Faith and Endurance: Running the Race

Creating Dreams. Achieving Goals. Trusting God

Being Exactly Where I’m Supposed to Be. Answering My Calling. February 25, 2014

Filed under: Off Topic Thoughts,Trusting God — jenniferburton @ 9:17 am
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I have been doing a lot of reflecting and contemplating in my mind, and some praying, as far as what the next step is for me lately. Part of me has felt maybe I’m giving up too soon, and the other part maybe I just need to be content and continue where I am now. When I lost my teaching position in 2011, after 3 years of teaching, due to budget cuts, I was angry, bitter, upset, and wondered what in the world I did wrong, or felt I wasn’t good enough, even though my bosses tried to instill in me that I was a good teacher and would do well in other schools, especially magnet type schools (which surprised me). But it stuck back in my mind for the longest time (and even sometimes to this day) that I wasn’t good enough. And to top it off it happened right before I miscarried my first baby and right after I entered graduate school to earn my M.Ed. (which I graduated with a 4.0, an accomplishment I was able to achieve for myself). I knew, or I had weighed in, that I would love to be a stay at home mom when we were financially able to do so. Teaching was my dream career since the age of 4. I wanted the decision to be a stay at home mom to be mine when I felt was the right time to make it. In 2011 I felt I was stripped of my dream job prematurely. I wasn’t ready, and we weren’t financially able to do it well. My entire world turned upside down, leading me into a depression, in which graduate school was about the only thing that kept me going. I was withdrawn from everyone, even my family. I gained a lot of weight that summer. It was one of the darkest periods of my life. 

During that time we were fortunate to have the support of the friends, family and church which surrounded us to help us survive that remaining year and beyond. It was difficult to get past my pride and accept donations when we needed it because losing my job caused a $33, 000 deficit to us for the year, plus cheaper insurance. That August we found out I was pregnant again. It was bittersweet. It brought a lot of fear and joy at the same time. It forced us to be even more courageous and have faith that God was going to take care of us in our situation, and He did. 

Now pregnant and still no job, we had to reformulate and cut our expenses as much as possible until something came along. We moved into a smaller place closer to my husband’s job to help cut cost of rent and gas. It did help quite a bit. In April we had a healthy baby boy. I was determined to nurse, but that did not go as planned, and we ended up with the drastic expense of formula. But we managed to survive because God took care of us. In that time I have since decided to start working from home with a company that specializes in helping other families, which I enjoy. The income has helped, even though I’m not quite where I want to be just yet. But I have enjoyed making my own hours and making that job work around my family. Off and on I have continued to search for a teaching position, determined that that was my ultimate calling. That I was meant to be in the classroom. When I would see my teacher friends post stuff about school and their little blessings they receive from their students I would become envious, even though I was happy for them, but that bitterness would return with the thought that “It should be me. I should still be in that classroom making a difference.”

Now that it’s been almost 3 years, and I have yet to find a teaching position, I have slowly begun to embrace and being content with the role of being a stay at home mom in this time. Things are beginning to come together, as my husband continues to advance in his job. My son is now almost 2 years old, and  I realize that being at home with him, even though stressful at times, has allowed me to capture so many more moments with him than I would ever dream of if I was working full time and he was in child care. I enjoy that I can capture some of those moments and send them to my husband at work, hoping it will help brighten his day.

I have been weighing heavily on whether or not to sell my classroom supplies. I believe I have decided to take the plunge and get rid of it, or most of it, to have that as the next step of accepting my role as a stay at home mom. I have been reluctant due to the thought of “what if I find a job soon”, but now I’m not sure I even want to search anymore. Part of me feels like that I wasted money on my college and graduate degrees with that decision, but the other part tries to remind myself that everything happens for a reason, and maybe I am right where I am supposed to be, according to God’s will, and even though I’m no longer using my degrees, I did not waste money.  I was able to develop friendships and life lessons, as well as legitimate salvation during and at college. I probably wouldn’t have met my husband if I wasn’t in college. It wasn’t my timing to lose my job, but maybe it was God’s. I am now enjoying the freedom to do things with my son and go places when I want and enjoy the time with him. I’m making my own schedule without worrying about working around holidays, testing, and breaks. I can almost do what I want when I want, and the thought is rather liberating. I also need to remind myself that being a mom to this boy is the most important job, more important than teaching, and I can still make a difference…with him. He’s 22 months tomorrow, and he can count to 10, knows his alphabet, and most of his colors and a few shapes. He even has some books memorized (mainly Dr. Seuss). He’s healthy and thriving and quite happy and well mannered. I must be doing something right. The bitterness and frustration have been slowly waning over the years, but now I am in a period of beginning to be more accepting and have more confidence of the circumstances which have been given to us.  We will be moving again soon to help further cut expenses and continue to get our feet back on the ground. I am doing my best to trust God in that things will happen when and how they are supposed to.

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God Loves Quality Time with His Children October 15, 2011

Filed under: Off Topic Thoughts — jenniferburton @ 5:00 pm

Today has been one of those days where you just can’t seem to get enough fresh air from the breeze, the sun, and the sound of trees rustling in the wind. We have spent the day cleaning the house some with the open windows. When I decided to take a break, I stepped out back to enjoy the peace and quiet of nature. I wanted a moment of being silent and still.

As I sat in the chair, in a blissful state of relaxation, listening to the rustling of the leaves, some memories began to fill my head. I was thinking at the time how much I would enjoy lying in a hammock, so I could close my eyes and possibly doze.

Then, I remembered something from my childhood. Growing up, at one point, we lived on 5.5 acres, and we had a hammock tied between 2 trees in our front yard. I used to lie in that hammock frequently on days such as today. I would lie there, listening to the sounds of nature and watch the leaves dance in the trees and sometimes fall. Sometimes I would close my eyes and fall asleep for a short nap. But most of the time, this is where I would have my conversations with God. 

As I sat on the back deck, continuing to reminisce, I began to realize how often I spoke to God as a child. I used to talk to Him in my alone time, just as if He was sitting next to me. I wasn’t really saved at the time (that’s another story in itself). I believe in Him, though. I would tell Him what was on my mind. I would ask Him questions, and pray for my family constantly.

As I grew older…since then I had been saved (my sophomore year of college), my conversations with God began to diminish. I didn’t talk to Him as often or like I used to. When I was first saved, I was in constant prayer, but not necessarily taking time to “converse” with God. But my prayer life eventually began to diminish along with that. I have never lost my faith in God. I guess you can say as I have gotten older I became more sidetracked with many things. I keep going in and out of dry spells instead of being consistent. How did I let this happen? I realize I miss my conversations with God, and my prayer life with God. God loves spending time with us, any time and any day. Sometimes He just wants to talk to us, and sometimes He just wants us to talk to Him..just a conversation, no matter what situation you are in. You don’t always have to be “in prayer” to talk to God. When you speak, He listens. He is our Father, our Daddy. Just talk to Him, just like you want to talk to your parents, or how you want your kids to talk to you. Don’t allow life to come between you and your relationship with the King. It is so important to keep it open and communicative. Psalm 91:1-2 says, “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him I will trust.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The more you communicate with God, through prayer or conversation, the more you will build your relationship and trust with Him. It is because you seek Him, and that is exactly what He wants! He wants you to want Him! He is good, faithful, and never failing. “It is good to give thanks to the LORD, and to sing praises to Your name, O Most High; to declare Your lovingkindness in the morning, and your faithfulness every night…” Psalm 92:1-2. Don’t forget to thank Him and praise Him when you speak with Him. He is eternally good and always listening. I plan to converse with God again because I want that strong relationship. Will you? Will you make it a priority to take some time out of the day just to spend time with Him, just as He wants? He is waiting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Goes Through My Mind… April 22, 2011

Filed under: Off Topic Thoughts — jenniferburton @ 11:27 am

It’s 6:00 pm, and I am ready for my run. Parts of me are nervous because I don’t know how I’ll perform, but the other parts are excited because I know I am becoming one step closer to my goal, my goal to run a 5K. As I warm up with my 5 minute walk and listen to the music, I thank God for the weather, which He provided to allow me to spend another day outside for my run. The sun is shining, with a slight breeze, which acts as nature’s fan to help keep me cooler. My neighbors are out enjoying their daily yard work, preparing themselves for the summer. The insects are everywhere, as a sign of Spring, and praying they don’t fly into my nose or mouth. 

When the 5 minute warm-up is complete, am told to “run now”, and I begin. I first begin going down hill, pacing myself, working to not become too exhausted too soon. toward the bottom, I level out, circle around the first cal de sac, and then start back up hill. I see the crest of the hill in sight, knowing once I make it up there, it is level again. I must make it up. My  feet are hitting the sidewalk pavement, and I breathe in two, three four, out, two three four, repeatedly. I have to maintain control of my breathing to control my heart rate. 

The crest is nearing, and I will make it. Just as I make it, I am told to walk. I still need to maintain control of my breathing. Breathing too fast can make me lose oxygen and become dehydrated. Breathe more slowly, Jennifer. I made it. Now it’s only a matter of seconds before my next run. My longer run. My 3 minute run, as opposed to my previous 90 second run. Can I make it? Yes I can, because this is working toward the new, healthier me! God is by my side. He will help push me. Paul ran the race with endurance. I can do it, too! Literally.

90 seconds of walk pass, and I am told to run again. Here we go. I begin going down hill again toward the second cal de sac. The bittersweet thing about this one is that the distance is longer, however the hill is steeper. What goes down must come back up, right? I got this. Pace yourself, Jennifer. Remember to breathe. I begin to notice some little details about my neighborhood, certain inconsistencies in the sidewalk, the trees and bushes planted in the yards, the design of the freshly mowed grass in each yard, and which neighbors are coming and going. 

I get to the the bottom of the cal de sac, and start my way back up. Boy, this hill is steep, and it’s longer. I HAVE to make it. I just have to. Keep breathing and pace yourself. God is with me. He will push me. I’m almost there. My legs are getting tired. I’m going to make it. I’m going to make it. Keep going. I crest the hill with 45 seconds left to go. The sidewalk is flat now. I can keep going. My breaths are become shorter, but still maintaining control. 30 seconds. 20 seconds. Keep going, you’re almost done. 5 seconds…PUSH! “Walk now”. THANK YOU, JESUS!!! I made it through the first 3 minute run. I have a 2 minute walk, just enough to catch my breath, maintain my control again, and ready to run again.

I go down the third cal de sac. This one is much shorter than the first two, and the hill is not as steep. I manage to make it around and back up the cal de sac before my walk is over. I cross the street to the next sidewalk to begin my second round. “Halfway”. That’s my favorite word, second to “cool down”.  I know I can make it. This is the long, flat part, being the easiest part of my run.

“Run now.” Okay…90 seconds, let’s go! It’s flat for a while before I begin to go back down hill to the first cal de sac again. This 90 seconds goes by rather quickly and suddenly I’m able to walk again. I can feel myself becoming tired, yet energized at the same time. I know I only have one more 3 minute run to go. I can do this. “Run now”.  Let’s do this. I am about halfway down the hill when I am told to run again. I make my way around, and begin back up the hill. My legs are getting tired….more tired this time. My quads are burning, and my breath is becoming shorter. I MUST conquer this hill! Keep the pace. Slow down a little, it could help. I’m getting there. I’m almost there. I push myself, yelling at myself in my mind. I pretend Jillian Michaels is next to me, yelling at me to keep going. I finally crest the hill. My heart is pounding out of my chest, and my breathing is now too short to maintain control. I can’t continue. I pause the program with a minute and 30 seconds left to go. I walk during this time. I need to gain back my composure so I can complete this monster. I am on level ground now, so it’ll be easier. 

About 60 seconds later, I resume the program and complete my 3 minute run down the second cal de sac. I am upset because I had to stop in my 3 minute run, but I am happy because I still pushed my self, regardless of the walk halfway through it. “1 minute left”. I think to myself that I would have regretted not doing this at all. I am glad I pushed myself to come out here anyway and get it done. Repeating this week is an option. I’m in  no hurry. I just want to get it done, and get it done right, without killing myself. I get around the third cal de sac again. “Cool down”. I am almost finished, with 5 minutes left. I am tired, still out of breath. My legs burn, slightly. I begin to walk back home in my cool down. “Work out complete”. Victory is now in mind. I don’t care what I had to do to  complete the day. I managed to still complete it.

As I walk on the sidewalk to home, I can feel myself smiling on the inside, knowing  I did the right thing. Those little endorphins have been released, and I can feel it. I thank God for getting me through another work out. As I round the corner to the sidewalk leading me back home, I inhale a deep breath through my nose, and the sweet smell of honeysuckle has filled the air. I would definitely compare this to the sweet smell of victory. This is my reward for completing another good day’s work out. I may now enjoy my accomplishment and the gifts God has allowed me to enjoy.  I am also hot and sweating, regardless of the slight breeze blowing. I know I will have to do this again and keep going in order to reach my goal. It can only get better from here, as long as I keep it up.

I see my front door nearing, and I know there is air conditioning inside. I can’t wait. 

I walk in my front door, relieved. The cool air immediately touches my skin. I immediately take in some water to rehydrate myself before I begin my stretches. Yes….victory will be mine. 5K , I am coming for you!


 

Insight Vs. Perspective September 13, 2010

Filed under: Off Topic Thoughts — jenniferburton @ 9:46 pm
There is no doubt in my mind that, in God’s will, everything that happens has a purpose, a reason it happens. Having this time off from teaching in the middle of a new semester has helped me to see more of that. I think about the different reasons why God has allowed the snow fall as much as it did, to give people the time they need at home, maybe without realizing they needed it. I’m sure for some people, the reason could be to relax from stress. Others, maybe to save on expenses, such as gas. Maybe parents just needed this time to spend with their kids, as odd as it may sound, but remember God’s timing is perfect, if you allow His time and will to work in your lives. We cannot allow ourselves to be selfish enough to consider it a mere convenience to not work during the week. There is always a purpose, and God has allowed us the knowledge and wisdom, as well as free will to try to figure that out, to learn more about Him and the way He works in each of our lives. He is the Ultimate Teacher of ALL.
As I continue to consider this, I have often thought about my job and career as a teacher. I know things may get rough, and I’m praying that God will continue to guide me in the right direction, of what He has designed me to do. There is no doubt in my mind that God has given me a heart to teach, but teach what or whom, exactly? I know that right now I am where I am supposed be, a middle school teacher, educating the future, and being the best influence I know how to be. The question is, what does the future hold? Of course, none us really know about our future. If we did, then there would be no purpose of faith, as well as our reliance on God. We need to remember that we need God. God doesn’t need us, but He keeps us because He created us and loves us.
I have considered alternate career choices, but ironically enough, they all still factor in teaching. I’ve considered nutrition science. There, I get to TEACH people how to take care of their bodies. Yes, interior design did cross my mind, thanks to some friends, but there I also get to TEACH people how to coordinate their home and maximize their space. There have been a few other career options I have considered. I even thought of full-time missions. I get to teach the Word of God to those who have yet to hear of Him.
With all these being considered, I realize that God has given EVERYONE a heart to teach. All of us are teachers, as well as learners. We teach each other how to play the game of life. Parents teach their children how to become adults. Friends teach each other how to be loyal. Strangers teach us not to judge one another on a whim. It’s amazing to see how we are all connected through a world of teaching and learning. It’s like a domino effect. It has to start with the very first One…who would be God, and to spread like wildfire to everyone else. However, if there is too large of a gap from one person to the next, then that next person is too far out of reach to be touched.
We need to keep learning, so that we can keep teaching each other, to keep others within reach. This is God’s command, to study and teach of His Word, but teach out of love, and not out of hatred or bitterness. God wants us to continue to spread His love throughout, no matter the circumstances. He wants us to keep Him in perspective. Remember when things go wrong, always think about what is God going to do to make this come out good? What is God preparing for me to learn, so that I may teach others in similar situations?
Life has the tendency to take a toll on us, as things get crazier and seemingly out of control,but we need to remember that God always has control, for as long as you allow Him to keep in control.
As I read 2 Timothy again…it’s amazing to see how it applies.
 

Gay “Rights” July 19, 2010

Filed under: Off Topic Thoughts — jenniferburton @ 5:03 pm

Okay, so I know that I will probably offend some of you if you continue to read my blog. Well, if you continue to read it, then it’s your choice, and I’m putting it out there anyway. These are just my thoughts and my opinions based upon my beliefs.

I was recently reading an article about the Summer for Marriage tour, and one of the rallies taking place in Providence. Some gay activists made their existence known at this rally voicing their deserving of equality in rights of marriage and so on and so forth. There were a few videos I decided to watch, which was in response to the rally and a clip from “The View” when they discussed gay rights. I was curious what all these people had to say. Most people I have listened to on these video clips feel that gays should have equal rights to marriage, just as a heterosexual couple does. Not all agree with some public displays some gays may put on, but they’re not against gay couples. Okay, everyone has their opinion. Everyone has a right to one, and that’s fine. However, with actions beyond those opinions come consequences.

Rights….everyone has rights. This is something that came in to mind that I feel makes a valid point. The Civil Rights movement was action taking place so that black people may have equal rights with white people. It was a necessary movement because all human beings should begin with rights. I think that’s awesome that America allows every citizen to have rights from the time of birth until they do things that may strip them of that, such as maybe some criminal activity at an older age.

I just don’t understand how people who choose an alternative lifestyle feel like they should fight for rights. It was a choice and therefore, making that choice, you choose to accept the terms and conditions which come with that choice, such as “inequality”. It’s just like a students who chooses not to do their work, yet they feel they have a right to an A because they are still a student. We all know that’s not the case. If a student chooses not to do the work, then they choose not to pass. I just think it’s ironic that people who make choices feel that everyone still should cater to their wants/needs. No one should even compare the Gay Rights Movement with the Civil Rights Movement. They are totally different and separate. I think anyone who was involved in the Civil Rights Movement ought to be offended by the Gay Rights Movement/Activists. No one chooses to be black, white, Asian, Hispanic, or any other cultural background. You can’t choose WHO you are, but you can choose HOW you live. No one should have to pay for or succumb to the choices of others. Certain choices come with certain consequences, and when you make that choice, just be prepared for what is to come afterward, whether it be good or bad. If you choose to be gay, then that’s the life you choose to go for, and you shouldn’t expect to have the same “marriage” rights as heterosexuals. That was your choice. Live with it, or don’t be gay.

I personally do believe homosexuality is a choice. I believe it is a legitimate struggle that people deal with just as everyone has that one thing/target they struggle with. Some struggle with alcohol, some struggle with drugs, some struggle with pornography, etc. However, no one is born an alcoholic, drug addict, or a pervert. People can be exposed to certain things, and it becomes a constant struggle. It’s one thing to struggle with the thoughts, but it’s another to choose to act out on it.