One thing you may not know about the teaching profession is that we are often students ourselves. Throughout the year, we attend countless hours of professional development, trainings, and classes.
This year, many of our teacher in-service days have been focused on writing instruction. I’ve enjoyed implementing some of the new strategies into my classroom, and it’s been so nice to see my students excited about writing. One of my students recently shared, “I am special because I’m a good writer.” Identifying himself as a writer was such an encouragement to me because, as a kid, I never saw myself as a writer.
At times, I still struggle calling myself a writer. In fact, at our one of recent trainings, it came up that I’m a blogger. Our instructor said, “Oh, so you’re a writer.” I was so hesitant and said, “I guess so.” Others in the room spoke up and said, “Yes, she’s a writer.”
Sometimes we need others to help us see the gifts we have.
Words of encouragement can turn doubts into confidence.
Why have I been hesitant to call myself a writer? A few weeks ago, I was looking through some childhood scrapbooks, and I came across a paper that was folded. I opened it up and saw the results of my 9th grade proficiency tests. Back then, these were the tests you had to pass in order to graduate. The first thing I saw on the paper was that I had failed the writing portion of the proficiency test. Yep. I failed.
For an overachieving, straight-A student, this was not only shocking at the time, but it was embarrassing. It also caused me to doubt myself as a writer.
But now, looking back at that failing test grade, I laugh. I laugh because something I failed at is now one of my strengths. Ironic, isn’t it?
I wish I could go back and tell my 9th grade self:
That failing score may have shaken my confidence, but I kept writing anyways. I’m so thankful I did, because I would later discover that writing gave me a safe place to express my thoughts.
Writing helped me regain my voice, and it would also help me encourage others to use their voices.
Hearing my students call themselves writers makes me smile. After all these years, I can finally say, “I’m a writer too.”
How has writing impacted my life? Check out these blogs:
Pages of Love
A Blog About Blogging
The Reasons I Write
About 8 years ago, God took my pain and turned it into a passion for women’s ministry. I love hearing other women’s stories, learning from them, and encouraging them as they pursue God’s calling. I also love serving with them. Because of this, every year I look forward to the Women’s Conference at my church. There is something powerful about being in a room full of hundreds of women, worshipping God together.
This year, our main speaker was Lisa Harper. Even though this was the first time I heard her speak, I quickly connected with her and imagined us becoming close friends (a girl can dream, right?). She shared hilarious stories with us, but she also shared incredible truth. Here are some quotes from Lisa Harper:
While I may blog about these quotes more in-depth in the future, Lisa also encouraged us to “stay in our lane,” (staying focused on the calling God has on our lives), to use our gifts to “run hard,” and to cheer for those around us. I LOVE this!
I saw this lived out at our conference, as countless women (and men) used their gifts and volunteered to make this event a reality. They were enthusiastic about serving, because they love the One who calls us to serve.
I saw this lived out when 2 women from our church shared their personal testimonies.They courageously shared their struggles and pain, along with how God’s love, compassion, and power have been clearly evident in the midst of everything. Hearing how God is present in someone’s lane gives me encouragement to keep running hard in my lane.
What happens when we stay in our lane, use our gifts, and cheer for others around us? Lives are changed.
While we had over 700 women at our conference this year, to me, the most important number is 11.
11 women put their hope, trust, and faith in Jesus for the first time. 11 new sisters in the body of Christ.
And this is why we invest so much time and energy into our annual Women’s Conference. Even if it was just 1 woman who crossed the line of faith, it would be worth it.
I love the women God has surrounded me with in my life. They have been “Jesus in flesh” to me.
I love how God uses events like Women’s Conferences to encourage, empower, and reveal truth to us.
I’m already looking forward to next year’s conference!
Meet and Greet with Lisa Harper. She asked me, "Has anyone ever told you that you look like Laura Story?" I immediately started laughing, and said, "Yes...I get that a lot."
At the beginning of 2016, I started this blog because I felt led to share more of my story with others. As an introvert, sharing personal information about myself does not come naturally to me, but God continued to prompt me to write and share. So I did.
Forty-three blogs later, I've come to the end of 2016, and I realized something pretty amazing. My hope and prayer has always been that God would use these blogs to encourage others, and while that may have happened, He has actually used these blogs to encourage me.
Re-reading my blogs has reminded me that I can trust God in the present and with my future, because He has always been faithful and loving in the past.
I have been reminded that joy and pain can co-exist and that we weren’t meant to experience either alone.
Looking back, here are my top 10 (most read) blogs of 2016. I hope they encourage you, and I look forward to writing more in 2017.
This blog initially appeared on the Motherless Daughters Ministry website.
Growing up, I loved the Christmas season. I loved listening to Christmas music, watching Christmas movies, eating way too many Christmas cookies, and having a few weeks off of school. The best part, though, was opening gifts on Christmas morning with my family.
My younger brother and I had a pact. Whoever got up first would go and wake up the other one. As a kid, sleep doesn’t seem important when there are presents to unwrap. In the early morning hours, my brother and I would head downstairs, look at all the gifts under the tree, go through our stockings, and anxiously wait for our parents to wake up.
Christmas has always been my favorite holiday, but one year I found it extremely hard to celebrate.
When I was 26 years old, my mom passed away after a 9-year battle with breast cancer. It was difficult watching my mom endure so much suffering over the years, and when she finally went home to be with Jesus, I felt as if she took a piece of me with her. My heart and my world felt completely shattered.
The first year after a loss is extremely tough. The holidays are supposed to be a time of joy and celebration, but it’s hard to celebrate when you’re missing a loved one.
It was hard taking our annual family picture by the Christmas tree without her. It was hard eating Christmas dinner and seeing the empty chair where she always sat. It was hard opening gifts when the one thing I wanted the most couldn’t be bought at a store.
That Christmas, my Dad told my brother and I that we each had a special gift, but it had to be opened last. I was already holding back tears, and then my mind started racing, wondering what this special gift could be.
It was finally time for us to open our last gifts. We each had identical looking bags to open. We opened them at the same time, and as soon as I saw what was inside I couldn’t hold back my tears any longer.
In that instant, even though my mom wasn’t physically there, the room was filled with love and precious memories of her. We each received a quilt made from some of our mom’s clothes.
My Dad explained that the quilts were made by our mom’s childhood friend (who also happened to be one of her co-workers). It was a gift that I never expected, but will always treasure. It was made out of love and reminds me of a person who I will always love.
Whenever I look at my quilt, I’m reminded of my mom and how she taught me all about strength, courage, and perseverance. I’m reminded that she loved God, and she loved the people that He had placed in her life.
Seeing these familiar pieces of old fabric woven together in a new way reminds me that God can take the pieces of our lives and make something new and beautiful out of them.
God can take something unexpected and use it to remind us that we are loved by others and by Him.
I still miss my mom every day, especially on the holidays, but losing her has helped me realize that time is a gift.
Make the most of the moments God gives you. Spend them with people you love, and use your moments to make others feel loved.
This Christmas, as we celebrate the birth of Jesus, remember that one of the best gifts you can give someone is the gift of your time. Who will you give it to?
Here is a section of the quilt.
The month of November is all about giving thanks. It’s easier to focus on what we’re thankful for when others around us are sharing what they’re thankful for. This leads up to the BIG day of Thanksgiving – a day where everyone seems to slow down and reflect on the blessings in their lives.
Then, the day after Thanksgiving comes. After a month of giving thanks, a switch seems to flip, and it’s all about getting the best deals and buying more stuff.
There’s nothing wrong with shopping (I love the convenience of online shopping), but for me, the idea of standing in lines and spending lots of money is not the way I want to begin the Christmas season.
Instead, the day after Thanksgiving usually involves putting up my Christmas tree, listening to Christmas music (this is the first day I will listen to Christmas music), and watching Christmas movies.
Here are some of my favorite Christmas movies:
What are you favorite Christmas movies?
I'm an ordinary introvert who loves an extraordinary God.