Posted in Devotion

Fully known, Fully loved

Let’s get real. Being vulnerable and letting others see the real me is not easy or something I do very often. I imagine I’m not alone in this either. One of my deepest fears is that someone will see past my surface and not like what they see. It’s a struggle with self-confidence, and it’s not only a problem for teenagers.

Some days I can clearly see all of the good qualities God has given me, but other days I feel blinded. So I hide. I allow the lies of Satan to convince me that trusting will only lead to heartbreak. He tells me that there’s nothing inside that is worth sharing. If you’ve had the same thoughts, they’re lies. Maybe letting other people in will lead to heartbreak, but God made us for relationship. Maybe there is some badness inside each of us, but God can redeem anything if we let him.

The truth of the matter is that God, the one whose opinion matters most, has already seen all of my flaws and accepts me just the way I am. Nothing I do can separate me from him now that we’re connected. That truth gives me the freedom to trust earthly relationships. God is holding my heart so even if it gets hurt by someone who rejects me, God will keep it together and mend it.

Even in my insecurities I publicly proclaim, borrowing the words of Tauren Wells, “I’m fully known and loved” by God.

Posted in Devotion, Gratefulness

Rejoice Always

This time of year leaves me feeling drained, which can very easily drain me of my joy. I see the exhaustion taking its toll on my students as well. They and I lack motivation, often complain, and wonder if we’ll ever catch a break in the schedule. It’s the fourth week of school, and it can be very easy to forget Philippians 4:4-8.

This set of verses is the focus for my classes this year. It doesn’t directly relate to my content, but it does directly relate to our attitudes surrounding English class and life in general. It’s very easy to get discouraged, worry, or complain, but these verses remind us that there is always a reason to rejoice in God. We simply need to replace the negative thoughts with “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, anything with excellence, and anything worthy of praise”.

This morning I woke up feeling kind of under the weather physically, tired (in spite of going to bed at 9 pm), and unmotivated to face the day. As soon as I recognized that attitude in myself, I realized that I couldn’t let that negativity seep into my students. In order to combat that today, I started each class by asking the students what they could rejoice about today. Many said answers such as waking up, winning a game, or being one day closer to fall break. My attitude took a turn for the positive as a result of this simple exercise. Ultimately, we were able to remember that we can always rejoice in God because he is awesome!

(As a fun bonus, extol was one of our words of the day, so we were also able to talk about extolling God.)

Posted in Devotion

A Servant’s Heart

Let me tell y’all, I’m tired. Between teaching, volleyball, speech team, grad school, and attempting to maintain relationships with people, I go pretty non-stop. A lot of times I love it, but sometimes I get into a pity party and just want to be noticed. You ever been there? You just want someone to recognize how hard you’re working to do the good work.

As I read a quick passage tonight before bed, I was hit with some truth. Talking to his disciples, Jesus tells a story of a master and a servant. After working in the field, the servant is still asked to serve his master in the evening. The servant isn’t thanked for simply doing his job. Jesus says, “so you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say ‘we are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.'” (Luke 17:10).

A servant’s heart doesn’t need recognition for doing her job. As tired as I am and as tempting as it may be to grumble about not being recognized, I can rest knowing that I am doing God’s work here. That is enough recognition, knowing that God is pleased with my sacrifice and that I have the opportunity to do his work.

Posted in Class, Education

Why English?

Personally I think English class is the most interesting and widely relevant subject taught in schools, but it can tend to get the rep of being boring and not useful. Today I tried to convince my students that English class is still useful for them even if they already speak English “correctly”. I do this discussion every year, but this year I had the added benefit of having a textbook that explicitly explains why English skills, such as analyzing literature and critical thinking, are important in a Biblical context.

Rundown of the lesson: We started with a five minute writing prompt answering the question “why study English?”. Then students read the preface to their literature book, which explained how Paul used his knowledge of literature to talk with the people who had a monument to an unknown God. Students were instructed to write what they thought was the main idea of the preface on a tiny sticky note. Next we watched a clip from John Greene’s spiel about why we read literature. He basically states that reading helps us develop empathy. Finally students reflected on how the skills from English class could help them in their future jobs.

Overall I think it got most students thinking. Hopefully it will convince them to pay just a bit of attention. An added bonus is that I got to talk with them about their aspirations.

Posted in Class, Education

Year Three

On Monday, I’ll begin my third year of teaching, and it’ll be a bittersweet day because I’ll spend the day with my first year of students, who are now seniors. This year has the potential to be really good. We have new curriculum for English, I’m teaching a fun elective, and I feel like I finally have a grasp of what I’m doing. Most of all I’m thankful I’m teaching at a place where I can share the true purpose for learning: growing closer to God and learning how to be his disciple.

Over the summer, I’ve done plenty of relaxing, but I’ve also spent some time reflecting. I want this year to be a year where I truly integrate my beliefs into what I’m teaching. In the past I’ve done devotions with the kids and occasionally connected our literature to Biblical principles. This year I want to be more cognizant about guiding my students and myself to think about all aspects of life through the lens of the Bible.

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I started with the word “love” on my back wall during my somewhat difficult first year of teaching. Last year, I expanded and added all of the fruits but spread them out between the front and the back. This year they’re all on the back wall because I want to remember to filter how I treat my students through those fruits. I want to be kind, gentle, good, loving, loving, joyful, and patient. I want to show self-control and be faithful to God.

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Academically this year, I want to inspire my students to enjoy reading and to grow in their reading skills. I’ve finished the literacy part of my master’s degree, so I want to apply some of those skills to the way that I teach reading and vocabulary skills.

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Personally, I want to keep my space neat, clean, and organized. The messy desk pest has often invaded my desk in the past, so it’s a goal to keep it organized and wiped down this year. I’m still looking for ways to better streamline my processes and stay organized.

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Finally, I want to spend less time on school stuff. Maybe that sounds redundant to put in a post about my excitement over school starting, but in the past school has consumed me to the point of stress. I place high expectations on myself, and I can neglect my friendships. That’s not healthy. I want to be the best teacher I can be, but I also want to maintain and grow the relationships in my life. This year will be about Philippians 4:4-8: Rejoicing and releasing my anxieties.

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Here’s to a good year!

Posted in Devotion

Don’t Be Like Scout

I was just informed that today is international cat day. These holidays don’t mean a whole lot to me, but my friend wanted to know if my cat, Scout, knew that today was a holiday in honor of his kind. My response was that Scout thinks everyday is International Scout Day.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my cat, and he brings me great happiness, but he doesn’t understand that he’s not the center of everything. In his mind, I should be ready to snuggle or play with or feed him when he’s ready for those things. Maybe some animals can sense their owner’s emotions, but he could care less if I am laughing or crying. In Scout’s world, it’s all about him.

Don’t be like Scout.

The Bible stresses humility and kindness toward others. In Philippians 4:3, Paul writes “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves“. The center of our world shouldn’t be ourselves; as believers our central focus should be God. After that we should strive to view and treat others the way God sees them. That includes the people we like and the people who get under our skin. We should be slow to judge and quick to serve others. It should be in our hearts to sacrifice of ourselves to serve others in order to glorify God.

In essence, don’t be like Scout, waiting on others to serve and love you when you need them and then ignoring their emotions and needs.

Posted in Devotion

Seeing Through God’s Lens

I want to see the world through God’s eyes and with the Bible as my point of reference. A couple of years ago, I wrote a post about seeing other people with God’s eyes, but lately I’ve been impressed upon to open my eyes a bit more and see everything and do everything through the lens of the Bible. As a Christian, God calls me to act, think, and speak differently. Everything I do must reflect God appropriately. That means that wherever I go, whomever I come in contact with, and whatever social or career roles I serve become a means for sharing the Gospel message.

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Romans 12:2

Why is this necessary for a Christian? Why can’t I simply go to church on Sunday, maybe serve in some kind of ministry, and read my Bible in the morning? The answer is found in that verse: be transformed. To transform is to change entirely. The kind of change God wants from me is the kind of change that requires me to think about everything from a Biblical standpoint. When I read, I should ponder if the text supports or disagrees with what I know about the Bible. When I speak to people, I should try to be a loving example of Christ. When I pick out clothes, I should remember that God always sees what I wear. When I teach, I must remember that everything I say or do is being filtered by the young minds in front of me as truth; I want to be sure I’m speaking and acting in God’s truth.

The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of the evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. Luke 5:45

In order to do this, I must study the Bible and spend time with God in order to discern how his truth guides me. Without God, I am nothing but a feeble attempt at being good. With God, I can be a light that shines brighter than the closest star. I want all parts of my life to reflect God. That means I must examine my heart and ask God to make me clean and pure in thought, deed, and word.