Blog · Devotionals

For When You Feel Inadequate

I don’t know about you, but the end of this year feels like a continuous, somehow slow kick in the pants. I allowed grading to stack up and to-do lists to run a bit too long. My seniors checked out waaay earlier than usual and I’m trying every trick I know to keep them engaged. Content needs to be finished, grades need to be calculated, and it can all be… a lot.

Today I was frustrated when I got home. I snapped at my husband and worked out so hard my abs kind of hurt in a you-shouldn’t-have-done-that kind of way. (Confession: I’ve pulled my intercostal muscles more than once so I’m supposed to be “careful.”)

And then I broke down, took an extra long shower, apologized to my husband, and finally ate some food.

And you know what? When I finally broke down and acknowledged how I was feeling, I started to feel better. I allowed myself to embrace the frustration and then seek out its source. Turns out I’ve been juggling all the things- and I’m hard on myself when something falls through the cracks.

It might be Teachers’ Appreciation Week, but in high school world, this week is called “AP week” and students are carrying that stress in their shoulders, faces, and spirits. Maybe they don’t have time to work on my “regular” class. Maybe it seems less important compared to the other stressors in their lives. I allow their attitudes and motivation (mostly lack thereof) to determine my success as a teacher.

As I dug a bit deeper, I realized that at the root of my frustration was a deep rooted feeling of inadequacy. I’m not enough. I’m not good enough or smart enough or engaging enough. These whispers slowly poison my mind until I’m undone.

But my worth is not determined by teenagers. It’s not determined by test scores. Or programs. Or meeting outcomes.

My worth is determined by God. Just God. I’ve been designed by Him, crafted by Him, made perfect by His Son.

Lucky for me- God is constant. When things around me change or I feel as though I’m drowning, God is the same. So my value is the same. I am not less.

The simplicity and truth of this nourishes my soul. I am enough. Because He is enough. And that will always be… enough.

Breathe in God, exhale the lies.

 

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The Life-Changing Power of Gratitude in Your Life & Classroom

During our travels through Portland, my husband and I stopped (as is our custom) by Powell’s City of Books. They’re not joking when they call it a “city” of books. Three stories of books line the walls and shelves. Used books alongside brand new copies. For a book nerd like me, it’s a dream. My husband and I took home about 7 books which is not bad for us. After all, one day I want to have a library in my home. Think Beauty and the Beast and you’ll capture my vision.

One of the books I grabbed is one I’ve been eyeing for a few years now: Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts. It’s not the just the cover featuring baby blue robin’s eggs that’s lovely- her words are poetry disguised as prose. They’re gripping, honest, and engaging.

And they’re focused on gratitude. Living a life of thanksgiving, joy, and grace. How to pursue a live of gratitude and connecting with the Creator.

And as you live in gratitude, your life changes. Oh, not the circumstances. Never the circumstances. We never get control over those, try as we might. No, our lives change in that we connect with what’s good, what’s right with the world. It’s not about seeing the glass as half full. It’s about being thankful for the glass in the first place.

It’s opening your heart, slowing down, and paying attention.

It’s noticing the beauty of the world around you.

It’s seeing your students as precious gifts whose lives you get to touch, if only for a short time.

Anger, impatience, frustration can rule our days. So much is wrong with education, our schools, the world. Yet dwelling on these things day in and day out is unhelpful at best and likely unhealthy in the long run.

So what’s right, pure, lovely, sacred today? Right now? In this moment?

I’m going to take up Ann’s challenge to live in gratitude. To make a list and add to it daily. One thousand gifts. It’ll take awhile (or will it?) yet in the process I hope to learn, grow, change. I want my heart to be more open.

Only then can my classroom, my school, the world change. When I come from a place of grace, joy, and gratitude. Anger gains us little. It feels righteous, but it makes us weary, tired, and drained.

So I will choose another path. Will you join me?

With love,

Mrs. P

Devotionals

Salve for the Soul When You Wake Up in a Funk

Do you ever wake up in a funk? I’m not sure anyone else really uses that term, but it’s what my mom always said. It just means I woke up in a sad, pessimistic mood. You see, I pulled the intercostal muscles along my right side (again) without even doing anything strenuous and I haven’t slept well the past two nights. So I woke up in a funk. The minute I was awake I grabbed my phone and mindlessly watched Instagram stories for an hour. And you know what? I felt even worse.

Mindless activities used to distract from pain, sadness, or reality usually come with negative side effects. Like feeling worse. Like ignoring the Lord’s call to bring my worries to Him. Eventually I got out of bed nearly crying and my husband encouraged me to read my Bible.

This morning, I need to know who God is. If I know who He is, I can better understand who I am. I can better understand my purpose. I can better understand the significance of my life. But to know who He is, I have to spend time thinking about Him.

I opened my Bible to Psalm 23, which is my personal favorite Scripture. It’s always spoken to me in powerful ways and drawn me into a closer, more tender relationship with the Lord. Today I decided to read it through a new lens. For every verse, I asked myself and God “who is my shepherd?” By that I mean- literally, who is He? What are His qualities, characteristics, passions, and purposes?

Who is my Shepherd?

  • The LORD
  • Provider
  • Knows me
  • Caring
  • Knowledgeable
  • Persistent
  • Wise
  • Strong
  • Honorable
  • Close by
  • Protector
  • Comforter
  • Hospitable
  • Holy
  • Love
  • Generous
  • Good
  • Pursuer
  • Eternal

I take comfort in these words, knowing that my identity comes from God alone. The only opinion that matter is His. Not my family’s, friends’, or coworkers’ opinions. Just His.

So if He is all of these things, who am I? I take His qualities one at a time and I ask myself what identity His qualities give me.

Here’s a sample of my list:

  • Daughter of the LORD of the universe
  • Provided for
  • Known
  • Cared for
  • Pursued
  • Honored
  • Near Him
  • Protected
  • Loved
  • Saved

As I created my two lists, I grew closer to the Lord. It’s incredible how many different ways there are to connect with Him. He’s able to connect with me (and you!) in an entirely unique way. Because He made us unique and knows what each of us needs.

So let me encourage you, friend. Read your favorite Scripture today and ask God who He is. He will reveal Himself to you in layers, ever more complex as He draws you deeper. And your heart will be moved to worship. And that posture can change not only your day, but your life.

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness
or his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” -Psalm 23

Devotionals

I Am Never Alone

I took the Enneagram test a few weeks ago. I know, I know- late to the game. For those of you who don’t know, Enneagram is like a (in my opinion) better version of the Myers-Briggs personality test. It tells you your tendencies, fears, areas of strength, etc. I’m a type 6 wing 5, which means that my main fear is being abandoned. And let me get pretty real here: that’s absolutely true for me.

I fear that I am worthless. And that I will therefore be abandoned. I think, in a way, that’s classic middle child syndrome. Middle children tend to feel overlooked or left out or unimportant. But regardless, I hold on tight to the people around me because I do not want to be left behind. Or forgotten.

My birthday is tomorrow. Let me confess something: I’m always disappointed by my birthday. You see, I want people to prove that I have worth. I measure that in the recognition and affirmations that I get from the people around me. Let me clue you in on a little secret: that’s a terrible idea. If my worth is based on the behavior and affirmations of others, I’m bound to be disappointed, as demonstrated by my frustration with my birthday year after year. No matter how much love and affirmation I receive, I’m bound to let their behavior prove that I am worthless in my own mind. And that feels terrible.

Today, I prayed about it. I did some thought work. I wrote my thoughts down on paper and then examined them. I decided to change them, starting with this one: “people don’t care about me.” Then I asked God what to replace this thought with.

He whispered “I am never alone.” That God’s thought for me to adopt into my brain patterns- a thought to truly think on purpose. And, friend, it rocked me. God always knows exactly what I need to hear and what words I need to think. It always brings tears to my eyes.

I am never alone. You know why? Because I am completely known and fully loved by God. He is with me always and therefore I am never alone. I can ignore Him, mentally walk away, tune Him out. But He is always there.

Part of my personality is to be extremely loyal to the people around me. My Enneagram type is even called “The Defender.” But you know who’s more loyal? God. He does not abandon me when times get tough or I’m ignoring Him. He does not ignore me when I’m frustrated, hurt, or confused. Because He’s loyal. More loyal than I could ever imagine.

He’s so loyal and committed to being with me that He sacrificed His own son to bring me into deeper relationship with Him. What?! Who does that?! God.

I might not deserve it. I might not understand it. But God is always with me. I am never alone.

And friend, neither are you.

“Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,” even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you. For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you.” -Psalm 137: 7-18

 

Devotionals

Transition

I don’t know about you but for me, transitions are the worst. They’re equally full of heartfelt goodbyes and uncomfortable hellos. For me, summer is always a time of transitions as I think about how much I’ll miss my students who are moving on to a new grade level or going off to college. I convince myself that the next batch of students will never be as good, as warm, as close. Then I have all this time on my hands. So I put my head down and work on TPT resources. And now I’m coming up for air, ready to transition to the next phase of summer: working on my unit plans, ordering supplies, thinking about first day of school activities. Meanwhile, we moved this past weekend. We now have an elderly roommate. So many transitions.

Emotionally, I always start off okay. I have so many things to distract my mind as I unpack, decorate, or work on my store. But when I pause, when I relax, when I create space, in come the emotions: sad, happy, grateful, uncomfortable, annoyed, angry, anxious, fearful.

And where is God? He feels distant, though I know His spirit dwells inside of me. Literally. So I confess to Him my feelings. I don’t get answers right away. And though that can be frustrating, if I take a moment, I can choose to look back on all the ways He has come through for me  and others even in the last month. He’s there. He’s faithful. When God feels distant, it’s because I tried to move away from Him. And it’s time to come home.

He is my stability even when I’m hurting or facing the unknown. I tend to be like the Israelites wandering around the wilderness, angry and complaining against the God who just delivered them out of slavery and feeds them from the heavens each day. And to that hardness of heart, God’s word says “For if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ” (Hebrews 3:14). All that belongs to Christ?! Are you kidding me?! If that doesn’t humble my soul then nothing will. We are asked to do a small, yet hard thing: trust God. Believe Him. Beyond our negative thoughts and feelings, trust in Him. And in return, we share in everything that belongs to Christ- the Son of God who sits at His right hand.

Jesus has already done all the heavy lifting for me. So now I believe, trust, submit. He will deliver. Even when I’m uncomfortable and feeling all the feelings. He is bigger than my feelings and my fears. He is God. And I will share in everything that belongs to Him.

Devotionals

The Lies in Your Head Need to See the Light of Day

There I sat in my Missional Community (MC) group thinking: soon, it’ll be my turn to share. I know what I need to say. I know what’s on my heart. I know I can’t escape. But the words feel hard to say. Being raw and vulnerable with the things we’re ashamed of or fearful to share can be so hard. It feels impossible that these women will accept me after hearing about my insecurities.

And what’s worse: if I say these words out loud, they become reality. They’re true thoughts in my head and now others will hear them too. What if they don’t struggle with the same thing? What if they think I’m crying too much? What if they don’t think what I’m sharing is a big deal? Lies. Let’s just be honest. These thoughts are lies.

Why do lies exist? To warp God’s truth.

Because here’s the thing: if I don’t share, I miss out on community. And community is powerful- community is where healing, love, and grace happen. Isn’t that exactly what the enemy wants to prevent from happening? If I stay in my own mind and reject the truth and wisdom other women can share with me, I reject God’s plan for community. And I give Satan a foothold. I make myself a captive.

So I force the words out: I think God made me wrong. I think there’s something wrong with me. Why aren’t other people like this? 

And you know what happened? Loving, affirming words. Hands holding mine. Wise, gentle advice. Personal stories. Similar struggles. Compassion. Understanding. Connection.

God’s purpose for community is so much greater than we could ever imagine. When we reject community, we are seriously missing out. Vulnerability is hard and scary. Yet what happens when we’re not vulnerable is much more frightening.

Let’s not cower in the darkness- lonely and afraid. Let’s listen to the Holy Spirit and share our burdens with others. God speaks to us so powerfully through Christian community. Let’s ask God for the courage and wisdom to share. Let’s experience this great gift He has given us.

“Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” -Hebrews 10: 19-25

Devotionals

You Are Enough

I’m not enough. I’m unworthy. I’m stupid. I’m inadequate. I’m a failure. These poisonous lies often plague us beneath the surface. They dictate our thoughts, emotions, actions, words. They have power over us and cause us to reject our purpose and live lives of fear. But why? Why do we give power to these lies? Why is it so much easier to believe them than to believe the truth? Sometimes we don’t even know we’re believing these types of lies until we dig a little deeper. We know we feel down and defeated but we’re not sure why or how to move on. Or we try to fill the sadness with Netflix, food, affirmation from others. They’re all just temporary fixes.

Friends, it can be so painful to dig beneath the surface of our thoughts to examine the lies. It takes time, energy, honesty, and patience. But God meets us there. He will honor your willingness to bring the lies before Him and surrender them. How do we do this? We must start in prayer, asking God to uncover the lies we’re believing. We must be honest with ourselves and God. Keep digging beneath the surface and asking yourself questions until you reveal the lies. Give the lies to God by confessing them and asking for Him to forgive you for choosing to believe the Enemy’s lies instead of His pure, healing truths. And ask Him to replace the lies with a truth. Dwell on that truth. Marinate in it. Find joy in it.

Because here’s the thing: You are enough. You are worthy. You are bright. You are adequate. You are not a failure. You are God’s successful, beautiful creation. No lie can take that away. God has redeemed you, and called you good enough to send His Son to die for. That’s dedication. That’s value. If God loves us this much, can’t we accept even a piece of His love into our internal dialogue about ourselves? We have to work at it.

Let’s make a list today of the beautiful qualities God has uniquely blessed us with and use this list to combat the Enemy’s lies. I keep my list in my iPhone notes. Post-its are a good option too.

Here’s a sample of my list: I am loving, I am introspective, I am organized, I am creative, I am hard-working, I am practical, I am silly, I am redeemed.

When you sense the lies, read the truth. Make your list today. Share some with me in the comments or you can email them to me at mrspinteractiveclassroom@gmail.com. Let me join you in your faith journey.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.” -1 Peter 5: 6-11