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

Power. Position. Purpose. 

“but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear” -‭‭Matthew‬ ‭3:11‬ ‭KJV‬‬

“There cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose.” -‭‭Mark‬ ‭1:7‬ ‭KJV‬‬

“but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose” -Luke‬ ‭3:16‬ ‭KJV‬‬

“He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose.” -‭‭John‬ ‭1:27‬ ‭KJV‬‬

If you’ve read the four gospels, you know that they all go hand in hand with the account of Jesus. Sometimes, however, one gives a bit more information than the other.  

But what about John the Baptist? 

It’s no accident that in all four accounts, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John… that John the Baptist is given an opportunity to be humble. He humbled himself

There he was, preaching in the wilderness, baptizing others, and sure, he could’ve taken credit. He could’ve made an even bigger name for himself than what he already had. Obviously people knew him. The Pharisees knew him. The king knew him. I mean, who hadn’t heard about this wild man wearing sackcloth and eating locusts and honey?!

He had power. He had position. But he knew… oh my, did he know… his purpose. John the Baptist knew his calling and his purpose: to prepare the way for the one alone who could save souls: Jesus Christ. 

In each and every account from the gospels, as stated in the verses above, John the Baptist intentionally humbles himself and gives credit where credit is due. He doesn’t make himself greater than what he is. He magnifies the name of Jesus while minimizing his own. 

In every instance he talks about his unworthiness to even loosen a filthy, dirty sandle from the feet of The One, True King. He knows his power. He knows his position. But he ultimately knows his purpose

If you’re a saved child of God who gets discouraged and says, “I don’t know my purpose in life.” Sweet friend, let me remind you; we all have a purpose. If you’re walking in the will of the Lord Almighty, your purpose is just like John’s: to prepare the way. 

“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” -Mark‬ ‭16:15‬ ‭KJV‬‬

Now back to my original question: What about John the Baptist? 

Ha. If John the Baptist could answer that question I bet he would answer it like this: “What ABOUT John the Baptist? It’s not about me. It’s about Him!”

Keep your focus. If God gives you an opportunity to be humble, take it. Don’t try to take credit that’s not yours.  Don’t let your power or your position get in the way of your purpose: to prepare the way for Jesus Christ our Lord. 

Life After Easter

As I delved into the Word this morning, the day after Easter, I was convicted by a verse in the New Testament:

“And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.”  (Luke‬ ‭1:46-47‬ ‭KJV‬‬)

This verse is referring to Mary, the mother of Jesus, during her pregnancy.  Two questions I asked myself upon reading this verse were: 1.  Why was her soul magnifying the Lord?  And 2. Why was her spirit rejoicing in God her Savior?

Those are two great questions to reflect on right after Easter. Two convicting questions for the day after Easter as well.  Speaking of Easter, we had an amazing turnout at church for our service. About 715 people; for a small town of about 20,000, that’s awesome!  I would say the two most popular occasions for people to attend church are Christmas and Easter.  

Time-out:  Now to those of you who might get offended by this, and question peoples’ reasons for attending church,  here’s some advice:  Instead of criticizing our culture for not being “all in”, we should probably pray for them. The tongue is a wicked, wicked member.  And one thing I’ve been learning when I see other people who aren’t “like me” is a good ole’ reminder from the Holy Spirit that I was once like that.  Shame on us for comparing ourselves to others when we should be comparing ourselves to Jesus. 

Time-in.  Going back to Mary, if we continue to read the next verses, we learn the answer to those two “why” questions. 

“For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name.” (‭‭Luke‬ ‭1:48-49‬ ‭KJV‬‬)

She was in awe that God would use someone like her… Just a teenager… Just a handmaiden.  She knew how undeserving a girl like herself was and she was so humbled for God’s work in her life. (With a spirit like that, it’s no wonder God wanted to use her!). The verses go on and she continues to glorify God. 

But now, another “why” question. Why is that verse convicting the day after Easter?  Well, it’s convicting to me because I don’t want to be someone  who only magnifies the Lord on Easter Sunday. I want my soul to magnify the Lord on Monday… And the other 364 days in a year!  I shouldn’t only be rejoicing in God my Savior on Easter Sunday or on Sundays in general, because God is still my Savior the other days of the week, too!  

Here’s why it’s even more convicting. Because as a teacher, as a coach, a friend, a sister, a daughter… All roles outside of the church…. I wonder if those around me can tell that my soul magnifies the Lord throughout the week?  Can they see that my spirit rejoices in God my Savior?  Is my life and words and social media portraying that message to those outside the church walls?  I’d be interested in how my coworkers, students,  friends, and family would respond.  Hint:  If you’re scared to ask that question, then you probably already know the answer.  #ouch 

So before giving “Chreasters” a hard time for only going to church twice a year, I think we should examine ourselves and how/if we magnify and rejoice in the Lord the other 363 days in a year. 

Mic drop. 🎤

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. 

Am I lame? Am I boring? Eh, maybe.

So I got saved when I was twenty years old, back in college, in 2008. I didn’t change right away. I still cussed. I still partied. I still did things I knew were displeasing to God. But something was different when I would do those things, I felt conviction from the Holy Spirit. I’ll be honest, I was kind of just going though the motions of my Christian walk until I started attending Fellowship Baptist Church in Liberal, KS. 

When I started going there back in the spring of 2012, and the truth of the Bible was opened before me every Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night, my heart was pricked and that’s when I really started to change. The choir says it simply, yet profoundly, in one of their songs:  God’s Word… changes lives!  And I wasn’t just getting into the Word at church.  I was doing it every day. On my own. And I still do it every day, I can’t even imagine not reading my Bible for a day. 

But being in the Word, and hearing the Word preached how it should be, has changed my life drastically.  And I don’t regret one bit of it. 

Im still a sinner. I still displease God.  God is working on my heart in deeper ways nowadays.  But I haven’t drank alcohol since May of 2012.  I haven’t gone and hung out at a bar since 2012. I haven’t cussed since 2012. I’ve given up friends since 2012.  I’ve given up certain movies, books, music, and television shows since 2012.  I also haven’t looked back since 2012.  Since the day I started being a doer of the Word, not just a hearer. 

Am I lame?  Am I boring?  Eh, maybe. To the world and to the people who don’t get it. But Jesus gets it. Jesus understood it first hand. I still have fun. Just not in the ways I used to. My joy is now in something far more eternal, my joy is in the Lord!  The greatest joy I’ve ever known. 

Galatians 5:12 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith…

1 Peter 1:8 Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see [him] not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory…

Romans 14:17 For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. 

Habakkuk 3:18 Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. 

Isaiah 61:10 I will rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God…

Psalm 16:11 Thou wilt shew me the path of life:  in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures evermore. 

His Rightful Place

Before the summer began, I determined something in my heart. That I would get closer to Jesus again like I used to be. If you know me very well, you probably assumed that my walk with the Lord has been super strong. Well, I was going through a season.  It wasn’t a bad walk with the Lord, but it’s not what it has been before.  And I knew that. 

I wrote down a “Summer Mission Statement” in my journal:  I purpose in my heart, that this summer I will spend a significant amount of time in God’s presence, daily, through prayer, God’s Word, and reflection; in order that I may grow as a child of the Lord.

The past week or so God has really been speaking to my heart and calling me back to where I used to be with Him. Back to when Jesus was the center of my life. Back to when I would go to Him before going to others. Back to when I would say “Yes, Lord” when he asked of something. Back to a place of peace and calm. 

I’ve taken up walking this summer. I’m almost 29 but I’m thinking like I’m 60. I want to partake in some sort of exercise I know I’ll be able to do in 30 years and not be miserable while doing it. 

So I was on a walk last night, and I decided to forgo my cell phone and just talk to God. And listen. And I’m glad I did because it was just a time of confirmation of what’s been going on in my heart and head this past week. 

One podcast said something like this, “We go about our daily lives, inviting Jesus to join us, but it’s not about us allowing Him to be in our lives, we should be joyous and humbled by the fact that He has invited us into HIS life.”

I woke up this morning super refreshed after days of restless nights. And I’ve decided I’m kicking everything off the throne of my heart that has been in the way of Jesus Christ reigning in my life. I’m so excited to get back to where I was with Him and for Him to take up His rightful place in my life again. I feel rejuvenated and renewed!  

A good friend of mine said, “If you want what you had, you have to do what you did.” Simple yet profound!  

Getting back to where I once was… I’m excited for this new season!  

Remembering God’s Completeness 

I just got back from my fifth year helping as a Youth Counselor at Silver State Baptist Youth Camp in Sedalia, Colorado, with our FBC youth group and the Lord has set my heart on fire. I love going to camp because I feel like it’s a cleanse for my soul for the upcoming school year. (I pray that I would continue to fuel this fire the Lord has kindled within me and that I wouldn’t let it die out.)

I’ve been reading from Matthew the past few days and I was reminded of something this morning: My God is a complete God.  

In the first part of Matthew I’ve read, Jesus continues to heal and restore people, but not just partially. He does it in completeness, or as the Bible says, He has made them “whole“. This just made me remember His goodness and how He has healed and restored areas of my life, thankfully not in part, but in WHOLE!  

Here are some accounts of the people in Matthew who were healed and restored in whole:

  • The leper
  • The centurion’s servant
  • Peters mother-in-law
  • The man with the palsy
  • The woman with the blood issue
  • The ruler’s daughter
  • Two blind men
  • The man with the withered hand
  • Those possessed with a devil

All of these individuals had a commonality: they either sought Jesus themselves, or they were brought by others. (Side note: We Christians need to be bringing others to Jesus!)

Not only has Matthew been a good reminder to the fact that Jesus can fully heal and restore me, but I have to keep in mind, if I want that to happen, I must do my part and seek Him EARNESTLY and FERVENTLY, much like the woman with the blood issue who knew if she could only just touch the hem of His garment, her faith would restore her. 

Maybe you’re at a point in your life where you’re seeking restoration:

  • Financial Restoration
  • Relational Restoration
  • Emotional Restoration
  • Or even Spiritual Restoration
  • (And many others)

My advice to you, based on the Word of God, would be to seek Jesus FULLY and COMPLETELY so that He can restore you in the WHOLE

I thank God I serve a COMPLETE God. But we must do OUR part and seek Him diligently and completely for a complete and WHOLE restoration

7 Ways to Pray for Your Future Students (and yourself) This Summer

School is out and summer has officially begun!  But it’s never too early to begin praying for the upcoming school year, which includes your future students and yourself!  Here are some things to start praying for:  

  1. A Renewed Mind:  It’s been a long year for students and teachers. Ask God to renew and refresh the minds of your future students (and yours) and allow focus to be regained. 
  2. An Obedient Spirit:  We all want our students to be compliant. Pray that God would work in the kiddos. (And that you would be obedient to the speaking of the Lord, too). 
  3. A Right Attitude:  Positivtiy is hard enough to find in today’s society; the only place some students might see an example of a good attitude might be from you!  Seek the Lord and His example; pray that you and your students would have a positive attitude that would last for more than just the first couple months of school. 
  4. Subsided Nervousness:  With students entering a new grade and having new teachers, nervousness will surely come into play. As a teacher, I get nervous too!  Ask God to take away any fears that might settle in and replace them with peace and confidence.  (2 Tim 1:7)
  5. Time-management:  Sports, clubs, family, friends, etc. can get in the way of the ultimate learning process if not handled properly. Ask the Lord to prepare you and your students for the demands of the upcoming school year. Give God your time, and He’ll honor that!  
  6. Placement: It’s no accident when particular students are placed in your class. Pray that God would send whoever needs to be in your classroom… To your classroom!   This can be an opportunity for them to grow and for you to grow, too!  
  7. Endurance:  Pray that you and your students would have physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional endurance this new year. Nine months can be very taxing on all parties involved. 

And don’t forget to enjoy the summer. Relax. Spend a significant amount of time with the Lord and pray, pray, PRAY! 

Post-Valentine’s Day

 
I’ll get to the picture…. I promise…. But first:

Forgive me for not keeping up in my writing. Honestly, there isn’t an excuse, I just… Haven’t!  

But what I really wanted to talk about was prayer. Prayer works!  Especially if you don’t have anything in your life that is hindering your prayers.

Last semester, I had these two students. A boy and a girl. Both suffering from excessive laziness syndrome and a severe case of defiancy. (Haha my own medical diagnoses). I’m the type of teacher who can usually snap kids into shape, at least for my class. But these two… I tried everything. Everything

Detentions. Parent phone calls. Parent meetings. Solitary confinement (just kidding; an individual seat). Being nice. Being hardcore. Encouraging. Motivating. I tried EVERYTHING. And NOTHING was working. (And did I mention that I had these two students in the same class period?!)  It was rough for me mentally and emotionally at the end of the day. Never have I ever struggled so much with a student (in this case, two) for so long. Normally they whip right into shape!  

I didn’t understand how everything I was doing wasn’t working. And then I realized I didn’t try the one thing I know works:  Prayer

I started praying for these two individuals and for me, too. I started asking God to let me see them the way He sees them. 

Finally we had Christmas break, and we came back, and I’m happy to report that  those two haven’t been the same since!  And neither have I. 

They are my go-to students in that class!  They always participate. They have a decent grade. And I “click” with both of them now. Sometimes I get glimpses of their old-selves but overall… They are completely different students than first semester. And such a joy to have in class now. I’d say, “It’s crazy to think how they’ve done a complete 180.”  But really, it’s not crazy. God answers prayer. Should I have expected anything less?  Shame. On. Me. And shame on me for trying to fix it all in the beginning when I should have just taken it to the Lord in the first place. 

Prayer works. 

So that brings me to the picture from above. It’s the Valentine’s Day candy the female student bought me. Not only was I shocked she brought this to me, but I was shocked that she picked it out on purpose. She said, and I quote, “I brought you a penguin.”

She knows that my favorite animal is a penguin. 

Prayer works. #CompleteTurnaround