Monday, June 19, 2017


There is more to transitioning than meets the eye. In the past I just blazed through transitions, ignoring the red flags warning me to slow down. This time I’m trying not to do that. In the end transitions are exhausting mentally and drain me physically. There is a lot more going on than just adjusting to a time change, different foods, or driving laws.

There are many reasons for transitions being difficult, but they don’t have to be that way. All of these hurdles can become good things. One of the biggest hurdles to get through during transitions is renewing relationships. I used to have the mindset that I could just pick up wherever I left off with people, and to a certain degree that is true, but picking up exactly where you left off tends to undermine everything that happened while you both were apart. A lot has happened over the past year, and ignoring it can make relationships feel shallow and empty. I start to run away from people when I feel like things have become shallow, so it is important for me to create a platform with my friends and family to share what happened when I was gone. In a way we are starting over with a new relationship, recognizing that we are both different than when I left. The best way to grow relationships is not to ignore the obvious, but rather ask questions, listen to answers, enjoy sharing stories, and to start sharing new experiences together to rebuild memories.

Another hurdle that I struggle with is identity. Wherever we go, people see us in a certain way. It’s amazing how much identity can change from place to place, even though I don’t necessarily change. It is stressful to see yourself from other people’s perspectives, and it’s even harder to keep adjusting back and forth between place to place and from opinion to opinion. Sometimes it feels like I have no control over how people see me or potentially judge my actions and decisions. For this particular move, I came back to live with my parents, which I’m personally thrilled about. Even so there is still a different identity of me as a kid living with my family verses a young adult capable of living independently. It isn’t a problem, but it is a change and adjustment. Ultimately, I don’t change. I strive to build my identity in Christ and the Spirit's guidance, and beyond that I adjust to whatever He leads me to adjust to.

The biggest hurdle that I struggle with is adjusting back to culture. I won’t comment on cultural differences here, lest I offend people all over the globe, but I will say that I have lived in some pretty diverse cultural areas over the course of my life. I have seen extremes from both sides of the scale of cultural beliefs, and I tend to think the majority of the disagreements should not even matter. It is difficult to keep switching cultures, because what inevitably happens is the person who does keep switching cultures creates a culture of his own, recognizing that wherever you go, you’ll be different than the culture around you. It is a good change because I believe it makes me more balanced and grounded in my beliefs, which is one reason I think it is great for kids to travel. But it also makes it difficult for that person to build close relationships with people who only recognize their one culture. It feels almost impossible to explain my thoughts and actions on a lot of issues, because it boils down to what God has taught me from place to place, and culture to culture. It does make friendships much sweeter and stronger when you meet those who understand that type of growth and “third culture” feeling and recognize a different type of strength that only comes from a culturally diverse background.

I’m not complaining at all. I consider dealing with adjustments as a gift, and I’m so thankful for the person they have made me to be. It is good for me and others around me to start recognizing why I’m physically wiped out, or why I struggle getting back to where I was a year ago. It is also good to use the experience to grow my relationship with God, knowing that He has set all this up for a reason. It is also a perfect opportunity for a life reset, searching for new doors that God is opening for me that might not have been possible a year ago. It is all good; it is just a change.

Saturday, May 27, 2017


I’ve been busy thinking these last few days as I’m leaving Mexico about why God called me to Mexico. In the whole scale of things, it seems a little random. I had no doubt before I came that God was calling me here, and now I have no doubt that this trip was necessary for me to become the person that God is calling me to be.

One of the biggest reasons that I think God called me here was for my class. They would have grown and matured just fine without me, but apparently God wanted to use me in some way in their lives, and He has. I’m not sure how they will remember me years down the line, but I hope they remember how much they have grown this year and the things that they learned uniquely from getting to know me.

The other reason why I was called here was for my own growth. This class always had their own thoughts and comments, and those conversations turned into friendships that have sharpened me like Proverbs 27:17 refers to, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.”

The theme that God has continually been teaching me about this year has been grace and love. There have been chunks of my life that I have shied away from those concepts, not because I didn’t believe in them but rather because I did not understand them and was afraid I would misuse them.

For dress up day we dressed up like the characters
in the move "Inside Out". We had to add some extra
emotions since there were 8 kids!
It is hard for me to describe how much I have loved my students this year. There were many sleepless nights, nightmares, prayers, and conversations. When I think back over how much energy I willingly, purposefully poured into each one of my students to encourage growth and success, I start realizing how God loves us as our Teacher. He is not idly sitting on His thrown, haphazardly giving us life lessons, and then ready and waiting to fail us with each test in life. The Bible says that Jesus is praying for us. God sacrificed His Son in order to help us pass. The tests are open book tests with the Bible, and we get as many retakes as we need. I had never really thought about how important my success was to Jesus, or how much time and effort He willingly gives, until I felt that way about my own students.

Beyond love, this class was the perfect class for me to start understanding grace better. Not that I’m implying anything about their behavior, but I never once had a boring day with this group. Even scholastically, after teaching a thought multiple times in a row in different ways, I thought things like, “Why on earth are they not understanding this concept???” At that point I was faced with a decision. Do I get frustrated with their lack of understanding, throw my hands in the air, and say, “Time is up guys. You had your chance to understand this. Now you’ll just have to bring the book home tonight and figure it out on your own. Test is tomorrow whether you’re ready or not.” Or…do I throw my plans out the window and spend time where it needs to be spent and show grace by giving more and more opportunities to learn the subject.

Strict schedules, plans, and opinions have no room for grace. Before this year, I was all about strict schedules, plans, and opinions. People are all different, and sometimes we need to change ourselves in order to help someone else change. For this class, I had to sacrifice just about everything in order to really invest in them: my privacy, my time, my heart, my plans, my opinion, my phone number.

Grace is not a small thing. It isn’t just forgiving someone when asked. It is seeing faults, ugliness, and dirt in people and yet still choosing to love them, help them, and serve them. It is backing down when someone needs to win an argument, even if their argument is based on irrational, hormone-caused reasoning.

I have needed a lot of grace from God, and I still do. I have held a very legalistic mindset for years to the point where I thought things like, “God gives me grace because at least I’m working to fix my problems.” That is not Biblical at all, and it doesn’t make sense. The whole point of grace is to cover the things we don’t work on. Jesus did not come to die just for the hard worker types. He came and died for everyone, including the lazy, weak people too. As a teacher I can understand this better because I am SO proud of my students who thrived and worked so hard on succeeding and doing their best. But I equally loved, worked with, helped, reached out to, and prayed for the students who did not really want to work on anything that I wanted them to work on. They still passed. I love them and am so proud of their accomplishments that they did do, even though there were things they could have worked on harder.

This is why legalism doesn’t make sense to me. If someone is not working on some area of their life that should be worked on, avoiding them helps no one involved. Joining in with them helps no one involved either. Trying to beat them into submission also helps no one involved. The only thing that can make a difference is fully loving them, supporting them, talking honestly with them, praying for them, and being present to help them whenever they need it. I’m thankful that Jesus’ death covers our weakness. I’m thankful that He is my teacher and loves me. I’m thankful that His goal for me at the end of class (life) is to be close to Him and in love with Him and not perfection, because I would have already failed.

Am I happy to go home? Yes. I get so excited every time I think about being back in Maine, with forests, lakes, my car, and my family (and cat). Have I cried over leaving my kids here? Yes. There is nothing that makes me feel so lonely as saying goodbye to the people that have been the reason for life over the past school year. Part of my personal growth has been learning to put complete faith in God’s plan for my life, including becoming thankful for difficult goodbyes. I love whomever I’m with fully, which will make goodbyes hard no matter where I go.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Final Days

Los Delfines
 It has been so long since I’ve added an update! The end of the year has been a constant state of hectic, as most end of the school year events seem to be. One of the fun busy weekends consisted of two day-outings. The first outing was with my class. We went together to a nut tree farm called Los Delfines, or the Dolphins literally. They use the water that they water the nut trees with as a small water park, and then the water is pumped out to the trees. It is an excellent way to make money off of water 2 times over for a desert farm!

I find it hard to stay in teacher mode when swimming, fishing, fighting with water guns, and everything else that goes along with summer is available. I’m not sure who had more fun: the kids or me. I love being around water, and being able to spend it with my class made the day feel perfect!
Tio Albert's

The next day, I volunteered to “help” out with the 8th grade day outing, which was at another water park called Tio Albert’s. I put “help” in quotes because I’m not sure if they actually needed my help, but I was up for another fun day! It also was nice getting to know the 8th graders better, most of which are siblings of my students.

The next big event was a high school production of Pygmalion, the original play of My Fair Lady. I love plays, so I went twice: once to the dress rehearsal and then also the opening day production. I almost went again to the final showing because the high schoolers did such an amazing job!

A lot of our school subjects have been wrapping up in class, which has given me some free time to do more fun educational opportunities. On May 10th the entire school was encouraged to dress in purple or wear something purple to help raise awareness of perinatal strokes. One of the students in my class has a cousin who had a stroke while still in the womb, and so I had a blast going all out with purple and learning more about the condition. It was a wonderful learning experience for me as well as the class. Something else we’ve been doing is a mock trial case where each of my students has a role to play in a trial case against the wolf for murdering and eating two of the three little pigs. Our court trial will be this coming Tuesday, and I’m looking forward to seeing the verdict the jury comes up with after hearing from the lawyers and witnesses.

To end this post, I can now openly talk about a big event for our class last Friday. A mom of one of my students contacted me a while back, and together we planned a huge surprise birthday party! I am thrilled with how it turned out! I came up with a partially true reason for students to come to my apartment for lunch on Friday, and thankfully the student in question did not suspect it was for her, though I'm sure she thought I was being very weird. Upon arrival she met with a big crowd of us, including her sweet mom, and we all began screaming, singing, clapping…. For the final party together with my class, I could not have asked for a more fun time. We played pin the horn on the unicorn, took tons of pictures in our “photo booth”, and then ended with a pop your balloon war and soccer.

I will be home in a week! I’m finding it hard to forget too, as my body is in panic mode. Weight gain, skin breakouts, and random bumps on the palms of my hands are just a few of the stress signs coming out, but I know it is just a sign of the times! I am familiar enough with moving now to start seeing recurring patterns caused by stress. One of the big things stressing me out is saying good-bye to my students. That is one reason why I am so thankful for these last few busy, but fun weeks together. I will never be able to forget this class. I will be praying for them as they figure out how to tame their wild leadership skills and grow and mature throughout junior high and high school. I love them with all my heart!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017


Last week I was able to travel up to California to visit a long time friend during spring break here at school. It was such an amazing trip, and I’m just so thankful that I got to go.

Most of the week was spent in a some small towns a few hours outside of LA: Newberry, Barstow, and Apple Valley. It seemed to be even more of a desert than Chihuahua, yet it had a lot of similarities to where I am now, just without the city feeling. My friend is an occupational therapist, so during her work hours I got to explore the area a little on my own, but the real reason I was there was to spend time with her and catch up, so that was the best part.

The day before I flew back home, we got to go to Disneyland! I never plan these things too well, yet the day could not have been better. Our tiny group was perfect for that day.

Building relationships is always worth it. Pouring time, effort, love, money, and faith into other people always has some type of benefit.

Something that I have been meditating on and trying to learn more about is God’s grace. I still have a lot of meditating left on the subject, and I mostly see a need in myself to grow more in grace. Relationships are one of the best ways to better understand the ways God offers us grace daily.

In I Peter 4:8-11 Peter is talking about how we should be acting as believers in God’s grace, and it ends with:

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Building relationships doesn’t always come easy to me. I struggle to answer text messages. I’m not always able to answer the phone because I psych myself out, and returning calls has to happen after my heart pace has returned to normal. Multiple times I’ve had to ask random people to push the send button for my emails, because I physically struggle forcing myself to push send. I have a horrible habit of double booking engagements, which stresses me out so much I feel like I should cancel BOTH of the original appointments rather than more logically rescheduling one. Really my favorite part of relationships is physically being together and spending stress free time with people, and I love going out of my way in those moments to try to love my friends. Though I realize, relationships require more work than whatever my favorite part happens to be.

But none of that matters, because the most important part of relationships is to glorify God, which we do by serving others with whatever gifts God gave us. I think relationships require so much grace and patience on purpose in order to glorify God by ultimately growing our relationships with Him.

In the end, I am so thankful for how many friends God has placed in my life. They have shown me more patience and love than I could possibly share or deserve, and after trips like these I feel extraordinarily blessed by God for the people He’s placed in my life that have faithfully tried to help me grow closer to Him.

Sunday, April 9, 2017


2 Corinthians 4:7
But we have this treasure [light of the Gospel]in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.

I am an introvert. That doesn’t mean I don’t like talking or being around people. I love socializing, as long as my social battery is fully charged. Being introverted means I just need some serious recharge time to be able to live a consistent life of ministry without locking myself away for a few months here and there in my room.

As I get older, I’m finding it important to know and understand myself and know when I need time to recharge. My current problem is, what if the things that recharge you are unavailable? What then?

A few things that usually help me recharge/be able to continue through life healthily and socially are music, swimming (or anything with water), forests/nature, listening to audio Bible, being involved in church ministry, and my cat. The ULTIMATE recharge time for me is talking with my family. A few days spent away from the world and with my family will leave me recharged for a week or two.

Here in Chihuahua, I’m finding I get burnt out really quick, and staying charged and ready to socialize and minister is not always an option for me. The only things from the list I listed above that I have down here are music and audio Bible, but I’m starting to notice that listening to audio 24/7 (which currently is how I survive each day) is not recharging me fast enough or completely enough to be able to function on a level that would be most glorifying to God.

Pushing through doesn’t always work. The past few months, I’ve had the thought process of, “Oh well. There are no lakes or oceans here. There are no forests here. Your cat has forgotten you. Getting involved in a church is a non-option without fluent Spanish and a car. Your family is over 3,000 miles away. Get over it and push through.” Running on a low battery non-stop is starting to look a lot like consistently awkward conversations, running away from people that are extremely kind, rashes breaking out all over my body, requiring a ridiculous amount of sleep every day, disappearing in my room every weekend, annoying my students with music playing constantly throughout each day in class, and unable to carry a solid conversation with the Lord beyond just asking for help for everything and anything.

The Lord has definitely been helping me. Every day that I have a good conversation with someone outside my apartment or actually teach something somewhat valuable in my classroom, I know that is the Lord’s strength shining through my weakness, because my own strength is shot at the moment. I also have become so close with my roommate, and a huge part of my happiness here has been because she feels like family and talks and listens to me just like my family back home usually does. She is a gift from the Lord!

All that to say, the Lord called me here for a reason. This trip is one of my personal pinnacles of growth in my relationship with the Lord. It has required complete dependence on God’s grace, which I’m not even sure if I understood at all before this trip. It has pushed me into craving a better relationship with the Lord to just help me survive in an atmosphere so opposite to my comfort zone. As my time here is starting to wrap up, it is hard to see the reasons or even the complete impact that it has had on me, but the Lord is sustaining me! In the future, I may pray a little more fervently to be called somewhere where I can be more charged and comfortable in order to be able to put all my energy and ability into serving the Lord. I have loved being here, and I will cry like a little baby when I have to say goodbye to my roommate and my students. But even so, it is hard at times to see past my weaknesses as an overeducated, awkward introvert. Thankfully, God can use anyone!

2 Corinthians 4:15-18
For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.
For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,
as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.