Waiting.

The last thing I want to be doing right now is writing this post. I absolutely do not want to let anyone in on this part of my life. I don’t want to be transparent, and I don’t want to write about the unknown.

But I have to. I was called to.

Waiting on the unknown. Isn’t that what scares all of us? Waiting on the unknown medical test results, waiting on the unknown of how ends will meet, waiting on the unknown job call, or like me…waiting on the unknown answer to getting into school…..

I haven’t wanted to let anyone in on this part of my journey…and I think it is actually the very thing that is holding me back. I’ve wanted it kept on the down low unless I get accepted. I don’t want anyone to know if I fail. And if I don’t fail, then I’ll let the world know. I’ll let the world in on my success. But until I knew I was successful, I wanted to keep it hush. I knew if I let you in on the unknown…….there was a chance I would publicly let people in on my rejection also….that terrifies me. But here it is…

Welcome to my unknown waiting. Welcome to either my success or my rejection.

I’m currently waiting on an email letting me know if I was accepted and chosen to be a part of Vanderbilt’s Masters in Child Studies program. A program that only accepts around twenty people a year. And I’m vying for one of those spots. It’s not an easy gig in the least. I’m not expecting to get in because I was so last minute…but still. Thinking about it makes me want to run to a trash can and then curl into a ball.

I’m scared. Not of not being able to go to school, but scared of the sheer thought of rejection. I’ve lived many days of my life under the control of rejection. Not wanting to rock the boat or stand out because I wanted to be accepted. Really it’s controlled me way more than I care to think about. So I’m scared….sometimes nauseous at the thought of opening an email from the Peabody School of Vanderbilt and reading that I was not chosen. My heart winces at that thought..

I’ve learned a lot over the past few weeks of being nervous and dreading writing this post….. I’ve learned that life is full of these waiting moments and life was meant to be shared with other humans. Good and bad. There was never meant to be a pretty paint of coat over our lives….we were made to be real…to strip off the paint….to let people see the crevices and the broken as well as the beautiful. I also know that my bad is never really bad. As much as I want this acceptance letter, I KNOW my God has a stellar plan for me. I know it’s perfect because he knows my heart perfectly. I know it’s a good one because he promises a good one. I know it’ll blow my mind because he has blown my mind a million times before. A wise friend told me that God doesn’t reject, he redirects.

So if you’re waiting on the unknown, keep waiting in faith. He’s got something good planned even if it’s not “door 1”.

This is me letting you in on my unknown and possibly my rejection……this is me stripping off the paint layer….here’s me letting you in…..I could be a Vanderbilt Commodore real soon, or I could not….I could be accepted, or I could not….there’s a lot of waiting on an unknown….

But I’ll trust my forever known….that my good, good Father has a good, good plan.

1. Go find someone and strip the paint off.

2. Trust his plan!!!

-MA

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Forever my tribe

**this post is being written through tear filled eyes**

Today I walked out of room 244 and ended my time as a Community 3 Lead Learner. & my heart is shattered into a million pieces. Just saying it makes the tears well back up. I got to my car after fighting back tears for hours & I erupted. Into a mess. My heart was broken and I kept asking God why. Why did my heart have to break to go where he has told me to go. Why was I wanting with everything to turn around and take it all back. I even told him I wanted to. I told him I wanted to take it all back and stay. The words came from my lips, but my soul knew I couldn’t. My soul knows I owe him my everything and that his promise that his plan is to prosper and not to harm, that his plan is a good one will reign true even through the excruciating pain. Turning those keys in, staring at an empty room, hugging necks at PRS was the hardest thing. Walking away blindly from something you love not knowing what is in front but just trying to continue to have the guts to put one foot in front of the other….it’s hard and it hurts and right now it really sucks. Through clenched teeth I’ll say my God is good through it all.

But I don’t want to focus this post on sad. I want to focus on why that drive with the school fading into the rear view mirror was overwhelmingly painful.

First, I love my job. I love getting to love and teach tiny humans all about life. I love watching them grow. I love being the person they laugh with, share weekend stories with, tell sports season updates to, the one they cry to, the one they hug on, and even the one they drive insane. Teaching is so hard but so rewarding. I love my job. To the ‘nth’ degree. Knowing I won’t walk into 150 hugs, I won’t hear “Miss Helms” 18172793 times a day, and I won’t get to watch kids mold into better people hurts my heart.

Second, Pike Road is home. They taught me all I know about teaching. Suzanne Freeman took a chance on a young, inexperienced college graduate, and I will forever be so appreciative for it. Walking away from that place, it’s tough.

But above all else, my heart is into a million pieces because of a few incredible women. Women who I respect, love, and value more than words can say. Women who I daily try to mirror and be like. These women have made me everything I am and then some. I’ve always told them they would be in my wedding whether they liked it or not, and I quickly reminded them of it today after I left. They are my best, they are my people.

There’s no way I could ever, ever, not in a million years, express how thankful I am for each of you….but here’s just a glimpse….

To my people, my superheroes, my best friends, my family,

Thank you. Thank you for loving me so well. Each of you means the world to me. I hope you know it.

I want to say thank you first for all the professional wisdom you gave me. You all helped me form emails, set up my classroom routines, give advice on how things should work, and so much more. You gave me supplies and ideas when I was lost and confused and walking in circles. Thank you for modeling how to teach and more importantly, how to love children so well. I got the pleasure of watching each of you show up with so much grace every day and love on the child that drove you crazy the day before (lol). I watched as you formed plans for kids that were struggling both academically, emotionally, socially, and behaviorally. I watched as you cared for the kid that was left out and saw how you brought them into your class family. I got to see you show tough love even when it was breaking your heart to do it. I got to stand beside you as you fought for kids. I got to watch you push kids, inspire kids, and grow kids. I watched as you took the time to know each and every student even if it meant staying late to finish all the stuff you tried to get done that morning but they were telling you a story about something wild (ha). I saw you tired, angry, sad, and sick and yet you always sucked it up and showed up for your kids. I was there when you stayed late to rework a standard or plan something incredible. I saw you being the phenomenal teacher….the difference maker…every day. Thank you…for making me the teacher I was. I hope I made you each so so proud. I learned from the best in the business.

Thank you for laughing, crying, and getting fighting mad alongside me. I know why we work. We work because we aren’t just coworkers, we’re family. And families are there for each other when life just stinks or when life is really great. Thank you for being there in my highs and lows. Thank you for laughing hysterically with me. Thank you for sometimes putting down the serious stuff and riding down the hall on a cart. Thank you for bringing me the biggest, deepest laughs. And in the same breath, thank you for letting me get so angry that steam was coming out of my ears. Thank you for letting me vent and then telling me to go love my kids. Thank you for always offering a ear to listen (and usually a response that agreed with my anger 😝). Thank you for letting me get frustrated, sometimes even at you, and forgiving me all the same. After all, families fight sometimes right???? Haha. Thank you for having my back and standing up for me when I got so upset. And thank you for holding me as I got mascara all over your shirt. This year was tough. This year brought pain that none of us would have expected. And yet while you were hurting, you let me hurt on you. You held me up when my heart was so overwhelmed. When all of our hearts were so overwhelmed. Thank you for never judging my tears and always letting them fall.

Thank you for letting me dream. For making me brave in the dreams, for helping me find my dreams, and for being a springboard to launch me into my dreams. I don’t think I’ve ever felt more supported than by each of you. Thank you for dreaming for me when my dreams weren’t big enough and then telling me to go after them knowing I’d look at you like you were crazy. Thank you for fighting for me…when I was weak or when I was doubtful. You all ground me and yet help me fly. Because of each of you, I can dream big. Because of each of you, I’m taking a leap. Whatever happens next, please know it’s because of you and for you. Thank you for allowing me to keep growing into a new me. For never allowing me to grow and change. You all told me to pack up and go to Africa and that y’all would cover all the things to have me ready for school the day I got back. You all are the most selfless people I know. You all are my biggest cheerleaders. Thank you for allowing me to be unapologetically me.

There have been breakups, migraines, a hospital stay, living on the other side of the world, great loss, anger, a career change, a future state move, Chalkable, FreshGrade, book studies, new pets and so much in between that I have been able to walk through with y’all hand in hand. Thank you for doing life, not just work, alongside me. Thank you for hurting when I hurt and laughing when I laugh.

God has blessed me with five of the most beautiful, strong, intelligent, loving people I get to call my coworkers, my friends, and my family. If you don’t know them, you should.

As I packed my room, I saw this saying on an old lesson plan book….it said “A good teacher’s influence can never be erased.” That’s so true. So true for each of you. Thank you for being such a great teacher of life to me. Thank you for influencing me in the best of ways.

It takes a tribe. And you all are mine. No matter the miles. C3 Strong. Divided, not conquered. UpSTATE and downSTATE. 😝

Forever my superheroes, forever my tribe.

-Always yours,

Helmsy

**moving to Nashville** -and all the pain and all the God that comes with it

Something started in my heart in about October. This craving. An unsettling. A stirring. Not so much a discontentment as it was a curiosity and realization that there was something God wanted for me that I wasn’t doing yet. It was just a little flutter in my heart…and on some days it seemed a lot more like a tsunami than a flutter. I knew there was a change coming. I knew there was something more God had planned for me.

Nashville started coming up in conversations. Just here and there. And finally I started putting the two together. I realized that maybe the stirring and the Nashville were one in the same.

So I prayed….for it to not be Nashville. Because honestly Nashville would break my heart. I wanted God to let me go home to Andalusia. I knew my parents and grandparents could absolutely use the help. I thought it was the logical move, the move that showed the most love of God through me. I didn’t know why a loving God would not allow me to go home to help my parents who have given and done so much for me. Surely my sweet God would let me go help my precious and overwhelmed parents. Not to mention, my parents are my two best friends, and I don’t have a bit of shame in saying that! It was the move that would have honestly made my heart the most happy upfront…the most comforted…the most peaceful…the least anxiety filled. I knew I could find a job in Andalusia, and truthfully I probably would have been happy if I would have chosen to go there. I also threw in the move to Panama City. Because that’s where so much family lives. I would have LOVED to have lived close to my GanGan. She’s literally the most precious woman to ever walk the earth in my opinion. She loves so well and so big. She is a constant giver of herself. Always there for each one of us no matter what or no matter how many times we cry over the same things. She’s a rock. Plus she is HYSTERICAL so living close to her would have filled my belly with deep, deep laughter.

So I prayed….prayers that sounded like this “Dear Jesus, please let me go back home so I can help my sweet parents or let me go live by my GanGan. But I guess if Nashville is really what you want then I’ll go”…..Seriously didn’t even mean the last part honestly, but I knew it was the “Christian” thing to pray.

God started stirring me and reminding me of Luke 14:26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple”. So I didn’t even know what verse that was and honestly kinda resented whatever Pastor that preached a sermon on that and burned it into my brain (okay…only very slightly resented them). But there it was, etched into my brain and written on my heart for me to have to dreadfully hash over and over in my brain. I’ll tell you this….it wasn’t a fun, happy, encouraging scripture to meditate on. IT SUCKED. IT HURT. And it let me know exactly what I HAD to do. Except I wouldn’t listen. I swallowed the sermon and did my best to throw it in File 9 (in third grade at Pike Road Elementary File 9 is known as the TRASH).

I wrestled with God and begged him. Literally begged him not to make me go so far from my family. B E G G E D. P L E A D E D. I told him I would do anything, just don’t make me leave them.

I think I always knew it was Nashville. I just didn’t want to acknowledge it. I kept praying for the others. Like really praying hard. HARD.

Then came January and February and the incredible pain….the overwhelming, drowning, miserable pain that it brought. The funerals and memorial services, the memories, and tears. I couldn’t even pray for a move because all I could muster up in my prayers was ‘help’. I hurt alongside some of the most precious teachers, friends, and humans a girl could ever know. I hurt with them, cried with them, tried to cope with them, and seriously leaned on them. There was no chance I could ever leave them now. I couldn’t leave this support system. I couldn’t leave them after the things we had faced together.

God was gentle to allow me to reach a point of stability before he pressed moving again on my very fragile heart. This time though, there were no other options. He fully pushed Nashville on me. And it broke me. All. Over. Again.

I remember verbally saying “why would you make me move all alone after I just went through so much hurt”…”why would you let my heart break again”…..”I can’t do this again”. The “whys” eventually turned back to “I’m not doing this” “I’m not moving away from my family and my friends”.

**And then it all happened. I had gone home to Andalusia one weekend. The whole weekend my heart was hurting because I kept saying “God, I can’t leave these people and not be able to come home all the time. It hurts.” I had cried myself to sleep the night before just from thinking of the sheer pain moving to Nashville would bring. And in my tears, I told God I needed him to give me a sign in a big way because a big sign would be the only way I could accept that it was really what he wanted.

I was standing on the edge of my parent’s back porch staring at the stars while I was waiting for Mac to do his business so we could go to bed. I’ve always loved the stars. They fascinate me. I have fallen more in love with them since traveling to other countries and finding wonder that I can be so far from home and yet be staring at the same stars. I find the most beautiful peace in knowing that my family from across the world see that same beautiful sight each night. It just gives my heart a little glimmer of warmth. So there I was admiring them. And I found that I couldn’t take my eyes off of this one little group of stars. Now let me back up and say that yes, I love the stars but I know NOTHING about constellations or their names. But there were these three stars that I could not get enough of. Mac finally finished his business and we went to bed. Nothing big right…..WRONG.

I drove back to Auburn the next day and I couldn’t shake those stars from my mind. I’ve looked at the stars a million times so I found this really, really odd. I try my hardest to look for God in the things that I can’t quite get over. So I tried to search for him in those. I became obsessed with trying to figure out which stars I had seen. I would go outside my trailer at night for a few nights and try to find them, but I couldn’t find them again for the clouds or the trees. I began googling the constellations, and I found Orion’s belt which looked the most similar to the stars I had seen.

At this point, I was pretty sure there was a reason that God had me stuck on this. So I really researched to try to find out why I couldn’t shake these. I found out that Orion’s Belt is one of the few stars named in the Bible. BUT GET THIS. In Job 38:31, God is answering Job in a way that shows that God knows infinitely more and purposes and plans all things. So it reads, “Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades or loose the cords of Orion”.

Okay, cool Ander, so what. YALL. GET READY. Orion’s belt is made up of three stars. These three stars are not on the same trajectory. They are constantly moving away from each other but since we are so far away we can’t see the change. But it’s been happening for years. God was saying that only he can cause them to separate just like only he can keep the stars of Pleiades gravitationally pulled together. So as I was reading and dissecting this, tears began to well up in my eyes.

Three stars. Me. My Family. My Work Family. Moving Apart. Me…I have to separate. Yall…..maybe it’s just me, but that blows my mind that God would take the time to use incredibly amazing things like this to direct a sinner girl that is doubting his goodness and running from his plans.

BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE.

A week and a half ago, I was driving to Nashville to visit. I prayed the whole way there that God would continually give me a peace and an excitement for moving there because really all I felt was pain. I prayed, and I pretended to be Kari Jobe and have a full on worship concert in my little Toyota Corolla all the way from Birmingham to Nashville. I turned my radio down (because isn’t that what everyone does when they start getting into traffic so that it can help them drive???). And there is was……painted on the first overpass when you hit the Nashville city limits is the center of the Tennessee flag……three….stars…..together. And I knew. I know. That Nashville is where I belong. It’s where my stars align. It’s where my God has big plans.

(These three stars)

So here I am…..with honestly an incredibly broken and weak heart because even though I know it’s where I must go, it shatters my heart. It shatters my heart to know I’m breaking my parent’s hearts moving so far away. It shatters my heart to know that I have to start over. With making new friends. With a new job. With a new church. With new roads to navigate. Here I am with a month and a half until I move with a trailer in Auburn, Alabama that I HAVE to sell because I can’t afford to “live” in two places. Here I am with a month and a half until I move without a job in Nashville because God has told me no so far on all the doors I thought I was suppose to easily walk through….and without a Nashville place to live because who can find a home when they are a state away. Here I am….with hurt, with fear, with anxiety, but also with excitement and peace knowing my God would go to such extreme lengths to show his plan for me. It MUST be a stellar plan.

Here I am…even though things seem to be stacked against my odds…even though my heart is breaking…even though the details seem fuzzy…even though people are telling me I’m crazy…Here I am. Trusting you Lord. Leaning and Listening to Only You. Send Me. Use Me.

Little less than happy on International Happiness Day

Today was International Happiness Day.

And I woke up NOT HAPPY. So not happy. Actually I went to bed not happy. My poor bff, Ellett, woke up to a lengthy paragraph of all the complaints I had before I went to bed last night. (Real healthy right…NOT). So I woke up AND WAS NOT HAPPY on this great international day of happiness.

Yesterday was a long day of parent conferences (WHICH GIVE ME THE MOST ANXIETY). And to be quite honest, my mind was still wishing it was Spring Break-in it.

I also have managed to pinch my left sciatic nerve, and OMG the pain. Yall. THE. PAIN. No, stinking, fun. It completely has robbed the last few nights of any sort of sleep. Ander + Sleep = down for any adventure. Ander – Sleep = STINKIN’ DOWN RIGHT HORRID

It also took about 7 outfit changes this morning for me to feel confident enough to walk out the door. And when I say “confident enough”, I mean “if I don’t leave on what I have on and get in my car and drive to school then I’m not making it to work” confident. I kept looking at my body and thinking BLAH. BLAH. BLAH. It really comes down to the fact that I have tried to start a diet for like three weeks now and well….. I STINK AT THAT (Jesus, take the wheel LOL…but really). So it’s been on my mind a lot, and honestly I have just done some real ugly talking to myself about it all. Seriously. Real ugly self talk. (Yall pray)

So yeah…woowhoo for happiness today.

I knew it was International Happiness Day because my school was celebrating it in a few fun and honestly super inspirational ways. So in my mind I really kept stacking up all the ways in which I was in fact NOT happy on this “happy holiday”.


I got THE cutest little ring from Altar’d State on my little vacay to Nashville over Spring Break.

{Check it out here: http://www.altardstate.com/shop/jewelry/rings/altar-d-state-sentiment-ring-be-still.html }

It simply says “ Be Still”. Those two words became some pretty special words during my summer in Africa. Some of the incredible women I got to learn and grow from kept bringing it to my attention as it was laid on their heart. The words “Be Still” became not a meaning of stopping movement. But to stop whatever rabbit hole my mind was going down and to remember Who I Belong to and all the incredible things My “Holder” has done for me.

I wore the ring because DUH that’s what you do when you get new, fun, and stylish things. You wear them in hopes that someone will ask you about them. (Girls, yall know it’s so stinkin’ true). But after my less then “happy filled” morning, my stylish ring became seven letters that turned my day around.

At 9:45ish every day, my kids go to specials and I get a few minutes of planning (okay, more like running here and there and everywhere). I can’t remember what I was getting, but I reached to open my cabinet and the “Be Still” jumped off that silly ring.

& God whispered….”Baby girl, be still. Stop those rambling thoughts. Stop those “less than” thoughts you have of yourself. Stop those unhappy, negative thoughts. Stop. BE STILL. Calm that rushing mind of yours. YOU ARE MINE. AND I HAVE GOT YOU.”

heart exhaled

Literally, my heart took a breath.

I remembered who I was, who I became because of the cross. And I started “counting my blessings one by one” throughout the day. Today, it came in the form of acknowledging all the things that happened that made my heart SO. STINKING. HAPPY. The things that made my heart skip little undetectable beats.

So here’s a list of them…..because for some reason it seems that I “boast” about all the negatives instead of all the incredible things around me….

*My Ava gave me the most precious handwritten card/letter about how she loved me

*I got the most precious and genuine hugs from a pile of goofy 8 & 9 year olds

*I sat around and we shared all the fun things that we did over spring break (yes, I put down the lesson plans and just talked and laughed with some stellar tiny humans…judge me)

*One of my students from last year brought me a sweet little note that she wrote over spring break because she was thinking about me

*I got to do the alphabet in sign language with one of my kids who set out to learn over her break

*I twisted the top off of a ice cold Dr Pepper bottle and enjoy all 23 flavors J (See…what diet?? Lol)

*I got to BELLY laugh with some of the greatest educators and friends at work today.

*I got attacked with love by a puppy and two kittens when I walk in the door after work

*I found a stellar new playlist on Spotify to listen to before my Quiet Time

*I made some new connections to the Old Testament that super excited me (I really struggle with reading the Old Testament because I get overwhelmed in not understanding…So seriously this pumped me up)

*I earned 50,000 SkyMiles (MY TRAVEL HEART IS PUMPED)

*I enjoyed a bangin’ frozen coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts (AGAIN…WHAT DIET???)

*Mac cuddled with me on the couch before he got wild and pulled out EVERY toy he has (He may be a little spoiled and own A TON)

{PS. I may be a little obsessed….#NOSHAME

*I GOT THE BEST LETTER IN THE MAIL FROM MY RUBANGAKENE JUSTINE. Justine STOLE my heart while in Uganda. He is a precious nine year old boy that is FOREVER SMILING that I have the privilege of sponsoring. I don’t even know how it happened, but very early on, we latched onto each other. Every Sunday morning, we would seek each other out and worship beside each other. There were few words but SO MUCH LOVE. I cannot tell you how many times he crosses my mind DAILY. Where I wish I could grab his little hand and squeeze it. Where I wish I could hear him run from the Woman’s Refuge Center screaming my name with a little  smirk on his face. Last night, my heart was extra heavy missing him and my friends across the sea. AND TODAY I RECEIVED A NEW PICTURE AND LETTER FROM HIM. My.heart.almost.exploded. (As tears were obviously rolling down my face)

So many incredible things to celebrate and choose happiness over. Geez Louise. What a blessed child of an indescribable God I am.

Be still. That’s all it is. Be still. Calm the world and cherish the world saver.

 

 

So cheers to “being still” & cheers to INTERNATIONAL HAPPINESS DAY!

*May I always choose to find the happy.

“Be still & know that I am God” Psalm 46:10

hands

….I give you these hands….

Today, I sat at a table with one of the most precious people God has ever allowed me to meet. It was after school and of course I had a million things to do since grades are due and spring break is coming. SO NATURALLY…..I sat doing none of it and instead googled “Best Planners”. Because having something to write down all the things I need to do would help me get them done right?? LOL. I ended up on Erin Condren’s Life Planner website….designing my own planner. There are A TON of totally cute and precious covers for the planners, but being the picture obsessed human that I am, I choose one that allowed me to put like 24 pictures on the front and back. (Again……I chose the planner that would take the longest time to order….instead of doing all the things I needed to be doing….pray for me yall). Anyways, I started trying to think of the pictures I would want on the front. I knew without a doubt that I wanted some pictures from Africa. I opened the folder that contains THOUSANDS (literally) of pictures from Africa. I clicked on a random one. It was a picture of me and Isaac.

Tears immediately welled up in my eyes. I had to put my hands up to my face to stop them from beginning to race down my face like they were competing in the Indy 500. I looked at a few more and then I had to stop because I knew it would lead to just a total meltdown. But my mind was already gone. It was already there. Missing and thinking of my family and home on the other side of this big sphere we call Earth.

My whole drive home, Africa kept popping back up to the forefront of my thoughts. So once I got home to the safety of my little trailer and more specifically the confines of a warm bath, I scrolled through the beautiful pictures from Africa. And it hurts. Hurts bad. But that’s just because I have been incredibly blessed to meet brothers and sisters so far away.

I kept looking through pictures and noticed there was something that kept standing out to me for some reason. My hands. Pictures of my hands on babies bellies. Pictures of my hands locked in other hands. Pictures of my hands tickling children. Pictures of my hands washing dishes. Pictures of my hands sorting beans. Pictures of my hands making porridge and posho. Pictures of my hands in the air from celebrating gaining a new sister in Christ. Pictures of my hands washing feet. Pictures of my hands doing peace signs for goofy pictures. And pictures of my hands holding the Bible.

Hands. Ten fingers and a palm. Simple…yet powerful. The very thing that we use to get things DONE. The very thing I’m using to type this silly post.

I hear sermons and messages about our feet, our minds, and our hearts all the time.

But Lord…..let my hands forever be for you.

I began praying that my hands would never stop reaching to hug the necks of the “nobodys”. They would never stop interlocking with the “forgottens”. That they would always clap with, celebrate with, and be used to create silly pictures with the “less thans”. That I would never keep them for my own good, but that they would grow callused and worn from being used to meet new people, greet people, and love the heck out of people. 

That whatever I do….whether in the nicest neighborhood in the States, the slums of Africa, the dirt roads of Central America, the classroom, the grocery store, the church pew.  That wherever I am….whether typing a blogpost, teaching a child how to multiply, cooking food, giving a hug, hopefully one day writing a full book (just a girl dreamin’ okay), sorting beans, washing feet, holding a Bible and teaching from it, holding Mac’s leash, driving down the road, putting a Band-aid on a booboo, or typing a text. That whoever I’m around….whether around my Acholi brothers and sisters, my American friends, my precious class, my coworkers, the lady at McDonalds who takes my money (and literally probably knows my order because….ya know your girl loves her some McDonalds.NO SHAME)….wherever I am…whatever I’m doing…no matter who I am around…That my hands would always keep reaching…they would always keep holding….they would always keep working….they would always keep touching…they would always radiate love until my Jesus calls me home.

Lord, 

My hands. They are yours. Would you never let them close. Would you always keep them reaching for the hurt, the lost, the broken, the forgotten, the famous, the rich, the poor, the excited, the sad, the black, the white, the happy, the angry, the old, and the young. Would they hold tighter than they think they can hold, longer than they think they can hold, and more than they think they can hold. Would they always and forever cherish the people they get to cling to. My Baba, they are yours. I give you these hands.

shattered

This post. This post is not nice and tidy. It’s not going to be wrapped up into something beautiful. In fact, I don’t even know where God wants this to go.

This post. It’s going to be real. It’s going to be raw. And it’s going to be all the cries from the depths of my shattered heart.

So here is my heart….unfiltered and broken…..

Teachers are suppose to give out hugs and high fives. They are suppose to give grades and homework. They are suppose to watch a child grow physically, mentally, and emotionally. They are suppose to get exciting stories of their student’s weekend trips. They are suppose to get invitations to ball games and dance recitals. They are even suppose (or expectant rather ha) of emails from parents that aren’t too happy with us. What we aren’t suppose to get….what we aren’t expectant of…is a final goodbye, a journal left not complete, a name in a gradebook that won’t receive another grade by it, an empty seat, a child left without a reading partner, friends left without their recess buddy, a name that can no longer be called while taking roll, and a call that one of their students..no, one of their babies…has left this earth.

But here I am, here my co workers are, facing just that. Not once, but twice for me. In a matter of weeks.

It’s not okay. It’s not okay that a baby was taken. So I’m not okay. And I’m not afraid to say that. In moments I have told myself that I “have to be” because I am a “Christian”. But no, being Christian just means that in the pain there is still hope. It doesn’t mean I have to be okay. It doesn’t make me a robot. And so…

I’m not okay. My heart can’t even feel anymore. There is nothing left. It’s just like surgery. The pain is inflicted and there is a scar that is numb. That’s my whole heart. One big numb scar right now. My mind can’t stop. It won’t stop. I replay over and over the horrid stories of my two sweet girl’s last moments, and it makes me sick to my stomach. It makes me cringe. It makes me nauseous. I can’t sleep. It takes me forever to fall asleep, and when I do, I’m awaken to what feels like an elephant standing on my chest and fear and panic ripping through my veins like lightening on a hot summer night. I’m so panicked that something in general is just wrong that I feel each one of my furbabies bodies to feel the up and down of their lungs to make sure they are breathing. And then I lose it….I fall apart because the panic stops and the reality of the realness of what is really going on in my life sets in. And it hurts. Over and over and over. And I cry. Hard. And I just sit up or crumble to a ball because I know that going back to sleep won’t happen. I fall apart and say Jesus because that’s all I even know to say.

Which is another part of my pain. I love words. Words can be chosen and strung together so beautifully and precisely. And usually that is how I function. It’s how I vent and outlet myself. But I haven’t written hardly any words about anything in three weeks. Because there are no words. There is no amount of thought and effort put into words that can string together and explain the pain and feelings. There are no words I can write, say, or type that make things better…that make things okay. So I have been so frustrated within myself.

I’m also not okay because my kids, my babies, are hurting. I’m not okay because my best friends, the people I get to go to work with everyday, my coworkers, aren’t okay. I’m not okay because when I close my eyes I see mother’s, father’s, sibling’s, and other family member’s faces drenched in tears and filled with such great sorrow. Nothing in me is okay. My heart is not only torn, but shattered.

I have found that so many painful memories of losing Megan and TJ have flooded back into my mind and heart. So many “scars” have been ripped open again. So many feelings that I suppress without realizing it have surfaced in an overwhelming way. With Tj’s birthday and the anniversary of Megan’s death approaching in the next week, my heart is drowning. And I don’t say that to get sympathy, or “Poor Ander”. I say it so that you can see that my heart, my mind, my everything is beaten to a pulp. So that you can see that there is nothing left of me. That I am on empty….That I get through the day with my babies, but then I get home and I fall apart. I call my mom, or dad, or GanGan and I fall apart. The pain engulfs me and that wave of fear, tears, and panic crashes down on top of me…slinging my tired and weary heart every which way it wants.

I’m not okay.

So there is where I am today. And where I will most likely be for the next days. Because it hurts. But today, I have been reminded of a story in the Bible. A pretty common story.

Daniel 3. The story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. (paraphrased)

They were three guys who loved the Lord. Who served him and only him. But there was another ruler…King Nebuchadnezzar. The one who required his subjects to bow down to his image. This was a problem for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They refused. Because they would not bow down to anyone other than the one true God, our God. And so King Nebuchadnezzar told them he was going to throw them into the fiery furnace if they refused. And their response was “throw us in if you must, but we won’t bow down to you. Our God can save us from the flames, but if he doesn’t, HE IS STILL THE ONLY GOD WE WILL SERVE. HE IS STILL GOOD”. (whoa). But in they went. And when the king and his soldiers looked in, they saw four men…not three.

There are three reasons why I think God has continually brought this Bible story to my mind today. 1. God is good. Even when the flames are hot and the fire is overwhelming. 2. Yes, God could have prevented all of this pain from happening just like he could have prevented the three boys from ever having to go into the fire. Which is sometimes hard to even say. We don’t like to think of God like that. But he isn’t caught off guard. 3. Sometimes the fires will come. Sometimes we will be thrown into the fiery furnace. Sometimes we will go into the fire. But we aren’t going in alone. In the fire, God is right there. Through the tears…through the pain…through the cuss words we scream at him..He is there…collecting our tears in bottles because he cares for us.

Today I sat with my head bowed and my eyes closed beside the faculty and staff of PRS as we start our 21 days of prayer for Pike Road School. We are in the fire. Thrown right into the furnace. With pain and flames around us. But not alone. We have the fourth man with us. The fourth man walking through the flames with us.

It would be an honor to have you join us in praying for our students, our school, the community, and the families of the three sweet students who are sitting at the feet of Jesus right now. Satan WILL NOT have foot in our pain. We will hurt, but we will hurt and seek the help of our Jesus. Satan does not win. He will not win.

If you want to join us, please search 21 Days of Prayer for Pike Road Schools on Facebook and ask to be a member. It would mean the world to us. Every day you will receive a prayer and verse to pray over our school and community.

No, I am not okay…my heart is overwhelmed…..but I will shout my ‘why’s’, I will cry my tears, I will crumble inside, but I will keep my eyes on my Jesus.

**Praying for PRS** ALL IN