Thursday, May 5, 2016

Dangerous Words

Dangerous words. Lyrics by Hillsong United. The most popular worship song of 2015 is a very meaningful cry to out God. It's about wanting to be in a place where you literally have no other choice but to trust him. It's about asking the Holy Spirit to lead you to a place much farther than your feet would ever set foot by your own choice. Every christian around the nation has been singing these words endlessly. But I have an honest question for you, brothers and sisters...

Do you really mean that? Do you really, truly want that?

I know that I didn't. Being outside of my comfort zone is one of the toughest things for me. I am extremely afraid of change, and I like very much to have a routine and act within those limits. I cannot count the number of times that I lifted my hands to the Lord as I sang these famous words. "Spirit, lead me where my trust is without borders. Let me walk upon the waters, wherever you would call me." But I never expected the pain, suffering, and fear that came along with the Lord fulfilling this request. If you are going to be in a position where you are trusting the Lord without any borders, you are almost always going to be in a place where you have no other choice. You see, as sinners, our hearts are not always 100% committed to where the Lord wants us at the moment- what we say, what we do, what we think. We aren't puppets. The Lord allows us to make our own choices, and even as a committed believer, we still mess up. So even though I continuously asked the Lord to "take me deeper than my feet could ever wander," I wasn't really ready to do that. But I asked, and he answered. When Dad has his accident back in December, I remember feeling completely helpless. No matter how much I wanted to, I could not do anything about the fact that he was paralyzed. The doctors were constantly telling us all of the things he wouldn't be able to do again, and there was nothing we could do about it. I had no choice in the matter, no way to fix anything, no path to make life normal again, and absolutely no borders on trusting in the Lord. The Lord had led me there. I asked him to take me into the great unknown, farther than I would ever dare to go myself. Y'all, I would have never in my lifetime asked for this much uncertainty. I have struggled for a long time with fear- in so many different ways. The last thing I wanted was to endure the greatest fear I have ever felt. But I had no other choice. Trusting wholly and completely in the Lord was the only option I had. There was no way that my sinful heart could twist this to give me even a little bit of worldly comfort. Knowing that my Savior is in control now and forever, and that this earth is just the slightest glimpse of eternity, that is where my hope lies. It’s being so uncomfortable with where you are (physically or emotionally) that you finally surrender to the fact that Jesus Christ is the one and only thing that can bring your heart peace. He is the only One that can save you from drowning. None but Jesus. And I never wish that kind of pain and unrest on anyone, but at the same time, I also kind of do.

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” -2 Corinthians 12:9-10

So I challenge you to think about this song of prayer that you’re singing. Are you ready for what this means? Do you honestly want the Lord to take you to this place? If you do- and I pray your heart gets there- be ready for a wild ride. A painful, difficult, fulfilling, rewarding, wild ride.

And my faith will be made stronger in the presence of my Savior…”

Thursday, January 14, 2016


The past few weeks have been incredibly tough to say the least. For those of you that haven’t heard Dad’s story, you can read about it here [The Young's Journey Home]. I have sometimes felt like I could repeat Dad's story over and over like a broken record. Other days I would rather just lock the door, talk to no one, and cry. I feel like my brain is programmed to reply, “He’s ok,” whenever someone asks how he’s doing now. It seems that I cannot make it through a single prayer or song of worship without tears flowing down my face. It just doesn't make sense that life must go on right now.

We did not go to church on Sunday because I was too worried I would not be able to hold it together. However, we did watch the service online. Our pastor held a special time of confession and prayer. He led everyone to write down requests and lay them at the altar to be prayed for by other members of our church family. Then he asked those that are struggling, those that are hurting, those that are dealing with sickness or loss to stand so that our church could specifically pray over them. And I realized, there are so many others in pain right now as well. This life is hard. The past few weeks have constantly been up and down. I have felt the excitement of one step forward followed directly by the kick in the gut of two steps back. The Lord continuously tells us in his word that it will not be easy. But until you truly face something that breaks your heart, you never have a chance to fully understand that. I have felt selfish for being so upset. I have found myself angry that I cannot seem to be encouragement for others right now. My brokenness has made others see the worst parts of me. I have felt like my tank is empty, and I'm running on the fumes of emotion. I sometimes feel like my joy is gone. And then- God speaks. Let go, and let Me hold you. My many car rides lately have contained these Amy Grant lyrics in addition to some sobbing and praise...

"We pour out our miseries, God just hears a melody. Beautiful, the mess we are. Honest cries from breaking hearts are better than hallelujah."

Being broken doesn't make you weak. Let me say that again for my own sake, being broken does not make you weak. Tears can be a reflection of strength. Crying out to God in the middle of your misery makes you a WARRIOR! Honest cries from breaking hearts are better than hallelujah to Him! How wonderful is that news in the midst of sorrow! “Every tear I cry, You hold in Your hands. You’ve never left my side. Though my heart is torn, I will praise You in this storm.” God just wants us to be completely honest with Him. After all, we can’t fool him anyway. The devil comes to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). He wants us to fear the future. He wants us to doubt God’s plans. BUT God came so that we may have life to the full! We are allowed to be sad- Jesus wept. He understands the hurt and sorrow, and He desires for us to cling to Him in those moments. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted- we are never alone! Therefore, the Lord says that we are not allowed to worry. We must trust in Him. “I sought the Lord, and he answered me. He delivered me from all my fears.” –Psalm 34:4. It is wholly trusting in God when you have nothing else to hope in. When you literally have no other choice but to fall on your knees with open hands- that is when you realize that He is a GOOD Father, always. I have realized that I have to make a conscious decision every single day to choose joy! “The joy of the Lord is our strength.” -Nehemiah 8:10. Our God will never change- no matter the circumstances life has you in. The truths I am holding tightly in my grip right now are that God is who He says He is, and God can do what He says He can do. My God works miracles, and my God’s promises are true. I AM BELIEVING GOD!!

“Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh… Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in Heaven.’” –Luke 6:21 & 23

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

A Letter to First-Year Teachers

As I sit here now to write these words, the tears are already flowing. I cannot believe that my first year is over. It seems like just yesterday I was sweating bullets during open house while meeting parents. This has been one of the craziest, most difficult, yet most rewarding years of my life. Teachers are NOT lying when they tell you this is tough stuff! I have learned so much over the course of the year, and my time was filled with memories, lessons, tears, and laughter that I will take with me as I continue in this journey of teaching.  I’m sure there are plenty of letters and lessons that teachers could write as advice for those diving into this job, but I just wanted to share a few things I gathered along the way that I feel have been my most important lessons learned.

Ask for help- you will need it all the time! Don’t be too prideful to say that you don’t know how to do something. I found a few people who were always willing to answer my silly questions (and also learned those that were not). It was so nice to have people that were eager to sit down with me to help me learn to tackle something new because there was so much I did not know. Trust me, you are never out of questions.

Stand firm. Just because it is your first year teaching doesn’t mean you don’t know what you are doing. You went to school for this and probably learned a heck of a lot. You will not always be wrong, and others will come to you for help sometimes as well. If you come across people who try to make you feel inferior because you are new, stand firm. I was not good at this. I did not stand up for myself, I couldn’t tell someone else when I thought they were wrong, and I didn’t know how to tell someone no. I really don’t like conflict, so this was so hard for me. But I would get angry or upset often because I felt like I was letting someone else control what I was doing in my classroom. When honestly, I knew my plans could be even better. As Meghan Trainor would say, “I might be young, but I ain’t stupid.” J I knew what I was doing. It got better as the year went on, but trust me, I am still working on this one. No, you don’t always have to be right (there is a lot that I wasn’t right on through the year), but you also don’t always have to be wrong. If it’s your decision, you be the one to make it. Trust yourself, be confident, and do what you want to in YOUR classroom. After all, you are the teacher now!
“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” –Eleanor Roosevelt

Write your lesson plans in pencil. I learned this lesson about two weeks into the school year. Once I had scratched out so much that I had no more room to write the lesson plans that were actually going to take place, I decided it was best to stick with something that erases. There will always be extra things that come up unplanned, units that take longer than expected, students who miss something they needed, etc. Be ready and willing to switch it up and cope with the changes.

Don’t freak out. The stress is real, and there will be days when you feel like you’ll never be able to get it all done. Sometimes those “days” of stress turned into weeks for me, and it would literally make me sick. You will get frustrated, you will yell, and you will cry. It’s inevitable. But I had to learn to take a deep breathe in those times, prioritize, and rest assured that everything will work out. Time management was a big obstacle for me. The truth is that God WILL give us more than we can handle- that way we have no choice but to trust Him and rely on Him to get us through all things. It is a reminder of our need for Him daily.
“In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears.” –Psalm 18:6
“I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.” –Psalm 34:4

Don’t let criticizing parents tear you down. They won’t all like you or agree with you. I can’t even count the number of days I went home and cried (or couldn’t hold back the tears while I was still at school) because of a parent who thought that I was doing something wrong. I have now been yelled and cursed at- some parents can be really mean. But if you are working hard at your job and serving your students right, don’t doubt yourself. As Taylor Swift would advise you, “Shake it off! Shake it off!” J Keep your head up, and your dedication to their child will shine through.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” –Joshua 1:9

Pray for patience every morning. It won’t be easy. There were some days when my kids would drive me absolutely insane. There were days when I found myself mid-day thinking “holy cow, I need to chill,” because I had been frustrated and snappy with my kids.  I literally began to pray for patience every morning on my drive to school. “Better a patient person than a warrior…” –Proverbs 16:32. Patience is key. I put a note on my desk about halfway through the year as a reminder to ‘choose joy’ every day. It’s a struggle, but joyfulness leads to a delightful classroom.
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” – Colossians 3:12

Remember that loving on your students is the most important part of your job. Everything else can wait. Sometimes I would get so wrapped up in emails and paperwork that I would completely ignore the “Miss Puwbiss” being called out five times from across the room or the story I was being told about something exciting from their weekend. Building relationships and a bond of trust with your kids is the best thing you can do for your classroom. Hearing “I luh you, Miss Puwbiss” over and over is the most fulfilling thing I can hear as a teacher. That is what’s important.

What you do matters. You will look back at the end of the year and truly realize all of the progress your kids have made. It’s hard to see those things in the midst of the chaos of every day, but the work is worth it. We call our students our kids because they become just that in our hearts.  When you are spending your time with them day in and day out, you form a bond and a love that is so special. When we accept Christ as our Savior, we are called to a life of greater purpose for His glory. “The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands…” –Psalm 138:8. Your work is a form of worship to our God, so remind yourself of that daily. Glorify the Lord with the profession He has called you to, and He will bless you through it.

It won’t be easy, but it will all be worth it. Good luck, first-year teachers! And have fun!

"It's not what you take when you leave this world behind you. It's what you leave behind you when you go." -Randy Travis