Monday, September 26, 2011

Tired... but filled with Joy.

I have now been back at school for one week. One week. And I'm exhausted. I am so thankful to be back and truly enjoying my students and this year so far, but at the end of the day I am beat. It's a challenge just to walk home after work, and I still have this regimented running schedule to follow. As I was walking to school today, shuffling my feet after our long run last night, I found myself starting to feel overwhelmed by all that is going on. I started wondering how I was going to continue training and teaching at the same time. I started feeling annoyed about the sticky sweat dripping down my neck and angry that my ipod wasn't working.

As I was nearing the school and saw the tip of the school 'steeple' all of those thoughts stopped. I was overcome with joy. Not joy in the happy and energetic sense. Joy in the, I am tired but filled with the feeling of being blessed. I remembered where I was a week before today and how God has carried me and answered my fervent prayers. So it's been one week since my work visa crisis had subsided and already I was starting to worry about other things, starting to feel overwhelmed by what lay ahead. How funny it is that, as soon as a "crisis" subsides, and all is well with our world, we forget what we have learned in the time of crisis. We find small, selfish reasons for feeling overwhelmed instead of basking in the blessings and hope that God has provided in our lives.

I am determined, in these weeks ahead, to thank God and find joy in my job when I am exhausted at the end of the day. To thank God and find joy in the capability to run when all I want to do is press the snooze button on my alarm. I read a part of Psalm 51 to my students today:

"Have mercy on me, Oh God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sins... Cleanse me with hyssop and I will be clean; wash me and I will be whiter than snow... Create in me a pure heart, Oh God and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me."

That last part spoke to me... restore to me the joy of your salvation... grant me a willing spirit to sustain me. I like the thought of constantly asking God to restore joy in my life. When I am down, when I am disillusioned... when I am distracted... restore to me that joy, that is my prayer.

Running Update:
There is a little over a month until we run the marathon! Jeff is going to start taking pictures on our long runs, since there are some amazing views that we get to enjoy! They will be posted soon. Please think/pray for us next Sunday... we are planning on running 18 miles. If you have not yet considered sponsoring a child, please do so! We are about 8 sponsorships away from our goal!

Monday, September 19, 2011


"Life had taught me undeniably that surrender, in its place, was as honorable as resistance, especially if one had no choice."
~Maya Angelou~

It seems to be quite easy to isolate oneself living in this urban area, despite the fact that we are always surrounded by people. I often think about how crazy it is that I can spend a day on subways and walking through crowded streets without saying a word to or even making eye contact with someone. There is a general understanding that we are all self sufficient and we don't need or want to take time from our valuable day to muster up the energy to send a smile or a good morning our neighbors way before heading off to work.

As self sufficient individuals, we have developed ideas of what we want our lives to be, and we work tirelessly to control our circumstances to try to stuff our lives into the molds that we have created. We can spend so much time thinking about our goals, what we want our relationships to look like and how we want to live that we forget to engage and find meaning in each day and interaction that is given to us. It is only when things are not going the way we want them to, when a sudden change or challenge is brought into our lives that we realize this is not the way we are called to live, that we can't at all do this on our own.

I had the opportunity to hear Rick Warren speak about Jeremiah 29 this past Sunday. He mentioned the fact that often, God brings us into times of waiting and transition to teach us about trusting in Him and to learn what it truly means to have faith in His promises. He spoke about tangible and significant ways we can respond to these times and find hope for the the days ahead (

I can see that God has brought me into this time of waiting for my work visa to show me that the way I have been living my life needs to change. He is teaching me that only through having faith that He WILL provide can I find peace. I am beginning to see that surrendering my hopes, goals and future to Him is the only way to live as a child of God. While reflecting on all of this last night (during our 16 mile run, which went very well!) and today, I received the news that I can return to work tomorrow! While we are still waiting for the final documents to be processed, I am permitted to to begin teaching sixth grade again. Just in time to pay October rent. God is good.

I hope and pray that I can take what God has taught me during this time of waiting and continue to surrender all to Him. Rick spoke at the end of his message about the fact that, as Christians, God has promised that goodness and mercy will follow us all of the days of our lives. Even though I will continue to make mistakes, and I will continue to have times that I fall away from God, His grace covers me and His goodness follows me. My prayer is that God will continue to work in my life, continue to break those molds and expectations that I set for myself and others and cover me with His grace and goodness.

Jeremiah 29:11-13
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."

Monday, September 12, 2011


"Patience, he thought. So much of this was patience - waiting, and thinking and doing things right. So much of all this, so much of all living was patience and thinking."
— Gary Paulsen (Hatchet)

Gary Paulsen is one of the young adult authors that I admire most. I most deeply admire the way the he is able to speak to both young adults and adults. He speaks to us on completely different levels through the stories that he weaves. When I read this quote from his novel, Hatchet, it resonated with me to the core.

I am not a person who enjoys being still for more than an hour or so. There is nothing that I find more interesting or satisfying that a full day of meaningful work. And yet here I find myself with a significant amount of time as I am still waiting to hear the final go ahead on my work visa. God is teaching me what it truly means to be still. To wait. To trust that in His time, He will be faithful.

Running has been tangible way for me to trust in God's strength. We've been getting into an intense amount of distance each week. While daunting, I can see that through perseverance, diligence and prayer, we can do this. Last night, as we finished our 15 mile run, we ended with sprinting. Jeff commented on the amount of energy I had throughout the run. (Which was very different from our last long run.) He said that as we were finishing up, he looked over at me and couldn't stop smiling. He said that he thought, God must be carrying Natasha right now.

This comment made me realize, yes, God was carrying me. And He still is, throughout this whole work visa uncertainty, our engagement, and this marathon training. I am continuing to see the way that God is working in these weeks and I am so thankful to be learning what it means to wait, to be patient, to let God carry me throughout all of these changes and challenges.

"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging...
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts. The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress...He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress." Psalm 46, select verses.


Last night, we successfully ran 15 miles. The longest distance that both of us have ever run. I was very nervous about using 'gu'- an energy supplement which is supposed to keep your energy up and reduce muscle and joint pain. I was skeptical but it was awesome. It does not taste good nor does it feel normal to consume sugary gel, but it works. With the help of two 'gu' packets and plenty of fluids, we made it and even sprinted at the end of our run.

I recommend this product to anyone who is pursuing long distance running!

Saturday, September 3, 2011


"When hope is not pinned wriggling on a shiny image or expectation, it sometimes floats forth and opens."
~Anne Lamott~

This week, while difficult in many ways, also brought unexpected hope when I needed it most.

This has truly been an unusual summer. As I was hanging out with my friend on Monday, she mentioned more than once, "You are in an unusual circumstance, Natasha. Are you sure that you're doing okay?" While there have been incredible moments and experiences this summer- Jeff and I got engaged, we went on a road trip on the California coast, I moved to my own place, found my wedding dress, my sisters visited me, I had time to spend with good friends- there has been a constant, looming sense of uncertainty about where I will be when September comes.

September is here and I am still waiting, still trusting that God will work and that I will be teaching this year. But going through the motions of the start of a school year, hopeful that this is where I will be, but not completely certain has started to take its toll on my heart and emotions. On Wednesday, when I was feeling this sadness and uncertainty to it's fullest, I received some hopeful news. To make a long story short, it looks like it is very likely that I will be teaching this year. We are expecting to know for sure this week. While I am still being, as my friend Melissa labelled it, "guardedly optimistic", I truly do feel hopeful and much lighter than I have in such a long time.

The other significant news of the week is that Jeff and I are officially running the New York marathon in November! This week has been remarkable as numerous friends and family members have committed to sponsoring children who are in need through World Vision. It looks like we have about 18 children sponsored now! This is such a blessing and motivation to keep persisting in the training as our runs are getting longer and starting to take a toll on our bodies. We feel so surrounded by the love and support of our community.

While an unusual summer, God has blessed me and been faithful. I can rest secure in the fact that I am surrounded by the open arms of friends and family no matter what this next week and month brings. But ultimately, I can rest secure in the arms of God.

"I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall... I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord's steadfast love for us, we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness... The Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him. It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord." Lamentations 3:22,23