Election Thoughts

What you are about to read is written to make you think. My goal is not to change anyone’s mind, but to express my own thoughts and opinions as I keep getting asked “How can you be a Christian and NOT support Trump?”

I am seeing a lot of Christians whose votes appear to be driven by fear. There seem to be four main fears: immigration, gay marriage, persecution, and abortion. I do not believe for a second God wants us voting based on fear. 2 Timothy 1:7 says “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control”. (ESV)

Let’s get into immigration first. Did you know the Bible actually tells us to allow immigrants into our land?  L eviticus 19:33-34 says “When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.” We are also told in Matthew 25:35 – 40 when we do something such as feeding the hungry, it is as if we are doing it for God. Now, how can we possibly justify keeping immigrants out of our land?

Oh, right, they may try to kill us, take away our religious freedom, and/or destroy our country. So you would rather go against God’s word than trust Him to take care of you and your loved ones?  What about those families who mean us no harm and only want a better life for themselves?  Do you realize how difficult and costly it is for many people to get to America, even illegally?  In my area, we recently had some people come in illegally from Mexico and Honduras. They each paid to ride in the back of an eighteen wheeler. They were dropped off about 60 miles outside of their destination, after riding all day in the back of a hot, metal truck. Think about how desperate you would have to be to ride in the Texas heat in the back of a metal truck with no fan, let alone air conditioning. They were risking their lives to get here.

Working in an inner city, I have worked with many immigrant families (from many different countries). The parents work hard and the kids are usually some of the best behaved kids in my class. I can’t fathom how we could possibly deny these families entry into the U.S., especially since nearly all of us come from immigrants. It was ok for our ancestors to come over, but not other people?

The thought of persecution is scary, but I fail to see a logical reason to vote based on this fear. Persecution is going to happen to every Christian – even if it isn’t on a national scale, it will happen to you personally. I would be shocked if you couldn’t tell me a specific instance where you felt persecuted because of your religious beliefs. Now, I have seen people say we weren’t told to seek out persecution. True, but we were told to expect it. Jesus told us we would be persecuted in John 15:20. So, how can you possibly justify going against God’s word by voting against immigration just because you might be persecuted? Doing the wrong thing for the right reasons does not make it right.

And for the next topic, gay marriage. I just can’t comprehend how this affects your life so much that you vote against it. Do you realize how hated gays feel by the church in general? Do you really believe that’s what God wants? For us to ostracize an entire group of people to the point they feel God can’t possibly love them?  The church allows so many sins (lying, pride, greed, & adultery to name a few), yet this one is not ok?  Do you not realize that God is just as disgusted by whatever sin is in your life as you are by gay people?  There’s no sin hierarchy, people. And I’m tired of feeling like I am aligned with those of you who hate gays, just because we both identify as Christians. Where’s the love? And don’t tell me you love gays if you are voting against gay marriage. You may love specific gay people, but those who don’t know you just see hate.

And stop comparing the allowing of gay marriage to Sodom and Gomorrah! They had a culture of rape – they demanded that Lot send the angels out so that they could have sex with them. That doesn’t sound like consensual sex to me.

And about now you are wondering how I can possibly be pro-life and tell you it’s ok to vote for someone who is pro-choice. I definitely understand your struggle on this one. For me, I had to come to the conclusion that it is irresponsible to vote for a candidate based on just one issue. I’ve never felt comfortable basing my vote just on the candidate’s stance on abortion. Do you really believe all God cares about is how candidates feel about abortion?  So, why would you just vote based on this one issue? And how can you trust a candidate with NO voting record?

And how can we ask for religious freedom, yet tell someone else what to do with their bodies? For that matter, how can we ask for religious freedom and dictate social norms?  God gave us all free will to sin.  I’m all for protecting personal rights, but if someone’s sin isn’t harming you, there’s no need for legislating against it. Keep in mind 1 Corinthians 13:2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.” If we are going to get it wrong, let’s at least err on the side of love.

And here’s another favorite verse of mine, 1 Corinthians 10:23 which essentially states everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial. What might be a sin to you, is okay for someone else. You are not God and do not get to determine what is right for others. No, I’m not doubting the validity of the Bible and what is laid out as sin. Last time I checked, we aren’t actually stoning people for adultery anymore. And we all wear clothes with mixed fibers (Deuteronomy 22:11).  Do you think God is ok with this? So why are those sins ok, but not others?

There isn’t going to be a perfect candidate for many reasons. We are all flawed. We can’t expect a non-Christian to hold Christian values. Yes, some of them may line up, but it probably won’t be 100%.

Last of all, please do not forget that there’s more than just a presidential election going on this year. I’ve read that 88% of congress is up for reelection. And, if you really want to see change, please vote at the state and local levels. As a Christian, pray about your votes. Don’t just assume you know the right thing to do without actually seeking God. Even if the best Christian you know tells you who to vote for, please seek after God first!

I realize not everyone will agree with me, and that’s okay. But, let’s keep the discussion respectful! Please adhere to the following commenting guidelines:

  1. No cussing – please keep it clean.
  2. No name calling. It just tells the other person you know your point is weak.
  3. Most importantly, use proper spelling and grammar. Being unclear, using bad grammar, and misspelling words all make it hard to take you seriously.

 

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Leap of Faith

Last school year was tough. I had a great group of kids, built great rapport with the students and their parents, but couldn’t seem to make my bosses happy, no matter how hard I worked. It was disheartening and I wasn’t sure I still wanted to be a teacher by the end of the year. I’m not blaming my administration; maybe we were just not a good fit.

Thankfully, I had a lot of awesome teachers and support staff around me, who encouraged me, lifted me up, listened to my frustrations, and guided me. I have found that most teachers are in it for the kids. We are always looking for ways to make our students’ lives better; and not just through education.

Towards the end of the year, I found out I was going to be moved to a school even further away from my home. I was already spending about 10 hours a week commuting. I am not a fan of driving, especially in traffic. Audiobooks are my saving grace, but I’d rather spend the time working, exercising, or sleeping.

The reason I was being moved to a new school again is that I’m a newer teacher, enrollment is down, and they had to cut a few teachers from our school. Thank you, gentrification. I had no idea what that meant until I got to see it in action over the past few years. Tearing down established neighborhoods of the lower classes, and either remodeling or putting up much more expensive homes. So, you push the low income people out (my students and their families) and high income people move in. The high income people typically don’t have kids and, if they do, they aren’t always enrolled in the local public school.

I spent a lot of time praying about what to do. I love working with the kids in the lower socio-economic scale. It’s difficult, but it’s where my heart is at. Yes, some kids are clearly not wanted. And, at the least, those kids are neglected. At the worst, they are abused in some way. Yet, there are plenty of amazing parents, who work hard, love their kids, and do the very best they can for them. I was surprised to find that most parents fall into the latter category. I love getting to encourage these parents, who are often stuck in a cycle of poverty, and often feel like they are looked down upon. You should see the looks on these parents faces when I take them aside and tell them, “I see how much you love your child and that you are doing your best for him/her. I know it’s difficult, but I am here if you need me”. There are so many people who have probably never been told they are a good parent. And they need someone in their corner.

Anyway, I felt God leading me to resign from Dallas. Resigning a job without another one scared me. Right around that time, I heard a sermon about “laying a fleece before God”, which is essentially asking God for a specific sign. Well, my principal came to me in a panic, because he didn’t realize a more experienced teacher was leaving. It was tempting to stay there, in an uncomfortable comfort zone. There were some red flags associated with that particular job, but I’ve got a mortgage to pay and it’s terrifying to turn down a sure thing. I told him I’d think about it. Then, I prayed that my principal would mention the job, or even just talk to me, a few days later.

I’m not even sure I saw him that particular day, so I contacted HR and told them thank you for the offer of the new school, but it’s too far, and I will be resigning. So, I went home and resigned.

The next day, I found out my work BFF, who was a huge support in making it through a difficult year, was going to be moved to the same school. If I had only known, I would have accepted the position at that Dallas school. As I was praying, God told me I wasn’t supposed to go to that school, which is why I didn’t find out until after I resigned. He had something better in store for me. And I wouldn’t have a job until the end of the summer.

I’m super blessed with some amazing friends and family. When I shared what was going on, most of them expressed some concern that I was resigning a sure thing, but they all supported me nonetheless.

Again, I wasn’t even sure I wanted to be in teaching, so I put in an application to my local district. And then I went on vacation with my cousin, Joy. We had a blast in Playa del Carmen and look forward to going back! Laying on the beach, sipping a mojito, enjoying delicious food, swimming, and exploring Mexico with one of my favorite people made it one of my best vacations ever.

I come back and no messages from principals. I went back to not worrying about it, aside from the occasional panic in the middle of the night. Mostly, I was at peace about this. So, I enjoyed my summer. I got a lot of projects done. I helped my brother and his wife move into their new home. This involved a lot of watching Benji, their one-year-old. I adore Benji, but taking care of a one-year-old is exhausting! I will always value the time we got to spend together. Benji, if you are reading this, I still feel bad about that bruise on your cheek. I was right next to you, ready to catch you, as you raced up the stairs. I think your body got ahead of your brain and you hit your face on the stairs.

As I started seeing advertisements for back to school and memes about going back to school, I realized I did want to get back in the classroom. I can’t imagine doing anything else at this point in my life.

I finally get some interviews in my local district, thanks to help from an awesome contact (my brother-in-law’s dad).  The interviews went well. Honestly, I’m pretty good at interviewing. Connecting with people is one of my talents. Yet, I never heard back from them, even after emailing them.  It was disappointing and nerve-wracking.

So I started working on a back-up plan: substitute teaching and getting my real estate license. I’ve always been interested in real estate. I think the housing market is one of the best indicators of the health of our economy. And I keep an eye on the market. I also considered going back into financial services, which is where I spent the first 12 years of my post-college career, but I was hopeful I wouldn’t have to take a step backwards.

I started hearing about jobs in another local district and was given principals to contact about specific jobs. So, I finished up my application to that district. I did not hear a word from them for at least two weeks. One day, a new friend of mine, who also resigned from Dallas, gave me a name and number to contact in the HR department of this district. She had just accepted a position in the same district.

Calling strangers regarding jobs is something I really hate. But, I’d hate not making every effort to find a job I love more. So, I sucked it up, and called her. She noticed I didn’t have the needed documentation of my teaching certifications. She got that fixed and the next day I started getting calls for interviews.

The first interview I set up was for a 7th grade math Special Education position. Keep in mind, I have taught 1st, 2nd, and Pre-k the past three years. But, my heart is in Special Education. I was super excited about this interview. I also got a call for a 2nd grade position which would match my experience better, but I just was not as excited about this one.

I talked to another friend for about an hour that evening, who teaches junior high at a different school. She had lots of good advice. I think it’s important to be prepared for an interview. I also looked at the school’s TEA (Texas Education Agency) report cards and compared those to the TEA Report card of my previous school. I like to go into interviews as prepared as possible.

I arrive at my first interview for the 7th grade position. The principal apologizes for being in jeans, but I tell her, “It’s okay. I’m wearing my interview clothes, because I figured you would judge me if I showed up in jeans”.

She laughs and says, “You are right. I probably would”.

It’s always good to start off an interview with a laugh, am I right? Okay, there are some people who wouldn’t appreciate it, but we probably wouldn’t work well together.

I won’t bore you with all the specifics, but the principal comes from an elementary background and is upfront in telling me she isn’t afraid to hire me based on my background. She, the assistant principal, and I talk about how we have to capture kids’ hearts before we can teach them. YES! Exactly! It really felt like we were all on the same page. The principal walked me out and told me she wanted to hire me, but needed to check my references first.

I was late to the 2nd interview. I did call to let them know. And it went ok – I felt like I was able to connect with the interviewers, but I haven’t heard back from them. I really liked the principal, teacher, and counselor who interviewed me, but I think it’s time for a change.

The interviews were on Friday. On Saturday, I was hanging out with a friend, and she had been telling another friend about my situation. That friend said God told her “I’d have a job in the 11th hour”.

Anyway, I got the call from the first principal on Monday, offering me the job. Now, I’m just waiting on some paperwork so I can go in a sign my contract.

I realize some of you may be reading this and thinking I’m crazy for believing God speaks to me. And that’s okay. I’m just sharing my story and I know yours may be different, but that won’t take anything away from my faith.

 

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Summer Project: Chalk Painting

This summer, I have learned how to make and use chalk paint. It really is remarkable stuff – easy to make and no prep needed before you start painting. I found a recipe here. I used the calcium carbonate recipe because you can use it with virtually any paint, including satin finishes and those with primers. The calcium carbonate will turn the paint into a flat finish.

I started with an old filing cabinet. I didn’t really care if it didn’t turn out well, so it was the perfect piece to learn on.  Then I moved onto my guest bathroom. I painted the cabinets, an old dresser, a shelf, and the metal edges of a pair of mirrors. I really love how this room turned out!

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Here’s an old bathroom cabinet my sister gave me 15 years ago.

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With the waxy white finish, I have found it best to sand this a little to help the paint adhere better.

My first plan was to use several different shades of blue for the drawers and handles. I didn’t like how it was turning out, so I took the color I used on the main part and lightened it. You can still see some of the other darker blues I used in this picture. This was taken after only one coat!

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What’s a good home project without some sort of mistake? Or is that just me?  I set my paint bowl on the drawers, not realizing there was some darker blue paint on the bottom. Covering this mistake only took one coat, even though I was using a lighter color.

 

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Since I do not distress my furniture, I use 3 coats. If I were to distress, I would probably only need 2 coats. The paint takes about 15 minutes to dry between coats. Then it is waxed. I use Minwax Paste Finishing Wax. Use a cloth to apply a thin layer, wait 15 minutes, then apply another layer. If you are expecting heavy use, go ahead and put on a 3rd layer. Buff the furniture after 15 to 30 minutes. The furniture will be ready for light use after 24 hours, but takes 2-4 weeks to fully cure.

Here’s the finished product:

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Finally, let me save you $30-$40. You do NOT need a chalk paint brush or a wax brush. Regular paint brushes work great. For smaller pieces and details, you’ll want a smaller brush, like what you would find in the art section. Nor do you need a wax brush – you’ll probably end up using an old cloth to apply the wax.

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Plans for my first new home project

                I am so excited about my new place! We close soon. First thing to happen in the new place is to get the flooring pulled up. We have a couple of guys from church coming over to take care of that.

                The walls are in bad shape and it needs to be repainted. We have a painter coming in next week. He’s even going to get rid of the atrocious wallpaper in the bathrooms.

 Before the painter comes in, I’m going to write Bible verses on the walls this weekend. They’ll be covered up by the paint and I will like knowing they are there, hidden under the paint.

                If you have any ideas on Bible verses to write on my walls, leave them in the comments. And if you have some free time this weekend and want to help, let me know.

 

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The Water Park Injury

                I was expecting a fun, relaxing three day weekend. Going to Urgent Care Sunday evening was not in my plans! 

                Sunday morning, I picked up my niece, K, to take her to church followed by an outing to the local water park. It is a brand new water park, not very busy and perfect for aunt/niece outings.  We have enjoyed several visits there this summer.

                After enjoying our favorite attraction, the lazy river, we headed to the wave pool. Every time we go, I am so impressed with how much K’s swimming is improving. And she enjoys showing me what a great swimmer she is becoming!

                We enjoyed one set of waves and then we were both ready for lunch. As we were getting out, I was running in shallow water along with K and I felt a pop and severe pain in my calf. Thinking it was simply a muscle cramp, I sat down, massaged it a little and stood up. I could not stand on my left leg. K quickly saw I was in pain and started trying to figure out how to get me some help. When I tried standing up again and still could not put weight on my leg, I sent her to the lifeguard who was 20 feet away.

                The lifeguard came over to check it out and then called to the other lifeguard who was handling injuries. He got me an ice pack and filled out information since I got hurt in the park. K got our bag to bring to me but forgot my shoes. The nice lifeguard went and got my shoes, and I was able to stand up and hobble towards the exit. I forgot my flip flops and only had my church shoes: really cute low heeled sandals. I don’t think I’ll ever forget appropriate footwear for the water park again!

                Being September 1st in Texas, it was HOT. Poor K was miserable. Somehow, we managed to make it to my car. In retrospect, I should have accepted the offer of a wheelchair, even though I would have felt conspicuous being wheeled out of the water park. 

                After stopping by McDonalds, so I could get something for both of us to eat, I realized I was going to need help. My parents are out of town this week, so I called our wonderful neighbors. Fortunately, they were home and when I explained the situation, they said they would meet me at my house.

                I pull into the driveway and as I’m trying to figure out how to get myself into the house, the neighbors show up. With crutches! They help me get settled, including getting stuff out of my room on the second floor. They took K and kept her entertained for several hours so I could rest. They even took Sam out! And offered to take him home with them, but Sam is my buddy and I need him, especially when I’m not feeling well.

                When my neighbors came to check on me several hours later and found I was not much better, they insisted I go to urgent care. We managed to arrive just before closing and the receptionist barely fit me into the schedule. After nearly an hour of waiting, the doctor finally came in and determined I had a muscle tear. He told me to rest, ice my leg, use crutches, and see him in a few days if I was not much better.

                I had to go to work today on crutches and I am so exhausted. Fortunately, my leg is significantly better! Unfortunately, I have to explain that I tore a muscle getting out of a pool. If only I had a better story on how I injured my leg. 

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Housing Saga Continued: My New Home?

                I am so sorry to leave you hanging after my last post! It has been a busy week. I started a new job as a Special Education Teacher Assistant. It is amazing to me how I felt attached to my new students the first day. Education definitely is where God wants me! 

                I am sure you are anxious to hear more about the home I mentioned in my last post. The same day I saw the garden home; I went home and told my parents about it. They were intrigued and called the realtor, C. I had plans to meet up with my friend. While I was gone, my parents went and looked at the garden home. My mom texted me and said it had potential. I wasn’t sure if that meant she liked it or not. I really wanted her to be as excited as I was about this home.

                Once I was back at home, I sat down with my parents to talk about buying the place. This is not going to happen without their help. My parents decided to buy it as an investment. They got an offer over to the seller’s agent on Monday.

                I have been so excited about this place. Tuesday morning was my new hire orientation for the new job. I had to get up really early but it was good practice for getting back into the routine of getting up early for work! By that afternoon, we had not heard anything from the seller’s agent and I was feeling anxious. I really wanted this home to work out. I laid down to listen to a relaxing CD and rest. While praying, I truly let go of the home. It’s in God’s hands now and if He wants me to live there, He will work it out.

                After I got up from my rest time, I saw a text from my mom that said “Looks like we will get garden home for X”. Isn’t it amazing how I finally let it go and God answered?

                So the necessary papers got signed and the next step was the inspection. My mom called her inspector and he had a cancellation on Friday. When she told me, I said, “Friday, as in three days from now?!?” She said yes. Given the state of the garden home, I was concerned there might be some deep damage, so I still was not allowing myself to get my hopes up too high.

                On Friday, I was at work while my parents met with the inspector to go over the home. That afternoon, my mom sent me a text that read, “Inspection went well. No surprises”.  I thought, “Actually, that there were no surprises is a surprise.”

                As you can tell, I am very excited about this home! While I feel confident this is the place God has for me, and I would be disappointed if it fell through, I realize this is a possibility.

And although I am very excited about this move, I keep looking at my budget and can’t figure out how this is going to work. But, I know God is in control and has a plan. I’m just anxiously waiting to find out more about His plan! Thanks for joining me in this journey.

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And Sometimes God Opens a Gate

I originally wrote this on Monday, August 26th. I’ll work on an update this weekend.

                On Saturday, I spent the morning looking at rental houses with my realtor. She’s very knowledgeable about the rental market, what to look for, and what you can ask the landlord. We even talked about negotiating rent. In case you don’t already know, I love negotiating! I even spent several years negotiating for a living.

                We looked at about half a dozen places. The last ones were condos about 10 minutes from my new school. Across the street from the condos are single level townhomes with attached 2 car garages. Probably built in the seventies, but they looked well taken care of. The realtor said, “It would be nice if one of those townhomes was for rent”.

                I agreed and asked what she thought the price would be. While she was mulling it over, I pulled up real estate on my phone and saw that my guess was right. Except there was one listed for nearly half the amount of the other townhomes in the community! I asked if we could look at this low priced townhome since we were right there. She was as interested as I, so she readily agreed, assuming she could get a hold of the listing agent.

                Ten minutes later, my realtor had the code and we were headed to the front door.  There’s a courtyard for each home. You have to open a gate to get to the front door and pass the small yard on your way in. The gate was rickety and the yard was seriously overgrown.

                The code worked and we were inside the townhome! The entry way has dark red tiles that were very trendy in the seventies (according to my mom) and a natural wood (oak?) wall. To the right is a good sized living room with skylights, a brick fireplace, and a closet. My first impression was the home needs to be painted and the carpets need to be cleaned. All easily taken care of, right? There is a backdoor in the living room. Outside the backdoor, you can see the community swimming pool. No one was enjoying the pool, but it sure looked inviting!

                Next, we moved into the large master bedroom, which also has skylights. There’s another small yard off the master bedroom. Of course, that yard is also overgrown and the fence has broken boards. There is a dressing area, complete with a not so lovely peach countertop. This leads to the full bathroom, which needs a good deep cleaning and wall paper removed. There is also a large walk-in closet off the dressing area.

                We continue through the home and find another living or dining area with a wet bar. Good thing the wet bar is hidden behind folding doors because the dark brown cabinets and golden yellow countertops are ugly! There’s another closet in this room. It is not very deep and all shelves. Perfect for organizing! And a sliding door connects to an atrium.

                The second bedroom also has a sliding glass door leading out to the atrium. One entire wall is a deep closet. I love closet space! There is a bathroom right next to the second bedroom. It was in good condition and even had a shower, making it perfect for a roommate. The shiny, metallic wallpaper really needs to be removed. I think I’d get a migraine if I spent too long in that room!

The kitchen also connects to the atrium, but just with a large window overlooking it in the breakfast nook area. Plenty of room for my kitchen table in there. The kitchen is connected to the second living/dining area – no need to actually go through the window to get to the kitchen! The stove and cook top appeared to be original; the rest of the appliances have probably been replaced in the last ten to fifteen years.  The linoleum in the kitchen is stained and torn. I do not think it would be possible to salvage that floor! The cabinets are not too bad and I could live with the countertop for a while, but the floor would have to be replaced.

                The kitchen pantry is roomy, but the wood shelves definitely need replaced. I think I could do that on my own. Also, there is a closet for the washer and dryer in the kitchen.

                We finally make it to the garage and the first thing I notice is two large storage closets, in addition to plenty of room to park two cars. Another selling point for a potential roommate!

                Now to convince my parents this would be a great investment for them. Or maybe I’ll finally win the lottery?*

* Note to self: buy lottery ticket.

               

                 

 

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