New blog. Again.

I’ve made what seems like a trillion transitions in 2012. Marriage, move to Lville, student teaching, name change, life change, blah blah blah. You know this. I’ve already made the switch once before to a different blog name, but now I am making a bigger change– completely different look, totally new link, and a very different hosting site. But, as always, the title will stay the same. You didn’t think I would change my blog name to something you can pronounce, did you?! :)

My day off of school consisted mostly of creating this new blog, so hop on over to www.mrsdahlface.blogspot.com to find out what I’ve been up to! It’s the same stuff with the same posts, but it looks prettier. At least I think so.

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Fruit. The non-edible kind.

Today was my mid-term assessment for student teaching, which means my journey is almost halfway complete. Halfway complete. I couldn’t believe myself when I told those crazy first-graders that tomorrow will be my last day in their class. I’m actually kind of sad, and yet I can’t wait to see what I will be learning in my next placement!

September held lots of exciting and wonderful things, such as letting the laundry pile up on our couch. Let this be an example of what our humble home-apartment has looked like ever since I began student teaching:

I also received a copy last week of the newly published children’s book that I helped to edit last semester (!!!):

To top it all off, yet ANOTHER editing piece that I worked on last semester finally made it through the committees and ranks and will be published as an article in an academic journal! I’m not really that smart, I just really like telling people when they spell something wrong or use a comma too often I guess.

Student teaching has had its fair share of stressful moments. That is definitely for sure. I’m learning to embrace the stress and turn it into opportunities to give myself grace, receive grace from my Father, and willingly accept that I’m not perfect. And y’all, I LOVE WHAT I DO. Although I’m working on learning to love the late nights/early mornings, daily “failures,” imperfections, outrageous kids who have serious issues, frustrating moments, and parents who don’t care as much as I think they should, I love teaching my students each day and I am thrilled to watch them progress through the journey of a school year. I love it. Maybe I’m being too optimistic and naive, but it is incredible to get to this point in my collegiate journey and feel so in-touch with the gifts and abilities God has given me. If we’re all uniquely crafted by our Maker to do certain things with excellence and passion, shouldn’t we do it with gusto? In a world of people who are still trying to figure out “what to do” with their lives, I’m thankful for a season where I feel useful and completely at peace. I’m thankful that the Lord has cut out a path for me and shown it plainly. For this season, in this moment, I love doing what I do. I love being a wife to D and a teacher to 27 needy and tiny kids. I love being able to develop myself as a professional through writing, editing, and working with words. Waiting for all of that to happen was worth it. The wait was long and it was so often very hard, but this sweet season has been one worth waiting for.

If my junior-in-college self read this post written by another person, my junior-in-college self probably would have felt really bitter and angry. “Why can’t I just be there? I’m so tired of the awful stuff that doesn’t even matter. Let’s just skip to student teaching. I am so tired of waiting and working and wailing over busy work and craziness. And I want a husband.” That’s what I’d say. But oh, junior-in-college self…. the wait really is worth it. It builds character and makes you realize how much you actually want it. And it helps you give a whole lot of worry and weariness and impatience over to King Jesus. So freshen up and bite the bullet, buddy. You WILL see fruit for your labor. And PS- student teaching & marriage have issues of their own, so let everything work out in its own time. Enjoy eating the same meal for days without worrying about your husband scarfing it all down.

…Someone remind me that I wrote this post one day when I’m fuming and frustrated about teaching all day on only 3 hours of sleep. Really.

Because the Teacher Learns, Too

It happened again today. It happened after the worst lesson of my student teaching experience; a lesson on addition story problems gone totally wrong. I’m sure the kids learned something, and they probably saw nothing wrong, but it definitely left me flustered, teary, and more than a little sweaty (of course). We dropped the kids off for special area, and I was finally alone with my supervising teacher so that I could begin apologizing for the past 45 minutes of class time…

But instead of adding to the 57 terrible things I had shared, she said something like this:
“Your planning was excellent. Making a lesson run smoothly just takes practice.”

I was horribly uncomfortable with what she said.
It meant that I couldn’t possibly do everything perfectly right now.
It meant that I would mess up.
It means I can’t have complete control.
It means I have to be vulnerable.

It happened again today- I realized my humanity. I realized my enormous need for grace. I realized that, no matter how many nights I nearly pull an all-nighter and stay up long enough to see the sun peeking through the trees into our little apartment so that I will be prepared, I will not be perfect. And God’s okay with that.

I proudly made quesadillas tonight for dinner. I’ve cooked dinner twice in the past 2 weeks. Am I failure as a wife? The former me would say yes, you awful wife who can’t even make time to make food for your loving husband who does so much for you. How dare you forget to sweep and mop those hardwood floors and scrub the bathtub once a week and keep the toothpaste from caking onto the bathroom sink?! The former me (and sometimes, the current me) likes to say that I need to have everything together, sing happy songs with my first graders all day, have a budding social life, and have a gourmet dinner on the table by the time my husband gets home at 6:30. Ha… when I write it out it seems so silly, but isn’t that what the picture-Pinterest-perfect woman does?!

Maybe that’s what we’re supposed to look like when we create an image of ourselves online. Maybe we can fool everyone on Facebook and blogs (and Twitter and Instagram and… there are way too many social media sites…) into thinking that every single day of our lives run perfectly and happily. But God knows better, and you darn well know better. He knows that you’ve had a rough day. He sees the pile of clothes you’ve been accumulating in your closet, even when the rest of your bedroom looks nice and clean (guilty guilty). He sees the number of sad/boring/difficult times you have that may often far outweigh the happy moments we celebrate on the outside. And He most definitely knows when I’m scared to death to begin my first day of solo teaching tomorrow. AND HE STILL LOVES ME.

I’m learning. I hate learning, but I love learning. As I’ve mentioned before, the tight and hard spaces we wedge through in order to find our way to a better understanding of Jesus are oh-so-worth it. Being vulnerable and a new, inexperienced teacher is good for me. It means learning to be teachable. It means learning to be humble. It means learning I am not perfect. It means learning to lean on Christ’s strength. It means learning to love my husband in new and creative ways.

It means learning that going for a weekend trip to Chi-town with great friends in the smack middle of student teaching is sometimes not entirely wise but extremely refreshing:

And I’m thankful that I’m learning.

Provision

I’m sitting here, at 11:15 pm (way past my bedtime), finding myself extremely grateful. I am sitting in a wonderfully sweet little home with a husband sleeping upstairs and blueberry muffins baking for him to find in the morning (don’t tell, it’s a surprise). And I’m able to have a little bit of Emily time to read and blog with our newly-installed Internet!

We’ve been thrown a lot of different decisions and challenges in the last few months, but tonight I am grateful for the ways that the Lord has provided. He provides in the little things- bottles of conditioner, pictures from first graders, timely envelopes in the mail. At every turn and every expense, we meet our Provider face-to-face and can’t find any reason to blame anything on coincidence. I am humbled to realize that He etched His plans for our lives into stone from the very beginning, and He has only good prepared for us. And in my opinion, marrying David Carl was one of the best parts of that plan, because I am able to journey through all of this together with him!

Slow down and notice- He provides little things every day. He provides tiny lunch breaks with my ever-wise supervising teacher so that I can rest and learn from someone who is way more experienced at handling 6-year-olds in the classroom. He provides Sunday afternoons so that I can spend time with my family and catch up on all the work I have for the following week. He provides just enough food so that we can eat healthfully and well until the next budget month. And even on limited funds, we are finding that we can truly live abundantly because of this great Provider.

And really, I wouldn’t live this stage of life any other way.

For Tomorrow

It’s that time again- time to tell a friend I can’t hang out because I have homework, time to print the syllabi, time to meet new students. Time to get on with the rest of my life. Rather than complaining about the start of a new semester, I’m taking comfort in these familiar things… but I’m learning that we don’t find trust when we’re surrounded by the familiar. When everything around me is oh-so-familiar and the norm for me, I forget to lean on God.
When the path ahead is predictable and level, I walk confidently. I need no guide.

What happens when I face a road block? When I’m faced with a new path? When I only see the unpredictable?

“Fear not tomorrow, God is already there.”

These past few months have held so many unknowns. So many wonderings and wanderings. So many “what if”s and “where will we go?”s and “why”s. I’ve done my share of worrying and dreading, but today I release them all to the One who has plans for me. His plans are for us to prosper. His plans include hope and a future. His plans are never meant to harm me. (Jer. 29:11) His plans, although so very different from my own, work together for His good. I am called according to His purpose, therefore I will live for His purposes. (Rom. 8:28)

When the familiar is gone and the unknown is ahead, I find myself falling and trusting that the Lord will carry me on. And He carries me to places I never could have asked for or imagined. (Eph. 3:20)

When I only wrote to my husband

c RedTree Photography
I have never been so inconsistent in keeping up with my blog, but I’ll attribute the deserted posts to the fact that we haven’t had Internet in our home since we moved in. Blogging takes a back seat when precious Internet time is spent checking oh-so-important emails at the closest coffee shop. And it’s annoying.

It seems like I have spent a lot of the past year wanting and waiting for a lot of things. In the middle of Dahl Wedding chaos, my heart held desires for so many things that I could do nothing but wait for. And even now, as a married couple we wait for more.
Financial security.
A teaching job, come January.
Elimination of massive loans.
Travel across the ocean to reach lost hearts.
Direction.
With every family, couple, or individual who passes by and gains the things we so long to have, my heart can’t help but plant seeds of jealousy and want. But, as He usually does, the Lord calls my yearning heart toward something better. He reminds me that He is teaching us something through the wants and the waits.

This morning I found a box that held hundreds of pages of wanting and waiting. I called it my “Forever Box,” and it came to me a long time ago when my grandparents bought a coat from Forever21 and gave it to me in the box. Rather than throwing the sturdy box away, I used it to begin storing letters and momentos for my future husband… the man who is now my husband.

I wrote the first letter to my future husband when I was just 15. It was innocent, pure, and now extremely embarrassing (apparently text-talk was cool to write on paper in 2005), but it promised my husband that I was committed to waiting for him. For 7 more years, I wrote pages and pages of letters sharing with my husband and with Jesus just how excited or anxious I was about meeting my husband and staying disciplined enough to be committed to purity. Somehow, these letters and journals helped give my longing heart something to cling to because I knew that the Lord would one day provide what I wanted so badly. And if He did not provide a husband, I knew that I could be content because He had been with me through the whole waiting process and I needed no one else. When my heart gravitated toward other boys, and even when I dated D, I tried to keep my heart fixed on the man the Lord had planned for me through the contents of that little box. My waiting and wanting became subject to the Lord’s plans, timing, and ultimate will. Only His.

On our wedding day, D opened the box I had reserved for him. I wish so much that I had been able to see him open it, but I think the box encouraged and lifted MY heart more than  his because of the journey I traveled to get that box into his hands! Because I was willing to wait and put all my wants in Christ, He showed me how joyful life can be if we are completely satisfied in Him. He showed me that I don’t need a husband in order to be satisfied. As D read the letters from a 15- and 17-year-old Emily in the Dallas airport on the way to our honeymoon, I covered my face with my hands in embarrassment and cried in thankfulness. The Lord listened to my yearning heart and, in wisdom, waited until I had learned the lessons He had in store for me. And I am thankful.

God has always, always, always known what is best for us. He knows the right time, the right person, the best situations, and the perfect place for every.single.one.of.us. He knew that D would be the husband I wrote to for years, and He knew that our lives would look nothing like we had ever planned. He knows why we are in Louisville, looking for jobs that we never thought we’d want to do and budgeting tighter than we ever thought we’d need. He knows, and He wants us to wait to understand why on Earth we are just now finding these interesting changes of events. And He reminds me that He is sovereign over all of it by showing me journals that I wrote while waiting for my future husband.

So the only waiting that I’ll keep complaining about is waiting for my hair to dry- it takes 4 hours, people.

Why I’m not like “her”

You’ve seen her.

She’s the woman who seemingly has everything- an adoring husband and beautiful children, a spectacular house with unique style and initiative enough to pull off an immaculate interior, perfect clothes and perfect hair, and enough money to pay for whatever interests her. And everyone is always telling her that she looks like a model. Every person has a “her,” and the “her” is the subject of many pitiful comparisons.

Hannah of the Bible wasn’t the “her,” but she lived with one who was completely obnoxious about it. In fact, she even shared “her” husband. While the other wife had many sons- the pride & credibility of an Israelite woman- Hannah lived for years as a barren wife. She had nothing, yet she finds that she possesses everything.

1 Samuel 1-2 tells the sweet story of how Hannah, in bitter despair, cried out to the Lord to grant her a child. After painful prayers, endless tears, and hopeless comparisons to “the other wife,” the Lord granted her desperate plea. Hannah dedicated her son Samuel to the Lord’s temple, and she left him there to serve Him for his entire life.

Although I am humbled and convicted to hear of the sacrifice of her only, God-given son, I am most comforted and blessed to hear Hannah’s prayer after dedicating Samuel. Rather than simply thanking her Father for the blessing of a son and rejoicing in His provision, she praises Him for teaching her a lesson throughout the whole process.

“The bows of the warriors are broken,
but those who stumbled are armed with strength.
 Those who were full hire themselves out for food,
but those who were hungry are hungry no more.
She who was barren has borne seven children,
but she who has had many sons pines away.” (2:4-5)

I’m not saying that the “her” is not blessed. I’m not saying that those with a beautiful body and perfect home (all according to the world’s standards, of course) cannot have a beautiful relationship with Christ. But how can we learn of God’s strength and fulfillment unless we become weak and empty?

Because of her barrenness, Hannah learned to rely on the Lord for her provision. How could she learn to rely if she already had many sons? She cried out so fiercely to the Lord that the priest thought she was drunk! Because Hannah did not have what she felt she was entitled to, she learned that the Lord was everything she needed. And as a result, when she was given the things she once thought she was entitled to, she eagerly and willingly gave it back to the Lord.

“I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord.” (1:27-28)

Think about what your life would really be like if you had absolutely everything you ever wanted… or even the things you felt like you needed. If you were given a husband, children, a beautiful home, lots of money, perfect academic abilities, lots of energy, and lots of friends, would you have a need for God?

Those who stumbled are now armed with strength when they find that the Lord is their refuge. Those who were hungry were fed Daily Bread and Living Water. Those who were barren found their fulfillment in their Heavenly Father, and He granted them blessings from their faithfulness.

What is it that you think you really need? I can think of a thousand different things, including a more flexible budget. I want an income and budget like “her.” But instead of grieving the things I don’t have, I choose to stop comparing and delight in the lessons that I am learning in this season- and one of the greatest lessons I have learned is that Jesus is enough. That tight budget is a blessing!