Friday, July 24, 2020

My Teacher Peace in My Stillness

Psalm 46:10 ~ “He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God’ “

I’ve been anxious about all the unknowns of  the 2020-2021 school year with the Covid-19 looming over it . . . not anxious about going back to school because . . . I don’t know. .  . I just have peace with it. God is good and I have faith that God has a perfect plan. But the unknowns of how I’m going to be teaching curriculum to both students in my classroom and at their home . . . both at the same time. . . and which students and how many students will I actually be seeing each day makes my mind uneasy. Will I be able to do what my administrators ask of me? I like to prepare, and I do not know exactly how to prepare right now. 

My district has implemented a new Learning Management System (LMS). This LMS has a lot of components and at this point I’m not sure how my district wants me to use it for my students. I’ve joined social media groups full of educators that are using this LMS and different apps that can be used in conjunction with it. I’m working hard to prepare so I can have a head start before I actually get trained by my district. There are so many helpful social media groups full of talented and helpful teachers coming together . . . everyone is sharing and caring! I have been so busy joining every group available and getting so many helpful resources at my fingertips. . . I’ve been reading, watching videos, and learning from other teachers. These groups have been so helpful, but I have developed overwhelming feelings of being unequipped and unworthy of the task before me. These feelings have become fear in my mind. The devil knows just where to get me! It's a battle in my head that wears me out!  And my social media feed is overtaken by educational groups. . . it just keeps coming and coming at me. 

As the anxiety and fear began to set in, I looked up and said help! God said Be Still and get in My Word. . . He said remember who I am and what I have already done. It hit me. . . I was so busy preparing to be effective as a teacher, but how much time was I preparing to be effective as a Child of God? I was beginning to spend way too much time in the wrong preparation. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely need to and will learn what I need to be prepared and efficient with the new LMS . . . but it does not need to come before my preparation with God. I was drifting away from my foundation of peace and spending too much time studying worldly knowledge for peace instead of depending on God's knowledge or knowledge of God for peace. 

“If only you would prepare your heart and lift up your hands to him in prayer! Get rid of your sins, and leave all iniquity behind you. Then your face will brighten with innocence. You will be strong and free of fear. 
You will forget your misery; it will be like water flowing away. 
Your life will be brighter than the noonday. Even darkness will be as bright as morning. 
Having hope will give you courage. You will be protected and will rest in safety.
 You will lie down unafraid, and many will look to you for help"  Job 11:13-19

What was eating away at my peace was fear of failure! See there are also new setups and procedures in the classroom to go along with the new LMS . . . I can’t stand not knowing something and not being effective at it . . . I’m my own worst supervisor! I don’t like learning on the job . . . I like going in prepared. . . at least as much as I can because students teach me something new everyday. At least I can try to know enough that I can fake it 'til I make it.  

All this newness has set fear into me and fear does not come from God. So I heard God say “be still and just listen”. . . So today I was still and listened to God, and I asked for discernment and wisdom on moving into the new school year and using the new technology and new strategies to teach.

He reminded me that He has gotten me through everything He has already called me to. . . and why wouldn't He get me through this? I see Him now merging my experiences and passions that often seemed so random and isolated from each other, and I often wonder what in the world am I doing with my life with this crazy journey I have been on . . . but I see Him bringing some of my craziness into light for me. I say this next part not to give you my resume but to give you a glance at my journey that I never planned or imagined, but God is using to help me. I never really enjoyed or was the best student until graduate school. . . just saying graduate school makes know that God was in charge, not me. Once I finished the "requirements" to get a job and become an adult, I thought I would never see another classroom. But here I am a totally different person than I thought I would be. . . but God knew the plan all along. I have a marketing degree and absolutely love being creative and presenting ideas! I’m now a life long learner . . . I love taking graduate courses and attending professional developments . . . the more I know the more I know I don’t know! I also have a Masters degree & I’m a certified teacher/certified Reading Specialist with a Mentor Teacher certification,  and close to other certifications simply because I keep taking classes, and I absolutely love helping others find their inner strengths and abilities . . . I love to create and present lessons to help people learn. I’ve taught first grade, Senior English, been a high school varsity cheer coach,  been a Reading Interventionist, taught middle school PE, and now I’m heading into 4th grade . . . it’s been a crazy ride . . .give me content and I will create a lesson with some amazing strategies I’ve learned along the way! I’ve even taught adults and helped them find their better . . . I teach middle school girls Sunday school, I love mission trips, and I love volunteering at church camps . . . and I’ve been a small business owner managing events/fundraisers and parties, creating websites/marketing materials, and managing employees. . . and I love to write. . . I struggled learning to read and write when I was a young student and that experience makes me a passionate teacher that wants to help anyone and everyone find their ability and gift within. . . everyone can learn if given the chance and the right tools. . . and the passion to do it. No one should struggle. . . and I want everyone to believe in themselves. . . I want people to know that someone believes in them. 

I say all this because I shouldn’t have fear with all the crazy things I’ve done in my life and all the changes I’ve made along the way . . . and I survived every time by the Grace of God. And shame on me for having fear when God has brought me through so much including the dark days of grief and cancer. God has been with me every step of my journey and will continue to be. . . I needed to Be Still and to be reminded of who God is and what He can do!

God has shown me how each piece of the puzzle fits together and nothing has been wasted for His Glory . . . not even the doctor telling me my mom’s heart stopped or the phone call with the word cancer on the other end of the phone . . . God used all of it to make me stronger and to teach me about His AMAZING GRACE

God showed me an inner strength I didn’t know I had when my mom and brother died a year apart and my father in law dying just a year before that. He showed me how to depend on Him to part the sea and make a way when you get the call that you have breast cancer. He gave me a dad that wakes up each day that is thankful and lives life to the fullest even when it's in a wheelchair. . .Choose Joy! 

I Choose Joy . . . Life is not fair and I’m thankful because if it was Jesus would have never died on the cross for our sins! Nope life is not fair and it’s just plain darn hard sometimes . . . So Be Still and Know that He is God! He has a perfect plan for each one of us! Jeremiah 29:11 The journey might seem like lots of detours and dead end roads but God sees a path full of possibilities that we can not see. 

So what God has shown me today is how He has taken my crazy path of passions and experiences, struggles and victories, and merged them together to make a way. . . He reminded me that I’ve already learned how to create websites, graphics, and logos - that technology is a joy for me . . . He’s reminded me of the sparks in my former students’ eyes . . . He’s reminded me of all the times He has made a way when I thought there was no way . . . we all have talents and passions that we can use . . . We all have experiences that made us who we are . . . the strength or knowledge that God needed us to gain from the experiences. The devil was trying to make me forget that I do not have to prepare for the school year alone. . . God wants me to prepare for the school year with Him. 

Just Be Still and know that He is God! He made each one of us and made us perfect for His Glory! My path has seemed crazy to me, but to God the path makes total sense. He called me to be a teacher, whether in the classroom or in my daily walk with others, and He has designed a journey to prepare me to glorify Him as a teacher. . . that right there gives me peace! He doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called! 

We all have different talents and passions that can help others and ourselves, but ultimately we have these gifts to glorify God. God doesn’t want us to fail or struggle at what we do . . . He loves each one of us and made each one of us for a purpose. Be Still and ask God to reveal that peace to you . . . What pieces of the puzzle has God led you to in order to prepare you for the task in front of you? What are you spending your time preparing for? 

Are you prepared for the day that He comes back for you?

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. John 14:3

Monday, January 6, 2020

Content in the Moment

Content in the Moment:

"The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want" Pslam 23:1

When I was a young mom and my boys were babies, I remember having my family room full of baby entertainment equipment. I had a swing, an exersaucer, a floor time mat, and a bouncy seat strategically placed ready for their awake time. My boys loved their play equipment, but they were never content for any length of time; I knew it was time to move them to another piece of equipment when they would begin crying or getting restless. Eventually they would get tired and fussy and nothing but a little lap time and would soothe them. 

There are times in my life when I felt there was something more besides where I was at in life and that would make me feel better and more content, a lot like a baby with a short attention span ready for an environmental change. My discontent has felt like frustration, boredom, and emptiness. These feelings can throw you in a pit of discontentment and hopelessness of being stuck.

God tells us He is ALWAYS with us. We should be joyful and content with what we have and where we are in life. We should not worry or want more than what God has given us if we have a close relationship with God. I'm not talking about setting goals and striving to be a better person to fulfill our purpose on earth; I'm talking about not putting hope in something or someone other than our God, our Shepard. 

If we are experiencing depression, despair, loneliness, emptiness, or frustration. . . then we may want to look at where our hope is coming from. We will never be completely satisfied if we are letting someone or something other than God shepard us. If we are letting our success in work, relationships, finances, or even our volunteer accomplishments determine our happiness, then we will never be completely satisfied. . . as Pslam 23:1 tells us . . . with God as our Shepard, we shall not want. We should be able to find contentment and joy wherever our feet currently are. We should never let someone or something other than God determine the joy in our lives. 

". . . for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances." Philippians 4:11

Life may not always be what we want, and we may be going through tough times. . . but God is all we need during the good and bad. If life is not what we want it to be right now, then we need to cry out to God and ask Him what is all this chaos about. . . our God is not a God of chaos. "For God is not a God of disorder but of peace--as in all the congregations of the Lord's people." 1 Corinthians 14:33 Ask Him to give you the strength and courage to get through the tough times. Ask Him to show you the blessings and joy within the tough situation. Look for the lesson He is allowing you to learn . . . what is He cultivating good out of a situation that the devil intended for evil?

I have often been like a lost sheep . . . looking for something to give me hope or more fulfilling than my current situation. These situations may be my career, my body, my finances, or relationships. I get impatient with God and myself while waiting for answers and solutions. I begin to get too busy trying to solve my discontentment on my own. Or I look to other people to fix my problems or dissatisfaction. Why can't I just be content with my current situation? Why can't I just enjoy the blessings that I currently have. . . why do I want to strive for more. . . why do I want to add more to my plate?  

I began digging in God's Word and searching for answers about being content in the moment. . . God led me first to Psalm 23:1 "The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want". . . don't laugh, but I always wondered why this scripture would tell me I would not want the Lord as my shepherd. . .I know I know but sometimes we just read words or memorize scripture, and then one day it is like a light bulb turns on and it makes perfect sense. . . God's Word is living and speaks to us just at the right time. I started digging in a little deeper to understand this verse. All these years I have been missing the point of Psalm 23:1. Now that my mind and heart were open to hearing what God was wanting me to know about contentment, I was seeing what God was truly saying. . . God was revealing to me just at the right time. . .  if I truly believe that the Lord is my shepherd, then I shall not want anything else to truly have joy in my life . 

I had prayed and prayed during my year off from teaching while I was going through my breast cancer journey and having some "me" time for healing. I was praying that God would show me the exact job He wanted me to have and not the job I thought I needed. For the first time, I truly surrendered my wants for a career and prayed that God would use me and place me where I could be someone's solution. That was scary, but I have learned over the years that trying to do it on my own does not work. . . I was finally willing to give up my own wants to go where God wanted me. . . thank goodness God doesn't give up on us and is patient with us. I met some amazing educators and some students that completely stole my heart. My position was later cut from the school district's budget, but that was my mission for that time. I might not understand why some things or people come and go in my life, but I do know that God has a perfect plan . . . Jeremiah 29:11

Contentment is not easy with the information overload this world throws at us. It is important to keep our eyes on our Shepard.

True Contentment is Found in Trusting the Good Shepard:

1. Make the Lord your Shepard by trusting His provision in every situation of your life. . . Ask the Good Shepard to be your Lord and turn away from trying to do life on your own. With the Lord as your Shepard, you can truly be content while resting and finding peace in His Truths. 

Psalm 23:1 "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want".

2. Know that your Shepard provides everything you need . . . He provides rest, food and drink, restoration, and a guided path in the right direction. 

Psalm 23:2-3: "He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake." 

3. Know that your Shepard will walk with you through the good and bad times. . . He will provide comfort for your fear, He will fight your enemies, and He will cover you in protection so you are not overtaken from the irritations of this fallen world.

Psalm 23:4-5: "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows." 

4. You do not have to earn your Shepards love and mercy, He will be with you forever. 

Psalm 23:6: "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever." 

5. Pray to Your Shepard. . . 

Content in the Moment Prayer. . . 
Dear Lord, please help me and anyone else struggling with contentment to keep You at the front of everything we do and in front of our steps. Please do not let us take steps without You leading the way. Please do not let our minds stray from You. We do not want to want more because we accept You as our Shepherd. We want to be content and living life at a healthy pace following You! You ARE OUR SHEPHERD! Thank you for always watching over us even when we try to do life without You. Let us continue to be someone else's solution while You provide the steps and direction for the ultimate path to the solution. 

Today's Journal and Reflection: Do you truly accept God as your Shepard? What areas of your life are you currently trying to shepard yourself? Are you currently searching for something or someone to make you content and happy in life? How does Psalm 23:1-6 give you comfort? What verses of Psalm 23:1-6 do you need to study a little deeper in order to completely trust your Shepard and be content in your current situation?