More Than a Teacher

Have you ever walked in to a place and felt at home? Somewhere you’ve never been or seen until then and just known that it’s the place your supposed to be? I’ve had it happen a few times in my life and a month ago I had another one of those experiences. I walked into Calhoun Elementary School and immediately felt at home. It was welcoming and almost screamed “You belong here!” The three administrators I met with were inviting and pleasant. I could picture myself working for them and alongside them. I didn’t get the sense that I shouldn’t mention my husband, daughter, or faith. I believe that it was welcomed to mention things about who I am away from school. 

So many times teachers are asked to come to work and be just a teacher. When we are at school we are not a wife, mom, Christian, or republican. We are a teacher and only that. I don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t work that way. I am always a Christian. It doesn’t matter where I am. I am praying while I teach. I am shining my light for Jesus everywhere I go and I cannot put it away when I walk into work. AND… the only reason people call me Mrs. Ruff is because I am married. I cannot pretend that my husband doesn’t exist for 8 hours a day 190 days a year. I should be able to talk about him while I am at work and not be sorry for it. To top it off, I finally became a mother last year and I will not avoid any conversation about my sweet girl. I am a Christian first, wife and mother next, and teacher last. I have been able to be all of those things and so much more at Cartersville Elementary School for the past 6 years and I felt that I could be the same way when I stepped inside of Calhoun Elementary School last month. It was so nice to know that other schools allow their teachers to be so much more than just a teacher!

Do you want to get some chicken? 

“Do you want to get some chicken or something?” Yea, that is how my sweet husband asked me out the first time. He also spelled my name “Danyell” on my first birthday card and referred to me as “Dan the Whoa-man” for quite sometime. He’s special. My guy is something else. But he is mine and as he reminds me so many times…I chose him above all else. 


We have known each other for nearly 12 years and with time I forget some of the strange things about our relationship. Habits that are so much apart of us that we forget how odd they may seem to other people. Since joining Trinity Baptist Church I have been realizing all over again how unique we are. It’s fun to watch people as Kyle tells true stories that seem insanely impossible (in one summer he was bit by a tiger, a student was bit by a shark at youth camp, and we were in a volcano warning). Or see the reactions to some of Kyle’s quirky sayings (Yea right, get real, no way). It’s brought about a new playfulness that I have missed. 


So much of our relationship is joking and poking fun at one another. As new people realize our strange relationship I hope they also see our immeasurable love for one another. There is no one in this world who I would rather do life with! Kyle is my best friend, biggest fan, and greatest encourager! 

He is taken ladies! Find your own! 😜

Book after Book

I love to read, but last year I just couldn’t read. I was so nauseous for the first few months and would get worse when I tried to read. Then I had a few months that I could read without getting sick. After Hannah came I had way better things to do than read, like shower, eat, SLEEP, feed her, stare at her, be with her… the list goes on. But this year I want to read book after book. I love to read and have a goal to read at least 2 books a month. I finished 2016 by reading For Married Women Only by Tony Evans. It is an awesome, easy read. This short booklet has a match for your husband and can be read in one sitting (if the baby doesn’t start crying, husband doesn’t need dinner immediately, or dog don’t knocks a bottle of Gatorade off of the end table). It is a look at what the Bible says our roles are as a wife. My favorite quote from the book is, “Submission has to do with function, not being. It does not signify that a wife is inferior to her husband in terms of her worth before God.” How beautiful is that? Just because I submit to my husband doesn’t mean God values me less than my spouse. We are the same in the eyes of God as long as we are saved by Christ because when God looks at me he sees Jesus! This book reminded me of my job as Kyle’s wife. I am his helpmate. I am his number one fan. I am to respect him and submit to his leading of our home. 

Six

Six Easters, Thanksgivings, and Christmases. Six birthdays each. Six Springs, Summers, Autumns, and Winters. Six years of waking up beside you. Six years of kissing you good night. Six years of praying together, laughing together, and holding each other. Happy Anniversary!!!

I love you so much more now than then. I adore the way you look at our daughter. I feel safe when you’re with me. I know you will provide for and protect our family. The butterflies still take off in my tummy when you’re around. The giddiness of a date night still brightens my day. I chose to say yes a long time ago to my best friend becoming my husband. I would do again today if you asked. I love you Kyle!

Four Way Failure

1. At 2:30 am when your husband has been up for 2 hours with a baby and needs sleep because has to go to work at 9 and you are frustrated because you need sleep too…wife failure! I got up, and stayed up with baby girl but struggled to defend my husband in my mind (what I have to do when I know he isn’t trying to hurt my feelings, but my feelings are hurt). 

2. When you’ve only had about three hours of sleep the entire night and your daughter is crying (again) and you don’t have a clue what she needs…mom failure! Baby girl loves to be up at night and then only sleeps in two hour stints during the day. By the time I’m convinced she is really asleep and then I fall asleep, I normally only get 30-45 minutes of sleep before she fusses again. Then I go through the list of things she could need (diaper change, food, burping, gas, etc.). But when I get to the end of the list and nothing has worked…I burst into tears too!

3. When you check your work email and have another parent complaint about the substitute teacher…teacher failure! My students shouldn’t have to suffer while I’m out and parents shouldn’t have to deal with this bad situation, but I can’t do anything from home…and my daughter needs me more than they do. I hate that I have left my teaching partner with this and the students and parents too. It stinks!

4. When your boss text you asking about the paper work for your maternity leave and the papers are still in Marietta at the doctors office…employee failure. 

At this point I lost it! I’m talking total meltdown. Tears streaming down my cheeks, sniffling nose, hair a mess, need a shower, baby girl crying, home alone,… I think you get it. It was bad. 

I’m not used to failing. Or feeling like a failure. I try my best at everything I do. I want to bring glory to God in all of my actions and today I felt like I let my husband, my daughter, my students, their parents, my teaching partner, my bosses, and God down. 

My husband came home at lunch and affirmed me and my efforts as a mom and wife. My mom went to the doctors office for the paperwork for me. And a shower and lunch helped to stop the tears and sniffling nose. But I am constantly reminding myself that I can only do this thing called life with God on my side. I need God to supply my rest and strength. I have to trust that God will take care of my students and prepare me to go back to work. I know God has my daughter in His hands. But my failures are real. Scripture reminds me that God’s, “’grace is sufficient for [me], for [his]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.”(‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭12:9‬). 


So today I am bragging about my weaknesses, down falls, and failures. Because the only reason I can keep going is with Christ turning my mess ups into power. 

Youth Pastor Super Heroes 

Think about to when you were in youth. Who was your youth pastor? I had a few (Mark Chandler and Spencer McCoy) but never realized how much they really did for me. Now, as a wife of a youth pastor, I have a behind the scenes view of all that really happens. Youth pastors are super heroes!


These men who devote themselves to leading teenagers toward God do so much more than plan trips to Six Flags and teach a bible lesson once a week (which I do believe is what 16 year old Kyle Ruff thought they did). They see a hurting student and take them fishing. They see a crisis in a young person’s family and go to the hospital to just be there. They hear a student share the gospel with a child and text the parent to encourage them. They spend a week on local mission, basically without sleep,  and then leave with the youth group on another mission trip across the country. They listen to girls cry and some lucky pastors have wives to send them to (others learn to handle girl tears). They guide boys on how to handle being turned down by the girl they like. They make crazy videos to get the group pumped for events and lessons. They love on smelly teens after long days of work, fun, or …some teens just smell. They wrangle up volunteers for summer camp. They pray for teens by name daily. They lift up other youth pastors and bear each other’s burdens. They share there hearts with their church families. They write curriculum for events which they may not even be attending. They share Jesus as much as they can work it in (which is more often than you would think). They go to sporting events, concerts, graduations, birthday parties, and other life events for students. They… I could keep going, but I think you get it. 

Youth pastors give so much of themselves and ask so little in return. My husband is just part time, but his time is not his own. It is our students’. I love how he sees a need and instantly wants to take care of it. It doesn’t matter that technically he doesn’t work today…super heroes don’t have set working hours, and neither do youth pastors. 

Today, take the time to encourage your youth pastor, or your student’s youth pastor. 

Wisdom Teeth and His Wisdom

For years Kyle has lived with his wisdom teeth, but lately they have become bothersome. He claims that he isn’t in pain, but two of them are impacted and one even has a big hole in it. Today, right now, he is having them removed. We were hopeful that our health insurance would cover the cost, but they aren’t fully impacted (go figure) but God has been good to us and we had the money to cover this expense. 


To be honest, Kyle would have loved to ignore them longer, but I don’t want to be taking care of him and a baby when they really need to come out in who knows how many months. So yes, today is partially because of my selfishness. 

The most amazing thing happened yesterday even though. We were in between our doctors appointment for Hannah and the hospital tour when our pastor called us. He informed us that someone in the congregation gave a gift to help cover the cost of the surgery. What? Are you kidding? Is this for real? My brain still cannot wrap around how much our church loves us and how God provides for our every need. God provided a lamb for Abraham (Genesis 22), manna for the Isrealites (Exodus 16), and each day He provides me with so much more than I could ever imagine. 


So this morning I will praise you Lord! You provided us with the means to take care of ourselves, but then showered us with a gift that relieved so much burden! Lord, You are impossible to understand, but I know you love me. Thank you for your never failing love and always enduring grace and mercy! 

Tuesday Night Date Night

A few years ago, as Kyle was adjusting to working for a church, we sat down as a couple to talk about our new phase in life. I was frustrated with not having a husband who would safe guard a night for us and needed to be heard. Since that night we have kept Tuesday nights as a night for us. We rarely go out on an actual date, but we do have our time together no matter what. 


Marriage is tough. And the stresses of life can put a strain on anything, but especially on relationships. Our marriage is very important to both of us and we have spared ourselves many stressful, tearful nights just by saving Tuesday nights for each other. 

Some things we do that don’t cost much:

  • Cook together
  • Watch a movie on a pallet of blankets in the living room (Redbox or something we own)
  • Go fishing at the neighbor’s pond
  • Go kayaking down the river (we own our kayak)
  • Read a book / bible together
  • Lay in our hammocks on the back porch and talk
  • Take our dogs for a walk / hike
  • Drive around with the windows down and sunroof open
  • Play a video game together (we like Peggle, Fortune Street, and Just Dance-well, I like just dance)

Dates don’t have to cost money or be fancy. They can be simple. 

I love Tuesday nights!


Yesterday we had a Tuesday day date…lunch at Cody J’s, baby appointment, shopping at REI, And That!, Motherhood Maternity, and Academy (mostly window shopping), frozen treat from Chicfila, and a car wash and vacuum (so we can install a baby seat!). Then we came home and cooked dinner together. The night ended with Kyle catching a few fish while I read a book on the dock. Nothing special, but an entire day together refills my love tank (I’m a quality time girl)!!!

How do you stay close to your spouse? Do you have a night set aside for each other? How do you do something similar with kids (my life is about to change)?

Sometimes I have to Walk Away

Today was tough. Not all day, but when I had to walk away. There are points in my life and marriage when I simply have to walk away. 
Being a youth pastor’s wife (and I’m sure, any ministerial wife) has its challenges. One of the challenges I am faced with occasionally is not know what to do, say, or think about something my husband is struggling with. Maybe it’s a message he has prepared and can’t seem to get to a good point in. Maybe it is church politics (every church has them). Maybe it is picking and choosing between church events and resting or going to family gatherings. The list could go on forever. 

So many times I wonder what he wants me to say, think, or do. Many times I try to gauge if he needs me to build him up or put him in his place. Should I point out that he is being ridiculous? Am I suppose to continue to compliment his 3 point message with its alliteration? How does he expect me to respond to this? 

Today, I didn’t know what else to tell him. I didn’t know how else to help. I simply had to walk away. I grabbed my pool bag and a book (Wonder Struck by Margaret Feinberg) and left. Not out of anger or even frustration, but because he needed a day to just sit, think, pray, contemplate, seek advice, … A day to just be. 

I hate walking away, but more than that I hate watching him struggle. I want to help him fix it. I want to be his friend, helper, soulmate. But today I couldn’t help any more than I had tried. 

It’s hard, marriage that is. 
I’m back at home now. About to eat dinner with my sweet husband. I hope and pray he is in a better place, but know that either way, God will take care of him even when I don’t know how to. 

The Best Marriage Advice

I honestly don’t remember who first gave Kyle and I this advice, or when it first came. But the best marriage advice we have ever been given or could ever give doesn’t even really feel like marriage advice. It’s really just good life advice. 


Here it is:

If you are both growing closer to God, you will also be growing closer to each other.

It seems too simple and kind of like a “no duh!” moment, but think about it. If I am reading my bible, worshipping God, praying, and growing closer to God, AND Kyle is doing the same thing, we will be also growing closer to each other. 


When I take my eyes off of the distractions of the world (and yes, a husband can be a distraction sometimes) and focus on the Creator of the world (God), I begin to grow closer to Him. If my husband will also do this and grow closer to God, then we are both moving towards the same thing, God, and therefore becoming closer to each other. 


It sounds simple and I wish I were better at it, but I fail daily to do this. Yet it is still the best advice for life, and marriage, I have ever reviewed or could ever give. So today, let’s all strive to grow closer to God and out spouses!