"Miss Kelly, can I ask you a question?"
"Sure, Maya. What's your question?"
"Do you have a back-up plan?"
"A back-up plan?"
"I mean, if teaching doesn't work out for you.
Do you have a back-up plan?"
Ah, from the mouth of babes - in this instance, a curious third grader named Maya. This conversation happened one morning during recess when I was student teaching, and left me speechless. I was a Communication major in college and tried my hand at Elementary Education. I made it halfway through the Elementary Ed. program and decided not to finish. I had a heart for children, just not for the teaching part. Maybe Maya was a prophet?
I find it interesting how God starts something and develops it over time - often better (or at least differently) than what we anticipated. I had no idea then that I would be where I am now, spending half of my week interacting with young people. Did I mention my Youth Ministry minor that I picked up in a fifth year at the university? That fifth year planted seeds inside of me for work I would do fifteen years later. God certainly knew what He was doing.
My Communication major has come in handy with every job I've had since college: Executive Assistant in Los Angeles, Purchasing Coordinator/Accounts Payable Manager in Orange County, Barista in Silver Lake, and Business Owner. It's one of those degrees that prepares you for working with people and giving speeches.
Over the past year, a few public speaking offers have presented themselves to me. So exciting! My first was at a local beauty school, sharing about my experience as a student-turned-business-owner in the esthetics field. My second opportunity didn't work out due to my holiday travel schedule, but was flattering just the same. I was asked to be the keynote speaker at a local conference focused on empowering tween and teenage girls.
I also had two opportunities speaking at church to our high school students. The first one was several months ago at the close of our Purity Series. For our last session, we separated the guys and girls. I talked to the ladies about allowing God to be the source of their identity, especially when it comes to sexuality. Society, the media, their peers, the stuff they have, their reputation, etc. - those things will never give them lasting confidence. Only God can fulfill their deepest desires and be their strength. It was a message inspired by my own journey through adolescence and identity (and boys).
|My first cell group circa 2010. Junior high girls. |
I won them over with candy and baked goods.
|Current cell group. High school girls. |
I still bring candy and baked goods.
Well, first I brought them cookies. Then I spent 45 minutes engaging them in a conversation about how our choices require us to give up something in order to gain something else (New Year's Resolutions, hobbies, jobs, friends, youth group, etc.). We talked about stories in the Bible where people had to sacrifice in order to gain (Abraham & Isaac, the bleeding woman, Jesus), and I mentioned three of a long list of women (Joni Eareckson Tada, Mother Teresa, my mom) who have inspired my life and our culture by the choices they made. The discussion ended with what we gain as Christians. When we choose to follow Jesus, what do we gain (peace, joy, hope, eternal life, etc.)? It was a challenging message about freedom, endurance, and grace. I was so proud of the students who shared their own redemption stories.
So, I guess I never planned my back-up plan.
I finished school and chose a life open to God's leading (and surprises!). Some days I fly by the seat of my pants, other days I'm multi-tasking with focus. God has been in all of it and has taught me so much along the way. He pretty much saved me from myself and showed me what real health and contentment look like. I got a husband and a name change out of the deal, and lots of good years loving kids like Maya.