Saturday, August 10, 2013

Blessed beyond measure

For those of you that know me, you know that several years ago God asked me to stretch way beyond my comfort zone when my principal at the time asked me to teach 5th grade.  Reluctantly, I agreed.  For two years, I taught 5th grade alongside one of my very best friends.  Those years brought many challenges and many blessings.  I had the privilege of teaching students that I had previously taught in second grade.  I also had the honor of teaching new students.  Combined, the students of those two years brought much joy into my life, amid the stresses of wanting to give them all that they needed and often unable to give or get them what they needed most.  At the end of the second year in fifth grade, I asked to be moved back to a primary grade and taught second grade the last two years.
When we first taught 5th grade together!

Fast forward two full years...

In the spring of this year, God again asked me to move out of my comfort zone and pursue a new teaching position in a new district.  (This is big for me because CHANGE isn't something that I easily meet with acceptance.)  Striving to be obedient, I applied for several jobs within that district, including second grade, third grade, and fourth/fifth split grade.  I was called for an interview.  When the principal called to offer the job to me, you guessed was for the fourth/fifth grade position.  Again, striving to be obedient, I accepted the position and prayed that God would give me exactly what I needed to be able to reach my new students.

Since that night, He has been answering that plea over and over in so many ways that I probably can't even remember them all.  First, that same evening that I got the call, my friend (the one that I had taught 5th grade with before) called and said that she had just been told that she would be teaching 4th/5th in her school.  WOW!  God cares so much for both of us that he placed us in the same grade so that we could spur each other on even though we are in different schools in different districts.  What a blessing it has been to chat, plan, share ideas, and pray for each other as we embark on this latest adventure in God's plans for our lives!  Second, He placed me at a school where the principal obviously loves her students and her teachers and does all she can to support both groups!  At the same time, He gave me two wonderful young ladies to work with on my new team.  They have been more than helpful, they've been a life-line!  Finally, over the last few weeks God has poured out His love on me by confirming the "whys" of placing me with this age.  From reconnecting with one of those former fifth graders that is now starting fresh as a freshman in high school to running into a student I had in second and fifth grades at Wal-Mart to being able to cheer for three of my former babies for their performance in a major musical, peace and a renewed excitement for teaching has flooded my soul.  To top it all off, within minutes of my twenty-eight students walking through our classroom door, I fell head over heals for each of them.  They have a zeal for learning that is contagious.  In just three short days, bonds have been built and our classroom family has formed.


So while there has certainly been stressful moments ( little orange flash drive that held nearly all my school files of the last 5 years is lost...AGAIN!), saying YES! to God has produced a peace that can't be explained in human terms. 

My cup overflows as God continues to bless me beyond measure!

Luke 6:38  Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.”


Saturday, March 16, 2013

How forgetful we are!

So I'm sure you've heard it said that elephants never forget!  People on the other hand are quite forgetful.  I am most likely the queen of forgetfulness.  In fact, I often joke with my students about my slippery mind.  Sometimes being forgetful can serve us well.  Other times it is something that can cause us to fall.

This past week (well past couple of weeks) have been some the most emotionally and physically exhausting days of my  life.  My faith in my Lord and in people has been tested.  I have found myself literally crying out...shouting out...begging for God to help!  My face and eyes have stayed red and puffy from crying.  I have felt physically ill from the emotional distress.  At one point, I questioned whether God even heard my pleas.  I knew in my head that He did, but at that moment my heart felt alone and deserted.  During these past weeks, I have spent as much time as possible reading scripture, listening to worship music, praying, seeking counsel from godly friends.  While all that helped for brief moments, I still felt like I was in a desert all by myself.  So what was the problem?

Have you ever been completely ready to leave the house, get out to car, and THEN realize you forgot your keys in the house?  Or maybe you are cleaning your house and you head into a room to get something and all of the sudden you have no idea what you went in that room for in the first place?  Possibly, you are like my mother-in-law who left church one Sunday (like completely left) and then realized she was short one kid?  (I don't think I've ever forgotten one of my kids anywhere, but don't hold me to that.  After all, I very well could have just forgotten that I did it.)

What do all those instances have in common?

In all those cases, you had to GO BACK!  You can't get anywhere without your keys, so you GO BACK to get them.  You can't remember what you needed, so you GO BACK to the room where you thought of it in the first place.  It is frowned upon to forget your child somewhere, so you have to GO BACK to get him.

This morning, in the stillness of the quiet house, God reminded me that I have forgotten some very important things and that I need to GO BACK and get them.

First, I had forgotten that I am the daughter of the ONE True KING!  The King who NEVER forgets me.  The Lord who will NEVER leave me or forsake me.  I had to GO BACK and be reminded that "He Himself has said, “I will never desert, nor will I ever forsake " in Hebrews.  I had to go back and get my identity!  I am not the wife who is too tired to get up and fix her husband's breakfast or the mom who is so emotionally spent that she didn't make it to her son's concert or the teacher who is at the end of her rope because she doesn't know how to reach a suffering student.  While all that is true of how I have felt these last few days, it is not the TRUTH about who I am.  I am a child of God and THAT is where I should find and rest in my identity.  

I also need to GO BACK to the things I know.  We sometimes get so caught up in being the best and learning new ways of doing things that we forget that the "old" ways worked!  Yes, there are some great new ideas out there about running your home or about connecting with students, but sometimes we just need to lay those aside and go back to the ways that have worked for us in the past.  I know that the house will run more smoothly if all of us that live here work together and do a little each day.  I know that my students are much more likely to learn in they are enjoying the act of learning.  I know that my relationship with my husband is the most peaceful and the most passionate when we are intentional about dating each other.  I have to GO BACK to what I know works...even if it isn't what others say "should" be happening.

Finally, there are times that forgetting is good.  I realize when we're wronged, it is difficult to 'forget' and most likely we won't ever truly forget.  However, when we couple that forgetting with forgiving it goes much farther than trying to forget about it without forgiving.  So often in life, people don't even realize how they hurt us.  Maybe it is something they say or something they do.  Maybe it is something they DON'T say or something they DON'T do.  The truth is that we are called to forgive anyway.  Jesus said in Matthew 6, "14 For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions. (Emphasis added)  Oh Lord, thank you for this reminder.  I'm commanded to forgive.  It says nothing about whether they ask for forgiveness or not.  I'm supposed to forgive!  If I live with a spirit of unforgiveness or revenge, then why should I expect my Creator to forgive me for the multitude of sins I commit daily?

So the challenge is to GO BACK!  We will always forget, but the one thing we need to remember is to GO BACK to the TRUTH of who we are in Christ and the truth of what we know works.  Will we be able to do this perfectly?  Nope!  But to borrow a phrase from Lysa Terkeurst, we can make "imperfect progress" by striving each day to do better.