Tag Archives: understanding God

What God Taught Me in Slovakia

Shut up and dance with me.

While this is a lyric to a rather popular pop song by Walk the Moon, it is also the most valuable lesson God taught me while I was in Slovakia this summer. Actually, to make things more interesting, He continues to teach me this lesson at home, which is why I haven’t actually been able to write about Slovakia until now.

Now I realize that the pop song is more about teenage hormones than spiritual enlightenment, but God is pretty cool and can speak through, well, anything, including this.

I have a serious problem. I am nearly thirty-one years old and in my heart I think I can out plan God. I have a plan A, a plan B, a contingency plan for both plan A and plan B and just in case those don’t work out I have a backup for those.

Maybe that’s an exaggeration, but that’s pretty much how I’ve lived my life. Risk managed and assessed carefully.

That’s the way I started out the summer. I planned carefully for every English lesson for my class. I talked it over with the right people. I printed out the materials. I had it all packed perfectly. I knew what the plan was. My plan.

And then God told me to Shut up.

13626353_10101605095143666_8945679386299957395_n
Cassie and Karolina at KECY site

Did you know that God says shut up? He does. I mean, I think people put God inside this box and think that he is super polite all the time with like fluttering eyelashes as He says ‘Be still, my child.’ And sure. He says that. But how many children do you know always listen to that tone?

Sometimes God has to get real. And he DID. He told me straight up to SHUT UP.

Now, when God tells you to shut up, my advice is…shut up. Because I’ll be honest with you. I didn’t. At first. I kept trying to plan and arrange and ignore…

But He said it again.

Shut up.

I had run out of plans. At a loss, I did what I was told (finally). And that’s when I heard the rest of God’s command.

Shut up and dance with ME.

That was kind of a shock. Because I am NOT a dancer. I move my head a little to a beat. And every once in a while when I have maybe a drink or two I’ll shake my white girl hips a little, and look absolutely ridiculous. But I have the rhythm of a three legged sloth so I DON’T DANCE.

Shutting up was bad enough, but dancing?

But here’s the thing. God wasn’t asking me to shake my white girl  hips. He wanted me to dance with HIM. If you know anything about dancing, you know that it can be beautifully sexist (oxymoron?) and all a woman truly needs a strong male lead.

13592247_10154153469320999_5328749629164137934_n
Laura Troutman, Sarah Troutman and Ashley (me!) Carmichael in Bratislava (Picture credit to Sarah and Will Troutman)

Oops.

Shut up and dance with me had nothing to do with MY abilities or MY plans or even MY wants. God simply wanted me to shut up and let Him lead.

And when you let God lead—You shut up and let Him just move, you realize just how awesome He really is. God’s going to move when He wants to. I saw evidence of that in Slovakia in the Slovak leaders, in the students, in the changes, in the conversations—both English and Slovak—, in our American team, in traveling God moves. The thing is when I shut up, HE gets the glory HE deserves and I actually get to dance with Him, not around Him.

And then He taught me about myself, about what it means to communicate and be godly. He showed me my heart. He showed me others’ hearts. More importantly I listened as He spoke.

And a funny thing about dancing with God…once you start, you just don’t want to stop. Now that’s a destiny worth pursuing.

13612274_1172188862804549_2492001750230361153_n
KECY camp 2016 in Prozina, Slovakia

VICTORY is Mine: My journey through Psalms (20-22)

 

May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed. – Psalm 20:4

Sometimes you just have GOOD days. Yesterday was one of those amazing days that might be a little weird, but it’s just genuinely a good day and you feel overwhelmingly loved and honored by God.

The last day of school is always a nice day, because let’s face it, everyone is ready for a break by the time it finally rolls around. I had only one final exam left to give and I knew my students would do fairly well on it, so the morning was shaping up to be pleasent enough, but it only got better when after the exam one darling girl thanked me for being a good teacher and asked me to never lose my passion.

I have not felt all that passionate for the last couple of years. I still enjoy my job, but I don’t have the same spark I had as a new teacher. Let’s be honest, life happens and as it does our passion sometimes wanes. So the fact that she still sees a passion in me despite the fact that I sometimes feel  little a full pencil gives me a lot of hope that the spark is still there!

Then I had the opportunity to get to know another student and really talk to her during the next block. We had not had the opportunity to speak much before so I saw this as a real blessing.

When the power went out…well that seemed like a real bummer. And it was. But, in a lot of ways that turned out to be a real blessing too–despite some of the headaches it caused.

You have granted him his heart’s desire and have not withheld the request of his lips. –  Psalme 21: 2

In the dark I decided to read my class surveys. And that’s where the light really began to shine and my tears began to fall. Students are much kinder on these things than I usually expect, but this year especially in the comment section I had some delightful things.

-What was your favorite thing about this class? The instructor
– What can the instructor do to improve? Nothing she’s perfect

Okay I’m not perfect, but they’re super sweet to say so. But the one that sent me into teats was the student who thanked me for understanding her not only as a student but as an individual and teaching her that she is loved in the world. Okay yes I am crying now even as I am typing because I may have questioned my calling more than once in my life but it is moments like these that confirm I made the right choice.

No one should ever have to question that they are loved and if I can teach that, then hell, I’ll call it a successful year for sure.

They will proclaim his righteousness, declaring to a people yet unborn: He has done it! – Psalm 22: 31

God has won so many victories for me this year. I look back and see how far we have come together and I am just in total awe of him. As I move forward in studying his word and becoming more the person I know he designed me to be I hope I always remember that he is at the helm–because when God is for us, who can be against us.