One of the things I love most about teaching is that every year is a fresh start. While I still think about my former students, I look forward to starting over each year with a new group.
A new group of students brings with them a new mix of personalities, strengths, and challenges. Because of this, every year is different. Every day is different.
You may teach in the same room from one year to the next, but your classroom is never the same. The people inside the space change the space.
I recently returned from a two-week vacation to Amelia Island in Florida. It’s such a beautiful place, and I always enjoy spending time there with my family.
There is one particular road on the island that I love to drive down. The road is lined with houses that have very unique styles of architecture. Many of them are massive homes, and while there are a few “smaller” ones, the homes along this road typically sell for $1-$4 million dollars.
Some people are morning people. They love the quietness of the early morning hours and have already exercised and had breakfast before the sunrises. I, however, love my snooze button, exercise in the evenings, and enjoy a great sunset.
While I’ve never been a morning person, one thing I do look forward to each morning is having a cup of coffee. I started drinking coffee when I became a teacher, as I quickly realized that caffeine was a necessity in order to keep up with a room full of energized elementary kids.
During the school year, my mornings are rushed, and my coffee is often cold before I have a chance to finish it (as I’m often busy helping my students). During the summer, though, life slows down, and I find great comfort in being able to sit and enjoy a cup of hot coffee.
As a single adult without any kids, my house can be very quiet. I know some of you would crave to have a quiet house for even a few hours. For me, silence has always been hard, and so I often have the TV or music on in the background. Recently, though, I have been more intentional about embracing the silence.
I have found myself turning off my TV or music and using that time to read, pray, or write. As I drink my coffee each morning, I have been reading Coffee For Your Heart: 40 Mornings of Life-Changing Encouragement by Holley Gerth. (*This devotional was previously published as God’s Heart for You.)
Although I love to encourage people, encouragers also need encouragement. I don’t know about you, but sometimes it’s hard for me to look in the mirror. I don’t always like what I see. While it’s easy to focus on outward appearances and to compare ourselves to one another, God has used the Coffee For Your Heart devotional to remind me what He sees.
I may look in the mirror and see someone who is not tall enough or thin enough or who feels alone and forgotten. God sees someone who is wonderfully made, beautiful, and is known and chosen.
I may look in the mirror and see my struggles and past mistakes. God sees someone who is forgiven, redeemed, and loved.
When I look in the mirror, I want to see what God sees. Some days I do, and other days I need reminders. Those are the days that I’m especially thankful for this devotional. In each chapter (which only takes about 5-15 minutes to complete), Holley Gerth shares a personal story, a scripture passage, a truth about who we are in Christ, 3 reflection questions, a prayer, and some encouraging words.
Through these daily devotional times and being more intentional about turning off the “noise” around me, I’m slowly becoming more comfortable with the silence. Maybe it’s because the silence allows me to hear the One voice that matters the most.
His voice is always comforting….just like a hot cup of coffee.
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."
I'm an ordinary introvert who loves an extraordinary God.