Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Don't dare God... He might just deliver!

If you read my previous blog post then you are aware that I have been searching for a new professional opportunity for nearly eleven months. They have been trying months and learning months... they have been desperate months and searching months. But... they are over. I have come to the end of that valley of life and am humbled at God's promise in it all... it's a great story I want to share. 

When my job situation changed last fall I was slightly at a loss. I knew what I wanted to do and pursued those aspirations... but interviews came and went to no avail. Influences and resources in my life kept pointing me to teaching and I was running as far as possible. A lot of folks don't know that I actually have a Masters in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages). During grad school I decided to pursue Student Affairs and Higher Ed rather than teaching... and I'll forever be grateful for that decision because of the wonderful people I have met along the way (Seriously... some of you Samford coworkers and kids... my life would be so different without having known you!). However, as I journeyed on this valley of job searching, surrounded by a school full of amazing teachers (OGLE IS the place to be!), I found the influence of teaching to abound... people kept asking me what I taught, then why didn't I teach, etc... people from all aspects of my life! So much so, that I began to pray about it... because the truth is, even though I have that degree, I've never really wanted to be a teacher. Not even a little bit, not even at all. I couldn't ignore those influences though... so I looked into what I would have to do to get certified, I looked into different options, and in the mean time I was scared. Scared of what I didn't know... of a field I had no experience in (with the exception of some volunteer work). I continued to pursue only jobs that were within my interest, and I realized at some point in time along the way I was a bit like Jonah... 

So one day many many months ago, during what I like to call one of my 'chats' with God, I told God (paraphrasing here)... "Okay Lord, if you really want me to be a teacher then I'll do it... but I want to teach college students and I don't want to have to move." I specifically mentioned in that prayer the English Language Institute at USM... an incredibly specific prayer that I figured wasn't likely to happen since there were no job openings that I was aware of at the time... but in May the ELI posted a job, and I applied. (Also note - this request was between me and God, I didn't share with anyone else).

Fast forward to last week... I was in a mood... Wednesday was a bad day. I was deep dark in that valley of not feeling adequate and capable since it seemed no one would hire me for a job. I'm not even sure what got me to that breaking point... but as I prayed on Wednesday night I literally lifted my hands up to God and said "I'm handing you the reigns to this search Lord"... the things I was pursuing were not working. Those doors were shutting, and I felt like I was hitting my head against a wall until I realized that no matter how much I had prayed and prayed and PRAYED about this situation... I had not fully given it to the Lord. I was a bit like Jonah... trying to do my own thing and the results were getting me nowhere!! (Thankfully they weren't getting me into the belly of a whale!). So I prayed and cried and finally gave it up... finally relinquished the control of my professional future. It was scary, but I was relieved. 

Not even kidding, I received two offers for interviews on Thursday. Literally HOURS after I gave control of my situation back to God. Both were jobs I was very interested in, one was in Student Affairs and one was a teaching job... at the English Language Institute at the University of Southern Mississippi. 

(Y'all pick your jaws up off the floor... I know I had to!)

I spent the weekend researching teaching methods and reading scholarly articles like I had not done since grad school. Did I mention earlier that teaching scared me... cause it did! So much responsibility, so much paperwork, so many methods!! But once again, God gave me some shut up juice... thanks to my pastor Blake McCain and a sermon on "A Satisfied Soul" from Psalm 63. I was sitting in church listening to his words from God's Word about seeking, praising, meditating and TRUSTING (hello!!) the Lord in order to be satisfied. The whole time I'm thinking of this interview on Monday afternoon and my fear of teaching, and then he put the following verse on the screen: 

"Do not fear or be dismayed; 
tomorrow go out against them, 
for the Lord is with you."
(2 Chronicles 20:17)

Y'all... the verse says tomorrow... the interview was TOMORROW!!!

I mean it's like Jesus was standing there handing me that cup (of previously mentioned shut up juice) and saying "Here you go Kace... drink. it. up."

So... I listen... and I prepare... and I show up. We talked for about an hour and a half, and the offered me the job on the spot. The teaching job... that very specific one I said would be the ONLY one I would take. 

Y'all... (anyone else shaking their head here... I am!)

It has been a whirlwind the past 24 hours... but I accepted the job and as of August 1st will be and ELI Educator at USM. I went and observed classes today, and during four classes interacted with students from ten different countries. The other staff members are so nice and welcoming and now, instead of being afraid of teaching... I'm excited! 

I am, however, sad to be leaving OGLE. I said in my letter to my Dr. Brumfield and Mr. Thomas, "As you know I never planned to be at OGLE, but it is hands down the best detour I've ever had in life." That statement could not be more true... and I'm so thankful to all you wonderful people for taking me in and walking with me in this valley... even though you might not have known about it. Y'all are amazing wonderful people and LCSD is so lucky to have great people like you... OGLE is a gem... and you all make it shine brighter. 

There are lots of lessons that I have learned, and I certainly hope you might glean one for yourself in all this... I thought I had given this situation to God months ago... but obviously I had not fully given it up to Him. If you are struggling through something... humble yourself and admit you need His help. And of course... don't dare God, because He might just deliver! 

Love y'all, 

Friday, July 7, 2017

A vulnerable note...

I just found a note I wrote to myself earlier this spring... and as I read it today I sit here in a much peaceful place. I want to share that note, written from a sad space, but I also want to explain the reason for it: 

In August of 2016 life was grand... then one day, due to no fault of my own or anyone in my district, I lost my job. It's hard to find out that your financial safety net is gone due to the mistakes of those on a more superior (state) level, and you can do nothing to fix it. 

The next day I started a new job, in a place I have come to love with people who are amazing. Over the past (almost) eleven months I have learned a lot from the Admin, teachers, tutors, staff members, and even the kids I work with. My goodness the kids... on the days I was really discouraged those little voices, those little hugs made it a lot better. But that change was intense financially. I took a $2100 per month pay cut. I have had to drastically change my spending habits (essentially gas and groceries only), and to be candid I would not have survived financially without the help of my mother. It has been a humbling, embarassing, vulnerable and enlightening experience. There have been a lot of days that I have felt as useless and insignificant as possible. Finances have always been my biggest concern... and this situation just multiplied that problem, exponentially. 

Since August I have applied for a lot of jobs, and though I have had some great interviews and met some nice people, every door has been shut, some have been slammed. It has been discouraging to say the least to spend eight hours in an interview only to find out you are the second choice (what's that old saying, "Second place is the First loser"... that's what it felt like) for a job that you really wanted. But I continue to pursue opportunities for my future... and I'm thankful that God has had the patience with me throughout this process that I have not always had with him. 

So here is my note I wrote on March 29...

I wish I knew the lesson I still need to learn. For that must be why I've once again entered a valley... 
A valley where I feel like I'm not enough. Second choice. A valley which is an all too familiar place, and one to which I would prefer never to return. For the valleys... they are the places where the devil attempts to steal my joy. I will be honest in saying I question my ability and God's motives. But my Joy... it is not a thing to be taken. My Joy - though sometmies it seems like a small flame, it will always be burning. 
My Joy does not come from me - it was a gift received on the day of my Salvation. It's a gift that always allows me to see the glass half full or the bright side. My Joy is what sets me apart in the valley - maybe that makes me an easier target, but if so... my God is the creator of the arrow, the wind, and the laws of physics.
My God knows my abilities when I doubt them all. 
My God knows my heart - the sad frustrated thing it may currently be... but He created it, and only He can fix it. 
Why do I doubt?Why do I feel insignificant? Why do I feel unwanted?Why do I feel like I'm never going to get out of this valley when I know He has brought me thru them before?...
Because I'm human. Because we're fallen, and because I feel the need/desire to control my situation... remember the words of your daddy, Kacey... " that He is in control, and if I cooperate, life will be better."
I want to cooperate Lord. Give me the desire for Your will and show me how. 

Wow... that was a bad place. But thankfully, I'm not there today. I have been since then... and I could be there tomorrow... but today I'm not. A few nights ago, while in that place I talked to God for a while... I held out the reigns to this situation and gave them to Him. I came to the conclusion that trying to control this situation was obviously not working... therefore why continue making the same mistakes with the same results... I can't hire myself for a job, I can only put myself out there and pursue endeavors I am qualified to pursue. Some might be easy, others (one in particular) are slightly scary... but if He is in control of it, then He will guide the decision... at least I am praying and trusting that He will. 

There are doors opening, as they have before... these may close, I don't know... but I am going to pursue them as He makes them available. 

Love Y'all,