I experienced one of the most beautiful moments in my teaching career yesterday. Our school had a wonderful program and invited veterans to attend. The school live streamed into the classrooms since we could not all watch it in person. After the second grade chorus sang the screen in my classroom went blank. I knew it was coming. I knew the school would not stream one of our assistant principals praying for our veterans. With all of the upset about coaches praying with their teams in the news lately, I knew the school would not stream a prayer into my classroom. I have cried and prayed for our schools, teachers, and coaches with this new upset about prayer in public schools. I have been upset, angered, and disappointed at where our country is headed—away from God. But as my screen went blank and I explained to my students why, I became filled with a peace as I encouraged my students to use the silent screen time as a chance to pray for our veterans. To my amazement, every head in the room bowed, every eye closed, and my students began to pray. My eyes were filled with tears as I also began to pray for our veterans, soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen, and country. I praised God for the chance I was given to witness such a beautiful moment, a silent praying class who wanted to lift up our veterans even when no one was leading them in prayer!
Last night driving home from my parents’ home Kyle said, “I don’t even recognize our life compared to this time last year.” And oh how true that statement is. We have always known that God could lead us anywhere (just like he can everyone…not just ministry families), but the whirlwind we have been in for the past year makes our lives completely different. Unrecognizable. Bare with me.
In June 2016, I was pregnant. I worked at Cartersville Elementary. Kyle worked part time at ATCO Baptist. We had no clue how we were going to afford a baby. We were living in a 900 square foot home with two dogs trying to make space for a baby in all of our stuff. We were overwhelmed!
Fast forward a year to June 2017. We have a healthy, beautiful 10 month old daughter who is crawling all over the house. I work for Calhoun Elementary. Kyle works full time for Trinity Baptist. We are packing our tiny home and moving to our dream home/mini-farm. We are overwhelmed!
Two different kinds of overwhelmed. I feel a bit like Jabez. Praying for guidance, blessings, provisions, ministry opportunities, protection, peace…
“Jabez called upon the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my border, and that your hand might be with me, and that you would keep me from harm so that it might not bring me pain!” And God granted what he asked.” (1 Chronicles 4:10 ESV) I know Jabez didn’t use all of the words I did, but God has blessed Kyle and me in ways we didn’t even know how to pray for a year ago. Our border has been enlarged to encompass Calhoun now! We have prayed for God’s blessing and He has more than provided! God has protected us from harm. God is Good!
Years of praying brought us a healthy, happy baby girl! God is good!
I didn’t want to leave my job and had planned on staying unless God moved mountains. I received a phone call in April from a principal who didn’t even have a job listed as open on the website. I interviewed the next day and knew I was going to their school. They offered me a job 24 hours later. God decided to heave a mountain out of the way! God is good!
We decided to list our house even though it had little repairs that still needed to be done. We had a contract on it within 24 hours. God is good!
We had been looking for months at homes in Calhoun and nothing made us excited! Until a tiny farm came up for sale. Lots of people were looking at the home and we just knew we would never get it. Until 2 days later we got a call that said otherwise. God is good!
I could bore you with a million details that give me chills because I know they were from God. His hand has moved what feels like a mountain chain to bring us where we are. Trusting Him is one of the hardest things to practice, but has huge rewards! We are still walking through the changes, stumbling on details, and ironing out wrinkles, but God is so GOOD!
Today was it. The end of our time at ATCO. It was a regular Sunday for us, which is exactly how I wanted it to feel. Regular. I was able to be in Sunday School with my friends. I looked around the room at one point and thought if I made eye contact with anyone of the women from my small group I would burst into tears. I love these ladies who have invited me into their hearts and covered me with pray in the hardest time of my life. But I didn’t cry. It was good.
I didn’t sing with the choir today, but if I had there would have been very little singing from me. Tears would have been my only offering to the Lord. I joined the choir so that I would make some adult friends at ATCO and friends I definitely made. These ladies and gentlemen have been a joy to worship with and laugh with. They have prayed for my family, lifted us up in hard times, laughed with and at us when we needed it, and shown us love these last four and a half years.
The only thing I wished would have been different today was preaching. Pastor Mike didn’t share the message this morning, although God’s word was preached and the message with good and clear. I’m going to remember for a long time just how much Pastor Mike loves his flock, preaching God’s word, and a congregation shoutin’ “Preach on!”.
I managed to get some hugs and say “see ya later” to some teenagers with zero tears, but now in the quiet of my home I miss them. I miss how loud they can be and there crazy ideas of fun. I miss how much they love my daughter, and grab snacks out of my purse or kitchen. I miss knowing that I will see them again in a couple of days.
I found a journal entry from December last night. We knew that we were going to have to leave ATCO in order to be obedient to God’s calling at this point and, well… it says it all:
Too Many Decisions
You know how some things in life just have a chain of decisions attached to them? You decided to have a baby and all of the sudden you have thousands of decisions to make. There are fun ones like baby names, and not so fun ones like who is going to get up at 3 am when she is upset. You get a new job and you get to decide what bulletin border you want and yet have to learn to work with a whole new group of teachers (school teacher here 😁). You graduate high school or college and have to decide where to live, work, marry, …
I find myself faced with one of those situations. One thing has a triggered a list of questions and options running through my mind and I get overwhelmed by it all. I need to make decisions, take action, make lists and check them off…but first I need to take a step back and breath.
Take each day for itself and only worry about what is in front of me. The chain of decisions and questions will be there tomorrow. Today I must just pray.
And that is what we have done for months. Pray. We have prayed about how to tell our church family goodbye. We have prayed for and over our new church. We have prayed for strength to be able to follow God. We have prayed through my tears and Hannah’s giggles. We have prayed for ATCO as we leave and Trinity as we come.
So today, I must pray again. My prayers are for the teenagers at ATCO to continue to love God and serve Him. They are for the men and women of ATCO to continue to pour into teenagers’ lives and point them, in love, back to Jesus. I pray that God will open the hearts of teenagers at Trinity to accept us and bring us into their church family. I’m praying for God to bless me with the opportunity to teach in Calhoun City Schools so we can both work in the community we serve the Lord in.
My prayers go on and on… I’m so excited for our new chapter and what God is going to do in Gordon county. I’m so sad to leave my friends and kids behind in Bartow county…so today…I pray.
Cool thing happened a few weeks ago! It was my planning period at work (teachers out there know how precious this 55 minutes truly is) and I was stopping in the principal’s office to go over some PBIS (schoolwide behavior management) details for the spring. Not a planned meeting, just a drop in conversation. I didn’t know it at the time but our principal was keeping her goddaughter (1 year old) for a portion of the week and apparently didn’t get much sleep. She happened to be sharing this information with another staff member when I walked in. As I listened to her crazy story about the ninja baby she was keeping for at least one more night I realized I had something in my car that could help. My time in her office was coming to an end and I asked, “Do you want to borrow my pack n play? I keep it in the car. I can go get it now.” The school bookkeeper, who stepped in during our conversation, immediately asked why I have one in the car. I keep it in the car just in case. You know, for emergencies with Hannah. My principal asked if I was kidding and I assured her I was not. She excitedly told me I was an answer to her prayer. She and her husband had prayed for a way to get more sleep that night and my pack n play was going to be apart of it.
It’s not often that we get to be an answer to someone’s prayer. Or that we know we are an answer to their prayer. I could have minded my own business and left her office without even bringing up my possible solution to her problem. I could have thought oh they’ll figure it out. But instead I was able to be used by God to answer a prayer. I love it when God lets me be apart of His plan!
Hannah is 3 months old!!! Where has the time gone?
She loves to swing, kick, laugh and smile. But more than anything she loves to have a nice warm bottle of milk. Since I have gone back to work I have been pumping non-stop to keep up with her. Each day as I sit alone in my room at school to get Hannah’s food I pray. I pray a selfish prayer. God, please release me from pumping. Lord, give me peace about not breast feeding anymore. Jesus, can I quit? The pressure to produce enough, the loneliness at work, the time restraints of having to get back to my pump in time…I pray to no longer have to do this. Then I feel guilty because so many moms want to breastfeed and can’t for whatever reason. I am blessed to have a way to feed my baby without the expense of formula. I have a baby whose tummy loves what I can give her.
Every time I bring this up to Kyle he simply asks me, “What does Jesus say?” He knows I pray about it and he knows Jesus hasn’t released me from this motherly task yet. So until he does I will continue to provide for my sweet girl. Until I am freed I will thank Him for giving me this ability that so many mommies want. While I continue to provide for my baby I will pray and try to be less selfish.
Today a friend in Sunday school shared that one of her friends from Mississippi lost their newborn baby. The mom had complications getting pregnant, endured a high risk pregnancy, knew the baby would have to have surgery right after birth, and then lost the baby at full term. I may have some information wrong, or misunderstood, but no matter what no mother should have to attend their child’s funeral. I know it happens so often, but today as I sit 39 weeks pregnant I find myself continually praying for Hannah to be okay. I hope that God will deliver her into this world happy and healthy. I thank the Lord for the great pregnancy He has blessed me with.
As a doctor put it a few weeks ago, my perfect pregnancy has been a shock since it was so difficult to become pregnant. Infertility changed me, changed my heart, moved me in a direction I never thought I would walk with God, but pregnancy has changed me even more. My mindset about being a wife, teacher, daughter has all changed. I realized on my birthday this year that it is not only a big day in my life, but in my parents’. It’s the day they became mom and dad. The day they welcomed a new person into their home. The day God entrusted a little human into their hands. It’s a big day for them too!
So today as I pray. I pray for a mom I will never meet. I pray God will heal her heart and bless her abundantly. I pray for several moms I know who have lost their children and know that I can never fully understand, but that God can soothe the hurt. I pray that God will give them joy in their sorrow and healing in their hurt.
With everything that has happened this week my heart is burdened and struggling with the idea of raising a child in this world. To be honest, I watch very little news, do not follow news channels on social media, and guard my heart from the world. As I waited for Kyle’s surgery yesterday, I watched Good Morning America and saw way too much footage about the Dallas shooting. They also discussed the other two cities who were struck with tragedy this week, and I felt completely overly aware.
I have to wonder about the state of the world and question whether it is better or worse today than 200 years ago, 100 years ago, 10 years ago. I honestly don’t know if it is better or worse but what I do know is, as a world, we are overly aware about everything because of technology, media, and social networking. Twenty years ago, there was no internet and news only spread through TV and radio (mostly). One hundred years ago, news traveled through letters, newspapers, and face to face communication. Information was slow to spread and many times people didn’t know when bad things happened.
With how I guard myself, it normally takes me a good bit of time to learn about the terrible happenings of this world. I do not necessarily think it is good for me to be so oblivious to the news, but it helps me with worrying, fear, and controlling my tongue (or thumbs). With technology, people are able to throw their opinions out very quickly, hide behind their thumbs and screens, and “say” things they probably do not have the courage to actually say.
God’s word says, “but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” (James 3:8 NIV) I think in today’s society we could also insert that we cannot tame our thumbs as we very quickly pull out our phones, hop on Twitter and Facebook, and type out our opinions about everything without thinking. The poison is spread so quickly and hurts so many more people than it would have 100 or 20 years ago. “The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” (Proverbs 12:18 NIV) We need to be aware that our words can hurt so many, especially when posted on the Internet for everyone to see. If we can stop, think, pray, and state our opinions in wise ways…then healing will come.
So, do I like how the world is? No. Do I think today is a harder day to live in than 100 years ago? I don’t know. Can I control my tongue and thumbs? Only with God. Today, let’s all try to pray before we post.
School is coming to a close, and for many teachers that means reflecting on their year and looking forward to teaching a new batch of students in two months. Typically I sit around and think about how I could be a better third grade teacher, but this year I am thinking You’re moving me where? You want me to be a fifth grade teacher? You do remember I am having a baby three days after school starts back??? Yep, that’s right…my five years in third grade are ending and I am beginning a new chapter in fifth grade.
To say that I am overwhelmed would be an understatement. With a move like this comes a HUGE list of things to do before August.
- Sort out my stuff from the school’s third grade stuff
- Pack up my stuff
- Move to new classroom
- Find fifth grade stuff
- Print new standards
- Research new standards
The list could go on forever!!!!
On top of a move to a new grade level, some how my principal thinks I should be a grade level chair person…WHAT?!?
We have spoken. I have voiced my concerns. He says he still thinks that he has made the best decision for his school…so here I go…off to 5th grade…as a grade level chair.
The only positive to this entire transition is that my teaching partner (we have been together 4 years now) is also headed to fifth grade with me. We are moving as a unit and I LOVE that!!!
So my life is becoming more interesting as Hannah’s arrival is approaching…but I am excited to still have a job (doing what I love), be remaining with my teaching partner (whom I love), and be trying new things!!!
Saturday, a week ago, late into the night, I was laying in bed crying softly while Kyle held me. After several minutes of soft sobs, he asked me why I was crying. I whispered, “I can’t believe I get to celebrate Mother’s Day. It makes no sense why we are pregnant while others we know still struggle with infertility.” As I continued to cry, Kyle reassured me that it’s not about us, but about God and His blessing and timing for us.
I have no clue why God blessed us with Hannah, but I am so over joyed that He did. God is so good!
Our church drama team did card board testimonies on Mother’s Day to the song Ever Be. We were asked weeks ago to be apart of this.
We gladly wrote our sign for the song, and I cried as we held it up for the church to see.
How was your Mother’s Day?
No, I have never given birth. No, we did not adopt. No, we do not foster. However, when one of the teenagers in our youth group needs us, we jump into action and become “parents” whenever.
Thursday night we hosted our small group bible study. After everyone had left and I was cleaning up, Kyle tells me one of the girls in the youth group is having family problems and may need a place to stay. Well, let’s go get her. It turned out her stepdad had taken her back to her mom from a friends house that night, but last night she stayed with us.
I love the students in my class, but the teenagers in the youth group have me wrapped around their fingers, especially this young lady.
Don’t worry. Her parents know she is with us! We had an ice cream outing last night, followed by her picking a movie (Star Wars) to watch at home. Today she will either tag along with us to a couples shower and Mother’s Day/birthday dinner or go hangout with some other girls from our youth group.
I love that she feels safe with us, wants to stay with us, and knows she is loved by us! Being a youth pastor’s wife means so much more than going to camp, Six Flags, and church every time the door is open. It means loving teenagers and helping them the way Christ would in some of the most difficult times in their lives.
If you can, stop for a minute and pray for this young lady and her family! She could use some comfort and peace in the storm her family is in.