One Year Ago Today.

I guess you can already figure out what this blog post is about.

Well, no trickery here! You’ve guessed correctly.

I suppose the alternate title for this post could be: Isn’t It Amazing How Much One Year Can Bring?

Reading through my journal the other day, I decided to take a trip down memory lane and breeze through previous entries. Confession: I am not a very consistent writer. There are definitely seasons where I have written something down in my journal almost every day. Granted, what I write is not Pulitzer-prize worthy and many times resembles more of a to-do list. And then you see the months-long hiatus where long stretches of time have been forgotten just like that one random sock left without its pair jammed tightly in the corner of a drawer.

Well, I am VERY thankful I had at least captured part of our world this time last year.

We’re going to play a little comparison game of then-and-now! Where, again, you’ve guessed correctly, we’ll be doing exactly that. I told you, no shockers or twists here.

Then: 

Brandon was working at small financial office in California. I was in my second year of teaching Elementary Spanish and Science at a private Christian School.

Now: 

We are working together! Brandon primarily teaches the 11th and 12th graders some pretty awesome Economics, Business Math and Bible! I literally spend my whole day with the middle schoolers teaching Social Studies, Science, English (last semester) and Bible.

Then: 

We were taking grad classes a couple of nights every week, working at coffee shops on weekends, and counting down the days until we graduated!

Now:

While the grad classes are DONE, the lesson planning is our constant companion on Sundays. While we spent a lot of our time after school last semester getting unit plans and paperwork completed for our accreditation this year, we are DONE with that as of this week (CELEBRATE) and are looking forward to more “normal” things during the week nights and weekends.

A funny reality is that since we got married 2 1/2 years ago, we have been involved in something (grad classes, lesson planning or accreditation), which had taken a good chunk of our free time. As a result, this is the first time we have a life not bound by papers, deadlines, and/or unit plans! We don’t know what to do with ourselves. Seriously.

Some things we have found to invest our newly-found time in:

  • Weekly Spanish tutoring with an awesome lady from our church.  Our Saturdays are Spanish-filled from 9-12.
  • Card games. We are currently loving: Nerts, Big 2, Gin. Brandon refuses to play now because I am winning.
  • The usual board games. We’ve even started a board game club every Tuesday with some high school students. We. Are. So. Cool.
  • Cooking!
  • Leisure reading. What?! Yes.
  • Mario Party. I’m awful. I get so frustrated. I want to throw the controller. But, it’s fun. Except Brandon always wins.
  • Spending intentional time with people in our community (inside and outside of the school)
    •  This has been our FAVORITE. To finally have time to pour into relationships. We have high hopes for this, and want to continue being available and intentional.

Then:

We attended an awesome church and were blessed to be a part of their worship team.

Now:

We attend a great (Spanish-speaking) church here! Still involved in the worship team, but, are building up our repertoire of songs in Spanish.

Then:

So much of our “future plans” were big question marks. While at this time last year, we had just officially accepted the teaching positions here in Venezuela for the fall, we didn’t know much/any of the logistics other than the arrival date. We knew a number of classes we could be teaching, didn’t know where we would live, and protests had just rocked the nation this time last year.

I remember having this dread, seeing the place we would be moving to in all the major news headlines. BBC. CNN. All of the 3-letter news outlets. When looking up “Caracas, Venezuela” on Google, seriously, only bad news would pop up. All I could think about this time last year was, “Did we make a mistake?” And sadly, the “Do we really have to go?” kept running silently in the back of my mind as a result of so many unknowns.

Why is it that the second something isn’t “nice” or “comfortable” our initial response is to back out?

I remember calling my parents and just spilling out all of these fears and emotions. In the midst of my mini-panic of whether we made the right, safe, responsible decision, my Dad’s wise response, just like always, was life-changing: In us going, what prayers are being answered? Not in any way am I saying I, Sallie Kae Burroughs am the answer to prayer. It could be absolutely anyone else. But, our hearts were tugged in this direction for a reason, and to not respond because of insecurity would be to ignore God’s plan for us. Recognizing that we were part of God’s bigger, grander plan in this area (school, community, church), and that we could actually fill a role, no matter how practical and small it could be, was like a rush (ok, I’ll be honest, a gentle breeze) of calm to my ever-ready-to-be-anxious heart. Our actions go far beyond just affecting us. They also affect (either positively or negatively) those in the place you are being prepared to go. It doesn’t end with us.

Looking back to my journal entry on February 16th, 2014 (I know, I know, that’s technically tomorrow, but, whatever), I was going through a random Joyce Meyer devotional that sparked this:

Joshua 1:9 – Have not I commanded you? Be strong, vigorous, and very courageous. Be not afraid, neither be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go”. 

“While we may take steps of faith to make progress in life, there is no guarantee that we will not experience opposition, hardship, or suffering. But we do have God’s guarantee that He will ALWAYS be with us, and that is truly all we need.”

Now:

Something that so impacted me then and is still a nugget of truth today, is that: We don’t need to know what God is going to do, how He is going to do it, or when He is going to do it. We only need to know He is with us” (thank you, Joyce Meyer). 

While things here are still rocky at times, and the water has been off for a week, inflation is crazy, and there are lines outside of the grocery stores for basic food staples that I haven’t seen in months, God is with us. He has constantly and IS constantly providing. I don’t want you to read this thinking that we are living barely scrapping by. We are totally and 100% ok. But, there is definitely a sense of hopelessness among the people, and there is still a huge question mark as to what will happen here in the days, weeks, months, and years to come.

I still struggle with wanting to know. Know what will happen, in all arenas. Who will come to teach at the school next year as some teachers are not coming back because their contracts have ended or their paths are going elsewhere? Who will be our community this time next year? How will our church be when our pastor and his family go on their sabbatical in the States for the next year? What will happen to this country full of hard-working individuals who have seen and gone through so much without any guarantees or security? Gosh, I want to know so much.

However, we are not guaranteed that knowledge now, and sometimes ever. Looking back over the past year has answered so many questions that I was wrestling with this time last year. But, thankfully, do we really have to know all the details in order to be obedient? To still be a light? To still not grow weary doing good?

There is A LOT more that I could write about. Random updates and thoughts, events, and conversations from the past month. And, if I’m feeling ambitious during Carnaval (Venezuelan holiday) the next two days, I will post some other updates. However, the purpose of this post was to encourage. To reflect. And to prove that God is in the midst of all the question marks.

Looking back to see how God is working is a holy act, I think. He is faithful in providing the people, places, and conversations to show us His sovereign plan.

Are you feeling unsure about so many things in your life right now? Are you deeply desiring just one answer? Big or small? Aren’t we all?

I urge you to stop the rapid-fire mental questioning and anxiety that is so exhausting. I urge you to look back over the past year and really see where you were and how things are different now.

God is constantly at work in us and in our lives. And while we may not have the answers we want or desire, we constantly have his sweet and life-changing guarantee that He is with us. And that is enough.

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