May is for Superheroes: The Teacher Homestretch

I’m exhausted.

Last week I had a student ask me if he could play me a song on his nose.

Befuddled, I nodded. They didn’t teach me how to answer that question in college.

He proceeded to place a finger on the side of his nostril and create a rattly humming sound as he “played” me a very unique rendition of Jingle Bells. I stood there in the hallway, questioning my life, and listened. Listening turned into singing as I joined my student in the medley. There I stood in the middle of the hallway, performing a nostril duet to a Christmas song.

Tomorrow is May 1. The official start of the homestretch (according to the calendar based on my opinion and perspective).

Like most teachers, I am looking ahead to the last day of school like it’s a light at the end of the tunnel. A shining beacon of hope that calls me to keep walking as the days feel impossibly long and the list of spring commitments grows impossibly more extensive.

I have reached the point where I would rather pull my hair out than say “Bummer” one more time.

Yes, Timmy, it is a bummer that you tied your shoelaces together and now you can’t walk.

I probably say “bummer” as many times as I hear my own name in one day (70,000).

I’ve reached the point where I have heard about so many lost teeth that when they tell me they lost a tooth, I tell them “I hope you find it” and laugh hysterically at my own joke.

It’s the time of the year that I’m questioning everything:

Can I do this? No, like seriously; is this actually possible?

Will I make it until June 14? Will those around me make it until June 14 having to deal with me?

Am I actually losing my mind or does it just appear that way in every facet possible?

I am so tired. Everything in me wants to auto-pilot the next 30 school days, getting through them with caffeine and a prayer. And while I will use both of those things in excessive amounts over the next month or so, I really want to fight the urge to mentally check out.

As summer break draws near and even as the curriculum winds down, those kids still deserve the best version of me. I think it’s possible to still look forward to summer yet live mindfully over the next 6 weeks.

In many classrooms in my district, we have been focusing on mindfulness with our students. With so many distractions, being present in the current moment is now something that really has to be taught, especially to some of our children who struggle behaviorally.

If I am going to practice mindfulness over the next few weeks, I am able to still be excited for summer, however I can’t be living there.

I can look forward to the pool time without inflating the floats and sleeping on them nightly.

The kids in front of us in May need us as much as they did in September. It may feel like we have nothing left to give: no ounce of creative energy, no ability to write another learning objective, no patience to respond kindly when a student still hasn’t learned an appropriate time to ask to use the restroom.

But the month of May is where the inner-super-hero comes out. Somehow we do it, year after year. We make it until the last day of school, sometimes with sanity hanging by a thread, but we do it.

We are going to make it. We are. The goal I am putting in front of myself is to not wish away each day, because the days go fast. The year has been like a  movie roll: month after month changing the calendar in the front of the room wondering, “How did we get here?”

I don’t want to wish away the years of my life, looking only forward to the next chapter (no matter how needed or well-deserved it is).

Even the day that feels the longest flies by and the years whiz past right along with them;  I don’t want to wish them away.

The weeks that are left, as exhausting as they will be, still have little moments that are going to feed my soul. They will have giggles and “aha” moments and new discovery. They will have dry markers, broken pencils, squirrelly behavior and probably some tears on my end and the students. But we are going to make it because that’s what we do.

Finish strong, stay in the moment and caffeinate regularly. Recommended dosage is 4 cups a day. Superheroes need their fuel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What God Does in the Discomfort

Patience and perseverance are not two of my strongest qualities.

Unlike some of the Olympian greats, I prefer not to work hard, push through tough circumstances or wait extended periods of time to arrive at what I want.

I prefer instant results with the least amount of work and discomfort possible. (Someone write this on an inspirational poster.)

Max and I have been working out together lately, and I am fairly certain he has started to realize that getting me from the parking lot of the gym to actually being inside the gym requires much more emotional and physical energy than the workout itself. The 100 yards from the car to the gym doors require a mental toughness and the patience of a practicing Monk.

The monk and me in happier times.

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Last week, we had to run into the store before working out, and I told him I wished I would get caught shoplifting and taken to jail so I didn’t have to work out.

*Disclaimer: I do not steal and have never stolen. This simply illustrates the emotional turmoil I experience the minutes before working out and the lengths, in that emotional state, I feel I would go to avoid it

I came up with many ideas of things we could do besides work out: eat, snack, lay around and watch TV; all of which sounded much more appealing than the gym and would feel much better in that moment.

On the walk from the car to the gym, I can come up with 10,000 reasons not to enter it.

I’m too tired.

My brain hurts.

I have other things to do.

I hate it.

Sadly, there have been many times I literally arrive at the gym, pull in the parking lot, park and then turn around and go home. No thank you.

But Max held firm to our scheduled work out, knowing full well that in one hour, when the workout was over, I would feel energized, happy and proud of myself for being physically active. It would be worth it for me.

We get into the gym, change in the locker room, and I meet him by one of the machines to begin the experience of physical activity. After just a few minutes, I whisper

“How much longer until this is over?”

Max just looks at me.

However, without fail, as I begin to put in the work, break a sweat and get active, I feel so much better. The endorphins start flowing, and all of a sudden I announce how much I love working out and how maybe I could even train for a marathon or do one of those 30 day cleanses to purify my system so I could be a spokesperson for healthy living.

Again, he just looks at me as I have gone from one extreme, preferring prison over the gym, to sudden motivation to push my body to the highest level of athleticism.  He knows we will go through the same emotional roller coaster together in 2 days. He continues lifting.

If I have learned anything over the years, I have learned that my emotions and my feelings cannot be used as tour guides or directors for arriving at what is best for me.

In the past, some of the best paths the Lord has placed me on felt like way too much work and  and way too painful.  Many of the best decisions I have made were often the most terrifying and the most uncomfortable. Choosing another way would have felt so much better at the time.

Looking back now, Praise Jesus I fought through that pain and held on. His greatest blessings came through my biggest disappointments and challenges that felt horrible.

Look at the stakes in this tree: I bet that tree is pretty uncomfortable. He wants to be free of that discomfort and stand up on his own. All the other trees look big and full and healthy, and these stakes feel as if they are getting in the way of that. But those stakes are designed to support, protect and make the tree stronger in the long run, allowing roots to grow. He will feel full and healthy when he makes it through this. Although momentarily painful- enduring this season is important for this tree if he wants to withstand the winds and storms that are coming his way. His roots have to be developed and strengthened. It’s not his time yet.

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While making decisions based on  feelings may satisfy short term discomfort, like the stakes in the tree, long term joy and fulfillment comes when you push through tough situations, do the hard, but right thing, and hold fast through the discomfort.

Unfortunately, most times in our lives, the results are not as instantaneous as how we feel pre-workout and post-workout.

A lot of times, like the tree, you may have the uncomfortable stakes in place for years before you can see why they were necessary in the first place.

How many times in my life have I thought I knew what was best for me?

I can actually answer that question by saying almost every single day.

Almost every day of my life, I could believe that what is best for me is what would make me feel good at that moment.

What quick decision or step could satisfy this longing, desire or discomfort?

In the case of right and wrong: agreeing with someone and not standing up for something I know is Biblical because it feels yucky and offensive.

In the case of friendship and relationships: holding on to bitterness because forgiveness feels so much harder.

The hard conversations that would be easier avoided.

In the case of the gym: going home and laying down with a jar of peanut butter.

Clearly I am using the gym as a deep and academic metaphor for the times in our life where God is using a little bit (or lot bit) of discomfort to achieve a purpose bigger than us.

Something where you know God has you there for a reason, but it would be super easy to take the escape route to avoid the pain.

 

But what is God doing in the discomfort and the stretching?

What purpose or lesson is God teaching me or using me for in that season?

There are many situations in life that feel so uncomfortable at the time, but prove to be the very things that shape us and grow us and mold us.

Throughout my life, I have done everything in my power to manipulate circumstances to quickly achieve whatever the desired outcome was. God usually takes longer than I prefer, so I have been known to take a step before the path is ready.

The results are usually faster, but never, ever better than the outcome God had waiting for me.

Like clockwork, my premature actions trying to band-aid and quick fix my momentary discomfort results in a messy explosion, me laying my plans at His feet and Him ultimately having His way in me. His better way.

My human tendency is going to always be to try to weasel my way out of discomfort to get momentary relief, or an illusion or cheap substitute of what I want.

To take off the stakes that are supporting me and developing me. To leave the gym as soon as I get there because I’m in a bad mood. To leave a situation before God is finished working on it.

 

I’ve been on a journey the past few years to stop letting my ever-changing emotions make decisions for me.

The walk from the car to the gym can be a long one. You want to turn around and take the easy way out. The stakes might be uncomfortable. You want to remove them.

But I’ve learned, and am still learning, to grow in the discomfort, push through the things that don’t always “feel good,” and believe that when it’s all over, I will look back, stronger, happier, healthier and so very glad I didn’t go home to snack the night away on Schuler’s cheese (with a hint of horseradish) and crackers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 Things We Can All Agree On in a Time of So Much Arguing

Online arguments are the bane of all human existence. They are also like a train wreck; no matter how much you know you should look away, sometimes you just can’t stop reading long comment threads of people fighting and debating and laying their dignity on the line.

To my knowledge, approximately zero people have changed their minds due to someone on social media lending a countering opinion. I have read a LOT of online arguments, and not ONCE have I read,

“You know, Steve, all of your statistics and sarcasm has totally changed my outlook on immigration, so I agree with you now. Thanks, friend. ”

Have you?

Listen, I am all for healthy debate. I am all for freedom of speech. But people, stop yelling at each other online. If you want to post your opinion, fine. I think it’s great that people have an outlet to express themselves, but when I see some of the people I hold SO much respect for get into it on Facebook, even Pastors, I just can’t look at them the same.

People are reading.

People are watching how you’re treating and the way you are talking to others.

So, in attempt to unite us all during a time of intense political division and varying opinions about the circus that is currently happening in our society, I have compiled a list of things upon which we will ALMOST all universally agree.

1. Burning your tongue is terrible

The pain of burning your tongue both as it happens and after it happens is terrible. Once I burnt my tongue on Hot Chocolate the MORNING of Thanksgiving. That is like spraining your ankle the day before the Olympics. I had to go through the whole day barely tasting the food on the biggest day of eating of the whole year. I have never met a person who enjoys having a burnt tongue.

2. It’s so weird when you take a drink of something and it’s not what you
expected

You know what I am talking about. You go to take a huge chug of water and it’s your sister’s Sprite. All of a sudden it’s like the equilibrium of the world is off. You don’t know anything for a moment. There are so many confusing sensations happening.

3. Leaving work on Friday is the best feeling

I love my job. But that sweet freedom of a Friday afternoon might rival the high of recreational drugs (do not know this from experience.) It’s a spring day, the sun in shining and you just walked out of work and the weekend awaits you. Tell me you don’t like that.

4. When you unexpectedly run into someone you know at the airport- it feels like worlds are colliding

Traveling is an exciting experience, and people watching during traveling is even more exciting. I have often observed groups of people run into each other unexpectedly at the airport and EVERY TIME it’s like this incredible reunion with shrieks and hugs. Even in “real life” if those people aren’t necessarily close, the airport makes you vulnerable and connects you.

5. People with accents are cooler 

We are pretty much all intrigued by people with different accents than us. Yesterday I was on the last leg of a five hour drive, and this woman with a thick Irish accent was doing a broadcast on the radio. I couldn’t turn it off. Her voice was so beautiful and different and I hung onto her every word. I also decided I am going to learn to speak with an Irish accent.

6. Your song sounds better on the radio

You might have bought your favorite song on iTunes and listen to it obsessively every waking minute of your life, but when it comes on the radio unexpectedly, it is the best 4 minutes of your life.

7. You probably have googled “Is it normal…”
Maybe you haven’t googled it, but you have thought it

8. Puppy bellies are the world’s best texture

If you disagree with me on this one, please just delete me from your life.

9. You do really embarrassing things when you’re alone

No need to get into details. You do. And I do, too.

10. You have your opinions because you think they are what’s best.

We all have views and opinions based on what we see is best. We can’t all be right. But we all think we are right.

Chances are, you’re wrong about some things. Chances are, you are also right about some things.

None of us knows it all. None of us is right about everything.

Let’s stop arguing over everything that’s different, and remember that at the end of the day, we all want what’s best and we are all in this together.

Blessings, not chins

Jenna

No Matter Where You Are On Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s 2009: Went to Pizza Hut on a double date, saw “He’s Just Not that into you” and promptly broke off the relationship the next day (got back together 5 days later)

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Brittany and Ryan. And Pizza Hut Pizza. #valentinesdoubledate

Valentine’s 2010: Young and in love- Went to a banquet where no dancing was allowed so we just took pictures

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I had just learned how to curl my hair. Amazing.

 

*As I was going through pictures, I realized that I was pretty much always with my college roommate, Brittany around the Valentine’s holiday. Since I obviously am not going to post pictures from my own relationships, (that is a WHOLE new level of Taylor Swift), I am having pictures of me, Brittany and Ryan tell the stories. I don’t technically have permission to do this but I just group texted them letting them know.

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**Brit just texted back: we are all good

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Valentine’s 2011: Young and in love- celebrating a 2 year anniversary and all things Valentines in Chicago

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Cookies and coffee circa 2011

Valentine’s 2012: Heartbroken, country playlist on repeat for the remainder of 2012

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February 2012 with my roommate. Pretending to be happy but slowly dying inside.

Valentine’s 2013: Still kind of heartbroken, but back in the game

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Starting to feel bad that I spent pretty much every Valentine’s weekend with her….Sorry Ryan #needyfriend

 

Valentine’s 2014: Got into an argument over dessert, made Valentine’s dinner with the peel still on the shrimp so had to spit out the skin onto napkins. Ordered iHop for breakfast the next day to make up for the fight.

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Pancakes fix everything

Valentine’s 2015: Reeling from a breakup 4 days before. Worked in the church nursery, went to Applebee’s at 11pm with a friend. Was in email communication about of buying  $800 hypoallergenic cat to fill the empty spots in my heart

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A picture of the  actual $800 kitten I almost bought myself

 

Valentine’s 2016: Absolutely, totally content 5 days a week. Need reminders about God’s plan and encouragement from friends 2 days a week. Loving and appreciating contentment in this stage of my life. Thankful for amazing friends, the most precious nephew, and an incredible family. Crazy about my job. Happy. On a sugar high from Valentine’s cards from the kiddos:

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Thanks, kids.

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The strongest romantic feelings I have currently are about lipstick. And that’s fine with me.

 

Over the past 7 or 8 years, I have experienced pretty much every emotion about Valentine’s Day.

 

Hating it.

Loving it.

Indifferent to it.

Feelings are temporary. Rough patches don’t last forever. Broken hearts mend,  time passes. God heals, friends encourage.

Wherever you are this Valentine’s Day, take it for what it is. A day in a season of your life. A day. Not a day that defines you. It’s not even a day that says anything about you at all.

It’s a 24 hour period that may evoke some emotions within you, and that’s okay. Because before you know it, it’s over and nothing has changed. This is a moment in the timeline of your life.

I never thought I would be where I am this Valentine’s Day of 2016. But over the years, I have learned that some of my most intense disappointments have been God’s biggest blessings.

It has been a journey of ups and downs: Pizza Hut and cats and Applebee’s and pancake breakfasts. But you know what? I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Happy Valentine’s Day, no matter where you are on your timeline.

xoxo

Jenna

 

 

 

Heart on My Name Tag

Some people wear their heart on their sleeve.

I wear my heart in bold on a name tag.

I am certain no one has ever looked at me and said, “I just wonder what she’s thinking.” They already know. Sometimes I forget the  proper social order of things and announce how I feel before even greeting someone.

“I AM SO DEVASTATED RIGHT NOW OMG. Oh, hey Em, good to see you.”

For awhile, I went through a phase where I wanted to be super mysterious. I wanted to be the quiet, mysterious girl that kept to herself and everyone wondered about. It didn’t last very long and my tongue hurt from biting it so much. It was a health risk.

I live my life as an open book. The surgeon who removed my wisdom teeth was up to date on my girl’s weekend that I was about to have, I have announced breakups at staff meetings and I love sharing my life with other people. I write long notes to waitresses and have met more friends in a grocery store than I care to admit.

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Would have missed out on a short-lived, but full relationship with Zac Efron if I wouldn’t have put myself out there.

There are amazing benefits to living life with your heart open and exposed to the world:

1. Simple things in life are richer: errands around town turn into short but sweet conversations with strangers that leave you smiling. Why would you stand in the check out line silently when you could compliment the girl’s bag in front of you and get to know her? I try to talk to a stranger a day. Terrible advice for children but great advice for trying to make the world a happier place

2. Relationships are deeper and more fulfilling: I don’t have any surface level friendships. To me, what’s the point? My friends feel comfortable being vulnerable with me, because I am open and vulnerable with them. I have 25 best friends, but not because I am the coolest person ever, simply because each and every one of my friendships are deep and meaningful. Work friends, church friends, school friends, gym friends; what an amazing blessing I have because of my willingness to be open. I have most likely cried into the arms of 20 of my closest friends.

3. It’s more fun: I love my job. I am incredibly emotionally invested in my job. When my students succeed, I cry. The students don’t even react anymore. They are used to it. I love them so much and I am bursting with such joy when they do amazing things, I just cry. The emotional rollercoaster is good for them (actually, I really don’t know, ask my friend Aimee, the Social Worker). Laughter is deeper and conversations are richer. Life is amazing out here.

4. You don’t have to spend your life wondering: I don’t have anything, not ONE thing, I could look back on in my life and wonder, “What if…?” What if I would have told him? What if she didn’t know how much I loved her? I take chances when many people would let fear of being hurt stop them.

I would rather live with the sting of rejection than the sinking feeling of never knowing what might have been.

As incredible as it is out here with my heart on the line, I would be a liar if I said there weren’t any negative implications to this life. It isn’t for everyone, and if you tend to live life a little more closed-off and guarded, I would not advise diving head first into this world I live.

As I get older and experience more in life, I am learning that there are times I need to retreat a bit. Contrary to my previous beliefs,  not everyone NEEDS to know everything about me all of the time.

While most people have to learn to open up and let people in, I am learning that I have to, in a sense, keep some people out.

I wouldn’t trade this way of life for anything, but living your life out in the open is so, incredibly risky. For me, the benefits outweigh the bad, but I know that some people just couldn’t handle the hurt that comes along with being so emotionally vulnerable.

I am essentially always vulnerable to rejection and being hurt. Whether it is someone not receiving your nice words at the grocery store the way you wanted them to, or someone not reciprocating the same feelings you have shared with them, there is incredible risk to the open life I live. The safe thing to do is not tell the stranger what an amazing haircut she has, or to keep your feelings to yourself. It’s so safe. No risk.

This blog is a risk. While I certainly censor the details and really personal information about my life on here, I do share my heart and my feelings with the entire world. 99% of my experiences with this have been the most amazing blessing of my life.

However, that other 1% is tough. I recently received a string of text messages attacking my blog, my character and my relationship with God from a person who knew me for less than a moon cycle. Although in my heart I know vengeful words say more about the person saying them then they do about me, it is still hurtful to not be liked and to be judged by someone who doesn’t truly have any idea who I am.

It’s hard when someone has a problem with me.

It bothers me when someone doesn’t agree with me.

It hurts when someone doesn’t feel the same way.

But, living out here in this world, you learn to bounce back quickly.

I never stay down for long. My heart is a little elastic rubber band. When it hurts, it hurts deeply for awhile. I feel it, I let it happen, and then I bounce back.

I am not saying that my way is the best way. In fact, it’s probably not. But I would encourage anyone who tends to live life closed off to open themselves up to trying parts of my world (Not all of my world; remember I have had 25 years of training being myself. The Surgeon General warns against immediate immersion into this lifestyle)

I love people. I love connecting with them and loving them and hurting with them and understanding them and walking alongside them. If I leave one legacy in this life, I want it to be about the way I love and how I put myself out there, unafraid.

The way I take the love Jesus has for me and turn it into love for other people. The love I am able to give doesn’t even come close to the perfect love given to me, but darn it if I don’t spend my whole life trying to imitate it.

Blessings, not chins

Jenna

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Chose this picture for this post because it shows me at my most raw, real self. Air dried hair, not a drop of makeup, in my dad’s baggy sweatshirt and forcing my nephew to watch the musical I wrote for him over and over. Jenna in all her glory.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finding Your Patience Instead of Losing It

I know some really patient people. I have a hard time understanding their kind. You beautiful, foreign creatures. You fascinate me with your superpowers.

Just about anything can and will annoy me. I am impatient, easily irritated and the littlest things can send me into a frenzy. (Don’t I sound lovely?)

I don’t like the way “thought” is spelled.

Annoying.

This tag is itching me.

Irritating.

This person is driving 3 miles under the speed limit.

Rage and fury.

It doesn’t take much to make me lose my patience and become annoyed. (By the grace of God alone (okay and obscene amounts of coffee), I thrive as an elementary school teacher).

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If I am not intentional about my reactions, annoyance and impatience would suck the joy out of my life. It is one of those nagging little emotions that can be triggered by the smallest thing, yet snowball into a huge release of emotions. (Road rage, anyone?)

I love people. However, one of the least favorite lessons I have learned in my life is that I am unable to control them, therefore, believe it or not, on occasion, people annoy me.

If I allowed everything that could potentially drive me nuts to actually drive me nuts, I would waste my life irritated and in a state of constant annoyance. I wish being patient and understanding came naturally to me, but it doesn’t so instead I intentionally have worked on being patient, especially with other people.

Here are some of those ways:

1. Benefit of the Doubt 

Giving someone the benefit of the doubt is a game-changer when it comes to dealing with people. I used to always think the worst in situations- my coffee tastes weird so Jill at Starbucks must have not even put an ounce of effort into it.

She probably just dumped in the ingredients without even looking. She probably saw me and wanted to make my day horrible by ruining my coffee.

Naturally, I tend to jump to worst-case scenarios, but when you give someone the benefit of the doubt, suddenly the situation doesn’t seem so bad. If my coffee was totally gross and I paid $4.00 for it, I am going to bring it back to Jill, but the difference would be my attitude.

If I taste my coffee and it’s gross, instead of assuming Jill hates me and wants me to die a slow, caffeinated death of misery, I can choose to think she really tried to make this a good cup of coffee, but something must have been wrong with the machine. Someone forgot to clean out the espresso pull, and that’s why grounds are in my drink.

Who cares if it’s true.

2. Think of what COULD be happening behind the story

Something I have done lately to take the edge off impatience is create stories for why people are behaving the way they are. Maybe this is childish, or naive, but I have found this takes the judgmental edge off me very quickly.

For example, I was grocery shopping awhile and an elderly man was taking forever looking at the bananas.

I mean, FOREVER. I treat grocery shopping like an olympic event timed for speed, so I cannot be bothered with this type of disturbance.

As I watched him move slowly towards the bananas, I felt myself begin to get annoyed.

But then I thought…

What if his wife recently passed away and this is the first time he has had to grocery shop by himself. What could he be feeling right now? Imagine what he is going through.

People have stories that we will never know. Maybe the person that cut you off just got horrible news about a family member in the hospital. There could be an emergency creating a situation where you are on hold for 35 minutes.

People still do annoying things without good reasons. But isn’t it worth it to feel empathy for other humans just in case? We never know what people are going through.

3. Remember all the annoying things you do

I refuse to shut the lids on things all the way. I think it’s pointless. I just set the lid of the peanut butter on it and don’t screw it tightly. It still closes and keeps it fresh, but limits the work I have to do next time I grab the jar.

Believe it or not, some people find it annoying when they pick up a jar by its lid (which they shouldn’t do anyways) and it falls to the ground open.

My roommate has to hear me baby talk my nephew via FaceTime every night at 8:30 while he plays in the bathtub.

I shake my legs so violently while watching movies, that the entire couch trembles and all my friends feel like they are in an earthquake simulator.

I am an annoying human being and I want people to extend grace to me. Therefore let’s extend grace to others by showing them patience and love.

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I break most things I tough. #staffroom

4. Keep it in perspective

In the scheme of things, is this worth it? Your show got recorded over. Will this really matter in a month? If you got a phone call that changed your life tomorrow, that totally rocked your world, would your mind even come close to being upset about the button that fell off your favorite sweater when your sister was wearing it? Is not making this green light worth this level of anger?

Putting things in perspective is the quickest way to come back down from the high horse of annoyance. What really matters? Focus on that.

5. Take care of yourself physically and spiritually

When I am rested, well-fed and have spent time with the Lord, I am SO much more likely to overflow grace and patience.

When I let the Lord fill me up with HIS grace and love, only then can I extend supernatural amounts of grace and love to other people. Even the difficult ones.

When I am starved spiritually, I find it impossible to be the person Jesus calls me to be. We are sinful and naturally selfish, so my first instincts are to become angry and impatient.

It will be awhile before I consider myself a patient person, however with these tips, I am at least able to fake it until it comes naturally (or supernaturally) 😉

 

Blessings not chins,

Jenna

When God Closes a Door, He Can Do More Than Open a Window.

I don’t particularly like the saying, “When God closes a door, He opens a window.”

As someone who has walked face-first into many of her own doors (both figuratively and literally), I find this line a little depressing.

Because my doors have been really pretty.

My doors have had some really awesome stuff behind them, just waiting for me to experience:

Leaving a job I already loved for an  ‘even better dream job’ 3 years ago

Marrying the person I thought should have been the right one

Being Captain of Safety Patrol in 5th grade

Playing college sports

Getting cast as ANYTHING in the Civic Theater’s production of “Annie” in 1999. (I still rehash that audition in my head. I totally blew it).

I decorated my doors and tested the waters…maybe putting one foot through, anxiously  tasting how it was going to feel when I was FINALLY able to pass through it.

I planned what I would do when I finally walked through the door. I stood at the doorsteps and looked as far into the future as I could, dreaming, planning, plotting, and organizing. (Can you tell I almost NEVER get ahead of myself?)

Since I like to do this thing where I plant one foot on the other side of a door even when God hasn’t told me to pass through yet, I do all I can do to make it harder for God to tell me that door is not for me. Sometimes I think I can trick God, like “Oh you accidentally thought I wasn’t going to get this job! Whoops! I have already started planning and buying things for my new classroom so looks like you got it wrong, Big Guy!”

He will thank me for all the laughs one day.

When God tries to gently close doors in my life, I do this adorable thing where I use my upper body and push back against Him and the door. I let Him know that I understand He is trying to close it, but He must not see that I have already planned my life on the other side of the door.

I know some faithful servants of God that trust Him enough to notice Him gently shutting a door, so they back up and walk away, although it hurts, their faith carries them to obedience.

With them, God is able to gently and gracefully close a door, ever so slowly, in a much less painful fashion. They are so tuned in and they are so faithful and trusting, they get clear out of the way for God to carefully close the door.

Yeah, not me.

If my upper body’s strength fails me, I have also been known to get down on the floor and put both feet on the door, and use every ounce of energy in my body to kick the door down so it isn’t closed all the way.

I will sacrifice a foot to keep my door ajar, just in case what God has for me instead isn’t going to be better.

So due to my stubborn pride, God has had to slam a few doors in my life.

And I can truly say looking back, while at the time I was angry and confused as to why the door had to SLAM shut in such a dramatic way, it was for my own good and my own protection. (Okay and maybe  because I was literally kicking and pounding on the door in a mild state of refusal when He tried to close it softly.)

Looking back, I see where He tried to gently coax me away from most of those doors. Warning signs. Red flags. Nudges in my gut.

But again, in my stubborn pride, I politely said, no thank you, I want this door.

So…

I got rejected for the job I thought I wanted more than anything.

I went through a painful breakup instead of an engagement.

I was chosen as Lieutenant of Safety Patrol and had to answer to the Captain, (Lindsay, you did a great job, no hard feelings).

I injured my throwing arm so badly junior year of high school, that I never pitched again.

I never even got a call back for Annie.

So when you tell me that when God shuts a door He opens a window, I find it depressing. 

When God turns our life around and doesn’t give us what we want, He is going to do a lot more than just open a measly window.

I think the issue with the window analogy has been my view of God.

I look longingly back at my own pretty door, dark mahogany with a beautiful brass doorknob and an adorable welcome mat, and then I see the window that I have set in my mind is God’s plan for me.

It’s covered in cobwebs and has dust all over it.

I try to open it but it has those frustrating locks that you can’t figure out which way to push the levers.

The glass is dirty and when I look down it’s a pile of branches and dead leaves.

When God closes doors in my life, that is how I see this hypothetical window.

Oh, how wrong I have it.

Did I really think that if God was going to close the doors that I built with my own hands, that His alternative would be me crawling through a dusty, dirty, tiny window?

Did I really doubt purpose in the pain?

When God closes a door, He can do so much more than open a window.

He can construct a beautiful alley covered in Spanish moss and gorgeous tiled floors.

He can blow the roof of of the little house in which you hold your dreams.

If only we trust Him.

If only we remember there is purpose in the pain of closed doors.

Sometimes we learn of the purpose on this side of heaven, and others we are left to trust only by faith that one day we will.

For me,

If I would have gotten that job 3 years ago, I would be missing some of the deepest friendships and greatest joys of my entire life at the job I stayed in.

If I would have walked through my own door in the relationship I thought I wanted, I would have spent my life in unnecessary turmoil and a state of constant anxiety.

My tenure as Lieutenant of Safety Patrol in 5th grade was riddled with parent complaints about me abusing my power and “taking my job too seriously”. Clearly, the position of being Captain would have been too dangerous for the tyrant that was 10 year old me.

Stress and anxiety almost got the best of me in college, let alone if I would have played college sports. I never could have handled the demands. God protected me.

As for the Annie audition, I still have no idea why I was not cast in this production. I was a natural talent and a perfect fit for one of the older orphans, so this one still confuses me. I hold on in faith that one day I will know.

I guess what I am trying to say is that, if I would have had a greater view of God during all of those moments of my life- some serious and some not, it would have changed so much.

Of course we grieve for the plans that we build that never come to fruition.

I have pounded on doors that God has closed in my life.

I have wept on their doorstep.

I have yanked and shook the doorknob violently, desperate for it to open.

So many times in my life, I have refused to turn around and walk away from the door and look at what I just knew would be a small, dusty window covered in cobwebs.

Blinded by the pain of the sound of a door slamming shut, I didn’t want to consider there could be something even more beautiful in another direction.

So if God has shut a door in your life lately, hang on. You can grieve it. You can pound on it if you want.

But then walk away.

It might feel like a dusty, dirty window at first as you crawl and blindly feel against the walls for support as you walk in the new and unknown.

I am not saying the path where He takes us will be without pain or without obstacles or without confusion, but I am saying that there is purpose.

 

But whether you find out on this side of heaven or not, there is SO much more than a rickety window for you.

Take comfort in what Paul wrote to the Ephesians in chapter 3:

‘ For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,  so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

 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, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.’

Blessings, not chins

Jenna