A HEARTFELT LEAP
"Sit on it and I'll take your picture." She said.
"You go first." I replied. What I didn't realize was that she knew better
than to actually sit on the blistering reptile.
I sat on the old boy like I knew what I was doing. I did not. Scorched my wrist, my ankle and my pretty, white pants. So much for new found friendship. I suppose, if I hadn't acted like I knew what I was doing she might have tried to help.
That's Jennie Capezza, the smart one on the left; a native Floridian who knew what would happen to a metal alligator in the piping hot sun. She attended my class in April 2015 at the National Catholic Educational Association Conference in Orlando (NCEA). Honestly, I don't remember meeting her back then but I will never forget the day that she contacted me the following June.
My name is Jennie Capezza. I am the Director of Campus Ministry at John Carroll High School in Fort Pierce, FL. I attended one of your dynamic sessions at the recent NCEA conference in Orlando. I love listening to your CD as I drive around town! I am inquiring about the possibility of you leading our faculty retreat on Tuesday, August 11 in Fort Pierce, FL. I would love to share your message with our faculty prior to returning to school in the Fall. Please respond with your availability and monetary cost. Thank you for your prayerful consideration.
It didn't take long to feel God's leading in this opportunity. It was actually more like a heart felt leap. I responded with my "Yes" and Jennie replied:
I’m thrilled to hear that you are available. I am in the process of communicating with my administrator about budget and expectations for that day and will be able to confirm with you at the beginning of next week. Can you tentatively hold that date for me until I get approval?
Her story continued:
I would like to share a little bit about myself and the great impact you had on my life at the NCEA conference.
During my first day at the NCEA conference in Orlando, I attended a couple High School/English sessions and felt like a fish out of water. I was disappointed and had an overwhelming feeling like I had been misplaced. But I held on to my faith in God’s plan; His timing and placement has always been perfect in my life. Well, God delivered once again when He guided me to your session. As soon as I walked in, I felt at home as you were passing out doughnuts and welcoming everyone. I didn’t talk very much, but I took it ALL in. I felt connected to your beautiful, simple message of God’s love and plan for us. The Holy Spirit was stirring in me, and I had an overwhelming feeling that I needed to communicate my feelings of inadequacy as a high school English teacher with my administrator. Well, I communicated that I could no longer to be an English teacher. I felt lost for a couple weeks, not knowing if I would return to elementary school or just work at Starbuck’s for a couple years. Luckily, I was offered the Director of Campus Ministry position last week, and I am thrilled. But, I honestly feel like I would not have had the courage to say something if I wouldn’t have experienced God’s message through you. So… thank you! Just wanted to bear witness to the fruits of your labor!!
God bless you,
Jennie started her new job in June. She emailed me on June 4th. The stories of faith and inspiration which were to follow would not have come to be if it hadn't been for Jennie's willingness to reach out and share. She had no fear. She felt led to my class where God was truly the one waiting for her. She risked her career by telling her boss she could no longer continue in her current position. When offered her new role she did not hesitate and when she started her new job, the first thing she did was reach out, kitty corner, all the way across the country to ask if I might consider leading their faculty retreat.
I am humbled by my role in any of this. It is by God's grace that I have found the ability to share the gifts He has given me. No one could have predicted the outcome of Jennie's faithfulness and she is just getting started. I am a willing participant and an awestruck witness to God's work. He knows I'll go anywhere and I will do anything for Him... even if it means unwittingly sitting on a metal alligator in the hot Florida sun.
John Carroll Catholic High School Faculty Retreat, August 11, 2015.
You will be forever in my heart.
For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. (NASB)