post 005 – invest.

Recently, I started to binge watch Shark Tank. I suppose I was intrigued by the amount of money that these sharks would give to business owners and claim their portion. Or, maybe it was the way the business owners’ stories would capture a piece of my heart. Many of them shared what drove them to create their business and push through the odds to be where they are today. As most shows go, some would get deals and others wouldn’t. In order to be deemed successful on Shark Tank, the owner/s would need to get at least one shark to invest in their work.

Given the example before, that type of investment particularly deals with money. However, when we talk about the word invest, it doesn’t necessarily always have to equate to finances. When I think about the word invest, I think about how we are called to invest in many areas and assets of our lives. This could range from our family to a current project we’re attempting to complete. There’s an endless list to what we could invest in, but the important looming question begins to be whether or not whether or not our investment will be worth it in the long run. I’ve compiled a list of five areas of our lives that we can reflect and think about.

  1. Invest in your relationship with God.
    • In Luke 5:16, we see, “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed” (NIV). Through the life of Jesus, we are able to see His heart and how He invested in his relationship with His father. He didn’t let anything stand in the way of taking time with God, not even his own tiredness, his to-do list, nada, nothing. It makes me think of the countless times I’ve neglected to invest in my own relationship with God. I have often chosen a T.V. show, hanging out with friends, finishing up tasks on my to-do list, etc. over spending quality time with God. It says something about my heart. And, it’s not a really good thing. What are areas in our lives that could afford to see a little less of us, so we can see more of God?
  2. Invest in your church.
    • As I grew up, the only places I was extremely familiar with included church, school, and home. These were the 3 places you could find me. The majority of the weekend was given to church because of Friday night Bible study, Saturday’s choir practice, and Sunday’s service and Sunday school.
    • The lessons and ways I was able to grow and serve in my home church molded me into the person I am today.
    • The 3 days of VBS, years spent in Sunday School, and relationships formed with the youth set my foundation as a believer. It served as a component of completely changing the trajectory of my life.
    • No matter your age- I think there’s a place and way to invest in your church. Look for and identify ways you can serve. Is it through assisting as a Sunday School teacher? Does it mean helping set up the coffee for morning service? The list is endless, but there’s a place. It’s simply waiting to be found.
  3. Invest in your relationship with your family.
    • In the last 9 years, I’ve had the chance to live at home again just once. Even as I write that number nine, it’s kinda crazy. It was from 2014-2015. Although it was a rough year because I had to relearn and adjust myself to living at home again, it was a year I cherish dearly. Since I haven’t been home, I’ve had to celebrate some milestones from afar, cheer them on from a distance, and miss out on some important memories. Missed birthdays, Father & Mother’s days take a toll on you once you sit back and really think about it all. That’s why I encourage you to take the time to invest in your family.
    • As this summer continues, I am praying and hoping that I am able to do so whether that is during my two week break or other pockets of time I can catch a flight home. It isn’t easy. By no means. The takeaway? Family matters.
  4. Invest in your relationship with your friends.
    • Sometimes your circle decreases in size, but increases in value.”
    • This resonates me so much as I’ve found it to be true through the years. The older I get, the more loudly this speaks. Friendships are extremely important as they play a part in shaping and molding you. Find and invest in friendships that prompt you to think deeply about Jesus, ask you the hard questions, and share some of your best and worst moments of life.
    • As I think about some of my dear friends, they have been the same ones to stay even when life was really hard. Their encouragement to turn to Jesus was and remains unmerited.
  5. Invest in your life’s work.
    • As a person who has had 3 jobs in the past five years for a variety of reasons, I am learning to really live and breathe this truth. 2 years in Houston as a 4th grade teacher, 1 year in Garland as a 3rd grade teacher, and 2 years in Houston as a 2nd grade teacher definitely teaches you a lot about yourself and the work that is at hand.
    • If there’s one overall message I’ve learned, I have come to the understanding that our life’s work isn’t always easy. In fact, I know each job comes with its own difficulty. People always commend me for being a teacher, but honestly, each job should be commended.
    • Along with this, one of the parts of investing in our life’s work includes investing in the people at our work.
    • Do we know the people who clean our office/classroom? Do we take the time to engage with our co-workers and their lives? Have we stopped to take a listen to their story? Have we taken the time to share about Jesus & the Gospel story?

Our turn: What area of our life is God calling us to pay a bit more attention to? Where do we need to invest our love, time, energy, etc. ?

post 004 – community

When you look at your friend group, what do you see? Rather, who do you see? I’ve used this post to highlight distinctive qualities of a Christ-centered community and what that could look like. These opinions have been developed based on my own experience with our missional community and everything I’ve gathered in the past couple of years.

  • Prayer.
    • The specific mission of our missional community is to ensure that we are pointing one another back to Christ. This is first done through the pursuit of prayer. We pray to place our focus solely on Christ. We eagerly pray for the veils of self to be removed. Along with this, we set apart time to share our joys and any prayer requests. Following this, we ensure that adequate time is given to pray over these subject matters. For me, the most beautiful unfolding of this has been the times of check-in. We are able to see how God has faithfully answered or how we can continue to press into prayer to keep interceding for those requests. Prayer keeps us rooted in who matters most. Jesus.
  • Scripture Study.
    • Currently, we are studying The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer and can I just say… it’s been one of those books that cut through the flesh and straight into the heart. If you haven’t had a chance to read it, I highly recommend it. With that being said, we have gone through the seasons of discussing topics from appropriate T.V. shows, God’s will, and everything in between, studying the book of Revelation, and are currently studying the aforementioned book. Through this, we are able to hear from God and have honest conversations about what God is specifically calling for our lives. I love it because it really pushes us to examine our own personal lives, which leads me to the next characteristic.
  • Sharing.
    • In our group, there is freedom to share honest, real, and raw feelings and thoughts  while sparing any judgment. I think this has been the most liberating aspect. We are all free to share, and are met with honest conversations about what God says in the Bible. In my opinion, this serves as one of our strengths because we meet each other with respect and point each other back to what the Bible says. This is so critical. Instead of simply providing our own advice, we are building each other up and challenging one another against the words of God. This pushes for growth over and over again.
  • Wholesome Talk.
    • We make it a point to abide by Ephesians 4:29 which states, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (NIV).  This includes limitations on the kind of words we are speaking to each other. It is extremely easy to fall into the trap of sarcasm and write it off as nothing big, while it may actually be a big deal. Granted, we are a work in progress, but we are learning!
  •  Relationships.
    • From where we were to where we are now, our missional community looks drastically different in regards to the depth of our relationship with one another. I will say that the most seamless aspect of this group includes the building of relationships. Over time, we have devoted the energy and time to getting to know one another through sharing meals and stories. For me, this has been such a fun part getting to know the different ways that God has created His people. Each person of our group is distinctly different and it’s been incredible to see each personality shine.

All in all, we aim to abide by the simple but wise command from the Westminster Shorter Catechism: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.” Are we perfect? By no means. As we meet weekly, we are growing weekly and it’s been humbling. We are currently seeking to find a place where we can serve and identifying ways to branch out and reach others. Along with this, we are continuously challenging to keep one another accountable and ensuring we are walking according to God’s will. I am so thankful to do life with these people. Seriously. They’re the best.

And, as always, if you are seeking a community in the Houston area, our doors are wide open! Feel free to message/comment: I’d love to hear more characteristics and qualities that could be added to the list.

Post 003 – transition

In a span of 48 hours, I have managed to move into a new apartment and workplace. These steps were not surprising. I had been anticipating them for many weeks now and the time had finally come. Tennis shoes on, boxes packed, car loaded. This was it. It was finally happening. But first, let’s rewind to the past few months of sitting still.

During this day and age, I don’t really know if I’m very good at sitting still. There’s always something to occupy my attention. This could range from checking my phone to checking    out the latest addition at Five Below. (I know. I need help!) All that to say, God has been faithful even though I didn’t spend a lot of time reflecting and thinking about that during my season of transition.

I think it’s difficult to reflect and be thankful when your season of transition remains just that. Starting in March, I began to make plans to move from the classroom to becoming a literacy interventionist. This job would allow me to coach reading teachers and pull small groups for reading. This was the dream, friends!

I interviewed to get into the pool of applicants. I made it. Then, the e-mails came.

One email after another came clobbering through my inbox. As each email came expressing the school’s interest in my ability, the level of pride increased simultaneously. Fast forward. That pride translated into being present in my first two interviews. I had it. I knew I did.

But, what do you do when those schools decide to hire someone else?

The first school never called and the second school politely expressed the fact that they had gone with someone else. As quickly as a popped balloon deflates, my pride immediately vanished.

The season of transition continued to be just that. A season of transition. Nothing. Nada. Silence.

As it goes, I began to retrace my steps and question whether or not I had heard God correctly. I doubted the fact that He had indeed called me to move to this position. I suppose you conjure all these thoughts and false truths in times of uncertainty. With two rejections, I had one last interview. Would I be 3 for 3?

Sitting in my car before my last interview, I cried tears of sadness and expressed my uncertainty to God. In that moment, I invited Him in and let Him take control of the pain, the sadness, the uncertainty, you name it. Should this have been my first step? WITHOUT A DOUBT. But ah me, human me.

Long story short, I stepped into the interview and shared my answers to their questions. As I listened to their responses, I heard the gentle voice of the Holy Spirit say, “This is it.”

And sure enough, to the true character of God, He remained faithful.

I received the job offer and will begin in the fall. I say this as a reminder to myself and to you, the reader. Since my mind and heart were so concerned with the end goal, I missed out on precious moments with God. I neglected moments to understand Him and learn from Him.

Let’s not get carried away with waiting for the season of transition to ultimately end. Let’s fix our eyes on what God wants to teach us in the midst of it.

Are you or someone you know in the midst of a transition? How can you remind and encourage yourself/them to remain steadfast in God?