Belong

Have you ever wanted to simply belong?  Belong in a group? Belong to a specific family? Have you had that longing to simply feel like you were a part of something special?  Is there that longing or a nagging that won’t go away?

I see it everyday in my classroom.  I have little girls and boys that want to be friends with other girls and boys, they want to “belong” to a special group of kids BUT they feel as though they are left out.   These little ones will do everything possible to belong but I always find myself having to talk with them about the type of friend they want and do they want a friend that treats them good only when they feel like it or do they want a friend who wants to be around them all the time and like them for who they are.

Well, it not only happens to little ones but it happens to adults too.  We want to feel as though we belong.  Tonight, as I write and open up to you, I find myself wanting to belong.  I want to feel as I belong in a place where I have always felt I belonged, I have a longing and desire which is hard to put into words but I know that many of my readers will understand.

My entire life, or from the time I was about 5 years old, I had a certain routine every Sunday morning.  There was a certain path I took once a week and many times up to three times a week.   I am sure by the time I was grown I could take this path blindfolded.  Not only did I have a path but I had a special schedule I followed each of these Sunday’s for over 30 years of my life!  I had a specific place to sit, stand and even a job(s) I did for the most part.  I belonged!   I am sure you probably know where I belonged, don’t you???  I belonged to a church family.  I knew without a doubt when I woke up on Sunday mornings I would be attending a specific church where I would see specific brothers and sisters in Christ.  I, also knew when I missed church there was a piece of the church missing.  I was part of a family bigger than me.

Two years ago I lost this feeling of belonging.  When we left Cedar Creek Church, I for the first time in my life did not have a church home.  I  embraced the opportunity to seek God, listen to where He wanted me and actually take a back seat and enjoy simply being a “seat warmer” for a while. I took this as my season to be fed and not to help feed others.  Well, here I am two years later and on my second church since Cedar Creek, finding myself wanting to belong!  Since leaving the place I called home for so many years, I have not found another place to call home and here I am now desiring that place to belong.

Tonight when Robert and I were running an errand around town, we had a conversation about things we needed to do tomorrow.  I had for the past month felt like I didn’t belong where we are currently attending but did not know how to address it to my husband…. Well tonight, I couldn’t hold it in any longer… I blurted it out, “I am ready to find a church where I feel like I belong!” I think I totally surprised him by my words.  My own husband didn’t expect to hear me say, “I want to belong”.  So if he was surprised I wonder how surprised God is by me longing to belong?

Here I am at almost 40 years old, taking the advise I give my students on a daily basis. I am asking the same questions I ask those third graders but instead of the word “friend” I am using the word “church” because I am ready to feel like I BELONG!

 

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“I Am Proud of You”

Many of you are aware, Robert and I set out on a journey yesterday.  This journey was very out of character for me!  It put me in a place of exposure, a place I wasn’t sure I was ready to be.   Yes, you know we auditioned for The Biggest Loser! Robert and I woke up yesterday morning around 3:00 and headed to Atlanta where we stood in line for over 5 hours in the heat and humidity.  The line for the audition wrapped a city block, which in Atlanta is gigantic!  While we were waiting for hours on end we were able to talk with individuals around us, hear their stories, and simply people watch.  The people watching was so much fun, LOL!   I realized while standing in line that no matter how rough our past 2 years have been with our up and down struggles there were people out there who had worse struggles!

I know and believe there was a reason we went to Atlanta.  There were too many details which had to fall right into place.  Then when we were praying and seeking God the hardest about if we needed to go or not, we received a phone call!   The phone call came from California and it was the producers of the show asking us to attend auditions! Looking around at all the people in line, I began to wonder if all of this was for nothing BUT then I reminded myself that God had opened a door for us and only He could close it.  Now, looking back, I wonder why did God open the door for us, what is He trying to teach us?

Finally after FIVE long hours in the sun and heat we made it to our interview!   Our interview with ten other individuals, WHAT?!?!?!?!   Surely this had to be  a mistake, nope, no mistake!   I found myself in a daze, here we had stood in line all this time to have an interview with The Biggest Loser and we had to share our time with ten other people!  The biggest shocker was we only had seventy seconds to tell our story!   Seriously!  Seventy seconds is not enough time and was not enough time to tell our story, to show our personality and to persuade them we were the next Biggest Loser!   So, after sitting down, hearing others stories, it was time to share my story.  What should I say, what would I say, what did I say?!?  I simply told the truth, the simple truth!  This was my story, my shortened story (I had more to tell but in less a minute what all can you say):

I have been overweight my entire life.   I actually weigh now what I weighed as a freshman in high school.   All of this extra weight leads to one thing in school and that is what I seemed to get a lot.   From being slapped in the face every afternoon on the bus , to always being picked on by students and teachers — much of it was hidden and not visible to everyone.  Many times I felt as though I was invisible and worth very little.  Now, I find myself teaching in the county and school district I escaped from after graduation, the one I swore I would never come back to.  I want to be a role model for the students I teach, after all I teach in the unhealthiest  county in Florida.  I want to show these little ones I teach, that you can overcome your circumstances of growing up in a low income community and an unhealthy community and be SO much more!

I wondered from the time I left the interview room  if I said enough BUT I mean I only had a few seconds to talk — actually less than the seventy seconds, I was told I would have.  I pondered if my story of wanting to give back was enough!   Robert had assured me it had to be!   He said I was the only one who even mentioned giving back — everyone else simply mentioned their struggles!

 So when I went to bed at 1:00 A.M. this morning, waiting on a phone call back from the producers, to which I am still waiting on (we were told they would be making call backs between Saturday and Monday) I felt a peace that no matter what happens I placed myself out there.  I did something, I normally wouldn’t do — I made myself vulnerable!   I did what I knew I was supposed to do — I went through the door God opened for me.

But to make sure I understood He was pleased with me and I did what I was supposed to do, this morning – early, very early – I heard these words directly from God, ” I Am Proud of You!

Robert and I.  Our second anniversary picture.

Robert and I. Our second anniversary picture.

House Update

I apparently am not doing a great job keeping everyone updated about our house – this week alone I have had numerous individuals ask me about the progress!  Our house should be finished in about 20 – 25 days!!   We are starting to get excited about the progress.   They have painted the outside and most of the inside of the house.  The builder told Robert and I last week they were waiting on the cabinets to be delivered.  The cabinets apparently are holding up many other aspects such as flooring, plumping, etc. — you know like the MAJOR items.    This week we have decided on the fireplace design we want and the appliance package we want.   Heads up, if you are in the market for appliances check out most big box retailers right now and their 4th of July sale.  The appliances we have picked are, yes I am serious right now, Samsung!!!   God allowed a friend to come across a 4th of July sale where the Samsung appliance package was below our appliance allowance!!!!! We serve an awesome God!  As our house is coming close to being finished we are enjoying picking out new items to fill our house and we are having fun figuring out how to re-purpose the items we had in our previous house.   I believe minus a few items we have all the diesigning ideas ready and most of the items needed to design.

While we are excited and becoming impatient for our house to be ready, I am also reminded about the road which brought us to where we are today.   God has been so merciful to bring us through so many trials and we are stronger today then we were two years ago when we were first married.  Now, as we are closing in on our house being finished we are busy packing, cleaning and preparing for our first night in our new house.  Robert is also preparing for a new job, maybe!    This job is another miracle from God!!   Robert was offered a job several weeks ago and all that stands in the way of Robert and this job is a grant.  The company is expecting to hear from the grant July 1st.   We are claiming this job and speaking as if it is Robert’s!!   Please everyone pray the funding comes through so Robert can begin this job August 1st!  Once again, two  years into our marriage we may have a lot of new beginnings — a new house and a possible new job for Robert!!  I wonder what else will come our way in our 3rd year of marriage which will bring even more new into our lives?!?!?!

Today we are thankful for all the new, for all the answered prayers, for all the blessings.  We are praying God will guide our footsteps as we start this new phase of our life and marriage.

BTW here are a few pictures of our house as of today!   Until next time!!!!

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Being happy for others

I know I will be sounding selfish in this post, if not even like a spoiled brat BUT sometimes I hide my true feelings and today I really want to release them.

I am sitting here watching a football game, Go Gators!, and I begin to surf the Internet just to keep myself occupied and to keep for yelling so much. As I am scrolling through and looking at different people’s post I see two different families are building a house. These individuals are so happy with where their new house is.  I begin to feel jealous.  Here two different families are getting the house of their dreams and where is Robert and my dream house?   I want to be happy for these families,  but how can I be happy when I can’t see our dream unfolding. 

When I look across the road at our land it still looks like a war zone! The roots are still there waiting to be bulldozed.  Our house plans…well we haven’t heard from the draftsman about them in weeks, it is almost like we haven’t even began working on them to start with. This week we have faced many obstacles which tells me we are close to our break through, but how close is what I keep asking myself.

Robert and I did decide we want to possibly go a different route building our house then we originally planned. Even with this change I keep wondering how is it all going to come together. .. how can we possibly go from where we are to our final goal of a house? 

I really do want to be happy for others and their happiness, I want to celebrate with others in their happiness.   I also, want a place for Robert and I to call home. What I want isn’t much, but there are days like today where it seems like it is possible for so many others but when it comes to us, nothing!  So I will be happy for these families and will keep praying, hoping and dreaming.

Okay my selfish rant is over!!!

Clearing a New Path

It has been almost six months since Robert started teaching.  He LOVES his job and I am so excited and pleased to see him happy with his job.  The path this job has taken him down has him helping students in every grade from Kindergarten to High School Seniors!  He now helps coach the schools football team.  I am always giving him a hard time about becoming mean and tough to make sure those boys on the football team will be able to win a game — lol!   BUT ultimately his kind, laid-back demeanor has the respect  of not only the football players but the entire coaching staff.  I had at times questioned God why He would allow us to go down this path and why the job He would bring my husband would be such a low paying job.  After watching Robert coach in their Spring Jamboree game last week I realized right then and there that Robert belongs at the school.  God has been showing us all along that HE can make the impossible, possible!   It is amazing how God can turn this small salary along with my salary into extra money at the end of each month.  God has proven to us just how wonderful HE is.

 As far as our house situation goes, we are still technology considered homeless because we are having to live with family.  We are believing once again that God is going to open the right doors to help us find a house to rent or allow this rain to stop so our land can be cleared and a house built or a mobile home brought in.  We often find ourselves wondering why our housing situation hasn’t been cleared up yet BUT we know that there is a reason and a purpose.  What that reason and purpose is, I am not sure.  I know that in time it will be revealed.  Until then, I will keep writing here sharing our journey, praying/seeking for answers and trying to enjoy this journey Robert and I are on together.

Facing my fears

I really was hoping to write every day but, with state testing right around the corner I find myself exhausted at night.  Last night was one of those nights, I was so tired after a day full of last minute prepping my students for state test I couldn’t find the mental and physical energy to type.  Here I am tonight I will try and get on with Robert’s hospital stay from my cliff hanger the other night!

Leaving Robert laying in the hospital hooked up to machines and IV’s scared me beyond compare.  I wanted to stay by his side 24/7 but I was forced to leave by the doctors and nurses because in ICU they only had visiting hours during certain hours each day.  I knew I was leaving Robert in hands of professionals but still I was worried that when I left what would I come back to but I also knew deep down I would use the next few hours to cry to God.

Cry to God I did!!   My drive home to rest up for a moment, get a change  of clothes and make sure I had all the lights and appliances turned off was where my cry began.  My cry was out of fear.  I was allowing my fear of my husband being sick come to life.  I prayed asking God to restore his health, make him stronger and allow the doctors to find out exactly what was wrong with him.  Of course, with Robert being in the hospital and the word getting out I also had to answer phone calls during my 20 minute drive home for those calls I had to try and sound all together, I really didn’t want anyone to worry! By the time I got home I was ready to let out all my frustrations and worries/fears.  I can to this day (8 months later) remember word for word what I cried out to God.   I couldn’t believe He would allow Robert to come into my life only to take him away from me.   I asked God what we had done wrong to allow us to go through this situation at this moment, after only being married a short time.   I even questioned if God remembered what He had promised me?  Being BOLD, I reminded God (Of all things to do, who was I to remind God?) of His promise to bring Robert into my life, allow us to minister together in music, go into the mission field together and to allow us to have Ella Rose and Liam Nathaniel!! I remember asking why God would have me wait  SO many years to find Robert, and to get  marry to the man of my dreams ONLY to do this !  At the same time I was angry and hurt I also was begging God not to take Robert from me.   I even at one time ask God to allow me to change places with my husband.  Ultimately in my conversation with God I prayed he would allow Robert to come home to me!  ( I know my prayer / conversation with God will take many, especially my husband by surprise – it has taken many months to be strong enough to allow this conversation to come to the surface and expose how weak I was during this scary time of my life.)

The next week Robert grew stronger, family and friends from Georgia and Florida visited, and most importantly all the test the doctors ran came back clear.  I knew God had answered my prayers even if I was being a brat praying the way I was!   My husband was getting better and I had God to thank for it.  I knew we had a long way to go because Robert was weak and had to rebuild his strength to get back to 100%, but we could deal with this journey.  Robert and I knew we could handle all things.  I think Robert learned in his hospital stay that I was strong enough to help him recover, especially after I had it in with one of his doctors (let’s just say that wasn’t my best moment).   Together Robert and I discovered in our first month of marriage that with God we could face our fears even if it was the fear of  our soul mate being taken from us.

Robert begins his new job

Sorry for not writing last night.  Robert and I took my parents to see, “God’s Not Dead.” It is an ahhhhhmazing movie.   Kudos to the producers, actors and all involved with this movie, it is a must see for everyone.   Now on with our journey.

Just a few weeks after we moved into our house Robert began his job at the University.  Here was my chance to turn my Georgia Bulldog into a Florida Gator!  Robert’s new job was a new chapter in his life.  His entire adult life he worked in business, computer and computer programming.  This new job had him working in the scientific field working with formulas, processes and equipment he had not dealt with since he took “Survey of Chemistry” in his freshman year of college.  This job was a lot more than Robert expected it to be.  See when he read the job description and even interviewed the job appeared to be an entry level job (which would allow him to get his foot in the door at the University) such as a janitor..  BUT he was surprised to find this job was far from a janitor!!

I knew this was going to be a tough job with a big learning curve when Robert came home from his first day of work with index cards full of terminology, formulas and abbreviations.  I felt like I was back in college again! Robert and I would study his “flash cards” at night – I for one, wanted my husband to be successful at his new job!  We believed that no matter what Robert could and would be successful because we are told in Philippians 4:13 (NIV), “ I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.”

Every night we talked about our day, our stresses, fears and plans for the next day.  Well… Robert would talk about his day; boy did he have some stories to tell about his new job and the individuals he worked with!!  I didn’t have many stories to tell being I was still out of work for the summer and my days tended to be boring with the most excitement I saw was setting my classroom up and deciding what to cook for dinner each night.  Robert and I had determined that we were not going to let the stresses of a new marriage and his new job be a big stress to us, so instead of the normal stresses many may face Robert and I found ourselves growing stronger in our relationship and friendship.  This strength and our daily talks would find to be a big asset in a few weeks when our marriage came face to face with life and death…

 

Who is this man and what did he do with my husband.  (Robert practicing getting dressed in his suit for work.)

Who is this man and what did he do with my husband. (Robert practicing getting dressed in his suit for work.)

To blog or not to blog

Sitting here watching my husband of 9 months sleep, the thought occurs to me not to go through with this blog.  But I keep hearing God tell me to share our story and our journey with the world.  So here I am beginning a blog several months or maybe even years in the making!

To help everyone understand what is going on, I must go back and build some background knowledge, yes the teacher in me is coming out. Robert and I have been friends for several years; we met through a Christian singles ministry called Singled-Out by Grace.  We both enjoyed our friendship, conversing about our travels and families.  Then one day things changed when I simply sent a message checking on him.  The words, “Are you okay?” led to Robert surprising me at church a few weeks later, a whirlwind/storybook romance and us being married 8 months after I checked in on him that Friday evening.

We had a fairy-tale wedding with friends and family surrounding us as we started a new, exciting  chapter in our lives.  We felt like we had the whole world to conquer. The best of our lives were ahead of us – or was it?  I guess looking back our first clue that our journey to a happily ever after was going to be a road paved with illness, depression, joblessness, and homelessness should have been after we finished counting the money we received from our wedding along with the money we had left from planning the wedding. We went on our week long honeymoon with only $300.00!! Yet, even with this we felt the best was still to come. We were happy and carefree knowing we had the rest of our lives together and our love would conquer all!

 

This is just the beginning of our story – there is so much more to come, please come back often to see more of our journey and a look back at how we got where we are today – happy, in love and planning a wonderful future together!

 

Our wedding day!

Our wedding day!

Mr. and Mrs. Robert Sharpe

Mr. and Mrs. Robert Sharpe

Our first dance.

Our first dance.

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Fun in the sun on our honeymoon

Love is radiating from our eye like they have since day number one!

Love is radiating from our eye like they have since day number one!

Honeymooning lovebirds

Honeymooning lovebirds