My apologies for the hiatus…I’ve been experiencing a bit of writer’s block.
(Not that anyone has been waiting in anticipation for me to have something else to write about…but I digress…)
Lately I’ve been struggling with these darn research papers I assigned. Junior curriculum has always included research writing, which I loved when I was a student (well I was mostly terrified, but I learned a ton and therefore loved it later), and I taught it in two classes during student teaching. The ladies who were my coordinating teachers there had this research thing down to a science (one of them LITERALLY wrote the book on it!); I therefore had several great research projects readily available and a process to go along with it.
However, as I’ve written about before, I was discouraged from doing that process because the ladies I work with currently felt it wasn’t differentiated enough and would hold too many kids back.
Unfortunately, I (I) didn’t have the skills necessary to teach it a different way. I was stumbling around, unsure how to get all the details across to so many students on so many different levels of competency and experience.
Now I’m stuck grading these horribly written research papers where most students had little regard for the requirements and others just didn’t understand. Each paper makes me want to cry. I’ve seriously shed tears over this. Guilt because I didn’t stick to my guns and do what I knew how to do…..frustration because some of the things they just plain should have known….anger with my colleagues because they basically forced me to change my process.
But, (there’s always a but…) I think this applies to so many things. I ignored my gut, but that gut feeling isn’t always a sign. I’ve heard so many lovely Christians lately saying they’re waiting for a sign from God as to what they’re supposed to do with their lives.
Did I have a sign that I should be a teacher? H-E Double Hockey Sticks NO I did not! In fact, I had some pretty serious gut feelings that I should run in the opposite direction! It’s not always about God telling you exactly what to do…because He can use any situation to work in your life! That’s the thing about having such a big and wonderful God. He’s bigger than my research papers, and he’s using them to show me that hey, even when I do feel stupid and like I’m a terrible teacher, I really do know what I’m doing! (in some areas anyway…ahem….again, I digress).
God has given me several insights into what He wants me to do long term. I still want to work with children and teens, but maybe in other areas. Maybe I’m not meant to be this ultra-organized professional who stands up straight and doesn’t say “um” and “like.” As much as I disagree, maybe He doesn’t want me to be a stay at home mom someday.
And as nice as it would be to have a clear sign from above, I think I’m supposed to be gently prodded through my experience in teaching for a few years before going back to school and moving on to something bigger and better (not to mention more aligned with my personality type…).
So if you’re stuck in a tough situation like I am, be patient! Have faith and hope! God doesn’t want us to be miserable, but I think He sometimes uses hard times to get our attention and say “Sorry, you made a wrong turn along the way….but I’ll steer you back on course so I can use you for MY greater purpose.” Enduring the hard times is part of obedience.
Hang in there, lovely readers! Repeat to yourself “I can do all things through God who strengthens me!” Maybe you can’t do it, but He always can!
p.s. I’ve created a slideshow with all the important research information that should get me out of my problem….when they all re-write it for 2x the original points. God is good!
I came across this Psalm the other night and decided that I will make this my prayer whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed about my mistakes and sins. It says it all….gotta love the Bible….it has everything we need.
The Message (MSG)
A David Psalm, After He Was Confronted by Nathan About the Affair with Bathsheba
51 1-3 Generous in love—God, give grace!
Huge in mercy—wipe out my bad record.
Scrub away my guilt,
soak out my sins in your laundry.
I know how bad I’ve been;
my sins are staring me down.
4-6 You’re the One I’ve violated, and you’ve seen
it all, seen the full extent of my evil.
You have all the facts before you;
whatever you decide about me is fair.
I’ve been out of step with you for a long time,
in the wrong since before I was born.
What you’re after is truth from the inside out.
Enter me, then; conceive a new, true life.
7-15 Soak me in your laundry and I’ll come out clean,
scrub me and I’ll have a snow-white life.
Tune me in to foot-tapping songs,
set these once-broken bones to dancing.
Don’t look too close for blemishes,
give me a clean bill of health.
God, make a fresh start in me,
shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life.
Don’t throw me out with the trash,
or fail to breathe holiness in me.
Bring me back from gray exile,
put a fresh wind in my sails!
Give me a job teaching rebels your ways
so the lost can find their way home.
Commute my death sentence, God, my salvation God,
and I’ll sing anthems to your life-giving ways.
Unbutton my lips, dear God;
I’ll let loose with your praise.
16-17 Going through the motions doesn’t please you,
a flawless performance is nothing to you.
I learned God-worship
when my pride was shattered.
Heart-shattered lives ready for love
don’t for a moment escape God’s notice.
18-19 Make Zion the place you delight in,
repair Jerusalem’s broken-down walls.
Then you’ll get real worship from us,
acts of worship small and large,
Including all the bulls
they can heave onto your altar!
I always love the Message, especially here. So poignant. When we sin, we often need to ask forgiveness of God, not simply the person we hurt. “Forgive us our trespasses” indeed.
I’m feeling pretty hopeless.
Students and parents are giving me a variety of threats left and right.
Students also think they can tell me how to teach my class. Adorable. If I or any of my friends had done that in our school, we would’ve been sent to the principal’s office. Now, it’s like questioning authority is normal and positive.
I can’t honestly say I love what I do most days.
I can honestly say I work with some pretty wonderful adults. That’s a bright spot. The bright spot I’ve been focusing on for awhile now, but today it’s a little duller.
I think I’ve done my best…but maybe I could be doing better?
Do I get out? Do I persevere? Is this worth it? Am I making a difference for good? Why are You putting me through all of this?
These questions….I wait for answers to them.
I’m listening whenever You’re ready.
I constantly feel like, yes, I’m trying to reach out to people and show them why I love Jesus and choose to live my life following Him, but I’m also struggling every single day to live out my beliefs.
So, no, there are many things I disagree with and disapprove of, but I can’t judge….but sometimes I do. And then I want to kick myself because I know I shouldn’t do it.
My daily struggles—personally these are mainly gossip and anger—are not the same as your daily struggles. Maybe your struggles are drugs and alcohol. Or lust. Or whatever.
So if I’m judging your problems, I’m a huge hypocrite, because my problems are equal to yours. Nobody’s sins are worse than another person’s sins. Sins are sins. They’re all bad and we all have them.
But then why do my own sins bother me so much? I can’t just ignore them. I can continue to try to do better. To continue to ask forgiveness when I commit them and seek repentance. Because that’s what it’s all about.
Every single person is going to screw up, but it’s all about seeking mercy. I have this problem with my students. Yes, I have to chastise them, but I will also be merciful if they seek that grace. And I will always give it. Unfortunately, I have those kids who just get angry and give up, or think that they can’t because they’re not good enough.
I wish more people would understand that God will always forgive and always love, but that he’s not just handing out free passes to heaven—it’s free, but you have to want it! You have to be willing to play by his rules. The same with students—if they’re willing to play by the teacher’s and school’s rules, they will succeed! It’s a give and take, and a two-way street.
Which is where I go back to being a hypocrite. My anger occasionally gets in the way of just being a “police officer” and enforcing rules. So yes, I get mad at my students when they’re rude and angry toward me, but I’m rude when I’m angry toward them, so what’s the difference?
But it’s this human nature of wanting to be respected. My human-brain gets defensive and mean. Their human-teenager-brains are confused and get defensive and mean. It’s a vicious cycle! I keep failing to show them that I’m stern because I love them, and they keep getting more and more defensive, and I get angry, and we start all over again.
Thankfully, God doesn’t work that way. He’s always right and pure and loving.
My new prayer is to be an example of God’s love to his people in my love toward my students. I want to be able to steer them in the right direction. It may hurt occasionally. There is disappointment. But in the end there is leadership and guidance and love. That’s what my students need in a teacher and in a Savior (even though I obviously can’t provide that too!)
So yeah yeah, we have storms in life. Storms and seasons. Seasons and storms.
There are different storms for different seasons….just like there are blizzards in winter and thunderstorms in summer, I suppose.
I think I’m currently in a really long storm called “First Year Teacher.”
Everyone says the first year is the hardest, yada yada. (Can you tell I’ve had a bad day yet? I think subconsciously that is my goal here!) But it’s like seriously, is this ever going to stop sucking?
This week I’ve been executing a research writing that I taught in student teaching. I finally felt like an expert! I felt confident, like I actually knew what I was talking about (because the first time you teach something, even just in one day, is the hardest).
Then today we had a department meeting and they basically told me that what I’m doing isn’t working. It’s too slow, too many students are bored, it’s not differentiated enough, it’s creating too much work for me, some students don’t work well this way….blah…blah…freaking blah.
Now, I love the ladies I work with. They are really great at what they do, and they truly care. And I really know that they’re just trying to help both me and our students. But today it was like taking a bullet, hearing all the things I should be doing differently and why the way they’re suggesting I do it is better.
Hello confusion, frustration, and misery (not to mention more work).
And on top of all of this, I had to hurry home to the dentist and didn’t get to work on any of these things at school. (And going to the dentist just sucks).
No, I’m not writing this just to vent and complain.
What I’m saying is, I’m not giving up just yet. Every single day is a struggle for me. I’m stressed every single day. Teenagers telling me I’m wrong, talking back, destroying my classroom and materials, plus a really long drive and trying to plan a wedding…it’s exhausting!
But I think it’s okay. Because I know God is in control. He knows when this storm will pass, and I just have to patiently endure. I have to keep trying to do my best and keep praying and reading the word.
When I think of the storms other people are going through, I feel kind of silly. There are plenty of other teachers who LOVE what they do. There are plenty of people who have way worse job situations than I do. Not to mention that I’m the one who went to school for this and never changed my major.
I’ve come to realize that God can use anything. He can use my career decision to teach me the things he wants me to learn. Maybe we’re making up for lost time since I grew up in a lovely bubble. Maybe this will lead me to be a better teacher or change to a career that helps kids in other ways. I don’t know what it is yet. I may not know for a long time. But I guess that’s all right. It’s how it’s supposed to be, because my creator loves me and wouldn’t put me through anything I can’t handle.
This morning I have a two hour delay, and there were so many things on my heart as I was watching the news that I wanted to pray about—the little boy held hostage in Alabama, the suicide bomber in Turkey, my friends, my students, etc.—I decided I would write down my prayers today because I’m too ADD to remember everything just praying in my head.
So I began writing out some of my prayers (definitely still missed some…I’ll just have to do those the old fashioned way later). Obviously, I like to write, so this seemed logical. I’ve tried a prayer journal before but lacked consistency. But I also admire other people who write their prayers—real people and fictional. I have friends who have suggested having a prayer journal. And Abilene in The Help is a classic. Her writing was supposedly so good that if you were on her prayer list, your prayer would come true!
I’ve always liked writing love letters, but my fiance never writes back so I’ve given up (love you, Jeremy!)
This morning without even thinking, one of the last things I wrote on my prayer was “I love you.” To God. Because I do, more than I can describe.
So I think from now on I’ll think of my prayers as love letters to my Creator and Savior. God wants to hear how much I love him just as much (or even more) than my fiance.
If you’ve made a decision to love God and let Jesus be your savior, send him a love letter today. It’s a great feeling!
I read this here and thought it was interesting. Don’t really have any major thoughts on it, just thought I’d pass it along to others!
If I am truly poor, then I am dependent on others for everything, and I feel useless and worthless, and I realize deep within that everything is a gift from the Father. Then in this attitude of complete dependence, I become useful again, for then I am empty of selfishness and I am free to be God’s instrument instead of my own. In poverty I begin to value everything rightly again. I see how little really matters, and I see that only that which glorifies God is of value.
I write these words in pain, Lady Poverty, for I have wept bitter tears because I was poor and had to beg from others, and I felt like a burden to people and to God … And I have grown weary of Christ’s words not to worry about tomorrow. But in His grace I have surrendered to God’s sovereignty and providence, and it has made me free …
Lady Poverty, I love you. You, my Lady, take all the sting from being poor. In your embrace I am rich indeed, for I have someone to love. I have you. Perhaps, my Lady, that is why I keep submitting, surrendering my desire to control my life, my need to provide for the future. You have stolen my heart and made me happy, and your love makes up for all the pain that loving you involves … and we know it is all worthwhile because when we look into your eyes, we see Christ Himself.
I’ve been trying to find the words to write about my feelings toward virginity.
Honestly, it’s a topic that’s on my mind a lot, as a Christian woman getting married in a few months. You see, so many people assume that anyone in a long-term relationship is not a virgin. Strangers and acquaintances reference my fiance and I living together, which we don’t, because we’re not going to until we get married.
Because we’re waiting.
And there’s nothing wrong with that.
Since I don’t have many more words of my own on this topic, please please read To The Last Virgins Standing. I cried listening to it on the radio. Seriously, no matter what your views on purity, this is a must-read.
This woman displays so much courage by even being open about this topic. Nobody seems to want to talk about it…and sure, it’s personal.
I’d also like to point out that assuming someone is not a virgin is rather insulting. Please don’t assume anyone has lost that v-card unless they are married, pregnant, or tell you that they have!
Yesterday I was driving from Job A to Job B and started crying. I was thinking about some friends going through a tough time and before I knew it, a few tears escaped my eyes.
I was convinced that the presence of actual tears was simply hormones, stress, lack of sleep, too much caffeine, and not enough lunch all piling up on me.
Until tonight driving home from Walmart (which was admittedly stressful, but not anything too terrible) when I started crying while listening to the radio.
The woman on the line was calling the guys on the money program for some financial advice, but her trouble stemmed from her husband going to jail for sexually abusing their teenage daughter.
Typically I would be outraged, angry, and a little sad to hear something like this.
But tonight it was like I was feeling her pain. The pain of the mother for having to deal with this. The pain of the daughter for the emotional trauma she must be going through. Even pain for the father for probably knowing he was doing something terrible but was, for some reason, not being able to stop the cycle of hurt he was creating.
And now I realize that God has somehow been able to teach me empathy.
A couple of years back I remember my small group ladies telling me that empathy was an area I needed to work on. A few of them explained it the best they could, and I was able to understand it intellectually. But I didn’t understand it in my heart and soul.
See, I think I needed to experience that feeling of being distraught and helpless and needing to fully, completely give my whole heart to God. God puts me through trials every single day, (because that seems to be what teaching is all about). Every day is a test of patience, will, and reliance not on myself but on the only one strong enough to take on not just my problems but the problems that others put onto me. Students regularly take their drama out on me and the teachers all share our burdens with each other. And it’s stressful!
I’m so thankful, one way or another, that God has put me into situations where I have to learn, and I have to learn FAST!
Now, this song popped into my head right after I heard the lady on the radio show. I think the lyrics describe very well the point I’m trying to make. Even though I’m not a Biblical scholar or an inherently good person, trusting in God can get me a lot of places.
I feel like I’ve said “I” and “me” too much in this post, but what I really want to do is give my account, my experience, to show people that everyone can have this amazing growth and understanding by simply giving your hopes and dreams to the only one who can make them happen—Jesus!
Listen and read the lyrics—it’s a beautiful song!
I am not skilled to understand
What God has willed, what God has planned
I only know at His right hand
Stands one who is my Savior
I take Him at His word and deed
Christ died to save me; this I read
And in my heart I find a need
Of Him to be my savior
That He would leave His place on high
And come for sinful man to die
You count it strange, so once did I
Before I knew my Savior
My Savior loves, My Savior lives
My Savior’s always there for me
My God: He was, my God; He is
My God is always gonna be
Yes, living, dying, let me bring
My strength, my solace from this spring;
That He who lives to be my King
Once died to be my Savior
That He would leave His place on high
And come for sinful man to die
You count it strange, so once did I
Before I knew my Savior
I’m very excited to be able to say that 6 months from today, I will be a married woman!
This guy makes me so happy! We’ve had our ups and downs, but we make a great team and learn from each other all the time!
Even though he just went back to college for his last semester and I start my second semester as a full time teacher (and still have no clue what I’m doing most of the time!), I know everything will work out.
Jeremy has already made a pretty cute uncle in the past few weeks since my niece Josie was born, and is so wonderful with his little cousins. I know someday (not too soon lol) he’ll be a really good dad. I’m looking forward to facing life’s challenges side by side and hand in hand.
I love you, Jeremy, and I’m looking forward to being your wife! I promise to cook, to try my hardest to be organized, and to go to as many tractor pulls as you want me to without complaining!
*Engagement pictures by Courtney Jo Photography
(Shout out to Jessica for the 3rd one!)