The past few weeks I have felt as if I was riding on a slow moving escalator in the middle of a busy airport. I see people rushing around to get here or there; people stressed out, confused, alone, excited, and almost always a bit jaded. As I move about each day I can’t help but realize that this life is really just a moment in the whole scheme of eternity. My current struggles seem quite trivial when I take a step back and realize just how massive our world really is and even more so when I get a glimpse of just how huge my God is. There is so much going on underneath the surface. There is so much going on in the realm of the unseen but it is so much easier to focus on the seen. In the past few weeks I have been really challenged to just stop and take a step back and realize all the blessings and opportunities that the Lord has given me since moving to the Delta.
My friend Lisa said it well when we were talking on Skype one morning. She is teaching in Indonesia and we were talking about time and just how elusive and relative it often feels. She said, “Life seems so short but each day seems so long.” Lisa went on to talk about how the scriptures says God will be with us all the days of our life, but literally is says he will walk with us through each and every day. Isn’t that a beautiful picture of just how intimate and personal our God is? He does care. He cares enough about our life, which apart from him and the work of his son Jesus Christ is so insignificant, to walk with us through each and every step, each and every day.
Last weekend I was planning on heading down to New Orleans to visit my lovely friend Kelsey, however after making the road trip down to Texas the weekend before I chose to stay home and get some solid planning done. Friday was hard and I tucked myself into my bed at 7pm not to wake until 7am the next day. I had to take my car to the shop because it was making strange noises every time I turned left. I am starting to think that car repair shops are the same everywhere you go. You meet a lot of the same types of people that work there, good hard-working folk that don’t mind small talk and the businesses always have a few pots of coffee, a place to sit with a few T.V.’s and free popcorn in the corner. It was a brisk morning and I thoroughly enjoyed being able to meet a few locals. Sometimes I forget what it means to be a person. I get so caught up in being a teacher that I forget what it looks like to simply live in a town and a community.
On Halloween and my roommate Kim and I decided to make the hour trip to South Haven for some Olive Garden and a trip to the bookstore. Then Sunday my other roommate Angie took me to Arkansas to visit a family she go to know pretty well last year. We got to eat some good home cookin’ and hang out on the farm all day. I grew pretty fond of their new kitten and almost tucked it away in my book bag before we left. I have wanted a pet since the first day I moved into my house, but am still trying to decide if I am really responsible enough to take on such a liability.
:::YOU SHOULD BE PROUD:::
This week I started focusing on teaching my kids higher level vocab words each day. It has been such a blast to see them get excited about learning new words and even start using them in their writing already. On Tuesday I was observed by my principal and she was so supportive about the changes that I have made in my classroom. She said that she was impressed with how far I have come and how far my kids have come. I am still skeptical and I see how much more I have to grow in order to be an effective teacher, however her support is invaluable. This year would be so hard if I did not have her support or the support of my lead teacher. I am so thankful for them. She finished the conversation by saying, “You should be proud of your hard work and how far your students have come.”
The days are still pretty hard and even though I can see how my body is wasting away every day, I continue to pray that my spirit would be renewed each day (2 Cor. 4:16). I am starting to get to know my roommates more and more and another second year teacher named Megan. I pray the Lord would continue to mold my friendship here in Mississippi. I am not sure what he has planned but I pray that I would be faithful in loving and serving the people around me. I have been laughing more lately and have started dancing randomly again, I think this is a good sign that I am starting to feel comfortable in my own skin again.:::FIRST TEACHER GIFT:::
In elementary school I remember always wanting to give my teacher presents. I always wanted to find the perfect gift, which usually consisted of something with a vibrant red apple painted on it or some teacher memorabilia. A few times I have wondered when the day would come that I would receive my first teacher gift. That day came on Thursday. One of my students told me that she had something for me in her book bag. I told her that before we left for the day she could give it to me. I had called her mother the day before asking for a note to be sent to school so her daughter could stay and work with me one-on-one during afterschool tutoring, so naturally I assumed this is what she had in her bag to give to me. At the end of the day she came up to me told me that her mom had put this in her bag to give to me. I looked down expecting a note only to see sitting in her hands a bag of dried jerky. I took the gift a bit confused and gently asked her if she also had a note in her bag for me. She responded with a confident, “Nope. But my mom told me to give that to you.” I said thank you and sent her on her journey to catch her bus. Not what I expected to receive as my first teacher-gift, but hey, I can’t really complain, I love jerky.
Friday night I took some of my friends out to my host-parents house, The Richardsons. We had family night bible study and then ate some good southern cooking. It is al
ways so refreshing to be around all of them. The stars were so phenomenal and the night was energizing. It was good to have my TFA friends meet them because I talk about them all the time. It is nice when two different parts of my life get to intertwine.
I am starting to realize more and more God’s faithfulness in where I am right now. When I was overwhelmed last week Kelsey texted me something that really stuck with me. She said, “God doesn’t waste his resources. You are where you are supposed to be.” So many times I feel as if my presence here in the Delta is not making a bit of difference. I feel pretty replaceable. Often I struggle with speaking truth to those who do not know or believe in Jesus Christ. I have never really been all that shy or quiet about my faith. But lately I have seen myself starting to hold my tongue when I should be taking leaps of faith and speaking the truth unapologetically. The past week though, God has shown me that even when I am not faithful he is faithful. Across the street I have great neighbors that are so encouraging, I have been blessed with a beautiful home with compassionate roommates, a room with a fireplace and a warm bed, a host-family that cares about me as if I was their own, and friends from CU and TFA that never quit showing how much they love me. Not to mention the support of my family from back home. I have it pretty easy. Even on the hardest days I know that what I am going through is really not that bad. I am stressed, crushed, and overwhelmed, but not destroyed for I know that my God is with me and he is alive in me (2 Corinthians 4:8-12).
:::THE LAST SUPPER CLUB:::
Saturday night all of my friends from The Last Supper Club made the drive to come see me. I went to the store early Saturday morning to get stuff to stick in a few crock pots. The menu: bbq pulled pork, little smokies, chips and queso, bbq baked beans, and s’mores. We ate, laughed, read books aloud to each other, played some guitar, sat by the fire, and shared life. Oh, how I am so thankful that the Lord has blessed me with such a crazy, diverse group of friends. We are so different yet we can enjoy each other and respect each other so much. I feel like in any other circumstance most of us would not be friends, but we make such a beautifully awkward family whenever we come together. I can only imagine what God may have in store for us in the next year-and-a-half.
Planning is still hard. It is hard to live a balanced life and yet be a teacher. There is always more to be done. However, I really do enjoy it. I love seeing it when the kids have a light bulb moment. I have seen so many miracles in my room the past few weeks. Aieryun, my terror at the beginning of the year is now my star student. He asks to carry my lunch pail for me every day and he has ended on SUPER BLUE (the highest color on our behavior chart) for five days in a row. Tamarah who is almost a year behind the rest of the class scored a 95% on her spelling test on Friday. She even answered a question in front of the class in a complete sentence. It’s the little miracles that get me through each day. I pray that the Lord would take control of every part of my day, my teaching, and my classroom.
:::ONE LAST THOUGHT:::
I wrote this in my journal a few months ago and just re-read it again today.
I pray that the Lord would shine his face on me and on those around me. May we be broken over our sin but find freedom in his grace. I have tasted life and it is sweeter than honey. I pray that he would continue to satisfy my heart for he truly does taste so much better than anything this world has to offer. I pray that he would sustain you and may his grace and peace be with you as you read this. May he show all of us how to be his hands and his feet.