My first year of teaching Kindergarten I remember a student pointing out the color of another little girls skin. “Her skin is brown.” I remember telling him, “yes, its beautiful. We all were made with different skin color. Look how brown my skin is compared to yours. God made us all so beautiful.” Every child in the class starts to look at their skin tone.
It’s normal to compare and look at the difference in objects and in others. In fact, it’s a skill kindergarteners have to master before leaving Kindergarten. Though empathy and how to value others isn’t on the required set of skills taught in Kindergarten, every year this social skill is taught in my room. Being different isn’t bad and kids should be taught to value their unique differences. However if this social concept is only taught once a year in Kindergarten then the negative view of different will never change. It takes the “army” that is raising up the next generation.
I look at all that has happened and just think that this all could have been prevented, if we just teach children that every shade of brown is beautiful. God created us all so beautiful and unique and everyone’s worth should be valued.
“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” Psalm 139:14 ESV
The mention of your name brings me peace. Peace for my searching soul that is constantly thirsty. I look to the right or the left before I turn to You. My searching always ends at your feet. The deep need in my bones has always been You. You are the one thing that will satisfy. I am nothing. I am a nobody that cannot do anything of value without You. I am not enough. You take my insecurities, my shame, my disappointments, my inadequacies, my sin and take them on. You bear them and make them into my strengths. I am enough in You. You prove yourself to me time and time again. You are the proof of everything I am.
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matt. 11:28-30
All day people will tell you who they think you are. They have an image of you, labels that they will try to stick on you. But you have always been more than their words, and more than their labels. You have always been more than what even you think you are. The truth is you don’t even know the real potential God has for you, because you have set limitations from what people have said about you. Fact is, God is the only opinion you will ever need. He has created you and knows you more than you know yourself. You are His daughter and son and that is all you will ever need!!
“He found him in a desert land, and in the hvowling waste of the wilderness; he encircled him, he cared for him, he kept him as the apple of his eye. Like an eagle that stirs up its nest, that flutters over its young, spreading out its wings, catching them, bearing them on its pinions,”
Today is Day 8 of the teacher walkout in Oklahoma. The easier part in all of this, would be to go back to school. I work in Mustang, Oklahoma and everyday that we use after our built in snow days will have to be made up. I receive salary pay that is spread out through 12 months so I can get paid during the summer when school is not in session. I am only paid for the my contract hours worked and no more.
I work two jobs and I also bake cakes on the side. With all of this my Husband’s salary would still be considered our primary income. Before I was married I lived with my mom, because I could not support a house and car payment with my teacher salary. I tell you this to give you a sense of my life as an Oklahoma teacher.
Now on Day 8, Mustang has relinquished all of their snow days. Today is marked as day that will have to be made up so I can get paid and our school can receive funding. Today it would have been easier to just go back to school. To go back into my classroom of 25 Kindergarteners, but I chose not to give up for something I stand for. Yesterday like many days before I went to the capitol to rally for Education. I stood with thousands of educators, students, supporters, and parents to rally in hope of more funding for our schools. The turnout and support has been overwhelming, but witnessing the lack of concern from the senate or the house diminished my hopes. The house voted to not even hear the three bills up for education. As they continue to “wait us out” there is no change.
I am tired and disappointed. As negative thoughts weigh heavy in my mind and that of many educators, somehow a spark of resiliency starts to kindle down deep. Resilience is one of the many qualities of an Oklahoma teacher.
God pressed on me this weekend, “I will never fall or fail you. If you know why you’re standing, you cannot fall.”
I know why I stand,
I stand for the past.
I stand for the future.
I stand for the present.
I stand for the 25 Kindergarteners I have in my classroom.
I stand for the programs, supplies, technology that they don’t have.
I stand for the growing number of students that have been crammed into my classroom over the years.
I stand for my mom, a teacher of 22 years with a masters. That had to teach 20 years to reach 40,000.
I stand for the years I watched her work. A single mom of three; She worked two to three jobs to support us.
My mom wanted a different career when she started, but she chose this career for us, for them.
I stand here as a teacher because of her passion for kids, because of the lives I saw her change.
I stand for my own future kids that I can’t afford to have on a teachers salary.
I stand here for God, He has placed a calling and passion for children.
I stand because I can’t imagine another profession.
I stand here for you, for teachers, who feel like they can’t stand.
I stand for the oppression that has crippled education in our state!!
I know why I stand,
Just try to move me. My feet has been placed on the Rock. It cannot be shaken.
If you know why you are standing you cannot fall!!
Peace by definition means, “freedom from war”, Think about that for a minute. Worry, stress, anxiety, fear…none of these things are from God. They are from the enemy, an enemy that is in a battle for your soul. A war is raging and God offers you Peace.
Read Mark 4:35-41, I love this verse, Jesus wakes up, calms the storms with just a word, and then calls the disciples out. “Why are you such cowards? Don’t you have any faith at all?” Looking at this situation as an on looker, You honestly think the disciples are dumb dumbs. The son of the living God is in your boat! Your not going to drown. But how many times have we been in a storm, and all we can think is “I’m going to drown, don’t you care God?” The whole time he is looking down saying, “I’m in your boat, dumb dumb.”
Peace is not the absence of conflict or trouble, but rather a calm understanding inside that lets you know that God is in control no matter what the circumstances around you may be. It is easy to look around and be worried or anxious about the bad things that you see. The bible tells us that not to worry (Matt 6:25-34), but instead talk to God about the worries you have, and He will give you peace that passes all understanding.
I am a Kindergarten teacher. Often I will tell my Kindergarteners, “Patience. Patience: is waiting without getting upset.” Waiting is hard. The bible says, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you (Matthew 7:7).” We dwell on that first line, “Ask and it will be given to you,” but we often look over the process to the promise.
If all I’m dong is asking, then I’m forgetting about the actions that need to be taken. Seek and knock. Both words are verbs. Both are meant to be done in you’re waiting. I can’t help but think: If I am meant to wait, then there has to be a divine purpose for my waiting. There is something I need to learn in my waiting. My waiting has a purpose. My choices are simple, I can choose to ball up my fist and throw a huge fit because things are not going my way. I could even choose to pick and annoy the friends around me with constant complaints. Or I could stand up tall, wear a smile and wait well. No matter what, I have to wait. My waiting can be done with grace or disgrace?
Waiting is hard and before it is my turn, before anything I have asked for happens, I will praise Him! Seek Him. When I’m forced to wait in this never ending line; when the people around me are trying to pull me down; When encouragement does not come, rejoice anyway! Seek his word. Look to the stories where people waited well or poorly. Genesis 16:1-4 God promised Abraham a son, He did not wait well, He was manipulative and during his wait time he fathered another child with another wife, who was not the child God had promised. David was waiting to be King and struggled aimlessly escaping to the land of the Philistines, thinking if he didn’t Saul would kill him (1 Samuel 27:1). Also in 1 Samuel 1 you can find the story of Hannah waiting for a baby. Years and Years Hannah would pour out her soul to the Lord for a baby. She would seek, she would knock. She waited with purpose. She praised God in the mist of her longing. She gave it to the Lord and waited. God gave her son.
Today if you are waiting, waiting on that job, a husband, a wife, a baby, or maybe you feel like you are just waiting for more. I urge you to wait with grace. Praise Him for you’re waiting! Knowing He has a plan and a purpose for you’re waiting. You are His daughter or son. Your more is only found in Him. #WaitWell.
“Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” Psalm 27:14
I come across a group of women talking. They whisper and stare at me. My shame comes across my cheeks like scarlet. My cheeks burn, they know what I’ve done. They know the sin I carry. They see me through self-righteous eyes with no remorse. They just see my past. They’re grumbling tones echo, “She is with that man, The one who welcomes those disgusting low life’s and eats with them.” Then I feel a hand on my shoulder, and the low grumbling tones become hushed as He begins to speak, “What kind of person would love and care for hundred sheep, and when one goes missing, not go and find that one? No, the shepherd would leave the ninety-nine in open country and go after the one that is lost until he finds it. When he finds what has been lost, He would carry it so carefully back home and once home rejoice with all his friends! Look! I have found my sheep which I love and care for!! This is my daughter which I love and care for. I have found her! I tell you I rather have found this ONE, then have ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.”
The group of woman stand blank faced. Their remorse is now with themselves. Speechless. I say nothing as I walk away redeemed. forgiven. I am His Daughter.
I did not deserve it, I could do nothing to earn His love, yet He pursues me with a reckless abandon. Oh Reckless love of God…Keep Overwhelming me.
If you have never heard this song by Bethal you need too!
When asked to tell you more about myself, I often give a long list of what this world says I am. I am a woman. I am a wife. I am a daughter. I am a sister. I am a teacher. This list just scraps the surface, and thats where I find my dilemma. It claims my identity. Identity is the fact of being who or what a person or thing is. Your identity is that smallest, deep down part of you. What truly makes up who you are. Who are you? What are you holding your identity in? I realize I have been holding on so tightly to who the world says I am, but the world does not define me! I am not a wife, daughter, or teacher! I am a daughter of the King! I am God’s beautiful and fearfully made servant. My identity is found in God, not this world. In Isaiah 43, God says, “Fear not for I have redeemed you. I have called you by name. You are mine.” Our identity in this world will change and pass away, but who God says I am will never wither. I’ve been getting so caught up in who I am to others that I’ve lost who God says I am. So at 27, All the things I’ve held so tightly to seem to crumble, all the while God is saying, “You are mine.” God is constant, still, and never changing. God is where I choose to hold my identity.
God, I pray for anyone who is searching for who they are, or what they want to be. I pray that they find the answer in you. That your constant and filling presence overwhelms who they think they are and becomes who You are calling them to be. Help us love You, Love people, and be better then we are today. Thank you for finding me. Amen.