I’m pretty sure the story of my life could be told through book quotes.
“Once upon a time, you had it all beautifully sorted out. Then you didn’t.” (Out of Sorts, Sarah Bessey)
I was the girl that had my life all figured out. I knew my life plan– I had written it, after all. I’d had it figured out pretty much since high school (though really, I knew I wanted to be a teacher when I was a kid). I was going to become a middle school English teacher, then get my masters in Special Education to help students learn how to be better readers and writers– all while writing books and things on the side. I was going to either go back to my little hometown of Mount Juliet and teach at my alma mater, or stay put in Nashville and get a job at Lipscomb, the only place I’ve really ever felt at home.
I had no Plan B– but why did I need one? I had everything planned out to the detail.
Then, I didn’t.
The girl that always thought she was going to be a teacher quit student teaching.
The girl that wanted nothing more than to live in her picture-perfect hometown forever suddenly felt stuck and homesick for her college life.
God has a way of flipping your perfectly laid plan inside out when you think you’ve got it all figured out. He also has a way of redeeming your plans for something He has in store instead– and it’s always so incredibly better than whatever perfect plans you concocted on your own.
And He has a way of taking us by the hand and leading us down the path we’re actually meant to go down.
We just have to lay down our carefully crafted, detailed maps with all the detours and pit stops planned– and we have to trust that He will take us where we’re supposed to go.
If I hadn’t quit student teaching, I wouldn’t have started an extra semester at Lipscomb.
If I hadn’t returned to Lipscomb for an extra semester, I would never have looked for a non-teaching job.
If I hadn’t started searching for a non-teaching job (and had a slight existential crisis along the way), I would have never looked for non-profit jobs in Lipscomb’s career office.
Then I would have never found the posting for LEAP online, applied and interviewed, and joined staff at PTM… officially having my first day at PTM the same day I started student teaching the year before (Not even kidding– the exact date).
God’s timing isn’t only funny– it’s seamlessly perfect.
“Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury, and remedying it.”- (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, J.K. Rowling)
Words are my favorite thing in all the world. Words have incredible power to hurt when thrown around carelessly. They also have equally incredible power to heal and bring hope. I try to teach my PTM students how much power and influence they have with just their words.
I read words to understand the world.
I write words to better understand myself.
Stories have always been my escape– my safe haven when my world got too chaotic and out of control. I’ve read books for as long as I can remember, and have always found myself most at peace when I get lost in the world of a book. Books have always been my greatest comfort and best teacher. I write and share my own stories to help me better understand myself, and the lessons the Lord is teaching me.
I want to teach my students the skills they need to read stories and share their stories, too.
One thing I tell my students often is how much reading and words affect your everyday life– there isn’t a day that goes by where you don’t read something, be it a book, song lyrics, texts, email, news article, or advertisement. I was completely shocked and overwhelmed by the great need of basic reading skills our students needed when I arrived at PTM in August– I had been a reader and writer nearly my entire life, I couldn’t imagine anyone struggling with something as easy (for me) as reading.
And so I’m learning, alongside my kids, how to help them best succeed, how to engage them above the noise of their lives to read (when they’d rather text or snapchat), how to make them confident readers and lovers of books and stories. And then I do it all over again the next day, hoping that what I teach and how I teach is helping them understand the power that reading gives them in the world.
“Safe?” said Mr Beaver …”Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” (The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, CS Lewis)
The week before programming began at PTM in August, one of my best friends asked me if I was at peace with being here. Everything for LEAP had unfolded so fast that I’d never really stopped to think twice if this was actually what I wanted or if I’d just jumped at the first opportunity handed to me (a week before graduation, people!). But I knew this is exactly where I needed to be.
My answer then was yes. All this time later, my answer is still yes.
There is absolutely nothing safe about LEAP year at PTM. You get thrown into a new living environment with 4 strangers and forced into community with them, you work 40+ hours a week in a completely new-to-you job with brand new people with tasks you’ve never done before, and you walk into a children’s program 5 days a week where you literally have no idea what happened at home the weekend before, or what someone said to them at school before they got off the bus. You never know what you’re going to get, and you get something completely different every day.
There’s nothing safe about being challenged out of your comfort zone and into a new world of unknowns.
It’s not safe at all. But it’s good– so full of good things. God doesn’t call us to safe– he calls us to do the hard thing. He calls us to do the right thing, the thing that he has planned, safe or not. And he promises good will come from it. He promises immeasurably more than we can ever think or imagine. And he delivers, even when it doesn’t look safe.
There’s nothing safe about the plans the Lord laid out for me when all my plans fell to pieces. I had made my plans neat and tidy and comfortable– he made my plans totally unsafe and worrisome and slightly exhausting. But they’ve been so much better than what I had planned for myself.
There’s nothing safe about Him and the life LEAP has been for me the past year– but there is plenty of good. And I’ll choose his goodness over a safe life any day if it’s anything like what LEAP has been to me.
A nearly-native Nashvillian, Jordan is a recent graduate of Lipscomb University, where she studied English and education. She is a lover of dogs, good food, time spent in Mexico, and reading as many books off her never-ending to-read list as she can. She’s known for laughing loudly at everything, watching Friends on a continuous loop, and slowly teaching herself to cook and bake. At PTM, she is the assistant director of literacy and reading teacher for our Community House and Wilson Center Middle School programs.
PTM provides the opportunity for urban ministry training through its LEAP Year Program where young adults walk alongside students and their families to help PTM students discover and live their God-inspired dreams, develop a love for learning, and build joy-filled friendships that glorify Christ Jesus. For more information and to apply click here