Most of you have already heard -- from us or via social media, likely. But there's more to tell! I have not one, not two, but THREE pieces of news to share with you!
There's a bun in the oven--or rather, a bao zi in the steamer ... B and I are having a baby!
Baby Chen is due in early/mid October. So far I haven't had any morning sickness but have battled about 2.75 immobilizing colds/infections along with being extremely tired. Also some back pain has flared up from a previous injury. But things are on the upswing now (thanks to rest, B's care, and the chiropractor), and they say (as I hope) second trimester will be better!
First, some back story:
This school year has been one of the roughest teaching years so far. Nearly every day I went home with feelings of discouragement and defeat for the first half of the year. I wrestled with different things: building something logical and sequential out of non-existent unit plans, making lessons meaningful for students who didn't care, differing viewpoints from those outside the music department with those within, and rowdy, disrespectful middle schoolers. By second semester things started looking up--God graciously gave me the inspiration, strength, and resources I needed to make great gains and start owning my classes in a way I'd never experienced before. Teaching became rewarding.
A few months ago my colleague (the other music teacher) confided in me that she had decided to leave at the end of the year. At the time we had not made news of "bao zi" public, and I was still debating whether or not to continue teaching with baby on the way. Knowing this changed things a little--I found that if I wanted, I could choose the classes I taught in the next year, and fulfill my hopes of teaching the lower elementary grades.
It was a tough decision. But in the end, although I felt it was hard to give up something that had become dear, B and I knew that I will need to be more fully available when the time comes and that there will be something greater to receive in turn, and love. God may lead me to go back to the classroom someday, but right now I'm just taking it one step at a time.
Just the other day as my fifth graders were playing an Orff arrangement I learned at a workshop, I heard two comments coming out of my students' mouths that went straight to my heart and warmed it over:
"We sound good!" (they were actually listening!)
And when it was over, "Let's do it again!"
It was a gift to hear them say that--a gift of gratification that I can close this chapter in my life knowing that I did at least something right.
THREEIn the past I've written bits about my experiences at Taiwan Xi En, formerly known as His Hands. I've had high regard for this ministry ever since I heard about it, not just because of the adorable babies but because their mission is to reach out to some of the most stigmatized and shunned individuals and magnify God's glory. So, when the director of the ministry asked me casually one night at Bible study, "What are you doing next year? We have an opening for an assistant." My eyes lit up and my heart jumped inside. What? Work for Taiwan Xi En? Pick me!
As admin at TXE worked to put job details together, several weeks passed before I heard anything more about the position, and I had no idea how possible it would be with the job requirements and our upcoming lifestyle change, so I put it aside in a corner of my heart. A few weeks ago they asked me to go for an interview, and that very day they offered me the position. I was so excited to say yes but I made myself wait a few days to make sure it wasn't on an emotional impulse.
Even so, it's still taken a little while for it all to sink in--leaving my work at MAK and some self-doubt for the new job has filled most of my thoughts, but the truth is, God brought everything together just in our time of need. I've been hesitant about completely stopping work because honestly I'm afraid of going a little crazy with a newborn by myself in a new neighborhood (we're planning to move apartments in June) with B guaranteed to be gone for the better part of every day. But I also knew I couldn't commit to teaching with all the time and energy that it demands of me (even part-time). I know so many women out there do it all the time and I deeply admire them, but even so, I am doubtful about my own abilities/what I can handle. The way He times everything is perfect. I made the decision not to re-sign with MAK, and then God gently opened another door for me to walk through. The position at TXE will be just the right kind of flexible and the icing on the cake is that this is a ministry that our family loves and supports with all our hearts. I always catch a glimpse of God when I go there, and now I have this privilege to play a small part in the work He is doing!
So this is the beginning of an end, but also the start of new and exciting adventures. Of course it's not always going to be smooth sailing but we are looking forward to the lessons God is wanting to teach us.
Sometimes it can be quite thrilling.