While preparing for the last SHE event, I was also typing my application for Teacher of the Year. I struggled tremendously with that application because I did not want to brag on myself or my abilities. That obviously got me into some trouble many years ago. Father had taken me through an extreme time of brokenness, so it was interesting to find myself in that situation after all these years. As I began typing the essay for the application, it was so amazing to see how Father had arranged my steps over the years as stated in Proverbs 3:5,6 (NASB) “Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.”
Let me share an abbreviated version of this journey:
He led me into teaching a long time ago. During my first semester at Florida State University, I started attending a Bible Study with Campus Crusade for Christ. One crisp and cool Tallahassee morning, I attended a Mug and Muffin sponsored by the CCC staff women. That morning, they were sharing from the book, Building Your Self Esteem by Josh McDowell. They began to talk about people who influence our lives and shape our beliefs early in life. Of course, our parents were on the list, but then they began to list pastors, coaches, and teachers. As soon as the word, “teacher” was said, my heart began to beat rapidly in my chest. At this moment, I heard Father whisper in my ear, “Love the children.” I knew He was telling me to change my major. On Monday morning, I marched into the Stone Building to change my major from psychology to education.
Flash forward to March 14, 2012, the day of my interview for Teacher of the Year (TOY) for the parish. I found out the day before SHE that the committee wanted to interview me for TOY for the parish. I was humbled and prayed that Father would speak through me and that they would see Him as I spoke. On that morning, Kalon and I prayed that He would be glorified regardless of the outcome. During the interview, I was asked how my community work helps me as a teacher. I almost giggled with glee when I heard it. I began to tell them about the SHE event from four days before. I told them that I had spoken on exchanging lies for the truth during my session. I went on to say that this is what I do in my classroom every day. Because I teach in the gifted program, I deal with students who are VERY hard on themselves. They say things like “I am so stupid” on almost a daily basis. This is just one snippet of what we discussed that day.
Later on that afternoon, I began to ponder whether or not I had been chosen. I found myself focusing on that and it was making me anxious. Right at that moment, one of my precious students walked into my classroom crying. She asked if we could talk, and of course I said yes. She told me she had received a white slip over a poor choice she had made. She was devastated and could not bear thinking about facing her mom. I sat with her and reminded her that she was not a bad kid; she just made a poor choice that day. I told her that this can happen to anyone, it's just what you decide to do afterwards that makes the difference. I said you need to forgive yourself, pick your head up, and walk forward. I told her that we were going to call her mom and tell her about it. I got her mom on the phone and stayed with her while they talked. When she got off the phone, I could see the pressure release from her shoulders. Her mom had repeated truth to her as well. I walked this precious young lady back to her homeroom class. While walking back to my classroom, I said to Father, “I do not need that award….You just allowed me to experience what I talked about this morning and that is the only award I need.” I released receiving the award, smiled and walked back to my classroom. Two minutes later, my principal walked into my room and told me I had been chosen. I was completely shocked. She said that during my interview that they could see my heart. I was so flabbergasted. Father answered my prayers…they had seen Him. I pray that my interactions with everyone in that room will draw them into a closer relationship with Him.
You ask why I might share this story with you….I share it because Father used this to show me how intimately involved He is with my life. He cares about every detail. I doubted why He wanted me in this job for many years, but lately, I have seen why He has me there. I pray He will reveal the truth of why He has you where He does. For many years, everything was bleak and meaningless to me. I had no idea why I was doing what I was doing. I am thankful that He gives me the privilege of allowing Him to live through me at school and in the community.
I love you my sisters!!
I am praying that you are walking in TRUTH, listening to the TRUTH, and speaking the TRUTH to others. I often find that when Father is trying to teach me something, He often uses others around me, books I am reading, and messages I am hearing to solidify that truth. Back when I wrote that prayer letter so many years ago, I was reading a book called You Gotta Keep Dancin’ by Tim Hansel. For those of you who know me well, I am sure the title made you smile because of the double meaning for me. This was a quote that really ministered to me back then and still does today:
We may desire to bring to the Lord a perfect work.
We would like to point when our work is done,
to the beautiful ripened grain, and bound up sheaves,
and yet the Lord frustrates our plans, shatters our purposes,
lets us see the wreck of all our hopes,
breaks the structure we thought we were building
and catches us up in His arms and whispers to us,
“It’s not your work I wanted, but YOU!!”
It is funny that people back then looked at me and thought I was so confident, yet my confidence was based on what I had done or achieved, not on what HE had done. Tonight, I was reading to my son from the Story Bible and it talked about how in Jesus’ death, He came to refute the BIG LIE….the lie that we have been left alone. We are not alone. He is our strength, our peace, our wisdom….the list goes on and on. I had to get to a point where I let myself fall in His arms and let Him speak words of TRUTH and LIFE into me. It has been said that you cannot give what you do not have. At that point, I did not have confidence in Him. My confidence rested in myself. He will not rest until we rely on Him and Him alone.
Another quote I want to share with you is from a sermon my pastor, Frank Friedmann gave back during this time in my life.
“Where there is honesty, there is intimacy.
Where there is intimacy, there is power.
Where there is power, there is freedom from destruction.”
At SHE, I challenged you to identify the lies that you believed about yourself, God, and others. That is just the beginning of this journey for you. Through that honesty you expressed that day, it began to build intimacy in your relationship with Father. That then turns into power….the power to stand up against the lies in HIS strength when they come to try and haunt you again. Ultimately, it leads to a relationship that is not shaken by the circumstances and storms that will come. Of course, this quote also applies to our relationship with others. I need to bring honesty into my marriage, into my friendships, into my relationships with family members. Being honest does not mean you strike out in your flesh (your coping mechanisms to survive apart from Father) and just tell people off. It means being honest with your feelings and thoughts about situations. It means admitting that you were wrong when you lost your temper when talking to your child. It means telling your spouse about your struggles instead of pretending you are doing fine.
Then Jesus turned to the Jews who had claimed to believe in him. "If you stick with this, living out what I tell you, you are my disciples for sure. Then you will experience for yourselves the truth, and the truth will free you." John 8:31-32 (The Message)
“God wants us to grow up, to know the whole truth and tell it in love—like Christ in everything. We take our lead from Christ, who is the source of everything we do. He keeps us in step with each other. His very breath and blood flow through us, nourishing us so that we will grow up healthy in God, robust in love.” Ephesians 4:15, 16 (The Message)
My prayer for you is that you continue to grow in truth. Read the Scripture below to see more of my prayers for you!
“That's why, when I heard of the solid trust you have in the Master Jesus and your outpouring of love to all the followers of Jesus, I couldn't stop thanking God for you—every time I prayed, I'd think of you and give thanks. But I do more than thank. I ask—ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory—to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for his followers, oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him—endless energy, boundless strength!” Ephesians 1: 15-19 (The Message)
I love you my sisters in Christ….I am praying for you!
So…..I experienced one of those horrible days where I was overcome by lies and totally ignoring the truth. Let me tell you, it was an agonizing day. You know the kind of day where you wish there really was an “Easy” button or a “Do Over” rule for life. After some sleep, prayer on my part and the part of many friends, I feel like a new woman today. Of course, this gloom and doom overtook me on the day I burned all of our lies. I think Father wanted me to go through that to know just how debilitating lies can be. I felt like a completely different person. I was not walking in the freedom He has promised me. I was allowing those lofty things to overtake the real truth, His Truth!
Maybe these pictures will give you a glimpse ino the experience. As they burned, all the letters and words disappeared, so that means whatever you believed is gone. It is wiped away. Now replace it with His truth. Here the lies were flying off and becoming ashes. That brought my mind to this scripture:
Isaiah 61:1-3 (The Message)
The Spirit of God, the Master, is on me because God anointed me.
He sent me to preach good news to the poor,
heal the heartbroken,
Announce freedom to all captives,
pardon all prisoners.
God sent me to announce the year of his grace—
a celebration of God's destruction of our enemies—
and to comfort all who mourn,
To care for the needs of all who mourn in Zion,
give them bouquets of roses instead of ashes,
Messages of joy instead of news of doom,
a praising heart instead of a languid (sluggish) spirit.
He wants to share the Good News of his grace and love with you and all those He brings across your path.
Will you let Him do that through you?
He wants to heal your broken heart.
Are you willing to let Him do that? (Even if it is painful)
He wants to free you from the lies that seek to bind up your heart and keep you captive.
Will you continue to walk in the truth that you are a new creation and that He is continuing to do a good work in you?
He wants to comfort you.
Will you let Him?
He wants to turn your ashes into something beautiful and glorious.
Will you let Him transform you and your mind?
He wants to give you messages of joy even in the hardest times.
Will you listen to those words above all the other voices?
He wants to give you a heart of praise instead of a sluggish, lethargic spirit.
Will you shout out praises even in the midst of tears?
He wants to invigorate your life with His life. He does not want to give you the strength to keep doing things your way. He wants to do it His way through you!
Are you willing to let Him do that??
I ask myself these own questions as I am typing this. I love you all, and I have been praying for you. It is such a joy to see all of you at church, school, and in the community. Remember, you are loved and you are precious.
I love you!
Next time I will share a little more of the prayer letter I read a portion of at SHE. Until next time, keep walking in the TRUTH!
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