Stepping it up

So, news flash on Claire’s personal life for a sec:

Last year’s STEP-UP Fellows (can you find me?!)

I am currently working with an urban education teacher preparation partnership with Chicago Public Schools and Illinois State University. It provides an intensive live-in internship for undergraduates working towards becoming urban educators and community workers. It’s called STEP-UP.

I had this internship last year and it literally changed my life.

Currently I am on staff for STEP-UP and I have a feeling it may be equally life altering.

Today, somewhere in between meeting with the GADC and St. Sabina’s Employment Resource Center and visiting all of Auburn-Gresham incredibly welcoming (and entertaining!) host families, I found myself thinking about all the strengths and qualities that my team, an incredible group of educators, posses.

This job–heck, even the internship–is very demanding and could be considered high-stress. It requires long hours and constant work, but also continuous self-exploration, intrinsic motivation, and an other-worldly  kind of collaboration that I have never before experienced here on this planet as of yet.

I started thinking about all these demands, and I then surprised myself.

You see, usually when I am in a situation where I have a lot of pressure and stress on me, I freak out and stress out. But this time I’m not doing any freaking or stressing.

I looked at the team of people I am working with and it all made sense.

I could go deeply into all the reasons why I am incredibly grateful to be working with each of them, but that would be a terribly long post. I’ll keep it short. The most important thing you need to know in order to understand happened last night:

It’s 10:45pm, we’ve all been up since at least 6am and have been working pretty much non-stop with no dinner break. You would think that energy would be low and people would be drained, grumpy, and snippy. But no! Yes, each of us feels tired, but it’s that good kind of tired that leaves you with a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. The energy is lower, but still very  positive.

The stress and frustration that could easily come about from the late hour and the little kinks that have come up in our planning is replaced with a shared patience and love from the group as a whole that I can’t explain in worldly terms. But here, I’ll try: These folks got my back, and I got theirs’! Why worry?! 

My affection for my own team got me thinking about Jesus’ Team: the 12 Disciples. 

In my last post I picked apart the meaning of the word “Disciple” and since then I’ve been contemplating and reading about what it truly means to be one.

What are the demands and skill-sets needed to fill the job description of one of Jesus’ 12? 

In the next few weeks, while I continue to work within my own job’s high

demands and long hours, and while I monitor our intern’s progress and skill-sets, I want to explore what it truly means to be a Disciple of Jesus Christ in this current world.

I want to send in my resume to Jesus so I can apply for the position of Disciple. I want to get the job, and I want to discover how to ROCK IT!

…… Okay, maybe not exactly like that.

But seriously, what do you think? What makes a “good” Disciple? What would be the job manuel for a Disciple of Christ? If you were offered the job (and you are) would you take it ( or…. have you taken it)?

Look out for more posts on this topic to come in the upcoming weeks!

Well, I’m back…

Well, I’m back to the blogging world. After taking a long break (that I truly did not intend to be so long), I am back to writing to you all again (although I doubt this number is as high as it once was, as I’ve been dormant for some time) but anywho, here I am again.

I shall spare you a general update, as those are never any fun, and just simply dive into it.

Today was the PDS end of the year dinner. I did not expect it to be as…. sad as it was. I thought we would all just eat and hang out and then go home and do our KUDs and everyone would kind of move on. I guess I’m not usually a sentimental one at these kinds of things… But today I found myself feeling a little sad. I had this odd sensation similar to that of a little kid at the end of Christmas: happy and satisfied, but oddly disappointed that holidays end so suddenly. Not that student teaching has been a holiday, mind you. But I found myself speeding down 74 thinking: “I’m lonely.”

And it’s not because my husband is gone for the week or that I miss my family back in the burbs or because I didn’t connect with anyone at the dinner. I couldn’t really place it.

Then it hit me.

I have not been present this year. I have not truly enjoyed the time I have in the moment, or been focused on breathing through the struggles. I have been always looking forward and ahead, planning in advance for things that I truly have no control over in an attempt to falsely feel as if I do have control (typical Claire move right there). I know it has been hard: applying for future jobs and getting ready to graduate while still student teaching and directing the play. My focus has been utterly split there past few months. But it has caused me to really miss out on living this out.

I realize that I am a total hypocrite.

See, I teach yoga right? And I guide my participants into mindful meditation where I tell them the importance for breathing and letting go of all stress and thoughts to simply be in the present moment and appreciate our bodies and minds and hearts. I get people who come up to me and tell me that I’m so healthy and I’m a role model of what an active, fit young person should be.

And yet….

I am still struggling daily with bulimia and anorexia. I am not taking my own advice and “breathing through each moment”. I get stressed and take out my anger on my husband or my students or my health. I go on exercise binges that are not healthy and I have wasted so much time worrying and not enough time actually LIVING.

It would be really easy right now for me to go off on myself. What would my students say? That I’m treatin myself? Yeah, it would be easy to treat me (and not as in a brownie or cookie kind of treat). But I’m not about to do that.

So basically, I asked Dennis to pray for me today because I’ve been freaking out about jobs and money and the future. I’ve not been trusting God with my entire life like I know He has called me to do. Today I was calm and quiet and prayerful, praying for God to help me let go of my need to control and simply give my future over to his hands.

Today I found out I didn’t get the job in Marengo.

Today I scheduled an interview with Mr. Elliott at Peoria.

Today I drove down 74 feeling lonely and thinking about all of this and how much time I’ve wasted being stressed and upset when really, I’m surrounded by so many wonderful people who can be incredibly inspiring if I choose to see it.

I was a mess with directing because I couldn’t see that 11 out of 13 kids in the cast were sweethearts.

I was a mess with teaching because I couldn’t see that this was my time to experiment and be flexible and IMperfect.

I was a mess with my temper because I couldn’t let anything roll off of me or take criticism with a grain of salt.

I was a mess this semester because I didn’t give God the time He needed to chill me out.

So I’m speeding down 74 feeling lonely, after being around some incredible and inspiring people, going home to an empty apartment and needing to finish KUDs and take a bath, and I’m wondering: “What the heck am I lonely for?”

I thought about calling someone. Mom? Dennis? Liz? Aunt Suz? But what do I have to talk about? What would I say? “Hey, I’m lonely and I don’t know why, but I think I might be speeding in a construction zone while talking on the cell phone, so actually, I have to hang up.” ?? … I didn’t want to call anyone, and I had just spoken with a bunch of people for two hours.

What the heck am I lonely for?

The answer is Christ.

So I guess that’s the moral of my story. Christ is the answer and He is always the answer, but I have been looking in all the wrong places for Him and it’s time to change things again.

So I’m back. Back with a new plan…. and yet it’s not my plan.

It’s God’s.

Namaste Yo!

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