Who could solve my problems.

I spent a lot of my year waiting for a miracle.  I wanted something to happen that would make my pain and trials make sense.  I wanted an instant moment and tangible sign from the Lord that everything would be okay.  I wanted a check to arrive in the mail, or a perfect job offer.  I wanted a miracle I could see.  Instead, I went on a journey that was long and hard, and at times I was filled with hopelessness.

But I would forget: there is a thrill of hope, and the weary world rejoices;

Christ was on the throne, Christ is on the throne, and Christ will always be on the throne.

My miracle has already happened.
I am a living testimony to the Lord's provision.
The devil on his best day did not take me on my worst day.
 I am still here and God is still sovereign.
Christ is still Lord.

A thrill of hope is a simple combination of words but it allows me to continue on in full confidence for 2014.
My hope?
Christ is King.
Christ has already won the battle.

My prayer at the beginning of 2013 was for the Lord to do what He needed to do to grow me closer to Him and in Christ-likeness.  Who am I to negate any situation that a sovereign God brings my way to bring me closer to His presence?  I prayed for 'immeasuribly more' (Eph. 3:20) and the Lord kept His promise, but in ways I didn't expect it.  I wouldn't trade my year.

There are still obstacles facing me in 2014.  I still have trials I am in the midst of right now.  I have bills that need to be paid, tests to be passed, pride and other sins in my heart, uncertainty in my future, and no idea how to fix a fan belt in my car.

But you know what?
"It will all shake out, meanwhile I'm putting up more twinkle lights"*

*Nora Ephron, You've Got Mail

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Dairies of a Special Ed (hopeful) Teacher

I work in special education.
This was not a surprise to anyone but it was for me.

This essentially means that I spend my Saturday nights creating Pigeon costumes and making silly putty.
I spend my Sundays researching new techniques and strategies for working with Autism.  I spend my days teaching kids how read and count.  I am an expert at seeing when a complete mental and emotional breakdown is brewing and most of the time can prevent it.  But sometimes, I don't even try to fight it.

I leave my classroom exhausted and well after kids have loaded the busses.  I show up before they pull in for the day.  I spend my weekends hoping my kids had enough to eat.  I explain answers to the same questions at least 18 times a day, I have to change diapers, I deal with temper tantrums, and I would not have it any other way.

Every morning I am greeted by a stuttered sentence and a bear hug that says "Ms. Y., I miss you last night.", or one that says "Ms Y., you my best best fwend."  When I see my students in Wal-Mart, they run up and give me the biggest hug.

Even in all of this, my hardest day is filled with little victories.  On my hardest days, I wipe the slate clean and walk in the next morning ready for the day.

My relationship with my students is just a grain of sand in a desert compared to how the Lord's patience and mercy is with me.  I have been camping out in Lamentations recently, specifically chapter three.

Lamentations 3:21-23
     This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope.  The Lord's loving-kindess indeed never ceases, For His compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; Great ifs Your faithfulness.

I throw adult temper tantrums, I ask Him the same questions 18,000 times and expect the answer I want instead of the answer that I need.

My path was to special education point was filled with brokeness, tears, joy, and blind faith and obedience on the Lord. My journey with special education is just beginning, but I have a feeling that my kids will be teaching more about the Lord, grace, and patience than I ever could teach them.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

What is Success?

I will receive final paycheck today at midnight.  After it is deposited into my bank account, I no longer have a source of guaranteed income.

The world says I should be freaking out.  The world says I should be looking for a job.

Instead, I am resting at the feet of Jesus.  I am giving myself time to relax.  I am choosing a different life.  I am making a conscience decision to trust in the Lord, knowing that He has called me to this season for a purpose.

The road to success doesn't look like it is 'supposed to' because the idea of 'supposed to' is a lie.   My timeline is not going as I planned.  The funny thing is, I wouldn't change where the Lord has brought me.  There are moments of worry.  There are moments of doubt.  And in those moments, I cling to HIS truth (and then watch You've Got Mail or a Meryl Streep movie).  But then, in ways I could never imagine, He comes through.  He gives me enough to remind me of His faithfulness, but not enough for me to forget my desperate, daily need for Him and His grace.

One of my favorite photos I took in Uganda was a picture of a small girl eating her lunch of beans of rice staring at a wall painted with different pictures.  What struck me about this wall, was there was nothing about it that made sense.  I'm sure over time, children drew a picture on it when they were bored and then carried on with their day, not knowing they were contributing to a masterpiece.

Each picture was different but together it made one of the most unique pieces of art I have ever seen.  I see the Lord doing that with each of our lives.   Each experience at the time may not make sense, but in the end, each of our lives have become a work of art that the Lord uses to bring us to the Cross.

After I was laid off, I had to redefine what it looked like to be successful.  You know what I came up with?  To love the Lord, to be willing to sacrifice anything for the sake of the Cross, to make disciples, to love His people.  Scripture never once specified how I am to do that.

Nothing goes as planned. The beauty of that is, is it actually does go as planned.  It goes as planned according to a Heavenly Father who loves us more than we could ever imagine.  It is a process of sanctification.  It is a process of making me more like Christ.  Who am I to question what the Lord using to get the various levels of sin out of my life?

So here I am.  Living in a small mid-western tourist town, pursuing a teaching degree because my heart for this place has the power to keep me in a town, unemployed.  But I am willing to stay because the Lord has called me to something greater.  He has called me to love His people where I'm at.  He has called me to trust Him with my income.  He has called me to where I am at.  And I am following in obedience.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Pennies from Heaven

Blog written March 27th-Two days after major life change occured

One of my favorite Christmas movies is Elf. I watch is all year long. What could be better than Will Ferrill dressed as an overgrown elf who falls in love with a blonde Zooey Deschanel? Nothing (that’s a little dramatic because we are completely discounting the beauty of ‘You’ve Got Mail’ and how at least one quote from that movie accurately describes my life 99% of the time). Plus one of my all-time favorite kamp memories involves a dear friend masquerading as Buddy during breakfast and pretending that Kauai’s dining hall staircase was an escalator. One of the few moments in my life I wish I had on camera. But anyway.

I was listening to the soundtrack at work today. I needed a little Christmas cheer. I have had some major life changes in the past few days and one song hit me hard. Have you ever listened to ‘Pennies from Heaven’ by Louis Prima? If you haven’t, look it up!

“If you want things you love, you must have showers,
(so when you hear it thunder). Don’t run under a tree.
There’ll be pennies from heaven for you and me.
(Every time it rains, it rains) Pennies from heaven
(Don'tcha know each cloud contains) Pennies from heaven?”

As I was processing those words, I was thinking about my walk with the Lord and my current situation. My first reaction this week was to run from the storm, to shut down in the midst of change, and complain about how my life wasn’t meant to be like this (and then watch 4 hours of Netflix and eat my weight in paleo ice cream). I gave myself a day to be upset, disappointed, and cry but then I moved on. I made a choice to see the pennies over the raindrops.

How often do we discount the pennies because we hear the thunder? Sometimes we need stand out from under the tree and watch the Lord change our hearts from seeing the rain to seeing that each cloud has a penny or two to offer. We have to make a choice of which one we will see.

We may not see the blessings immediately or even within the year but the confidence that there will be a blessing is worth walking through the rain. It is worth stepping out from under the tree and being soaked to watch the water turn into pennies.

I am walking a road I didn’t ask for or choose but I want to walk it with grace, honor, and integrity. I see the rain but mixed in the rain I see pennies from Heaven. I may not see why this road is the one I'm on but, in the words of Kid President "if there are two paths, I want to be on the one that leads to awesome."

It is what it is.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Black Hole of My Life

I started college as a Fashion Merchandising major that I stuck with until I changed majors halfway through sophomore year. During the fall semester of sophomore year I transferred from a community college to Kansas State University (EMAW) where I enrolled in Intro to Human Development with Dr. Kelly Welch.  Little did I know that Dr. Welch had already left her mark on the Yocum family.  If I remember correctly my older brother changed his major from business to criminology after taking the same class.

So after my second week of class I walked out of class in Umberger Hall and promptly walked over to Justin Hall and submitted my paperwork for a degree change.  Changing to Family Studies and Human Services is probably one of the top 3 best life choices I have ever made (promptly followed by never cutting my own bangs no matter how tempted I was)  I probably thought less about that decision than deciding what flavor of ice cream to get at Coldstone Creamery (which inevitably is always ends up being a 'Like It' size of 'Berry Berry Berry Good', and if I am feeling a little crazy I'll add graham crackers).  But I digress.

Here is a confession from a former fashion-obsessed merchandising major:

I am not a fan of purses.
There, I said it.  I know for a fact that my 17-year-old-fashion-pursuing-self would be disgusted with me.

Let me explain.
In college I used a backpack because I over-committed myself and would leave my house 6am and wouldn't return until at least 11pm every night.  Why carry a purse when I can throw my wallet-keychain thing in my bag?

During the summer I worked at a camp and used a glorified hiking bag for everyday activity.  It held all I needed to go from the pool to the dining hall to Bible study.

It worked so well that for the last 2 years I haven't moved away from my trusty Mountainsmith bag but would sometimes alternate with my backpack depending on if I had a paper due.

But then I got a big kid job.  I decided I needed a purse.  I went to Target bought a grey one because it works for all seasons.  It wasn't even on sale.  It was a huge step for me.

I told myself I would keep is nice and organized.  But soon I was fighting a losing battle.  I running late so I would throw my make-up in my bag, I would print off a blog to read later and it would be shoved next to the book I decided to carry in case I had down time. I would drink half a bottle of water and not wanting to waste it, put in my purse for later.

I consistently have scraps of yellow legal pad with almost-genius ideas for my potential book I want to write.  I usually have a bag almonds for a protein-filled snack.  I always have Purell, a variety of Sharpie pens, and chapstick.  Not to mention the usual purse-dwelling items like a wallet, car keys, and my cellphone.

My purse is a black hole that represents my life (much like my Google search history). It is a black hole that holds my crazy life together.  I can tell you exactly everything that is in my purse right now followed by with my justification for having it.

I truly believe that everyone organized person has that one area in their life that is unorganized.  Monica had the mysterious closet on Friends and I have my grey purse.

But I stand with Nora Ephron on this one:
"I hate my purse.  I absolutely hate it.  If you're one of those women who think there's something great about purses, don't even bother reading this because there will be nothing here for you.
This is for women who hate their purses, who are bad at purses, who understand that their purses are reflections of negligent housekeeping, hopeless disorganization, a chronic inability to throw anything away, and an ongoing failure to handle the obligations of a demanding and difficult accessory...Because here's what happens with a purse.
You start small.  You start pledging yourself to neatness.  You start vowing that This Time It Will Be Different....
But within seconds, your purse has accumulated the debris of a lifetime."

Amen, Nora.  Amen.

I vow to clean out my purse tonight. Maybe.
To make like of my black hole, I decided to host my first ever contest on my blog!

So here's the deal.  If you are the first person to correctly guess the answer, you win a 16 oz. Tervis Tumbler!  All you have to do is comment on this blog with your answer by Friday, January 11th at 11:59PM!  Easy right?

There is one item in the list below that is not in my purse.  Which one is it?
Ear piece for a microphone
Small pepper grinder
Mustard yellow kitchen timer
A Beth Moore Bible study
Internet bill
SDC calendar
16 oz. Tervis Tumbler
A packet of Pink Lemonade Spark
Candyland band-aids
Decaf K-Cup

May the odds be ever in your favor.

And thank you Dr. Kelly Welch, because without you, I probably would not have read this much into my purse.