Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Mapping Out Footprints Continues...

Footprint #3 - The summer that I graduated from college, no schools were hiring. It was RIGHT after 9/11 happened, and everyone was panicking. Budgets were being tightened, no one was changing jobs, etc....you all know all of that stuff. But I was getting married that summer too, so I needed a job. I soon found one outside of my field that I enjoyed as well. I had worked at Morton Buildings in high school, and that place seemed like a second home to me. I love those people. But, soon after that, my husband accepted a great job in Tennessee. So, we moved to TN & then back again after only a month. (To read more on that story, read Day 5 Things I'm Thankful For post.) After this move back, I began to substitute teach. Honestly, this is where my teaching education really began. I worked mostly at a small school (one teacher per grade), and the atmosphere among the teachers was very collaborative. I would listen to these teachers brainstorm on how to reach their students, and I was in awe at the creativity. Soon, I was filling in for longer bouts of time.
One of the students in the school had a full-time aide. He was diagnosed with autism. Her husband was military, and she would need to be gone for weeks at a time in order to see him when he was home. I filled in a lot for her. This was my first real experience with a thing called autism. He was in 3rd grade at the time, and, honestly, I was so scared. I was totally out of my realm, had no idea what I was doing, and I didn't want to do something that would upset or scar this child. My being there instead of his loved aide was difficult enough, and I didn't want to make things worse. The special education teacher (who is now a dear friend...you can read her own journey with adoption & autism at Home With Our Girl) was my main lifeline. She told me all about this boy, and what helps him. She spent  A LOT of time with us, showing me tricks & tips, and I was mesmerized at the stuff I was learning. It was amazing.

I continued to substitute teach which lead me to a job as a teacher's aide at this same school. And that led to a teaching position. It was only a year (maternity leave), but it was the best. I was able to teach with my new hands-on education from subbing, and it was the first time that I felt confident in my abilities as a teacher. After that ended, I was offered a position as an aide again. This time, it would be for the boy who had autism that I had spent so much time getting to know.  His aide was moving, and they wanted me for her replacement. I was flattered that they thought so much of me to offer me this honor, but I still didn't feel comfortable being in the special ed realm. I had no training or qualifications or experience. So, I turned the job down.

Heartbroken that after 3 years of substitute teaching and no permanent teaching position, I decided to leave the education world. I once again sought out Morton Buildings and secured a full-time, steady job that I loved, and I worked there until I was placed on bed rest during my pregnancy. We were planning on me being a stay-at-home mom anyway, so it seemed like the best time to make my leave.

Footprint #4 - After becoming a mother, my spiritual life rocketed. I saw God through new eyes, and I fell in love with him in a brand new way. I spent hours rocking Ethan while reading my Bible, praying and singing. Songs like, "Jesus Loves Me" would bring me to the ugly cry because I got it. If God loves me the way I loved my child......it was just overwhelming to say the least. Shortly after this, a friend asked me to participate in a intense weekly bible study. It was a more like a college course for new Christians, but they were implementing it at our church for anyone who wanted to take it. It rocked my world. I told Corey that it filled in holes....questions that I had always had......and I felt like I understood my faith in a complete & whole way. This course taught me how to STUDY the Bible, not just read it.

I would study the Bible during Ethan's nap time. During one session, after I had read the Bible, I confessed to God that I hadn't given him all of me. After we had trusted in God to lead us to TN & the mess that that was, I was a little leery on giving God full access again. I wanted to be in control of my own path. He was more than welcome to come with me & be right along side me, but I wanted to choose where I was going. During this session with God, I gave that back to him. And as I was sobbing from past wounds & a new surrender, I remember feeling his arms wrap around me in a hug, and in his still small voice, I heard him say, "I love you, Jessica. I will use you right where you are." I will NEVER forget that moment. My heart was now ready for God to direct my paths.

1 comment:

  1. Great stuff! Thanks for sharing your heart! I love reading this..It reminds me how God has always had us set apart to do this spectrum parenting thing and that it is an honor to bring glory to Him while doing it.