Invited to the Party

Simply laughing, letting yourself in to the present moment, like you opened the door to the party that is happening all around you.  To lay down the weights you have been carrying, and let your shoulders drop in comfort and relaxation, feels strange but sweet.

Joy sparks joy, producing a lightness, both in level of gravity and brightness.  The bright light causing the darkness to scatter away like critters in a dark room.  

Joy gives way to breath and clarity and deep belief and faith.

priscilla-du-preez-229302-unsplash.jpg

I write a lot of about struggles and hard things, perhaps because I am trying to find the words that accurately describe where I spend a lot of my head space.  However, in this year of seeking out the abundance of God, I want to also name the places of joy in my life. Seeking to laugh and step into a space of gladness.  To experience the fullness of joy that God promises in his presence.

I wrestle to stay in the glad things, to remain there.  Maybe I feel some happiness at the surface but it feels fleeting.  Maybe I see it as superficial and irrelevant when there are bigger things happening.  However, finding what brings you joy, finding ways that God delights YOUR heart is so essential.  

It is a part of discovering who God made you to be, just as much as figuring out your talents and your calling.  It is just as important as digging into your past and present memories or struggles.

Joy in the Lord, is about experiencing all of who God is….God is full of gladness.  

ethan-hoover-738116-unsplash.jpg

You can see that in how Jesus loved children, how he enjoyed the company of many different kinds of people.  He hung out with twelve dudes, they had have cracked a joke or two, right? All over the Psalms it talks about gladness.

Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. – Psalm 16-9

What does it look like when your whole being rejoices? Think about David dancing or celebrating.  David sang and wrote poems, not just when things were hard but he was glad in the Lord. Think about the celebrating that Elizabeth did when she figured out she was expecting after years of barrenness in Matthew. 

I used to think having joy was all about having everything go super great, that life was just as you expected, and every day was perfect. It was about being happy and content. But if that is all that having joy is, then I miss out on the deep joy of seeing the good in a day that is really crappy.

I miss out on the deep laughter that can come after a dark day.  I would miss out on the joy of smiling with tears in your eyes after praying with a friend.  I would miss out on community surrounding you when life isn’t at all what you expected.

By expecting life’s joy to be a certain way, you miss out on the unexpected.  God showing up in ways you didn’t know that you needed.

That is often how God shows up, in the unexpected and unasked for ways.  We didn’t even know that we needed to ask for that friend or extra $5 in our pocket.  We didn’t ask for that affirmation at work or that encouraging conversation at the grocery store.  We didn’t know that we needed to slow down and having a sick toddler actually provided that.

These days, for me that looks like running into a friend in a coffee shop. It means a sweet text from a dear friend, or even extra space to be with God on a Friday night.  Or spending my weekday evening giggling with middle school girls.  And even though life doesn’t look at all what I expected, God shows up to bring me into his joy.

I just have to choose to see it.  I have to slow down and name it. I have look behind the curtain of “this isn’t what I wanted” and step into the joy party.  

joshua-coleman-654602-unsplash.jpg

Being in the joy, changes me.  It changes my heart reflexes. I am quicker to see it.  Maybe it’s like any other muscle that needs to get stronger, maybe I need to do more reps like I do with my core and hamstrings.  

So friends, where is it that you can see the joy in your life today?

I hope that you take a moment and counting the joys, the places of gladness, how often you smile.  And let it change bring brightness and lightness to your heart. 

Picture Credits:

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Photo by Ethan Hoover on Unsplash

Photo by JOSHUA COLEMAN on Unsplash

Advertisements

When They Come Back

This past month has been rough, with school beginning and with my grad classes starting.  I also moved, to a house, with new people.  I have been overwhelmed and stressed out a lot. 

However, I am not going to list all the things that stress me out. 

Instead I am going to tell you all the great things that happened this week.  Some of which I had control over, some I did not.

#1. I ran more than 3 miles and survived.  I have been injured and was really worried about finishing this race.  However, my sister, bro-in-law, and a friend came in town to run and it was a lot of fun.  A friend from work also ran with us. (Actually, she finished sooner, but I still consider her a part of the group. 

#2 My students began reading for their literature circles.  There is nothing like busy students to warm a teacher’s heart.  One kid even spotted a metaphor on his own and asked if he should write it in his notes! YES YOU CAN DO THAT!! 🙂

#3 I was able to workout this week without pain in my feet or shins!  Praise the LORD!!

#4 I finished my homework early! After spending 2 evenings working in a coffeeshop and catching up on things, I finally was able to get something done ahead of time.)

#5 Library day! Nothing like a day where students are free to sit comfortably and read in the library to make my heart happy! (We also gave a quiz, and they did great!)

#6 I spent an afternoon this week with 2 students who have been struggling in my class and I was able to help them get ahead and understand some concepts they didn’t get before!! I MADE A DIFFERENCE!!

#7 I spent an evening at home listening to it rain and relaxing and ……wait for it…..went to bed EARLY! 
So amazing how much better you feel when you get more than 6 hours of sleep.  I actually woke up before my alarm 2 mornings in a row!

And finally….#8
I was actually going to leave school earlier than usual on Friday and 3 of my former students stopped by.  Best reason to stay late ever!

They were from my very first group of students. 
They are juniors.
One is starring in the musical at the High School.  She was one of my faithful drama club members.  SHE IS THE STAR….I can’t wait to be in the audience for that.
One is a cheerleader and taking dance.  She is wanting to dance with Kansas City Ballet. 
One is a cross country runner.
They are taking Advanced English, Calculus, Chemistry.
They have part time jobs. 
They drive!!! 
They are talking about college. (of course they are thinking about K-State)

My heart just exploded talking with them.  They dished about who has turned out cooler than they ever thought.  They talked about the couples.  They talked all about their struggles.

They are just so beautiful.  🙂

I am SO excited for them and their lives ahead of them. 
I am so excited to see the amazing women they will turn out to be. 

I walked away so encouraged and hopeful, not only for them, but for my current students.  It isn’t always easy to see their future, it isn’t always easy to see past the moment in 7th grade. Maybe someday something I teach or share with my current group will point them in the same direction as these girls are headed!

I cannot tell you….how much I needed that 45 minutes with them.  God is so good to me, to provide me the encouragement just when I need it the most. 

What good things happened in your week? When was a time when you received some much needed encouragement?

These are a few of my favorite things….

This year is the year of small winscounting the little things that make my life pretty awesome right now.  I found myself at the beginning of this year being super negative and wallowing in despair over all the things that haven’t changed since last year. 

I am done doing that!  Lets celebrate everything amazing that God has blessed us with!

Not because nothing wrong doesn’t ever happen…
Not because things aren’t ever hard…
Not because I am ignoring the difficulties of life….

BUT because God is still with me through all the wrong and the bad and the struggles.  I was challenged by this verse this week.

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”(Romans 8:18 ESV)

After a hard week last week, I was so encouraged to leave school on Friday feeling that my students perhaps might have accomplished something. Besides that, there are some other things that made my week so much better!

1. Participating in a 10 day gluten free/dairy free weight-loss challenge!  This makes my meals a little complicated, but nothing I can’t handle for 10 days.  As well, I have a menu to choose from and smoothies to drink.  I feel great and light.  My jeans are already fitting better and the workouts are going really well! So encouraging! (Might be a little hungry though!)

2. Had a great time with my Gospel Community on Monday night!  I love those girls and they are so encouraging!  It was a great time to pray and encourage one another!

3. Went to see Anna Karenina with a sweet friend! It was definitely a sad movie but was beautifully done and had the most amazing costumes!

4. Worked out with co-workers 2 days after school and it was so fun!  Sometimes I forget how much fun it is to workout with friends.  I get so much in my head when I workout and I forget to have fun!  And sometimes it is fun to do something with co-workers that doesn’t involve work!

5. Was able to spend some quality time on my homework both Wednesday and Thursday evening.  This was great because it helped me get a paper written by Friday night and I love getting things done early!

6. Went on a field trip with my Drama Club…this was definitely the highlight of my week!  These kids are near and dear to my heart and they had a blast.  We saw a great show and they got to experience something they might have not ever experienced before!  I love helping them see the possibilities of theater!  (plus it got me out of school for a couple hours!)

7. Had an encouraging and challenging (in a good way) meeting with my assistant principal, where I was given some ideas to help with some difficult students.  Sometimes it helps just to talk about why things are hard and have someone speak into them or put them in a different light so it isn’t so discouraging. 

8. HAD AN AMAZING FRIDAY
– The kids worked hard!
– We listened to my favorite Australian Radio station
– I got grades updated and left school feeling a sense of “finish”
– The kids seem to like the project we are working on.
– We ended the day with a mixer and I started to remember why I love middle schoolers so much. 
– Got my workout in and ended the day babysitting for a sleeping baby!

What amazing things happened to you this week? What are your small wins?

A New Day


As a teacher, you have good days and bad days. The bad days have a funny way of being the most prevalent in your mind. They have a way of sticking out when you think about your week. They are the days that keep you awake at night. There are those moments, those impatient words that you wish you could take back, do differently.

This week, I had maybe one bad day, but the rest were okay. I have my bad hours, bad moments, and even bad seconds. As a fairly new teacher, I tend to focus on the behavior of my students to measure whether or not they behaved.

I don’t want to be that kind of teacher. I want to be the kind that starts everyday new and measures the success of the day on whether my students learned something or not.

I want to be the kind of teacher, that is a student of her students, that studies them and tries to understand whether they understand or not.

I want to be the kind of teacher that is patient, kind and does not anger quickly.

I want to be the kind of teacher, that inspires students, not causes them to be disinterested.

I want to be the kind of teacher, that doesn’t have to be right all the time, that can learn from her collegues.

I want to be the kind of teacher, that proves those who say that I can’t or I am idealistic, wrong.

Even though this year is different and has its moments of chaos. I want to start everyday new with a since that the slate is blank and the day is what I make it.