Being 30: What I Thought My Life Would Look Like

So it’s been a couple weeks… I’m not talking about how long it’s been since my last blog post, I’m talking about how long I’ve been the big 3-0 for.  Yup, I’m officially thirty years old!  Now if you were to ask my 19 year-old-self what I thought my like would look like when I was thirty, this is what I would’ve said:

  • I’d be married married to some hunk I’d meet in college
  • I’d have at least one kid
  • I’d be teaching high school juniors or seniors (honor students of course)
  • I’d be a home owner

HA.  But here’s my reality:

  • I’m single… but totally okay with it (especially since it’s God’s will right now)
  • NO kids
  • I’ve NEVER taught high school; I taught 7th grade.  And now I’m an Instructional Coach at an ELEMENTARY school, working on my master’s degree to be a PRINCIPAL.
  • I live in a super-nice apartment with one of my best friends.

Definitely not what I had in mind.  But you know what?  I’m so happy and content. Content, yet willing to be uncomfortable with leaps of faith.  Why is that?  Well, because when I was 20 years old I got saved and since then I’ve wanted God to have His way in my life.

Looking back on my twenties, numerous things have happened!

  • Got a bachelor’s degree
  • Moved to Liberal, KS
  • Became a teacher
  • Coached soccer
  • Coached basketball
  • Started graduate courses for my master’s
  • Made some of the greatest friends I could ever ask for (future bridesmaids?!)
  • Purchased my first (and second) iPhone (haha) ((soon to be third))
  • Bought my first vehicle all by myself
  • Most importantly, I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior!

I had a BLAST in my twenties!  God brought me through a lot; praise the Lord.  He changed my life!  I’m not who I was, thank goodness; and I’m excited for my thirties!  I know God still has great things for me.

So mark it down, here’s what I *think* my life will look like when I’m forty:

  • Married (lol, of course… only if it’s God’s will)
  • A kid or two
  • Principal at a middle school or maybe even elementary school
  • Owning a home
  • Raising my family in Liberal, KS still

We… Shall… See…!  God’s plans for my twenties were way better than what I had in mind, so I can only imagine what He has in-store for me in my thirties!

“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” -Proverbs 3:5-6 KJV

 

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When it Comes to Change 

 This place right here has had a significant part molding me into who I am today for the past 7 years.  

I remember the day I applied for this specific teaching job online and thought it was a fake website. Haha!  

I remember the phone interview (and how I wasn’t even going to answer it). 

Can’t forget the in-person interview where I was scared and intimidated leaving it and hoping they wouldn’t offer me the position. 

And finally, moving out to this town I’d never heard of where I knew absolutely no one. 

In this building, I’ve learned a lot about myself and what it means to be a better teacher, friend, colleague, role model, leader, follower, coach, and mentor.  I’ve made some lifelong friendships working here; friendships that God knew I needed.  

It’s a place where my faith, patience, and humility have all been tested and tried.  Sometimes the outcome had a sweet savor  of success; other times, the stench of failure. But underneath that was the chance for growth and self-discipline and motivation. 

I was really looking forward to being in a brand spankin’ new building this upcoming year which I emphatically voted “yes” for a few years ago on the bond issue.  However, after months of  a combination of prayer, reading God’s Word, messages from the pulpit, and seeking godly counsel;  this journey has come to a bittersweet twist.

I’ll be an Instructional Coach at Cottonwood Elementary this next school year where I’ll get to take my experiences and knowledge gained from being at SMS and help other educators in their individual journeys. I’m nervous, excited, and scared all at the same time!  

I’m nervous because I’ll be at an elementary school. You might be thinking, “Why would she be nervous about that?” Well, because I have zero experience with elementary students and elementary teachers.  I don’t even have observation hours from college in the elementary field! My degree is completely in secondary education.  

Yet…

I’m excited because it’s a great chance to work with others and see different perspectives.  For the past seven years, all I’ve known is middle school.  I hope to become well-rounded professionally…. and hopefully not physically!  

But…

I’m scared because I’ll be leaving my comfort zone.  And on top of that I’ll actually be taking a pay cut because I won’t be able to coach basketball anymore. #sadface (And this ain’t just a little chunk y’all, we’re talkin’ groceries here!)

However…

If I were to choose one adjective to describe how I feel overall, it would be grateful. I’m grateful to God for this new opportunity to continue to grow in different areas of my life.  And to continue to mature mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.  

Thinking about the emotions I’m feeling, I’ve realized they’re absolutely normal when it comes to change. Change is always nerve wrecking. Change is exciting. Change is scary.  But I’m ready for this new challenge. 

To all my coworkers and students I’ve ever worked with at SMS… THANK YOU for helping to shape me into who I am today.  You all are amazing and I couldn’t have done it with out you.  

Wherever you are or wherever you’re going, I love you and always, ALWAYS remember…

“IT’S A GREAT DAY!” (To be an Apache!)

Teacher Appreciation Week

A lot of people have no clue what teachers go through.  The emotional toll it takes. The heaviness that weighs you down. The sacrifices that are made.  For example, I personally know two teachers, good friends of mine, who this past school year have had burdened hearts and taken in a student to foster them.  

Teachers rock. 

This past Teacher Appreciation Week held a defining moment for me as a teacher. You know what I’m talking about… One of those moments you’ll just never forget.  

Unfortunately, it wasn’t a great moment. 

I was recently being interviewed about what it’s like to be a teacher and some of the struggles we face, and I remember saying something about kid’s coming to school with so many personal issues, and things that weigh them down, and how those things can weigh us down, too. 

That happened this week. In one of my classes, it was a “Free Journal Day” so they got to write about whatever they wanted. I always ask for four volunteers to share, because it can be personal. It’s a small class.  A young man volunteered to read his.  A kid who’s been in trouble a lot of times.  A young man who no doubt will probably be voted Class Clown for the entire 7th grade.  

As he held his head down to read aloud from his notebook, something was different about his countenance. I noticed it when he came into class earlier. But it sprung forth as he read the following from his journal:


The other students, and myself included, became silent when he was done, as he was clearly teary-eyed.  He finally lifted his head and looked right at me where I was able to say, “We’re here for you.”  And another student echoed it saying, “Yeah, (student name), we’re here for you!” As class went on, I ended up writing him a little note saying if he needed anything to let me know. 

So that was on Wednesday. 

Now, I have the pleasure of teaching this particular student for not only one class a day, but two. So, we see each other for 2 hours and 24 minutes every single day. Multiply that by about 175 days of school. That comes to 25, 200 minutes, or 420 hours.   I’m thankful in that amount of time he was so brave to share something like that with myself and 8 other middle schoolers. 

Fast forward to Friday. I had him for his first class in the morning.  He seemed okay.  Then later again in that small class. Right at the beginning he came up to me, and I could tell he was upset. He asked if he could talk to me in the hallway, so I got things started with the other students and then we stepped outside. 

He started crying and telling me about how another student at lunch said she had lost her dad and he had given her a letter about how much she meant to him, and he told me that upset him because he’s never known that from his own father.  He broke down and obviously wasn’t going to be able to focus. I gave him some options, and in the end he decided to take a piece of paper out in to the hallway and write a letter to his dad of all the things he would want to say to him. 

As he was doing that, it broke my heart. Because I too, know what it’s like to lose a dad… and a step-dad. 

While he was writing his little heart out I decided that I would write him a letter. His dad never told him how he felt but I figured  maybe I could. He clearly needed some encouragement. I put it in an envelope and gave it to him when the bell rang. 

I don’t know what his reaction was when he read it. And that’s okay. Like I said earlier, it was a defining moment as a teacher, one that comes with a heavy heart. It hurts seeing my students hurt. But it was a reminder to me of a verse that keeps me going everyday, even when it gets hard:

“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” -‭‭Galatians‬ ‭6:9‬ ‭KJV‬

My 2017 BHAGs 

Today is a very special day. It’s my half birthday. Which means in exactly six months I’ll be the big 30. I’m actually looking forward to my thirties!  I have some goals that I want to accomplish in that decade, like running a 5K, paying off my student loans, and continuing my education. 

But I have ten years to do all that (Lord willing), so instead of bore you with my future intentions for getting older, I’m going to bore you (possibly encourage or inspire you) with my goals for 2017 like the majority of other social media posts are currently doing.  

A few years back I started setting goals for five different areas of my life:  Spiritual, Soul, Physical, Family, and Financial. In 2014 I killed it and met all of my goals. 2015, killed it again.  2016… Eh, not so much. It was hit and miss. Like Mariah Carey’s New Year’s Eve debacle.  Like lyrics to her performance, my overall performance with my 2016 goals was mediocre. Not quite tragic…. because I did have some success in there.  But I definitely could’ve ended on a better note. 😉

With this New Year of 2017 comes new goals and a newfound determination!  I’m thankful the Lord has made me a goal-oriented person.  This year instead of one goal for each category, I’ve decided to do two.  

Now, you may or may not have heard the term BHAG or SMART goals, but we use them in the education profession,  other professions use them as well.  Let me explain what each acronym stands for:

BHAG = Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal

If a goal is a SMART goal, it is… Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic/Relevant, and Timely.

So on that note 🎤 Here are my 2017 BHAGs and why I chose them:

Spiritual Goals

1. Focus on one scripture a month.  I want to go even deeper in my walk with God, and ultimately get better at memorizing scripture and being able to recall it in moments of need.  

2. Read my Spurgeon every day and night.  I have a 365-day morning/evening devotional by Charles Spurgeon that a friend gave me and I’ve been meaning to delve into it. One thing I want to get better at in my spiritual walk is not just spending time with God in the morning, but in the evening and throughout the day also. Note:  a devotional does not and will not ever replace my daily reading of God’s Holy Word. 

Soul (mind, will, emotions) Goals

1. Be healthy, happy, and strong. This is general and broad, but definitely measurable. And this is more toward being mentally and emotionally happier, healthier, and stronger than I was in 2016. 

2. Read (at least) one book a month.  This is geared more toward my mind and just gaining more intelligence, expanding my vocabulary (#nerd), and getting away from my my phone and Netflix.  I’ve probably lost a lot of IQ points. 

Physical Goals

1. Get down to a certain weight.  Normally I don’t set a weight goal, but last year I lost 32 pounds since February, just eating right and making smart choices, not even working out!  And it’s only a twelve pound goal. This one is more of just a motivation to continue to clean up what I eat and add exercise as a hobby into my life. 

2. Stop biting my nails. If I’m ever going to get married, I want these bad boys to look good for engagement photos!  Hahaha. No, in reality, they’re just atrocious. That’s the real reason. Something I’ve always wanted to stop doing. 

Family Goals

1. Go visit twice.  I don’t see them enough, and I know they are disappointed about it, and frankly I am too. What if I’m the only one who will ever share the gospel with them?

2. Send a card/gift for each occasion.  I’m terrible at this, even with friends. I just want them to know that I DO care and I DO remember. Just a nice little gesture.

Financial Goals

1. Not use my credit card at all.  Last year was my worst year for this.  Thankfully I’m not in too much debt, but I definitely realized I don’t need to be spending money I don’t have. Duh. 

2. Put something in savings every month.  Just a good habit I want to get into. Because eventually I’d like to open up a MMA and put more toward my retirement. (Must be a sign of my thirties quickly approaching.)

With that, I’m excited for 2017 and everything God has for me. He was faithful and the one true constant in my life last year, the years before, and the days and years ahead. 

Social Pressures Christians Face

As I’ve been preparing for the upcoming school year, one of the units I will be teaching is titled “Social Pressures.”  In this unit we will be reading and researching different pressures that teenagers face today. For example,  the pressure parents put on their children to excel in sports, the pressure to look a certain way, the pressure to fit in, etc.  Planning this unit has caused me to think about the pressures I face from being a Christian. 

One pressure I face as a Christian being a teacher is the pressure to hide my faith. I don’t get to talk about God as much as I’d like to. God is so good though. He gives many opportunities to talk to students about the Lord.  A lot of times it’s because a student will bring it up. Or there’ll be a Biblical allusion in a piece of text we’re reading.  I keep a King James Version of the Bible on my desk. Along with a Spanish translation. (You never know!). Sometimes when I get a walk-through I wonder if they will ever tell me to put it away. And I think about what my reaction would be. Would I defend the Bible sitting on my desk?

Another pressure I face being a Christian is the pressure to “get with the times.”  It has to do with music.  The music I play in my classroom is by Christian artists.  However I make sure they don’t say God or Jesus I’m the, because I don’t want to get in trouble. But I do make sure they have a good positive message.  A lot of the students don’t know the songs. I’ve had students ask, “Can we listen to so-and-so?”  And I say no. Because the kids don’t understand the underlying meaning to a lot of lyrics nowadays:  drugs, alcohol, fornication. I’m a firm believer that music has a huge impact on the mind. I remember one instance while I was coaching soccer a few years ago. We were practicing and I had music going, and one of my own assistants laughed at me and said, “What kind of music is this?”  I refuse to be the reason why a teenager goes out and parties due to the persuasion of a song they hear in my classroom. 

A pressure I face as a Christian coach is parental pressure.  During basketball we pray before and after games, win or lose. We also pray at the end of practices.  We take a moment to honor and glorify God. I always ask for a volunteer to pray, and if no one does then I do. I get how nerve wrecking it can be to pray in front of others. In my mind we do this because I believe it opens the door to those personal conversations on bus rides or before school starts of being able to share the Gospel with a student in need. But I’m often nervous that a kid will go home and their parent will ask them about practice, and the child will mention that we prayed. And the parent get mad. Or my boss or another teacher will walk in during the middle of prayer and report me. (Yes, I have been talked to about this before.). I always make it a point before we pray though that they don’t have to, they can excuse themselves and no one will think any less of them. 

I guess the ultimate pressure I face as a follower of Christ is the pressure to conform to society.  You could say that everything kind of falls under this umbrella. Non-believers, the unsaved, or even the lukewarm, put pressure on us to take our belief of what God says and water it down. I cannot. I cannot be a cafeteria-Christian and pick and choose what I will believe from the Bible to fit my own personal lifestyle or the age we live in. God does not change. And neither does His Word. 

Everybody faces pressures from society. I get that.  Christians are hated, too. Only it’s not a shock to us because Jesus told us we would be. When a Christian uses the Bible to back up a belief, they’re considered to be a close-minded, Bible-thumping, conservative.  All of which I have been called.  For what I believe. But I won’t let the pressure of human words cause me to forsake the True Word.  

Speed Limits and Sin

There I was:  driving to Oklahoma City. As I was leaving Liberal, a truck sped past me down the highway. The speed limit was 65. As he went by I decided to put pedal to the metal and keep up with him. My justification?  Well, if I can keep up with this guy, I can get to OKC quicker!  And if a police officer clocks us, he’ll get the guy in the truck first, because he’s in front of me. Those were my honest thoughts as I found myself going 90 in a 65. After a few minutes I finally decided to slow down and that’s when it hit me:

Isn’t that situation a lot like how we treat sin sometimes?  We’re cruising along, following others, testing the limits… Justifying our actions and comparing our behavior to the behavior of mere mortals. When in reality, we’re not supposed to be comparing ourselves to other humans, were supposed to be comparing ourselves to the Lord Jesus Christ. 

We tell ourselves that what we’re doing is okay because:

  • others are worse
  • someone else will get caught first
  • so-and-so does it, and they’re a Christian

We’ve decided to go the limit that the world has set for us rather than the standards God has clearly defined in His Word. 
Whoever said, “Rules are meant to be broken,” is frankly… Dumb. To put it nicely. Rules are not meant to be broken. Standards and limits help to keep us out of trouble. 

Instead of justifying our actions by comparing ourselves to others, we should compare our actions and behaviors (and speech) to the scriptures, and to the One who showed us the correct way:  Jesus. 

If our actions aren’t aligned with the limits God has given us in His Word; it’s time to take a look at the spedometer and make an adjustment before it’s too late. 

Don’t let sin propel you where you’re trying to go. Don’t use others as a way of tracking your progress:  use Jesus. 

Until next time…