The Prophetic Dream

I’ve always had very visual dreams, and I usually remember them. As a little boy, some could even be classified as night terrors as I would wake up screaming, and my dad would rush in and hold me during such frightening episodes. Other dreams were just oddly nonsensical, and some were good, but a select few were prophetic.  

During my MFA program in visual art, an older, black woman named Tamara asked me one day after class, “Terry, do you have dreams?” 

I answered a little interested in her question, “Yes, I do.” 

She said without hesitation in her long, calm voice, “You know some are prophetic, don’t you?” She seemed to have a supernatural confidence about her words.

“Then why don’t they all come true?” I asked with polite scholarly criticism. 

She answered, “Some dreams take a lifetime to come true … some after that.” 

When I went back to my dorm area—they were called the mods at APU—I thought about the dream I had as a beginning undergraduate student. If any dream had ever been prophetic, that particular dream felt like a real vision from God. 

In between misguided college relationships while searching for the one, I had a dream. I was invited to my friend’s wedding, and it was out of town. Dressed up in wedding attire, I got into my car and pulled onto the highway to begin the distant journey to a location I had never heard of before. About an hour or so later, I followed the card stock printed directions from the wedding invitation and pulled off the highway to a regular road surrounded by more agricultural land. I followed the directions turn after turn until I found myself further away from anything that would resemble a wedding venue. I double checked the directions and continued to follow them apprehensively. Thousands of trees hid any sign of my location as they surrounded both sides of that two-lane road.  

Then I slowed as the asphalt faded into a dirt road.  

I stopped my car.  

Something had to be wrong.  

I pulled out my directions and recounted every turn. This was before GPS or smartphones, so I only had the card stock printed directions as my guide.  

I looked all around me, and due to the trees, I couldn’t see anything.  

There was no way my friend would have his wedding in the middle of nowhere, I thought. The logical thing to do would be to turn around and try to find where I messed up, where I missed or misread some sign or turn.

But something deep inside told me to just trust the instructions and have faith in something other than myself.

I started up my car to move forward on the dirt road. It wasn’t bad at first, but then my car began to feel each little divot and hole as I was jerked left and right.  

At this point I thought, well, I’ve already gone this far. I might as well keep trusting the directions. 

And I did, even though it was completely illogical. It made no sense. There was no way my friend would have chosen to get married way out here where people would have to take a dirt road that made you feel like you were on the King Kong ride at Universal Studios.

But then … I saw a turn come up. It was the next and last turn printed in the directions.

I took it.

The thousands of trees opened up, and before me was a small lake, a large pasture of green grass, rows of white folding chairs—the wedding venue.

I parked and walked up to be greeted by friends with excited smiles ready to celebrate a special occasion. Behind the flower-covered alter was the setting sun casting a radiant orange to pink gradient glow through the sky and reflecting off the water. It was the kind of sun that didn’t hurt to look at briefly, the kind that welcomed the cool evening and the awaiting stars.

I felt a special presence outside at that venue. It was God. And I already considered the analogy of following his directions even when life gets confusing and difficult, even when things don’t make sense.

My lonely natural self thought how nice it would be to have a girlfriend in such as setting, someone to just sit next to me and share such a glorious scene.  

But I decided to be thankful for what I had. I was there in the presence of God, in a holy place for a holy reason.  

Then I sense someone coming up behind me. I heard a voice behind my right shoulder say hello. It was one of the most beautiful voices I’ve ever heard.  

I then felt an inaudible voice from within say, “This is her, Terry. Here’s your future wife.”

I turned to my right as I widened my eyes to see her with the most eager excitement.

It was my bedroom.

I was awake now.

And all I had was the sound of her voice still in my head developing into a lucid memory.

Even if I tried, I knew I couldn’t go back to sleep. It was unlike any dream I’ve ever had, and I knew no one would understand if I tried to explain it to them. I walked around my room for a bit, and then reached for my Bible for some sort of answer.  

I normally never condoned such Bible reading practices, but I opened it up to a random page desperate for a heavenly answer. I immediately read the first verse I saw. Proverbs 3:8: “In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” 

Fifteen years went by of private mental battles about the authenticity of that dream until on a regular Sunday morning I heard the same voice again when she walked into Bible study.

And this time, it wasn’t a dream.

The Christmas Tie

There was an excitement in the crispy, cold air as students hurried through the halls of my junior high in their California-thin jackets the week before Christmas break. The two-week break was practically an eternity for us young teens. And there was also the excitement of the anticipated Christmas presents. Christmas always seemed to be the time when the best video games were released with the newest gaming consoles.  

I was in the 8th grade, and it was my first year in band. I was a drummer. And although many would say that it should be illegal to give junior high boys drumsticks, drumming was a great passion of mine, but since it was my first year in band, I wasn’t very skilled yet.  

The top band students got to leave school early the Friday before Christmas break to perform in a musical Christmas concert off campus, and boys had to wear ties and girls, dresses. Some of the nerdy band boys got all dressed up in tight dress pants tucked in too much, exposing their awkward transitioning junior high bodies. But not the drummers. They wore their dress shirts but tucked them into lose jeans, and their ties hung a little more casually and were bright with fun colors, some even rebelliously featuring cartoon characters. So somehow it became the cool thing to wear a tie on that last day of school before Christmas break.  

The night before the last day of school, I asked my mom around 8ish at night, if she would take me to get a tie to wear.  

Yes, I was one of those kids who waited until the last moment to tell my parents anything—my mother hated science fair projects.  

When I mentioned my tie request to my mother, I didn’t expect her to be all for it. I didn’t really need to wear a tie; I just kind of wanted to. My mom responded with enthusiasm, and we hurriedly hopped into our family’s minivan and drove to Mervyn’s because they were open later than most of the other clothing stores.  

She and I searched the large store as elevator Christmas songs placed in the background. It was the same Mervyn’s she used to take me to for back-to-school shopping when I was little, and I would hide inside of the giant clothes racks, the circular ones.  

My mother and I eventually found the perfect tie. It displayed the Looney Tunes characters with a Christmas theme. My mom bought me a dress shirt to match it too, and the next day at school, I was one of the cool kids … well, maybe not “cool,” but I stood out in a way that I liked.  

As a grown man today, happily married and with my own son, I understand my mother’s eager excitement during those short hours of late-night shopping, and to this day, that Looney Tunes Christmas tie still hangs in my closet with all my others.  

In many ways I have learned about God’s character through my mom. I didn’t need that tie, but she still blessed me with it. God does the same, and we need to remember all the blessings we have been given in our life—all the ties. 

New Christmas Novel Published on Amazon

I want to share my deepest appreciation to everyone who reads and shares my posts from Tripp Blog and supports me in my writing. I have not been writing on Tripp Blog as much lately due to being a first-time father and a doctoral student, but I have been writing books. My newest book is called Christmas Land: And Other Seasonal Stories. It’s a story that encompasses all of our popular Christmas mythology into one novel. Viewers can have fun finding references to Christmas movies, cartoons, songs, and stories from popular culture. This story is like a literary Where’s Waldo book. I specifically did not include the Nativity in this Christmas story because I did not want people to associate the true story of Christ’s birth with elements of playful popular culture.

Also included in this book are short, Christmas stories that pull at the heartstrings. I challenge you to try to read these without tearful eyes or a wistful heart. Here’s the main book summary:

After Cindy loses her grandmother, the young graphic designer in her twenties faces the yuletide season alone in the small mountain town of Timberton Heights. This Christmas will be unlike any other as she uncovers the magical land of Christmas. Classic legends meet modern day reality in this new seasonal novel of Christmas adventure that will help anyone get into the Christmas spirit. Terry Tripp’s collection of short stories touches upon the wistfulness of the Christmas season as they span the spectrum of human thought and emotion, leaving readers in a pensive state of awe. Tripp pushes his readers to meditate upon life, death, love, and family in these touching holiday tales.

Terry Tripp

I hope you enjoy this Christmas book, and I pray that it encourages you to reflect gently during this cold season while being moved to appreciate this very unique Christmas.

New Published Book on Christian Worship

I want to share my appreciation to all of you who read and share my posts from Tripp Blog and support me in my writing. I have not been writing on Tripp Blog as much lately due to being a first-time father and a doctoral student. My son is now five-months old, and I’m officially halfway through my doctoral program in worship studies. Although it’s an interesting time in our world, my wife and I are very thankful to be able to spend it together with our growing family.

I felt God calling me to write a book during my last doctoral class, so I did. It’s called Lifestyle Worship: 8 Roles of the Worship Leader. Here’s the preface:

The term “worship leader” is one that is commonly thought of as a person in leadership at a church in charge of musical worship. Although this is a true description, the worship leader can be anyone who leads others to worship God. A senior pastor is a worship leader. A church counselor is a worship leader. A Sunday school teacher is a worship leader. If we are followers of Christ, we should aim to help lead others to worship God, not just in the musical part of the church service but in all areas of life—living out lifestyle worship. Although this book focuses on the musical worship leader, the concepts in it can apply to many different areas where people lead others in lifestyle worship, as it discusses eight important roles to provide direction and encouragement with focus on the calling of being a worship leader.

Terry Tripp

I hope you enjoy this new book, and I pray that it encourages you in living lifestyle worship unto the Lord as a child of God.

Growing Up with OCD

Stressed on Chair

I remember it being silent.

Dark.

Cold.

So early in the morning.

Alone.

It took me two hours to get ready in the mornings when I was in junior high. I scrubbed my entire body with soap and hot water in the bathtub and had to finish rinsing off in the shower. I had to partially air dry after using my towel. My hair had to fall perfectly into place before I plastered it with hairspray. I used my mom’s old blow dryer to warm my feet before putting them in my white socks—I was once told that damp feet cause athlete’s foot.

The meticulous details were physically tiring, and the obsessions were mentally exhausting. I barely made it to school on time to face all the other difficulties of junior high school life. If any part of my arduous morning process went wrong, there was a good chance I was “staying home sick” that day.

I had obsessive-compulsive disorder.

But I was never diagnosed formally.

Before the sun came up one routine morning, I accidentally knocked the blow dryer off the bathroom counter onto the hard tile floor. As I hurried down to pick it up, my hand grabbed onto the loose part of the cord that attached to the handle.

I’m not sure if the lights flickered or not, but with a striking flash, something hurt my hand. I examined myself. Besides for a fading stinking pain, I was okay. I continued my extensive process of getting ready for school. For the entire school day, I smelled the awful stench of burnt hair.

OCD wasn’t talked about as commonly as it is today, so my parents didn’t really understand my behavior. They were concerned though and took me to speak to my junior high school counselor. In his office he asked me a lot of questions. He was a nice man, but overall, he didn’t seem concerned about my behavior. He just encouraged me to try to get to school on time and not miss so many days.

Later on I learned more about obsessive-compulsive disorder. My struggle even helped inspire me to major in psychology. I wrote my college senior paper on the effects of cognitive-behavioral therapy versus selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. Reexamining my own mental health past brought some frustration about the interaction that took place with my old junior high counselor so many years ago. I felt he should have known.

Maybe he could have helped me.

Looking back at it all now, I realize that it was a true blessing that I was not formally diagnosed. I was never given medication for it. I wasn’t given a reason or excuse for my struggle. Instead, I was expected to work through it.

That’s exactly what I did.

I learned to truly analyze every compulsive thought to see if it were realistic or not. I asked myself, “Do I really need to wash my hands again?” “Will touching money really hurt my health?” “So what if my hair isn’t perfectly in place?” I then took baby steps to remedy my compulsive behaviors.

I’m not sure if it was just me figuring out how to properly think through my thoughts or growing out of my OCD tendencies with age or my parents’ new family routine of going to church.

I do know that with the prayers of my parents and grandparents, God helped me relearn how to think.

Another boy I grew up with who was a few years younger than me didn’t have the same success. His parents took him in and had him diagnosed. Then came the treatments—drugs. Then came the side-effects. Then came more drugs to help with the side-effects. This led to a 20-year, downward spiral. Today he receives a monthly check from the government and still depends on his parents for stability.

I’m not stating that drugs are always bad when dealing with mental health, but drugs as treatment alone are not enough. There should always be something else paired with pharmaceutical treatment.

Mental health is such a major topic today, and so is physical health. But what people forget to add to this conversation is spiritual health.

We are so much more than physical containers housing neurotransmitters, and understanding this will help us have a proper perspective on life.

We are a soul; we are spiritual.

We have a body.

An earth suit.

And it comes with an unknown expiration date.

Concerning mental health disorders, sometimes the soul is fine but the physical body, the brain, is off. Sometimes the physical body is off because the soul is off.

Does the world ever suggest healing the soul and helping the spirit?

Typically, no. Just more drugs. Or a different drug. Or maybe, yoga.

Let’s be thankful we live in a time where there are drugs to help the physical body, but let’s never forget that more than physical healing, we need healing of the soul; we need spiritual help.

There are times in my life when I still struggle with old OCD tendencies. They come more when I’m tired or experiencing a lot of anxiety, but as I did as a child, I continue to do today. I try my best to take captive each thought. I force myself to go to bed earlier. I enjoy a light jog around the neighborhood. I refocus my life in meditative prayer.

And things get better.

Everyone’s story is different though, but this is mine.

May we seek after God in his Word as we are guided by his Holy Spirit to find the reconciliation that comes through Christ, Jesus—the mighty healer who cares for all parts of us, including every obsessive thought.

 

 

Boom, Lights, and Revival

Fireworks

My young parents sat on a quilted blanket stretched out over fresh grass as we waited for the heavens and the earth to kiss. I was around five or six, wearing a red striped shirt and shorts.

Blond hair and blue eyes—the American kid of the eighties.

We were at the local baseball field of our small town waiting for the boom with other local families sitting in little patches on the grass.

I remember specifically that we were on part of the incline of the field where it was a little easier to watch the sky.

A star twinkled—two then ten.

And then came the boom.

The dim summer sky lit up in bright showers of color, and my parents looked down to watch my excitement.

I moved down to a prone position as I pretended to be a solider shooting down UFOs out of the sky who were invading our planet. Every time I shot my make-believe gun, an invisible UFO exploded and trickled down in burning pieces.

The sound and the colors paired with my imagination seemed more real than any 8-bit video game of the day.

Around 10 years later, learning a little more about American history and life in general, those fireworks still captured my attention, but I no longer shot down UFOs. Sitting outside, I closed my eyes and just listened to the sound of the boom move the ground beneath me as the bright lights flashed through my eye lids.

I imagined what it would have been like in that historical Revolutionary War knowing that each boom was most likely a life taken. I thought about the other wars too. All those soldiers who listened to the boom in a threatening manner. The ones fighting for what they believed was right. And the ones whose last sound they ever heard was that ominous boom.

I know the Fourth of July is a time to celebrate our freedom, but it’s difficult for me not to meditate for a moment on the people who once fought under those bright lights. Those who gave their all.

America is changing and sadly, those who sacrificed so much are being forgotten, but that doesn’t negate what God has done through this great land. Obviously, there has been some bad since it’s a land full of humans, but the story of us is one about God doing extraordinary things through people who didn’t really have a chance. Then he used those people to help others even though they weren’t perfect.

Does that sound familiar?

America today doesn’t look the same as it did 30 years ago, and it won’t look the same 30 years from now, but it’s still our story, and if we can bless others with our blessings and lead a confused and hurting nation back to the simple message of Jesus, it will have a good ending.

Historically, revival doesn’t begin with preaching but prayer.

Powerful, passionate, and patient prayer by God’s people.

From the Reformation to the First and Second Great Awakening to the Prayer Meeting Revival to the Camp Meetings to the Azusa Street Revival to the Jesus Freak Revival, and now to today, there is hope.

It’s time for this country to come back together, and politics will not accomplish that task, but Jesus can.

In John 17:21 (ESV), Jesus is recorded praying for us—the believers then and the believers now. He said to the father, “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”

We have a mighty responsibility in this country that should flow out to the entire world. In our worship to God, we are to spread his love and light to the lost and confused so that no one is alone and all are apart of the family of God. And through the propitiation of Christ, we can experience true freedom now and forever.

As we sit under those exploding lights of red, white, and blue and feel that boom rumble the ground beneath us, let’s silently pray as passionately as the poets and as bold as the beasts that God’s Holy Spirit will change this land by bringing the souls of this country in allegiance to him.

The Lord’s Closet

I was in the 6th grade when my family was attending our little charismatic church. It was a good place to get loved on, but the theology was sometimes lacking. That’s always an interesting balance with churches.

Good theology but lackluster worship.

Good theology but apathetic people.

Good theology but dry pastor.

If you can find a church that’s mostly doctrinally Biblical and has powerful worship with people who are eager to build community and an enthusiastic pastor, then you have found the church version of a unicorn.

Some Sunday mornings, I wasn’t feeling the best and wouldn’t want to go church. I would tell my dad I felt sick, but his answer was always the same: “If you aren’t feeling well, the best place for you to be is at church.”

The church was big on placing people directly into ministry right after they accepted Christ.

Seriously, I had a youth leader who was still in rehab. On his first day teaching, the slouching, moustache-wearing man said through a mumble of a voice, “I don’t really know the Bible, but I believe in Jesus. I figured we can learn the Bible together.”

A few Sundays later, he didn’t show up to teach the group. I never saw him again.

I don’t recall anyone on the church’s staff having any formal theological training. The senior pastors consisted of a husband and wife duo. The ministers of the healing ministry were both on disability. The worship team took anyone who was able or who wasn’t able to play an instrument. But the entire church really loved on everyone who walked through the front doors, and they believed in those people too—enough to give them a chance at what they felt God was calling them to do.

My mom used to have yard sales to try to get rid of all our extra stuff we didn’t need, including older clothes. She noticed that clothes would only sell for mere cents at yard sales, and people would try to deal you down to a dime or even a nickel. To her, it wasn’t worth the hassle. If she gave the clothes away to charity organizations, they would mark up the price and sell it.

My mom wanted a way to give the clothing away for free to help those who were really in need. She talked to the pastors at the church and came up with a unique plan.

Instead of trying to sell used clothing to people or giving it away to organizations to sell, the entire church would put their used clothing together and create a place where people who were in need could go and take whatever fit them for free.

My mom did some research and called around town to find some old, circular clothing racks. They were the industrial size ones used in large retail stores—the kind little kids like to hide inside while their parents are shopping.

She cleared out our three-car garage and filled the entire space with racks full of donated clothing.

Since it was completely free and open to anyone to come in to get clothes, my mom came up with a fitting name for the ministry: The Lord’s Closet.

I remember all kinds of people coming to our house during that time. Single mothers with young children. Recovering addicts trying to find something nice for a job interview. Old widowed women who wanted to dress up again in something new. People would leave so thankful and excited, and it was completely free.

The world teaches us to find ways to make money off of people.

The Bible teaches us to find ways to help take care of people.

Of course, in careers and business, we need to charge people for a service or a product, but sometimes it is good and right to just give something for free. And when we give freely under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we become a little more like Christ.

I was one of the fortunate ones who grew up with a Christ-like example in my life who eagerly looked for ways to help care for people and who gave freely—my mom.

 

Driving Home

Foothills surrounded the dry two-lane road that led home.

Oil rigs heavily pumped as some just sat in awe of the red sky as it began to take down some of the warm air with it.

Telephone poles connected together by hanging cords that appeared to move up and down if you watched from lying down in the backseat.

Somewhere on that drive, there was a burned structure of a historic hotel still standing, which was the last evidence that the tiny town had once flourished with people.

But to me as a little boy, it still flourished. Maybe not with people, but with sunsets, nightly stars, pet animals, young friends, old family, trees to climb on, grass to roll on, and time to spare.

Driving home from Taft to my home in Derby Acers, I remember turning my head and looking up to see my dad. He was younger then—not that tired from a hard day’s work in the oilfields.

Paper bags of mixed groceries sat together in the back, and I held a Happy Meal box in my hands, eager to get to the toy Hot Wheel that hid under the warm fries I was so eager to throw into my mouth.

After looking at my dad, I turned back to watch the road like he was. He seemed to keep a safe eye on that road. Or maybe it was that red sky falling over those foothills beyond it he so intently observed.

It’s now that red sky I envision on that road when I think about my childhood.

The sunset and childhood are both so full of wonder and both so fleeing.

Back then, on that road, with my dad, there wasn’t poppy music to occupy the calm silence. There wasn’t handheld video game systems with new levels to conquer. There wasn’t cell phones, texting, or email to communicate with people who weren’t there.

It was just us.

And I called it home.

It’s where my mind meditated. It’s where my imagination grew. It’s where I learned how to be alive.

Often times it’s where I would like to go back. And in a way, maybe I can.

Maybe we can.

Maybe that’s what reconciliation is all about—riding in a car with our father, going where he takes us, and trusting he’s going to get us home.

 

The Librarian

I was around eight years old, and it was about once a month that our teacher took us to the school’s library to check out a book. For me, this was an exciting time. Out of all the books in the entire library, I got to choose one to take home for an entire month.

But I couldn’t really read that well.

With my speech disorder, sounding out words didn’t really work (if it ever works). But I knew there was something valuable about them—stories.

I think Mr. Bo, the librarian, knew that too. He was an elderly man who shared a resemblance with Mr. Rogers, the children’s show host.

I distinctly remember him having our class all sit together on the carpet as he gently brought out a worn book that he treated like an old friend. He carefully held the green book and lightly turned each page as he read to us The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. He ended the story in a dry voice as he read about how all the boy wanted was to be with the tree and how the tree was happy. He slowly closed the book, sat it down on the table next to him, and patted it with his weathered fingers.

“Do you know what that book reminds me of?” he asked the class of children on the floor.

No one answered.

“My parents,” the old man said.

Being only a kid, I somehow knew that was a good book, and I also knew Mr. Bo was a good man.

For a number of months, I would always check out the same book. It was a large illustrated book of fairytales. To me, it was so much better than the other books because it contained multiple stories instead of just one.

While the students were allowed to look through all the books, I looked with them even though I knew I was going to renew the book of fairytales once again. Finally, I stood in line to have the book renewed.

When I placed the old book on the counter, Mr. Bo said, “This book is getting old, isn’t it?”

I nodded.

“An old book like this needs to retire to a special home where someone can take care of it? Would you want to take it home and take care of it?”

I smiled and shyly said, “Yes.”

Mr. Bo opened up the front cover and took out the library card covered with dated stamps. He then very carefully pulled out the cardholder that had been glued on the back of the front cover. He handed me the book and smiled.

At the end of the school year, my school held its end of the year awards assembly. My mom was in the back videotaping it with her large, rectangular, over the shoulder camcorder. I was just a regular kid, so I never got the best reader award or the best athlete award. I was always the good, quiet kid in class.

Towards the end of the awards assembly, the principal announced there was one more award that was very special. It was the library award, and only one student in the entire school would receive it.

Mr. Bo steadily made his way up the stairs.

My name was called.

I feel like Mr. Bo believed in me. He didn’t really know me. We never held a real conversation. But he saw something in me. And I saw something in him.

After I moved from that small town, I remember hearing that he passed away, and the school named the library after him.

I still have that old book of fairytales somewhere up in my attic safely stored away in a box. That collection of stories prepared me for the real stories I would encounter in life.

The stories I would experience, create, and tell.

Mr. Bo saw something in me and was a small part of my story although he never knew it. As leaders in this sometimes-confusing world, I hope we can see things in others. I pray that we can believe in people even after years of disappointment.

Let us be stories.

Guidance in Becoming a Teacher

It was after school one common day in the 5th grade when my mother sat me down and said, “Someday you’ll have a job that you’ll go to everyday for the rest of your life. What would you want to do?”

I know the 10-year-old me probably answered by saying a Lego designer or professional toy tester, but I really did think about her question. After a good amount of time of serious thinking, I went back to my mom and told her that I wanted to help people.

I wanted to someday have a job where I would get to help people everyday.

She explained that doctors help people, so I decided to be a doctor.

There was a problem with this plan though. I fainted if I saw blood. I don’t expect people to really understand this, and I have forgotten the official name of this diagnosis, but it had nothing to do with fear. My body would involuntarily faint all on its own.

When I was in high school, I took a health class in summer school to get ahead in my units. My health teacher was a mostly bald, elderly man with translucent skin, a pot belly, and bony legs that surprisingly held him up. Since it was summer school, he wore shorts and a collar neck shirt.

One day while he was teaching on the cardiovascular system, he described to us how he had heart surgery before and how the doctors went through an artery in his leg to get to his heart. Seeing his protruding blue veins through his fishlike skin was just too much.

I became lightheaded and felt a slight chill. My hands became clammy, and my forehead started to perspire. I leaned down in my desk and crossed one leg over the other to try to get some blood flow back to my head.

I did not want to be known as the kid who fainted in health class.

I raised my hand and asked to use the restroom. The teacher motioned with his hand for me to go—his white haired, translucent skinned, blue veined arm.

I hurried out of the classroom as everything turned to white and then laid down outside next to the wall. With my knees elevated, I watched my vision return to me through the faded white.

I always thought I would grow out of this inconvenient condition, but I was slowly realizing I wouldn’t be able to help people as a medical doctor.

But I could help them with their psychological problems. Thus, I decided to become a therapist.

In my undergrad years, this was my vocational plan. I was a psychology major, but while plugging away at classes, I noticed I really enjoyed my English classes. I also enjoyed the overall college experience even though my university definitely lacked on stereotypical college living. (Note to high school students, if you feel ready to go away for college, do it. At least for two years after you finish your general education classes.) I learned double majoring would only take about a year longer, and I would then have two BA degrees, so I majored in both psychology and English.

It was when I was working in the English Tutorial Center that I first thought that maybe I could be a real high school English teacher. I was teaching English and writing to college students, so I figured why not?

My dad always suggested I should be a teacher. He would mention how teachers got off earlier than most other jobs and that teachers got the summers off. He brought it up so many times that I eventually became frustrated and told him, “Dad, I don’t want to be a teacher. I never said I wanted to be a teacher. I’m going to be a marriage-family therapist. That’s been my goal the whole time. I’m keeping to it.”

I remember him responding, “I know, but I just think teaching would be a really good job.”

After I graduated from college with my two degrees, I was about to start the application process for a master’s program in psychology when my mom showed me an ad by a private Christian high school looking for an English teacher. My mom suggested I just swing by and introduce myself. I didn’t have a teaching credential, but I was a little curious if they would even consider hiring someone straight out of college.

I put on a tie that matched my khaki pants and my light blue dress shirt, and I drove across town to the big church, which was also the campus of the small high school.

I marched up the stairs to the portable administration building and said to the principal, “Hello, I’m Terry Tripp, and I wanted to speak to you about applying for the English position.”

She looked surprised and invited me to sit down. She then asked about my teaching and ministry experience. I told her about my years of tutoring experience at the university and how I even taught a few English labs there. I went on to tell her my many years of ministry experience, leading worship, teaching Bible studies, and being on church leadership. She smiled, and told me to hold on.

When she came back into the room, she had an older woman with her. The principal introduced the older woman as the curriculum administrator. The principal asked me to say again why I came in today.

I restated that I was interested in the English position, and the two women smiled at each other.

The principal opened a filing cabinet to pull out a 40-page application and said, “This morning the pastor of our church came in and said if a young man comes in inquiring about the English position to hire him on the spot because he’s from the Lord.”

I responded, “Wow, that’s great. I guess it’s hard to argue with that. How many people have been applying for this position?”

“You’re the first one in weeks,” she answered.

I spent a few hours at home filling out the application. I think I had to write out about three different forms of testimonies, and about a month later, I stepped onto that campus as a fulltime English teacher.

Months later on the last day before Christmas break, I took a moment to go outside and just stand still and exist.

There was Christmas music playing on the intercom, and students joyously interacted with each other while eating their lunches outside in the light fog.

They were young. They were happy. They still had that childlike innocence about them—free from the calluses of life.

Although I was excited about the two week break, at that moment I realized something that I didn’t think would happen.

I was going to miss them; I was going to miss my students—the literature that we adventured through together, the inside jokes we developed, the encouragement of the good days, the counseling of the bad ones.

I was doing a form of therapy. Not therapy where I would see a patient once a month, but therapy where I see my students an hour every school day for an entire school year.

I registered for classes in a teaching credential program and a master’s program in education and never looked back. I eventually changed subjects to teach visual art, which was a great change for me, and now I’m able to see students’ more creative side in a relaxed learning environment with more time to counsel and interact with them.

Sometimes God makes decisions very clear in life, practically opening the door for us. Other times when choices are not that clear, we have to use the wisdom that God has given us along with the truth of his scripture to make a decision.

When I was living in Azusa for the summer while working on my MFA in visual art, Steven, a good friend and fellow student, and I got into a memorable conversation while driving to check out some LA art galleries.

I asked, “Don’t you ever wonder if you made the right choice? Don’t you ever wonder what if?”

He boldly said, “No, I don’t.”

“Never?”

He explained, “Why should I? If I’m walking in the Spirit and if I’m praying about every decision and if I’m not living in sin, why should I question past choices? If God is guiding me and if he was guiding me in the past, then questioning my choices guided by his Spirit would be questioning him, and I’m not about to question God.”

Steven’s answer was life changing for me, and it taught me that God is always guiding us in our choices and decisions if we’re in fellowship with him. Sometimes his voice is loud and bold while sometimes it’s in the whisperings of the Holy Spirit and the remembrance of his word.