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!!
In part one of this followup, I shared a little bit about wishes and dreams. Today I want to finish up with longings.
Longings. We all have them. Those empty places deep inside us that can't seem to be filled. They won't let us ignore them, no matter how hard we try.
Webster's dictionary defines longings as a strong desire especially for something unattainable. Hmm...If longings are unattainable, then why do we have them? God has packed them inside of us. When we believe that we are created in the image of our heavenly Father, we can fully understand that He has longings, too. He longs to have a relationship with us, to be the center of our lives, and to receive our worship. If he has longings it is only natural that we do, too.
We try so hard to do things on our own. Our success in life depends on how we respond to our longings. We either deny our longings or we try to fulfill them in ungodly or unhealthy ways. In Fresh-Brewed Life, Nicole Johnson writes about different types of longings. I want to mention two of them: the longing to be filled and the longing to be known. The longing to be filled cannot be filled with material things. We try to fill that empty feeling with food, shopping and even people. Whether we are looking to be filled emotionally or physically (with food), that feeling only lasts for a little while and then we are looking to fill it again.
As women, we all want to be known. We want to be treasured and embraced. We want someone to pursue and understand us. While the men in our lives may know us, (our likes, dislikes and crazy little quirks) there is still more to us that is unknown. The same goes for men, too. No one can ever really fill our longing to be known, other than our Father. He is the only one who knows us better than we know ourselves. As fulfilling as earthly relationships can be, our relationship with the Father, will never leave us wanting.
God's desire is that none of us perish, but he has given us the freedom to choose salvation. He is waiting on us to make the choice. When we choose the world or our own desires over him, he is left longing. His purpose for equipping us with longings is to draw us closer to him. He knows longings and he is ready to fulfill our longings with compassion and understanding. Proverbs 13:19a says,"A longing fulfilled is sweet to the soul...". We can trust him to be enough, because he is the one who placed the longings within us.
My challenge to you is this: Talk to God about your longings. Yes, he already knows them, but he longs to hear your voice. Confide in Him. His ways are perfect.
Are wishes, dreams, and longings the same thing? They are similar but different. A wish is a want or desire that can be easily attained. A dream is a strong desire for something that is within our reach. A longing is a persistent desire or craving that is out of our reach. Despite the differences in attainability, they all reflect what is in our heart. In Matthew 6:21 Jesus said, "for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also". What we treasure the most control us, whether we admit it or not.
Let's take a look at wishes for a moment. What do you wish for? Somedays I wish for peace and quiet, adult conversation and an extra hour of sleep. All of those things are attainable, but my calendar doesn't always allow for those wishes to be granted. I have allowed my calendar to dictate my priorities, thinking I can make time for other things later. Has my busy-ness become my treasure? I have to answer yes. If I truly wish to have peace and quiet, then I need to make it happen.
Dreams stem from stronger desires but are still within our reach. Think of dreams as goals. Do you have a goal? Maybe your goal is to run a marathon, to read the Bible in a year, to write a novel, or just to be the best YOU that you can be. No matter what goals or dreams you may have, you need to have a map. You need to chart your course to see that dream become a reality.
Spring is one of my favorite times of the year. Not only does it bring new growth and warmer days, it also brings birthdays at our house. In a 2 1/2 month span, each of my daughters turn a year older. I remember bringing each of them home and thinking that we had a long time to be a family. Now, I realize that I have two years until my oldest graduates high school and goes off to college. Two years!!! Where has the time gone? There was so much I wanted to do, to teach her and to prepare her and now I only have two years left! All those years I spent thinking I have time, and now that time is running out. I can beat myself up with all of the shoulda, coulda, woulda's or I can make adjustments and enjoy the next two years.
Last year, God laid on my heart the phrase "intentional living". He has convicted me of my busy-ness, and challenged me to only participate in things that matter to Him. I have always been a people pleaser, trying to be and do everything everyone else wanted. I want to serve Him and not myself or others. I am in the process of completing a four year commitment that has left me burned out and frustrated at many times. I am learning to think and pray first before committing to other responsibilities. In doing so, I am beginning to live out the plans and purpose that God has for me. The plan and purpose that He packed me with so many years ago.
May you experience "intentional living" as you journey through your wishes and dreams!
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!
We had such a blast with you at Sending Her Equipped! We so enjoyed spending the day with you all! I don’t know about you, but I’ve been thinking a lot about what we talked about together, the whole process of charting our course. I hope you’ve been paying attention to those road signs along the way. Remember, we can’t make the meaningful and permanent changes on our own, but we can choose this day who we will serve and allow God to change us! I am so comforted that I am not alone on this journey! We can only decide to do our best one day at a time. We can determine that today we are going to give Him the control He rightfully deserves so that we can decrease and He can increase! Only then do we make room for real love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control. Are you recognizing more spiritual fruit in yourself? Are you more aware of it in your daily interactions? Are you more appreciative of it when you experience it in others? I hope your answer is a resounding YES! But if it’s not yet, don’t give up! Remember ... one day at a time, and tomorrow is a brand new day!
If you recall, you got a little homework assignment to work on: your mission statement. I hope you’ve been giving it some thought. I wanted to share this story with you, to inspire you.
When Rick Hoyt was born in 1962, he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and declared a spastic quadriplegic, and it was not expected that he’d learn to speak. Although many doctors gave up on him and advised his parents to institutionalize Rick, his parents refused, treating him just like they treated his siblings. Later, teachers discouraged Rick from getting an education; however, not only did he do so, communicating through a special computer, but he eventually graduated from Boston University with a degree in special education. One day, Rick typed out a message to his father, Dick, saying he wanted to enter a foot race. His father agreed to do it by pushing his son’s wheelchair the entire way, resulting in “the biggest smile” Rick’s parents had ever seen on his face when they crossed the finish line. After the race, Rick Hoyt told his father that he felt like his disability had “disappeared” while his wheelchair was flying along the course, which led his father to decide to train for, and enter, as many athletic contests as he could with Rick along for the ride (pushed in the running, pulled in the swimming, and connected in the cycling.) Since 1992, they have completed more than two hundred triathlons, including six Ironman competitions, as well as sixty-five marathons. As a result of the joy that came to Rick from feeling like a participant in athletic events, Dick Hoyt’s mission statement is magnificent: “To integrate the physically challenged into everyday life,” and he thanks his disabled son for giving him this worthy purpose.
Wow! I just love that story! That’s quite a mission statement! And it came from something he was already doing! He made it his mission to continue what he’d already begun! As you are crafting your mission statement, remember to consider these things:
* What are your most cherished values?
* How do you want others to remember you after you’re gone?
*What are you already doing that makes you feel accomplished or gives you a sense of purpose?
And here are a couple more thoughts to encourage you:
* A purpose in life guides our behavior and thoughts. It starts with our values, it shapes the goals we set and our reactions to setbacks, and it clarifies our future endeavors.
* A mission statement is a rich, specific way to compellingly telegraph your beliefs and inspires you to be your best self every day.
We’d love to hear from you! If you are willing to share your mission statement, please do! Not only does it provide accountability, it will more than likely spur someone else on to complete theirs!
One day at a time,
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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