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.
One of my favorite things to do is to read, and when I find a book that I love, I want to tell others about it. So, below are some of my favorite non-fiction books that I’ve read this past year. What’s a book that you’d recommend?
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.
We began the weekend as strangers, but left as friends and sisters in Christ.
From the outside looking in, it wouldn’t appear that we have much in common. Some of us are young adults. Others are grandmothers. Some of us are single. Others are married. Some of us do not have children. Others respond to little ones calling them “Mom” on a daily basis. Some of us live in the area. Others traveled great distances.
Despite our differences, we quickly bonded because of a common thread in our stories: All of us have experienced mother loss.
Loss often causes people to isolate themselves, but this time it brought us together at the Motherless Daughters Ministry Journey Retreat.
The Journey Retreat is a chance for motherless daughters to learn about the effects of mother loss and how to handle grief as it appears throughout our lives. We also learn how a mother’s absence shapes our identity and how it influences our style of mothering and our relationships.
Some of our mothers have passed away, while others have living mothers but do not experience nurture and care from them. Our stories of loss are different, but we all miss having a loving mother.
At the retreat, those of us who were leaders first shared our stories of mother loss, and then we listened as the participants bravely shared their stories. We were no longer strangers once we knew each others’ stories.
Our hearts broke for one another, yet at the same time our hearts started to heal.
Instead of ignoring our grief, we expressed it.
Instead of pushing others away, we allowed others into our pain.
Instead of feeling alone in our grief, we finally felt understood.
Throughout the weekend, we honestly shared our emotions and opened up about other struggles and parts of our lives. Being vulnerable will often give others the courage to be vulnerable.
We supported, listened, encouraged, comforted, and prayed for one another. We laughed with one another. We cried with one another. We gave each other permission to grieve and to be authentic.
And then we watched as God fulfilled His promise from Psalm 147:3 – “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”
Sharing our brokenness in a safe and loving community allows God to use our stories in a powerful way.
Even though we’ve experienced mother loss, we found healing and hope.
It’s available for you too.
Our next Motherless Daughters Journey Retreat will be on June 21-24, 2018. We would love for you to join us!
I'm an ordinary introvert who loves an extraordinary God.