For most of my life, I have felt like a bowl with a random bunch of spices inside. What dish am I supposed to be? Lamb tagine? Miso soup? Chicken cordon bleu? Thankfully, I am the pan and not the cook. God chooses the ingredients; it just takes me awhile to realize what He’s making of me. And just when I think I can taste it, He adds something new. Sometimes I just need to walk around as a stew that doesn’t make sense, before I get the finishing touches. The first 23 years of my life made up quite the stew.
As a child, my great love was animals. I wanted to be a livestock veterinarian with specialized skills in farmland midwifery. But I came to realize my love for animals didn’t include spending every waking moment with them, and if I bawled my eyes out after a family cat died, I probably wouldn’t be too hot in the operating room. Thankfully, high school came around and with it, my mad teenage skills in writing, grammar, and literature. I wanted to be a writer! But first, I needed a job. And being a barista sounded pretty glamorous.
By the time I entered running start at the local community college, I was living the dream as a people-person-coffee-maker and writing was no more than a hobby. I wanted to be an architect! Why? Because I was artistic and freaking awesome at it –designing all my future houses on graph paper. And because math…I was good at math.
I was a perpetual barista with a 4.0 in calculus.
One year through college, I determined architecture give me no thrill, no fire in my bosom, no tremendous zeal to live and be alive. So, I wanted to be an artist! An artist who spoke French, to be exact. I loved French and my teacher pleaded with me to keep learning languages because I was apparently marvelous. So! I wanted to be a free-spirited artist in Paris, because Paris has art, French, and coffee. I wanted to get married and have babies and inspire human beings with my incredible oil paintings and pencil portraits and phenomenal lattes. But, there was still the problem of my proficiency in math. Did God want me to be a scientist or something? As a friend’s mom once said, “She has a 3.9 GPA and she wants to be an ARTIST?” Well…shoot. And sure enough, at the end of my two years of college life, art was passé.
I graduated with my AAS degree and no university direction whatsoever. I was a barista, though. I was really good at pulling those shots. After working through the summer at a coffee shop, I was given the opportunity to be an English school intern in Japan. Japan? Sure, why not! So, I lived in Sendai, Japan, for two months. I loved every minute of it, and realized I was actually capable as a teacher and a tutor of children. So after coming home, I wanted to be a certified ESL teacher!
But, first I needed a job, and coffee it was. My new boss happened to live part-time in North Africa, and I happened to (conveniently) fall in love with his son. In the past seven years, I have traveled to Morocco five times. Although I have never helped a donkey give birth, I have become conversationally-fluent in Arabic, tutored teenage girls in English, written updates to my supporters back home, helped build houses, and become a henna artist. After marrying the boss’s son, having our baby girl, and resting in my identity as Jill of Many Trades, I can no longer find the derivative of a function. I am also no longer a barista. But, that is just fine.