My Pants are Starting to Fit Again

2 more days. 2 more days, and I am done with what has been one of the longest semesters of my life. I am exhausted and contemplative. I am skinnier than I was in January. I am hopefully a little wiser. I am more reflective. I show my emotions a little less. I am still a procrastinator. 

Student teaching has been a…good experience. I am thankful for the relationships I built with my students. I am thankful for the way that I have been stretched more than I thought that I could be. I am thankful for the way that I love the Lord more than I did at the beginning of the experience. I am thankful for a man that cares about me even when I am ridiculously stressed over lesson plans. 

As events in my life normally go, I am fairly certain that I will be processing this experience for a while to come, reflecting and figuring out all that I have learned. I am ready to plug back into friendships, and to figure out a little more clearly what the next year of my life is going to look like. Thanks to those who have been so incredibly supportive throughout all of this. Half a research paper to write and a bunch of tests to grade and I am done. 

Talk to y’all on the other side of Friday. Zaijian. 

A New Normal

It’s almost midnight and I am blogging…that can only mean a few things. Those things being that 1. I have gotten a second wind from the Venti Iced Coffee with Vanilla and Cream that my amazing younger sister brought me. 2. That my boyfriend has been cheering me on for my observation tomorrow 3. That I have an observation tomorrow that I am feeling nervous about 4. That I am student teaching and constantly adjusting to a new normal.

As I sit here in my “new” home that is a whole lot closer to school, I at times question my sanity but am thankful that I have had an amazing support system this semester backing me up in student teaching. It’s been tough in many ways. For someone who loves words of affirmation, apparently when I hear constant feedback(positive and negative) it really starts to wear on me. I internalize so much of it which I am trying to work on throughout this experience. I have never felt more nervous about anything in my life and often have to pray as I walk down the halls to calm my anxiety, I am constantly surrendering lessons and my moments to Jesus. Which is a sweet reminder of his grace and my need for dependency on him in EVERYTHING. 

Is student teaching what I thought it would be? I would have to say absolutely not. Some times I even wonder what my expectations going into it were. As someone who had thought she had stood out in her classes, I very rarely feel like that has served me well this semester. But in the midst of that, I feel like I am finding myself as an educator. I have discovered some things that I am passionate about and am able to reflect(something I learned how to do well at UMW and has been put into practice quite often) and then readjust. Teaching is a daily adventure and I am excited that I have embarked on this journey, even if it has brought a new level of nerves into my life(or maybe that is just the coffee belly acting up). I do enjoy it and I love my students and my content. History is something that I have become even more passionate about and making connections for my students in History brings me so much joy on a daily basis. 

So if you haven’t seen or heard from me this semester know that it is not because I don’t care about you or don’t want to spend time with you. My life has just changed dramatically and daily I am learning to deal with this new normal. Thanks as always for reading. Zaijian. 

Reflections at the Beginning of my 26th Year

Once again I have missed a couple of Wednesdays and since I should be working on my lecture for tomorrow I figured it would be a good time to blog(sounds pretty typical, right?). As I realized and caught up on my actual journal on Monday with 15 pages filled, I realized I have also been neglecting my blog recently. I have been overcome with emotions in many ways(good emotions) and with a new relationship I have spending a lot of my time that I could be writing on here being intentional with Dam and writing to him as opposed to writing on here.

This week we had 3 snow days(no idea what will happen with school tomorrow but hopefully we will be there). And as I have told many people, I used to enjoy the snow. I used to long for frosted trees and hours of playing in the snow with my siblings. But honestly this winter I am a little tired of it. It is not to the point that I hate snow like I hate rain(which I am working on as well), but it has sapped up a lot of my momentum and I don’t appreciate it. I always wanted snow on my birthday, but last week I was thankful that my birthday was one of the few days that we didn’t have snow.

So now for some reflections at the beginning of 26.

First off, I have realized how much I appreciate quality time. I have always claimed to be a Words of Affirmation kind of person but have recently come to understand how much I crave quality time with those I care about. I guess I could have come to this epiphany sooner when I know that I love to spend time on the phone or in person catching up with friends.

Secondly, there will be people in your life that you will want to be more intentional with than others. I hate to say at times that I prioritize relationships but I think it is important to come to the place in your life when you can prioritize. I have friends from different periods in my life that the Lord has blessed me with in community and the reality is that there are some friends that will stick with you through all seasons, and there are others that will only be with you for a season. I am thankful for the people that the Lord has brought into my life in both spheres.

Thirdly, getting older isn’t scary at all and I am actually really enjoying my mid-twenties(almost late twenties) more than I ever thought that I would. Now this is coming from the girl who had an utter meltdown when she turned twenty and whom has been insecure about the fact that I am going gray early. But honestly I am loving this time of life, college was a blast and there are times when I long for my days in Blacksburg, China was awesome and I wouldn’t trade the adventures and experiences I had there during my early twenties, but being in this in-between, transitional phase of life is no longer scary-it’s just been fun.

Finally, I am learning to embrace the unexpected and more excited for adventures than I ever have been before. Be it a new relationship, a new restaurant, a road not yet traveled, or a group of people. My structured, routine self is finding once again how great adventure can be, especially when shared with those you care about!

It’s been a great start to this year and I am so looking forward to where the Lord takes me this year, there are a lot of unknowns but I am embracing them and trusting the Lord to guide my steps. Enjoy your Wednesday and thanks for reading. Zaijian.

Still not a fan.

Last year I wrote quite the hateful Valentines Day Blog. I reread it, and I am really not sure why I wrote what I did. Honestly I am still not a fan of Valentine’s Day-really it is the commercialistic qualities that get to me. The massive snow storm this year has overshadowed this romantic day and most people are coming up with creative ideas to celebrate anyway.

This year I am going to try and take the high road and write about some things that I love as opposed to sitting here stewing about the fact that it is February 14. Once again I need to reiterate that I do not not like Valentine’s Day because I don’t have a Valentine, I don’t like Valentines Day because if I had someone who I would want to call my valentine, I would hope that they would display their affections all the time(and not just on February 14).

So without further ado…in honor of February 14-14 things that I love.

1. The Lord and His faithfulness in the little details
2. My family, even when it is difficult being snowed in with them at times, I wouldn’t trade these moments with them for anything
3. Good friends who know my heart and who know how to ask the right questions
4. Long face to face conversations that leave me longing for more time with certain people
5. Greek Yogurt, especially black cherry flavored
6. Beamer(duh).
7. The Mountains, realized this even more in China when I stayed in Qinhuangdao for a month and could see the mountains from the school
8. Journaling, I took a long hiatus from my journal but I am back journaling regularly and it’s been awesome
9. Flavored coffee, it just has a little something extra
10. Sweatpants, I won’t wear them in public but I am thankful for them after a long day of being dressed like a teacher
11. World History, someone commented recently that I light up when I talk about world history. It really is something that I am very passionate about and greatly enjoy studying
12. Mail, actual hand written mail makes me squeal occasionally and I love the thought behind it.
13. Getting dressed up. I enjoy being comfy, but I love the excuse to get dressed up
14. New adventures, I am a planner at heart but love adventures and experiencing new things.

That list just helped my attitude about Valentine’s Day, and if you are having a rough day I hope it helps you as well. Thanks for reading. Zaijian.

Caution. Will Bite.

That’s what the sticker in Beamer’s file said. Early this week I took Beamer to the vet for his one year check up and Grace noticed in his file that a bright red sticker was in there that said “Will Bite.” As his owner I was a little mortified by this sticker and the way it literally labeled my dog. Beams was taken to the vet while I was in China and apparently he did not handle it very well. As the vet and vet tech tip toed around him on Monday, used a muzzle, and restrained him I tried to remain seated and calm(with Gracie whispering in my ear that it would be ok).

Once again this experience with Beamer started to remind me of the grace that my Heavenly Father has for me. As a child my mom would often say to us, “If you are going to sin, sin boldly.” I think her main mindset behind that was that she was going to find out if we were getting into trouble even if we tried to hide it. Her sentiment was also a reflection of my Heavenly Father since He knows EVERYTHING that I have ever done. Mom’s signature phrase is something we laugh about now but it also kept a lot of secrets out of our house growing up. Pretty sure Beamer has taken that mantra to heart as well, my dog has no gift of subtlety whatsoever. If you have had the privilege of meeting Beamer you have probably realized that he is more like me than I often want to admit(stubborn, short attention span, running after things he shouldn’t, loud, etc).

As I saw that sticker I thought about what my file might look like to the Lord. My stickers would probably say, “Will Rebel,” “Will take control,” “Will be prideful,” “Will seek identity from other people,” these labels could easily define me. These labels could cause the God of the Universe to handle me with gloves and a muzzle(not literally) and restraint. But it is quite the opposite. My file has been wiped clean and He now sees me as perfect. I’ve been forgiven and I live in the Freedom of that! Am I still in constant conflict with my sinful nature? Yes. But I get to rest in the fact that I am loved and that the Lord is molding and shaping me more to be like His Son on a daily basis.

What are the labels that could define you? How does the God of the Universe actually see you? Thanks for reading and enjoy your cold, rainy Wednesday. Zaijian.

The rigidity of a routine.

Maybe it is because I am a firstborn, maybe it is because I am Type A, perhaps it’s because the Lord and I have wrestled with control for years, but I love to have a routine. There were times in college where one would never see me without my planner. My YL teammates threatened to burn it. Eventually I got over that, China helped, I realized that constantly looking at my planner did not ease my stress Jesus did.

Then I started student teaching…

Every semester I feel like I go through a period of adjustment, adjustment to my new schedule, new classrooms, new material, new expectations. And I’ll be brutally honest, many of those expectations are ones that I hold myself to. I have extremely high expectations for myself, and often the people around me(not proud of that one), and because of that I feel like a routine helps. Yet as many times I have claimed I am flexible, the sad truth is that I don’t always deal well with changes in schedule etc(like snow days).

Because of the reality that I am not extremely flexible, I am writing this blog post, mostly to challenge myself to you know, roll with the punches better. I often have a calm facade but I don’t just want the facade. I want the reality of just following whatever the Lord lays out for me throughout the day, grasping opportunities as they come and seeing them as gifts from Him. I want to be at peace in whatever the day brings no matter how crazy it seems!

With that, I’m going to continue to embrace the “Polar Vortex” and rest in the peace of Christ. Thanks for reading. Zaijian.

Living in Hope

As I was driving last night and thinking about this blog and things as of late, the phrase “Living in Hope,” kept resonating in my mind.

When I was in Middle School and High School I started analyzing how people closed their letters and emails. I know it sounds a little silly(I’m totally ok with that). One of my Youth Pastors used “In His Grip,” my Dad has used “Under the Mercy,” some people write “God Bless.” As I finished out high school and started college I was on the hunt for my phrase. Not sure why I thought I needed a signature phrase, but for me often I use things just as much for a reminder for myself as the people I am writing.”Living in Hope,” was the phrase that I started using at the end of notes and emails that I write. I guess it is a shortened way of saying what I am trying to get across, which is “Living in the Hope of Glory.”

The summer after my sophomore year of college I spent at home with my parents and working at Tropical Smoothie. One of the highlights of being home in the Pep was that my new YL Teammate Sam was living and working close by. Sam and I decided to study Romans that summer and that was where this idea of Living in Hope originated. Especially in Chapter 8 of Romans as it speaks of creation lying in Hope for a Savior.

I do not have an empty hope, I hope in something I cannot see, I hope in my Savior. There has been a lot of heartbreak around me the last month or so. I was reminded of that last night when I finally settled down enough to watch the video of my friend, David Cunniff’s, funeral service. Most of my childhood memories of being home educated through Schenectady LEAH include Dave and his wife Amy. Dave’s celebration service was such an encouragement and once again a reminder of this idea of Hope.

In the midst of the heartache, the tears, and the brokenness of this world, I am hoping in Glory! I am living in a hope of the fact that I believe in my Heavenly Father who will make everything right. I am living in hope of one day being reunited with those who have already gone onto glory.

Thanks as always for reading, and I hope today that you will examine the things that you put your Hope in. Living in Hope…Zaijian.