So Easy to Forget..

For over a year I have prayed every day for a job. My contract ended June 2016 and I needed a new one. I watched as we neared the summer, telling myself that maybe more schools would hire in June. I talked myself down during July and told myself that there were always last minute hires.. maybe in August. I braced myself to face September.. my first September in a looong time where I didn’t have a contract. I comforted myself with the idea that “anything could happen” and a mid year hire was possible. I scoured job sites, explored fields other than education, and prayed every day.

God didn’t answer my prayer immediately. He didn’t answer it the way I thought he should answer it last Spring but he did have a plan and while I’m sure I don’t understand all of it, I see now that he had some work to do in me.
So the past year was trying and difficult and humbling and frightening. Every month I had bills to pay and spent a lot of time talking to God about my bank account. I had never been in that position before… needing to pray for literal daily bread. (well not totally literal.. bread is bad) But I had specific financial needs that I needed help with. And God provided! It was amazing!
Since I didn’t have a busy full-time job (I was supply teaching) I had lots of time to read. I read a lot. My morning time with God was no longer rushed and that was a good thing. I noticed my prayer life was changing too. While a year ago I was a bit more demanding about the kind of job I wanted and the particular school I was hoping for, my prayers changed to asking him to put me where he needed me and where he could use me. My heart was changing and shifting and my relationship was deepening. I moved from praying for the ability to trust him, to actually trusting him.
And now things have changed. I have a job. It came just in time and so far it seems like a great fit for the next year.
I am excited about the future and I am so happy to be working again. I am also determined not to forget all that God has done for me. I don’t want to wander slightly because things are good at the moment. I don’t want to forget the moments that I nervously checked my bank account to see if I had enough to pay a bill and found that the money was there! I feel protective of this past year because it was the year I experienced him in a totally different way. So I’m writing things down so I don’t forget about that time that God took care of me and showed me amazing kindness and love when I needed it most.

In which I ramble for quite a while about nothing too significant…

And it’s already mid November! Life has been super busy and continues to be so but I’m in the groove and just accepting that “this is what I do” or maybe this is just what real life is like. I used to give my parents a hard time for falling asleep during Friday night movies but now– I can barely make it through a 40 minute tv show! Yep, wild times around here!

So what do you do when you are stressed and just want to zone out? One of my favourite things to do is to go to Loft. It’s a gigantic store with floors and floors of things that I definitely don’t need but want. My favourite place is the ground floor where they have all the stationary. Pens, markers, stickers, notebooks, journals, notepaper… I went recently and so I’m all stocked up on the stationary front, in case you were wondering.

I’m heading to Singapore with some students on Monday morning. It will be really nice to be in a hot climate again and I am looking forward to the change of scenery. This is my fourth time leading this trip so I pretty much know what to expect. Long days and longer (but fun) nights. We’re taking more students this year so it may involve a little more micro managing than last year but it’s all good.

I’ve been thinking quite a bit about my job these days. I really have taken on too many things and am starting to feel like I’m not doing anything all that well. Sure, the things get done to an acceptable standard but I don’t feel like I’m doing anything with excellence. So I need to shift some things around and figure out what my main priorities are. I don’t want to be a person who can do a lot of things “okay”, I want to do a few things brilliantly.

Did I tell you I joined a gym? I did. Again. Sheesh! But this one is cheap for Japan, has a few cardio machines and lots of weights and is open 24 hours. In an ideal world I go running 3-4 mornings a week and hit the gym the other days. I am still working on this. I have been enjoying the whole weight lifting thing and they tell me that it’s really good for me so I’ll keep at it.

Lastly, I’m really trying to sleep better and cut back on my screen time so I invested in a real alarm clock. I’m trying not to take my phone to bed with me but sometimes it just sneaks into my bedroom. I am shocked by my dependence on that silly thing and probably need to do a social media fast again.

A “New” Approach

 “You’re driving me so bonkers…I’m going to pray for you!”

I was speaking with a friend/colleague the other day about how the students are starting to drive us a little mental. (We really really need a holiday!) She was talking about how she’s been increasingly short tempered and blunt with them. We were voicing our frustrations and discussing how it’s really not fun to be the cranky and crabby teacher. Suddenly I found myself telling her to pray for them by name and to pray for help to love them. I recalled something from years ago, how when I worked in Indonesia a teacher had shared about how she’d sit on her student’s desks in the mornings and say quick prayers for them before they had even shown up to school.

I remembered how I used to pray every day for a particularly horrible girl I went to high school with. I remember noticing how on the days I prayed for her, she was nicer to me.
I remembered how God answered those very specific prayers.
The act of praying for someone irritating is difficult but effective. Whether it’s just to pray that God would give you enough love to love them properly or whether you’re at the point where you can take it a step further and pray for God to bless them.. using prayer to deal with people is freeing. It’s such a simple solution yet we often are scrambling for other more complicated, less obvious ways to deal with our problem people.
The Bible instructs us to pray for our enemies. Not only should we pray for them but we should pray that they will be blessed. Yikes! It’s amazing how praying those kind of prayers immediately starts to change our own hearts. You can’t have a heart filled with anger and frustration and ask God to heap blessings on someone horrible… it just doesn’t seem to work. Little by little our hearts start to change and soften.
I have realized that I have been very slack in terms of praying for specific people. Yes I have the regular people I pray for, family, friends, certain requests for prayer I’ve received but when it comes to praying for specific students and colleagues etc, I have fallen miserably short.
And so I will resolve to pray more for those the Lord places in my path. I will pray for those students who irk me but also the ones who I think are fantastic. I will pray for the colleagues who are my friends and the ones who drive me a bit batty. I will work to be in a constant state of prayer so that my words and actions can do nothing but reflect His Son.
This will be my goal, my new approach to living life and praying, my new way of looking at and praying for the world around me.
Wanna join me in this?

A Week Away-ish

nagano I spent this past week with about 40 Grade 7 girls skiing in Nagano. It was a blast.. most of the time! I’m not the world’s greatest skier so I end up joining the classes with the girls. It’s lots of fun seeing them in a different context and being able to hang out with them as something other than their teacher. It’s interesting too seeing them in their social groups, away from the confines of school.

It’s a pretty great trip to chaperone as we get to ski all day and at night the girls are too tired to be much of a problem. I loved being able to spend lots of time out in the fresh air. Japan has some really beautiful mountains and being out of Tokyo was a treat.

Now I’m back and gearing up to take this week by storm. I’m actually quite happy because I feel like I can actually get back to being a teacher again. It’s been so busy since we’ve been back that I feel like I’ve just been running from one thing to the next. With reports and assessments and meetings and getting things ready for being away.. I have just been scrambling. Now that’s all done and I can focus solely on teaching again.

I’m also happy to get back to my regular fitness routine. While skiing does burn mad amounts of calories, the food at this place was… well very carby. For example, a buffet consisting of spaghetti, fried chicken, french fries, curry & rice, deep fried calamari, bread and miso soup. Where were the vegetables at? When I got home the first thing I did was make a giant frozen berries and spinach smoothie! Anyway I’m glad to be back to my regular eating too.

I did my long run this morning and not running for 4 days didn’t seem to set me back at all so we’re right on schedule. Anyway this is all very dull so I think I’ll end here!