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My Toolbox has been Empty

In a twist of irony, I recently rediscovered a book I began reading but misplaced somewhere years ago (and with only about an eighth of it left to read). I started my career of teaching about then and I didn’t have time for reading anything like that anymore, so it got shoved in a drawer of my nightstand.  Here comes the part that makes that ironic. On the back cover of the book, Stephen King’s writing memoir On Writing, it reads, “If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time or the tools to write.”

See the irony now?

My true dream since ninth grade was to be a writer.  My English teacher discovered I had this talent which had previously just been something I did because it was fun, with no realization that I was any good at it.  After all, I suffered from the common ailment of adolescence, low self-esteem.  Once I had my teacher’s push and support for writing, I became passionate about it.  And my parents encouraged me.  Everyone around me encouraged me, so I kept it up… until college, when I no longer had time because I was working the low end of full-time hours and taking a full-time load of classes, all while maintaining steady A’s and B’s.  My deep down dream was to be a famous and rich writer, but the realist inside of me knew money for writers was hard to come by and I would need a day job.

My “day job” then invaded every moment of my life, leaving me in exhaustion in the tiny bits of “free time” I could muster.  About all I ever seem to have energy for after a day of teaching, planning, communicating with parents, grading work, and on and on, is crashing on the couch to mindlessly watch television.  So, even reading is something I find I have little time for, unless it’s something I’m reading to teach in class or all too often horrendously written student papers (also, I tend to just fall asleep when I try to read-pathetic). According to the above quote, I have no tools for writing, which I guess is all right since I don’t have the time for it anyway.

Grrr!

That’s right, I just wrote a stand alone “Grrr!” and I’m not ashamed.  I am, however, ashamed that I let my dream die.  But perhaps it isn’t completely dead.  I’m trying to shock it back to life. That’s the purpose of doing this blog.  It forces me to write something, anything really (this is more obvious if you’ve read the random and often unrelated posts I’ve been writing).

It took me two summers to write my book.  And it has taken me two more summers to get the nerve to do anything with it.  I will be self-publishing it soon (mostly waiting on my cover art), and I will see if the interest deems the book worthy of a sequel and go from there.

I recently shared that my desire, and what I feel is my calling, is to work with survivors of human trafficking, and now I’m writing that my dream is writing.  I must seem scattered.  Truthfully, I want to work as an abolitionist and help restore those who have suffered at the cruel hand of slavery, but I also feel my ability and passion in writing can work the other end of the problem, which is awareness.  Somehow I can fuse these dreams together.  But I must make time to read, to write, and to research my next moves all while I work my day job, which will begin again in about a month. This school year will be challenging, but my hope is that I will be able to actually set off on my true life’s mission in about a year from now as I use this time to prepare.

For now, I’ll continue my blogging, and I’ll read as much as I can, including finishing On Writing.

Between the Rock and a rock

My last post had more than double the views on any post I’ve written before, which was awesome, but also intimidating.  How do I follow that up?  It’s a lot easier for an introvert to pour out her heart when she doesn’t think anyone is going to read it anyway, and hopes that the ones who do are strangers so it won’t matter if they find out my intimate secrets and feelings.  Of course, there’s also the part of me that kept checking my stats and smiling.  When I was on the programming team at my church, our pastor always told us, “They don’t have to all be home-runs.”  All right.  I’m ok with that.  Maybe we’ll just get to first base today.  Maybe I’ll just bunt the ball.  Maybe I’ll foul out.  That’s about all I know for baseball metaphors, so I’m just going to move on now.  I apologize to any of you who actually know about baseball.  I’m sure I screwed something up there.

As I mentioned in my last post (if you are reading this and did not read that one, go back and read it- it’s better), I cannot imagine doing anything else with my life than working to fight against human trafficking and helping the survivors to rebuild their lives.  That being said, I come to the part I don’t want many people to read, because I’m either really brave for putting this out there, or stupid.  Probably stupid.  There may be people reading this that I shouldn’t be revealing this to yet.

How am I going to commit my life’s work to being a full-time abolitionist and keep my day job?

My day job consumes every ounce of energy I have, and fills almost every second of my day except when I’m sleeping, though I dream about it often as well.  I get two months out of the year to remember who I am and to have other interests. I’m a teacher.  And a perfectionist.  This means I put everything into what I do.  Colossians 3:23 basically says we are to do everything we do with all our hearts as if we’re working for God and not people, so I do.  This makes me good at what I do, though I still always feel like so much more is expected, especially with all the stupid recent developments in education in Florida.

One of the reasons we never adopted a child (still a possibility) is because I cannot imagine raising a human being and being a teacher.  I know people do it all the time, but I don’t know how I would ever make that work.  I would be good at one and fail at the other.  So I feel like my career holds me back from a lot.  I know I touch lives, and I love my students (most of them).  I would never say being a teacher was a waste or a bad decision, but I told my husband when I started it that if I ever felt like I was heading towards burn out and feared becoming one of those ineffective and jaded teachers, it would be time to move on.  At that point I didn’t have anything else in mind.  The calling towards abolition has been recent.  I thought once I had more teaching experience I would have more time for other interests, but last year was the most overwhelming so far, and next year looms scarily similar on the horizon.

Sure, I can use my job to spread the word.  I had the opportunity to explain to my students why I was missing school for three days last year to run from Miami to Key West, and I’ve had a few interesting discussions with students interested in making a difference.  Most of the kids I teach, being for the most part the more advanced and globally aware students, are perfect to motivate for my cause, but that isn’t enough for me.  I want to do that full time.

But we have a mortgage, which means we own a house requiring maintenance, cars to upkeep and fuel, utilities to pay, food to purchase (yep, gotta eat), etc.  My husband was unemployed for almost two years, so we know a bit about going without, but I can’t just quit my job.

So here is the time in my life where I have to consider my options.  My husband Robert and I do not yet have a clear picture of what we will be doing to help end human trafficking and helping to rebuild lives, so we need to settle that first, and then figure out how to do it.  I will continue to work my current job to the best of my ability (because that’s what God wants and because my students need me to), just as Robert will continue on with his.  Once our vision becomes more clear, more planning will be needed, and I’ll have to take a step back and away from the comfort and security of a job I know, and I’ll have to operate on faith.  But one thing I’ve learned from reading Quitter by Jon Acuff is that we’ll need a bit more developed towards our goal before I can “quit my day job.”

The only way this is truly going to work is to put God first in all of this and trust that He will provide the correct vision, and set us on the path heading the right direction.

To Love…

What is love?  What does it take to love?  How can we show love?

A few answers according to Love 146:  “Love protects.  Love defends. Love restores. Love empowers.”

What is Love 146?

This is an amazing organization which exists to save children from becoming victims and to rehabilitate those who have already become victims.  Few people realize how much slavery still exists in our world… but it’s a different type of slavery.  It is mostly children.

Children.

Love 146 is an organization of abolitionists, and I want to help them.  I’m an abolitionist now too.

About a year and a half ago I began to run, for the first time in my life.  I always hated running, but I did it for these children.  A few groups from my church formed teams to run a crazy 200 mile relay across Florida (www.ragnarrelay.com) in an attempt to raise money and awareness for Love 146.  Some of us are doing it again, all the way from Miami to Key West (199 miles).  Yep, I’m still running, because these children do not have the freedoms I have.

What does this have to do with my usual blog topic? Most of these children are orphans, which is how they are so easily targeted to become sex slaves.  Exploited is a better choice of words, actually.  I cannot adopt them all, but I can help protect as many as possible.  Please spread the word about this. Watch the video. Read what my husband wrote on our donation page.  Consider giving.  If you can’t, you can still be a part of the solution by being educated and helping to educate others to this heinous activity. Awareness is critical.

“Love protects. Love defends. Love restores. Love empowers.”  You can help.  Be an abolitionist.

http://love146.org/videos/imagine

http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/robert-harper/love146rr