As was eating Thanksgiving dinner with some wonderful people in Papua, Indonesia - God was working out his plans for me back home in Lincoln, NE.
Before leaving for my student teaching experience in Papua, I had interviewed for a position at an elementary school here in Lincoln that I was CONVINCED was meant for me. As I went over seas, I made mental plans for the position that would hopefully await me upon my return.
"We can make our own plans,
but the Lord gives the right answer.
People may be pure in their own eyes,
but the Lord examines their motives."
As I waited to hear back from the first school - I offered prayers of praise to God, thanking him that even if I didn't get the position, I knew he would provide for me.
"Commit your actions to the Lord,
and your plans will succeed."
The very next morning, I had an e-mail from LPS stating that two schools were interested in interviewing. I called both over Skype and had an interview that very morning. Not in interview mode at all, my answers to questions weren't as polished as I'd have liked - no time to research the school and pad my answers with information from their website!
"We can make our plans,
but the Lord determines our steps."
The following week, I got a e-mail from the district offering me the position! Before accepting the position I did a little digging on their website - turns out the way that I had answered the questions aligned with the schools vision and mission statement. (The Lord knew!)
"The king is pleased with words from righteous lips;
he loves those who speak honestly."
As I packed up and headed home, I barely had time to recover from jet lag before my first day arrived. Freshly graduated - now a "proper adult" - I had no doubt in my capability for this new position.
"Pride goes before destruction,
and haughtiness before a fall."
Three months later (just last week), I sat with my head on my desk, choking back tears before my students entered the room for math class. My first months of teaching have had some serious ups and downs:
- On my first day one student asked me if I was pregnant.
- However, after just a week of teaching, I was offered an unassigned contract within the district for next school year.
- Another time, a student (using appropriate B.I.S.T language, I might add) asked, "Ms. White, is this a problem in your life?" as I fumbled through a lesson.
- Just a few weeks ago, I received the news that I would officially be teaching at the same school in the same position next year!
- One student's comment made me laugh. As we were working together on a spelling assignment, he looked up at me with such hope then looked back at his paper and scratched out his answer. "I know I didn't get it right because you didn't give me 'the eye'."
With an onslaught of professional development, I.E.P's, parent teacher conferences, and the day-to-day routines of teaching, I have been humbled. Truly - I had no idea what I was getting myself into. There are somethings teacher prep and student teaching just can't prepare you for.
There have been several days when I have seriously considered choosing a different profession. Thankfully, the Lord is much more faithful than I am and has given me encouragement and affirmation along the way. Co-workers who have spoken truth and life into me in those moments of doubt and the clearly marked path laid ahead of me give me the grace to move forward.
"Kind words are like honey—
sweet to the soul and healthy for the body" (smattering of Proverbs from chapter 16)
Although I'd like to run away and not back into my classroom on Monday morning - I have hope. My reason for hope is that I know that Christ is not finished with me yet. He is walking with me and guiding me and giving me the desire and the power to do what is pleasing to him.
I might not be the most effective teacher (actually, in reflection - I'm definitely ineffective at the moment) but I have the desire to become more effective. God has given me the talents and the strengths for such a profession. Although the challenge set before me is daunting and downright overwhelming at times, I have faith in a God who moves mountains.
There are several books that I have been reading recently that have given me insight into myself, my role in the Kingdom of heaven, and best practices for teaching.
Living Your Strengths by Albert L. Winseman D.Min., Ph.D. Donald O. Clifton, Curt Liesveld M.
My strengths include:
After reading into each one, it's uncanny how I can identify these strengths (and their corresponding weaknesses) in my life.
The Book of Mark:
14 When Jesus saw what was happening, he was angry with his disciples. He said to them, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. 15 I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” 16 Then he took the children in his arms and placed his hands on their heads and blessed them. (Chapter 10)
Clearly God has a heart for children. He welcomes them freely into his Kingdom and urges others to accept Him as children do. God has given me a passion for working with children - and no matter how much I try to deny it at times, it is truly a privilege and a gift to be able to guide and shape the life of a child. Definitely frustrating at times, and so unpredictable - but God is revealing to me just how much of a child I still am. I am in desperate need DAILY of wisdom and direction from The Teacher.
21 "You can make many plans,
but the Lord’s purpose will prevail." Proverbs 19:21
This verse has been a constant reminder to me - through teaching, relationships with family and friends, volunteering in the church - and making a downright mess of things with the way that I plan and attempt to execute those plans- that through all the plans I make, the Lord's purpose will prevail.
So with Monday just around the bend - I am determined to take each moment as it comes; to praise God for each moment; to let him continue to bring me to maturity; and to trust that His purpose will prevail.