Saturday, August 27, 2016

An Open Letter to Myself: For When Teaching Gets Hard

Dear Me,

You've made it through the first week of school and prevented tears and helped kids find the bathroom and walked them to lunch and passed out hand sanitizer. You've started the year out well. Remember that you really do love teaching when it gets hard. And you love instilling a passion for life-long learning in your kids. 

Remember! Deescalate and don't take students' and parents' responses to you personally. It's not about you. It's that their gerbil died the same week that their parents got divorced. It's that they don't know how to ask for attention because their special needs sibling gets most of it. 

Remember! Proximity is helpful! Walk around the classroom. Wear comfortable shoes.

Be present in your students' lives. Go to volleyball and soccer games.

Respect them as people.

Praise them for the stuff that they do well.

Keep your expectations reasonable. They are kids. They make mistakes. So do you. Apologize and be humble.


Thursday, April 28, 2016

why I need to sit. . . and why you should join me

I think I started writing before I can remember. I was probably four or something. I loved re-imagining my favorite fairy tales and legends with a different twist. 

The introvert-adventurer in me longed to be a female Mowgoli, from the Jungle Book. It's in reflecting that I realize in my hundreds of detailed drawings of leafy trees, toucans, and baboons, that I long for a deep sense of solitude and importance. 

When I find these moments where I can push back the noise and sit alone outside, even though my circumstances are hardly alike with Mowgoli, I begin to let the quiet seep into my soul. And like good coffee, it gets better the longer it sits.

This week, I was pet-sitting, caring for two small dogs and a cat. This morning I got to sit on the back deck with my essential oil bug spray (yay for arborvitae and actually not getting bit by mosquitoes) and the five pound, gray dog on my lap listening to the birds that I felt whole again. 

There's restoration in the silence. In the silence, we start to hear Jesus. I start to hear His voice over the chaos and actually remember to sit in His presence.

In the chaos of life as an introvert, I can feel overwhelmed by everyone's presence that I just want to be alone SO MUCH that I don't even think to enter Jesus' presence. ''I just want to be alone!'' I feel like storming. . . and then remember, that's not ultimately restorative.

Being alone with Jesus is.

Don't get me wrong. Community is awesome and refreshing in its own way. I'll write more on that later. 

But for those of you who like me are overwhelmed, come find a quiet place, and be quiet with Jesus.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

when you don't think you can

Today, I had to be the tough teacher. I had to demand respect instead of politely ask for it. I had to fill shoes I didn't feel adequate to fill. And in my heart, I was questioning my own right to be in charge.

It all comes back to identity. Who am I? What right do I have to "fill-in-the-blank"? 

But when I remind myself to look into the face of Jesus, I realize that He's given me this job. Teaching was something that He directed my steps to. Surely He can give me the courage and authority over my classroom. 

Romans 13:1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God [granted by His permission and sanction], and those which exist have been put in place by God. (Amplified Version).

So when I look in the mirror, peering deep into my eyes, noticing the dark circles and the lines beginning to form around my eyes and forehead from the stress of teaching, this slaps me in my face. I can't dig down deep and find it within myself to be everything I ought to be. . . I can't.

I can't look at myself because I am faulty and make mistakes, and don't always have the right answer.

But I can turn to God and find the answers and the wisdom in Him alone. Not in myself. I can remind myself that I teach by the permission and blessing of God! 

God has given us each spheres of influence. Whether you teach, too, or work in a cubicle, or are a journalist and travel the world, or a campus minister for college students, or a pastor, or an engineer, or a parent, or friend, you have a sphere of influence! This influence is not an accident. Not something to balk at, but a gift and responsibility. 

And this gives me courage. 

Jesus, please grant me the courage to fill these shoes you've given me. Thank you for daily provision. God, give me grace. Amen.

"I arise today
Through the strength of heaven;
Light of the sun,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of the wind,
Depth of the sea,
Stability of the earth,
Firmness of the rock.

I arise today
Through God’s strength to pilot me;
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s way to lie before me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s hosts to save me
Afar and anear,
Alone or in a mulitude.

Christ shield me today
Against wounding
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through the mighty strength
Of the Lord of creation." 
(taken from Please check out The Contemplative Writer blog. Super encouraging and peaceful.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

What I wish I knew about teaching when I started. . .

That sometimes your "little angels" will seem like they are out to get you. . . and they really might be . . . or maybe they had a fight with their brother in the car right before school and they can't recenter themselves without some help.

Some days you'll wish you did something super boring like typing 80 words per minute and didn't have to talk to anyone but other days you'll go on a nature walk with your kids and look at leaves. . . and someone will pick something that looks a whole lot like poison ivy (even after your lesson about avoiding it). You'll momentarily freak out and then realize it's Virginia Creeper (same leaf pattern, but a set of five leaves instead of three)

Some days you'll see the light bulb go off in someone's head and you'll fall in love with teaching all over again and then someone will sneeze on you and remind you that kids can still be gross and intelligent at the same time.

Some days you'll be way too excited that lemurs at the Duke Lemur Center can "count" and your students will be slightly weirded out that you care so much about lemurs and counting objects. . . 

and then one of your kids will tell you something cool about a yo-yo

And this is teaching.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Remembering the half of our lives that gets forgotten

This evening, I read this awesome blog over at the Art of Simple:

Please check it out! Super refreshing!

Brooke talks about how there's the half of our souls that is responsible, and the other half is our creative, spontaneous side that gets neglected when life is hard.

So I'm writing this post because I've neglected that half of my soul. I've been busy teaching, taking classes online (and struggling!), and dating, and this weekend I broke up with my boyfriend, realized I was doing poorly in my online classes, and found out that two of my students are having a terrible time in life.

And I can't carry this weight any more. I can't be responsible and logical and think through the five next steps right now.

I want to escape to the mountains and camp by myself and watch the stars by a fire and knit.

So on Friday, I bought yarn because I haven't knit anything in forever and I need creativity. I need to breathe on that fire again.

Today, friend on this road of life, if you're weary and tired of being responsible and on top of your stuff, and have forgotten that you love to paint, or write poetry, or stare at the stars, please join me in this attempt to find Christ and refreshment in resting in Him. I can't do this adult-thing in my own strength and I've tried it (subconsciously) too long. I'm running back to Jesus again with tears in my eyes.

Jesus, take this burden. Let me be your creative child running around with flowers in her hair and poetry on her lips and knitting in her hands. Let me be reminded that you're sovereign and you are Father. Abba Father who cares for me. Abba who takes my burdens and breathes refreshment into my dry bones. Holy Spirit, breathe fire into my soul. Rekindle my passions for you and my passions for life. 

If I can be praying for you or you have an encouragement you want to leave, leave it in the comments below! <3

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Emmanuel: God with us . . . even in puberty

Have any of you realized that when Jesus said: YES! to sacrificing everything to become the atonement for us on the Cross, He was also saying YES! to being an awkward, gawky teenager? 

It's easy (for me) to see Jesus as an adorable little baby, asleep in Mary's arms.

Away in the Manger, right?

But imagining Jesus as a pimply, trips-on-his-own-feet, forgets-how-to-walk teenager.

And I teach middle schoolers. They're great kids and yet some of them are struggling to remember how to do the things they did so normally last year (aka a pencil or how to walk).

How many of us would willingly repeat our middle school years? I honestly can't remember much of my middle school years, except being super obsessed with how other people perceived me, and how I was SURELY the most awkward person EVER, and that I would ALWAYS be this way. . . 

Yet when Jesus said YES to being Emmanuel, God with us, God living in the tents among us, He agreed to all of it. 

This is grace. That Jesus didn't just pick the best parts of humanity, the moments when you walk across a stage and you receive an award, or you lay in a hospital bed and someone hands you a baby, or when you open the chapel doors and see THE ONE walking down the aisle in her gorgeous dress. . . 

He picked the messiness.

He picked a stable.

He picked being a refugee to Egypt.

He picked being a 12 year old. 

He picked sacrifice.

And obedience.

And humility. . . 

All the things that you and I can never accomplish on our own. 

He stood in our place, fulfilled it perfectly, and then gave it to us.



This is the Great Exchange. That Jesus got all of my sin, and my filth, and my awkwardness, and my self-obsession, and the world-revolves-around-me mentality, and gave me His perfection, so when I stand before Abba Father, He sees Christ. 

(find more in Luke 2)
(I am also no claiming this thought to be mine; heard this preached at Trinity Park in Morrisville. Listen to the sermon Twelve Year Old Jesus at 

Thursday, January 14, 2016

All we like sheep: seeing Christ in the classroom

This past month I began my life as a teacher in the public schools. While technically I am part time, substitute teaching and planning makes it feel more like full time. Dealing with children in large groups has definitely changed my perspective. I've realized that my daily fight to see them as individuals that God created in His image for His glory is more challenging than when working with them one on one. I have realized how easy it is to slip into a "please don't bother me" mentality. . . And yet, Jesus. . . 

Jesus speaks life into my classroom by speaking truth over them. Sam (names are all different) may be EC (current term for special ed), he may be bouncing off the walls, or he may be poking his neighbor, but more importantly he is created in the image of my Lord. He is gifted with certain talents and callings. He has a unique purpose and it is my privilege to encourage him to grow. 

And how much more does Jesus care for him than I could? 

And how much does God love me when I'm whining and complaining about my circumstances? Or not paying attention to His instructions? 

Like the Israelites who grumbled and disobeyed, our hearts are prone to wander from Jesus. We are prone to whine about our circumstances. And yet there is grace. Christ fulfilled all things by being perfect in every way. Isaiah 53 foreshadowed how Jesus would be led like a sheep before the sheerer, silent and grumbling not a word. 

So today, there's hope. There's hope because it's not about my performance before God. And it's not just about my students' performance. I can have grace for them without telling them their mistakes don't matter. Just like Jesus doesn't tell me, "Don't worry about your sin, it's no big deal" I can deal my students with grace for their mistakes while still holding them accountable.

Yet there's this ache in my heart. I don't get to tell my students the most important thing about me: my identity in Christ. In the end, this is the hope for my kids, not grades, not test performance, or being in the popular crowd. 

So for those of you who teach, join me in praying for our students. For those of you who don't teach, please pray for us as we navigate the waters of guiding, teaching, and providing safe haven for our students. 


Sunday, January 3, 2016

New Beginnings

My goal this year is to write a book.

But I'm also a new teacher (yes, middle school!).

So I'm going to start with a blog.

I'm praying this is a year of new beginnings, but I think that's what we all hope for. Like Anne of Green Gables said, "Isn't it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?"

Put in terms of the Bible:

"Great is His faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each morning." Lamentations 3:23

My goal for this blog is to be a place where we (you and me) can find encouragement and a refreshment to start our days. A place full of reminders of God's new mercies. In Christ, we are new creations! The old has gone, the new has come! Thank you Jesus for making us new creations through the washing of your blood. Thank you that we can look forward to seeing you unfold your glorious plan.