Amazed

There have been a few times in my life when God just amazes me with how He works, and I can honestly say without a doubt, this is one of those times.

In February of this year I knew that I would be moving on to another school. I really was not happy where I was. I loved my students and their families, but a few of the people I was working with just made my job something that I did not look forward to every day, which is not like me at all. I pretty much always look forward to going in to work every day.

My sister suggested that I condense my teaching portfolio into a smaller version and leave it with whoever was interviewing me so that they could review it later, and also so that they would remember me (take note if you’re getting into education or first year teachers who are looking for a teaching job). I thought that was an awesome idea, so I went to the store and bought all the supplies I would need, and I really didn’t know why, but I bought enough to make 5 mini teaching portfolios to take with me to interviews.

When I had bought the supplies I needed, I had only had one teaching interview, and it didn’t work out, and I honestly didn’t have any interviews coming up, even though I had been applying to all kinds of elementary schools and districts.

Fast forward to yesterday afternoon, I was getting ready to go run some errands and one of the schools I had applied to the previous week called me and wanted me to come interview with them for a teaching position for the fall. I, of course was super excited because this was going to be my first interview since February (yes, elementary teaching is that competitive here). So I quickly pulled out one of my mini portfolios and got it ready to go for my interview (which is scheduled to happen tomorrow morning). Then this morning I got a call from another district, which I would most like to work for and that I also did my student teaching for. They wanted me to do a phone interview with them right then and there (it was very unexpected), but I felt like it went well, but here’s the best part of my post:

Y’all, I had started to get more and more calls and emails for interviews and guess how many mini portfolios I needed? You guessed it, 5!

Again, there’s only been a few times in my life when God has just amazed me to the point where I have absolutely no explanation. Yes, one could argue that it was just a coincidence that I bought enough supplies for 5 mini portfolios and that’s how many I ended up needing, but honestly, this has God written all over it from the very beginning. I left my job in May with no promises or offers of a teaching position in August. I had been praying for a teaching job since February, and this is proof that (although I don’t recommend leaving a job without having another one lined up) God takes care of us. He cares about us and what’s happening in our lives.

I told my 4th and 5th grade Sunday School group this past Sunday morning that it doesn’t matter how small you think something is, God cares about it, and He will answer that prayer. It may not be right away or in the way we want Him to answer it, but God will answer our prayers, and the fact that the God of the universe would care about all of our small things is just further proof that He loves us and cares for us no matter where we are or what we’ve done. His love and care for us never ends.

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The Single Girl Part 2

I’m about to be completely transparent in this post. If I’m being honest, what I’m about to write about isn’t something I talk about to other people, mostly because the majority of people I hang out with are already married and have families, and while I’m perfectly fine hanging out with them, it doesn’t exactly give me an outlet to talk about being a single girl in her 30s.

Ever since I turned 30, a lot of “concerned” people have been asking me about my relationship status, which if you’ve read my previous post about me being single, you should have a pretty good idea of what my answer always is and continues to be, and why, but nonetheless, I still get asked questions about when I’m going to get married and why am I still single.

My answer is usually to kind of brush it off and say something to the effect like, “You’ll have to ask God about that.” I’m usually quick to brush those questions off because of the negative comments from said “concerned” people in the past, but I feel like why I’m still single is more of a practical or common sense answer more than anything.

First, I’m an elementary teacher. I work in a field that is dominated by women. Not to say that I don’t encounter men in my line of work. I do encounter men in my profession, but most of them are already married, and since I work in public school, not all of the single men I meet via my job have the same beliefs or values I have, and that’s something that’s not negotiable for me.

Second, because I am older and no longer in my early or mid 20s, most of the men in their 30s or late 20s are already married and have their own families. Also, because I have been told many times that I look much younger than I am, when I do encounter a single man around or my age, they usually overlook me because they think I’m younger, and not to say that there aren’t any mature younger guys out there, but my experience with them is that they’re looking for someone to take care of them, like I’m their mom or something, and that is NOT going to happen!

Again, I’m going to be completely honest and transparent when I say that being a single girl in her 30s is not easy. There have been times when I’ve questioned God about if He really does have someone out there for me, and if you read my previous post about being single, you know that I get some negative comments said about me sometimes because I’m still single, and how there must be something wrong with me or something I’m doing wrong to be single for so long in life.

While it’s not easy to be a single girl, what those “concerned” people fail to realize is that their view of singleness is like having a horrible disease and the only way to cure it is to get married. However, I view being single differently. I view being single as a time for God to help me prepare to be the best person and wife to my future husband one day, and while it is hard to be a single girl, I refuse to lower my standards (that are based on the Bible, by the way) and go out on a date with the first guy that comes along.

Just because I’m still single in my 30s does not mean that I’m desperate to find a husband. I’m waiting for God’s absolute best for me, and while I don’t currently work in a place where I could potentially find my future husband or go to a church with an abundance of single men in their 30s who don’t think I’m in high school or a sophomore in college (apparently that’s the age I look), that doesn’t mean I’m not ever going to meet the man God has for me one day.

Did I ever think I was going to still be single at almost 31 years of age? No. I thought for sure I would be married with at least 3 kids by now, but God doesn’t always work on our timetable, and while I would be thrilled if I met my future husband tomorrow, I know that God may not think that’s the best idea, and He may want me to wait some more, and while I’m not a huge fan of waiting, I’m choosing to show my love and obedience to God by respecting this waiting period, and I’m also choosing to respect myself, because I know that there are a lot of loser guys out there (I’ve encountered them more than once in my lifetime), and I know that if I want an amazing marriage that will last a lifetime, then I’m going to have to trust God to bring the best man possible for me when the time is right.

Teacher Brain

So it’s my first week being on summer break, and I’ve been experiencing insomnia. For a teacher during the school year, this isn’t unusual, mostly because we’re constantly thinking about everything we have to do and worrying about our students. This is also true for me on summer break. I’ve tried not to think about everything I have to do to prepare for next year and not think about my students I had this past year, or the students I’m going to have this upcoming school year, but I can’t seem to turn that part of my brain off. Even though this is not an official thing, I have so cleverly dubbed this effect as, “teacher brain”.

Yes, it happens to the best of us. They (being the other teachers I worked with) warned me this would happen my year I was a student teacher. Oh, they told me horror stories of how you don’t get any sleep once you become a teacher, and like the inexperienced and unseasoned new teacher I was, I didn’t believe them, but I can tell you now that the struggle is all too real, people!

Teacher brain is all too real, and not only does it cause insomnia, at times you’re likely to forget things like why you just walked into a room, what day, or even what year it is. You also forget where you put things in your classroom, even if you just had it in your hand.

So, if you ever wonder why teachers act so crazy and forgetful sometimes, it’s because we’re tired and we have teacher brain, but I guess it’s a small price to pay when you love your job.

Funny Things Kids Say

Today I had to say goodbye to my students. I didn’t tell them that I wouldn’t be back next year (although some of their parents knew). It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do, but at the same time I’m excited to move on to other opportunities that come my way. On one hand, it’s hard to say goodbye to what I’ve known for the past year, and to move on to the unknown when I’ve invested so much time and energy into 50 students this year, but hopefully when my former students look back to being in my classroom, they have great memories!

I don’t want to be too sappy with this post, so I’ll leave you with some of my most favorite, sweet, and funny quotes from my kiddos this past year:

 

 

Me to a student from another class: “I have to go now. It’s time for my class to line up and go back inside.”

Student: *takes my hand* “Let me walk you to your classroom…You know, you’re the only reason I come to school every day…”

~

Student: “How old are you?”

Me: “29.”

Student: “Then you’ll be 100, and then you’ll die!”

Me: “Well, that escalated quickly!”

~

*One of my students falls on the playground*

Me: “Are you okay?”

Student: *Looks at me like I’m a huge weirdo for asking him that* “WELL, OF COURSE I’M OKAY! I’m the Hulk!”

~

Student: “Miss Jessica! You’re 13, right?”

Me: “Sure. Let’s go with that!”

~

Student: “Miss Jessica! That kid accidentally pulled my glove off again!

Me: “Oh, no! What are we going to do with her?”

Student: “I don’t know… Maybe we could put her in a bag?!”

Me: “Well, that escalated quickly!”

~

Student: “Miss Jessica! You can be on my team, but I have to tell you the rules first. No boys can be on my team (even though he’s a boy), absolutely NO accordions EVER! And no grown ups can be on my team, but since you’re short, you don’t count as a grown up!”

Me: “One of the only times being short pays off!”

~

*I bring a squirt bottle full of water out to recess with me on hot days so if the kids get too hot, I squirt them with some water*

Student: “Miss Jessica, can you please squirt me?”

Me: *Squirts student with water*

Student: “Ah! This is the life!”

~

*One day I had a substitute teacher for my classroom. It was only for part of the day, so when I get back to my room, the substitute teacher starts to leave*

Student: “Bye, Ms. Julie! It was nice meeting you, but I probably won’t ever see you again because I’m going to a new school next year!”

 

These kids!

Give Me Your Dreams

The past few weeks God has been kind of dealing with me about something that I do all the time, which is dream. I dream all the time about what I want to do in my life, aside from my profession as a teacher. There’s so many things that I want to accomplish, and so many things that I want to see happen in my life, and while dreaming isn’t necessarily a bad thing to do, God has been really dealing with me about this and just wanting me to give Him my dreams, and in return, He will give me His dreams for my future.

This is a BIG deal for me. As I’ve already said in previous postings, I am a planner. I love to plan things and my family, who aren’t planners at all, think I’m a big weirdo for loving to plan things, which I think they’re all weirdos for not planning anything…Back to my point though…

I find it to be really hard to let go of these dreams that I have. Some of them I’ve carried with me since high school, others I’ve had since college, and He’s just been reminding me a lot lately that He can do so much more than I ever could. His plan for me is much greater and better than I can even begin to know or understand.

I was blessed to be involved in praise and worship teams in high school and college. I’ve always loved to sing ever since I was a little girl. At the house I grew up in, we had a swing set in our back yard at the bottom of this hill, and it was located close to our next door neighbor’s home. When I would go and play on the swings, I would always sing, and I guess my neighbors were outside sitting on their deck one day when I was playing and singing, because when I was a teenager, she had said something to me about how she always loved to hear me sing while I was playing as a kid. That kind of surprised me, because I was a really shy kid, and I didn’t like to sing when anyone was around.

Then in high school, I had the opportunity to join my church’s praise and worship team, and I did that through 2 years of college as well. During that time, I would go and work various teen and kids camps every summer, and one of the speakers that had come a couple of times during these camps I would work, his wife was a praise and worship leader, and she would write and perform her own songs. I was really inspired by her, and I ended up buying a lot of her music, and she has this song that she wrote. In the song she says, “Give me Your dreams. Open my eyes so I can see through eyes of faith. Your reality is much greater than me. Oh, help me to believe.”

The song is basically about asking God to help you to believe in what He wants and believes for your life. It’s actually still one of my favorite worship songs to sing, but I love how the song really talks about giving God everything we have, including our dreams, because He can take those and give us back something much greater than we can even know.

I have absolutely no idea what is going to happen in the future. I’m hopeful that I’ll have my own classroom soon (I’m still working on this), and hopefully one day I’ll be able to be a wife and a mother, but all of those are just examples of dreams that I have that I’m just giving to God, and while it’s really difficult for me to give God these dreams that I have, in exchange He’s going to give me something even better. I’m not saying that He’s not going to give me any of those things, but what I am saying is that by giving God my dreams of having my own classroom and being a wife and a mom someday, maybe He’ll give me an even better teaching opportunity than I could ever dream up. He’ll give me a future husband that’s even more amazing than I could ever imagine myself.

I don’t know if maybe you’re reading this and you struggle with surrendering to God your dreams and plans for the future. Maybe you’re just like me and you have a hard time doing this because you’re a planner too, or maybe you just have trouble turning everything over. I honestly get it. I still struggle with this, but eventually we have to come to a point where we understand that whatever we give to God, He’s going to bless that and He’s going to make it even better than we can even begin to fathom. We just have to trust Him and know that our dreams are in good hands.dream

Flood

It’s currently 1:00 in the morning, and I just got done helping my sister pack and move things out of her condo because just a few hours ago we were told that we had to evacuate because we’ve had so much rain the past week that the nearby rivers and creeks are rising rapidly and there’s a chance that her condo will be flooded. In all honesty, we’ve never really had to deal with flooding before. I grew up in the country, and we always lived on a hill, so I’m not used to preparing for anything like this. I’m reminded though, of the story of Noah in the Bible.

God told Noah that He was going to flood the Earth and to build a boat for his family and the animals. I’m sure that Noah was made fun of and people probably treated him like he was crazy or a big weirdo, but instead of letting the opinions of others get to him, he chose to listen to God. He continued to build the boat exactly the way that God told him to.

How many times have we let what others think of us hinder us from listening to God? I can tell you that for a really long time I really cared about what people thought of me. I was so focused on pleasing people that I lost my focus on God and that the most important opinion of me is God’s. In Galatians chapter 1 verse 10 Paul writes, “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.”

Whenever I have trouble remembering that other people’s opinion of me doesn’t matter as much as God’s opinion of me, I read this verse, because it reminds me that I’m just one person. I’m not going to be able to please everyone or make everyone like me. There is only one person that I can do my very best to please, which is God.

Maybe you’re like I used to be, and let’s just be honest here, like I can still sometimes be. Maybe you struggle with worrying about what other people think of you, but I want to challenge you to really think about what Paul wrote to us about how it’s not our job to please the people around us or care about what they think of us. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t be kind or caring with each other, but it’s when we start to put our focus on other’s opinions and trying to please them instead of God that will get us into trouble. So, instead of trying to please everyone else or worrying about what others think about us, let’s put our focus back on God and do our very best to please Him.

**While this post is mainly about not pleasing others and instead pleasing God, I wanted to say that my sister and I made it out of her condo before all of the roads closed. It took us 2 hours to make it to my house, which is normally a 45 minute drive, but we’re thankful that we were able to make it out safe. The river is supposed to crest tomorrow, so it’s just a waiting game right now. The picture below is the condo. It was taken today, and we’re praying and believing that the water will not make it through the sandbag wall. 

The Single Girl

Eveyone has their own group of friends they hang out with, and whether or not you like it, you have a label in your friend group. Maybe you’re the nerd, the athlete, the sassy one, or even the leader, but my label has always been the same no matter what friend group I was in. It didn’t matter if I was in middle, high school, college, or even now. My label has always been the single girl. I’m 29 years old and I’ve never had a boyfriend.

Yup, you heard me right. I’m 29 years old, and I’ve never been asked out on a date, I’ve never been on a date, I’ve never had a boyfriend, I’ve never held hands with a guy, or kissed a guy, or gone further with a guy. I’ve never been in any kind of romantic relationship at all with anyone. I know, I know. I can hear the shock going through the Internet right now… In all seriousness though, I know that’s not something you come across every day. You don’t hear a whole lot about people my age never being in relationships before, and maybe you’re thinking that I’m a weirdo. I would probably think that too, but before you go and label me the weird single girl, let me tell you my story…

It’s not that I haven’t been interested in or had crushes on guys before. I defiantly have, but I was always the shy girl growing up. I was the girl who always had a hard time talking with guys that I was crushing on. I have a twin sister and she could always talk to guys and be their best friend, and pretty much the girl next door, but I was always the quiet girl that usually went unnoticed by guys.

It was never my goal or intention to be single my whole life. I was like any other teenage girl growing up. I had crushes on guys, I craved a romantic relationship like the rest of my friends were experiencing, and I dreamed of getting married one day, and like most girls, I always thought I would have gotten married by the time I was in my mid 20s and would have had a family of my own by now, but it’s never happened for me so far.

I went to college on the other side of the state, which was about 3 and a half hours away from the small town I was born and raised in. I met a lot of people during that time, and made a lot of friends. I had a few crushes, and was even close to starting relationships with a few guys, but every time I got close to making those relationships romantic, it never worked out, and I couldn’t figure out why that always seemed to happen to me. I thought that maybe I just had really bad luck with relationships, but after college I moved back to my home town, and a lot of my friends were getting married and starting families, and then the kids that I had taught in Sunday School and in Kids Church were getting married and starting families of their own, and here I was still single.

There’s quite a bit of difference when a guy is single in his mid to late 20s, and a when a girl is still single in her mid to late 20s. When a guy is still single in his mid to late 20s, most people don’t give it a second thought. They accept it more than a girl who is the same age and still single. When you’re a girl who’s in her mid to late 20s, you start getting questions from friends and family about why you’re not married and why you’re not in a relationship. I started getting these questions at the age of 21. The older I got, the more these questions surfaced, along with suggestions ranging anywhere from, changing my physical appearance all the way to maybe if I lowered my standards I would finally get a boyfriend or at least a date (that one came from a family member by the way).

After getting asked these questions and given suggestions about what I should do if I ever wanted to have a boyfriend or a romantic relationship at anytime in my life, I started to ask myself those same questions and pose those same suggestions to myself. I started to believe what everyone was saying and I started to wonder if there’s anything wrong with me because everyone else didn’t seem to have a problem finding someone, but there I was starting the descent to my late 20s, and I still had never had a relationship before. I knew that God was good because I had seen His goodness and faithfulness in my life, but I started to feel like maybe He had forgotten about me, which looking back on that now seems really silly.

A lot of people look at being single like it’s a curse, and I think that’s especially true for girls. We tend to base who we are on whether or not we’re in relationships instead of who we are in Christ, and I’m ashamed to say that I was one of those girls earlier in my life. I based my worth on whether or not the guy I was crushing on liked me back and I was so unhappy. At one point, I was really depressed because I honestly felt like I was cursed that no matter what I did or said, I could never get the relationship part of my life right.

I love to write and journal about my life, and one day I was writing, and I honestly don’t even remember what I was writing about, but I remember that it seemed like everyone had been talking to me a lot lately about relationships and so I guess something I was writing reminded me of one of those conversations, and all of a sudden I remembered a prayer I had prayed back when I was 14 or 15 years old. I had prayed to God that He would keep my heart safe from guys that He knew would not be right for me, and all of a sudden that part of my life made so much sense!

I was so convinced for the longest time that I was cursed because I could never seem to make these relationships work, but I realized that this whole time God was just being a good Father. Just like an earthly father would protect his daughter from guys that weren’t good enough for them, He was protecting me from guys that didn’t get His seal of approval. I didn’t realize it before because I’ve never had a good earthly father in my life. My parents got divorced when I was really young, and my father decided he didn’t want to be a part of my life. I really didn’t know what a good father looked like, which made it difficult for me when I would read in the Bible and hear sermons and people talk about how God is a Father. The idea never really became tangible to me until that point in my life.

I instantly felt really stupid, but also very grateful and blessed that I’ve never experienced a relationship before. A lot of people who have been in relationships have experienced heartbreak and they have baggage from their previous relationships that they will/are bringing into their marriages, but I won’t have any baggage from previous relationships to bring into my future marriage. When I get married one day, I’ll be able to give my whole heart freely to my future husband because I’ve never given my heart to another man.

I’m not saying that everyone should be like me and not have relationships before they meet the one that God has for them. This is just me. This is my story. If you’re reading this and you’re like me—you’ve never been in a relationship before and you wonder what’s wrong with you or why you’re still single, maybe the reason you’re still single is the very same reason I am. Maybe God is keeping your heart safe for the man or woman who will one day be your forever.

I’m really happy with my life right now, even though I’m still the single girl (and will be 30 later on this year). Instead of looking at being single as negative or like a curse, I look at it as a blessing and an opportunity to focus on my relationship with God and grow in Him. I know that God has someone out there for me. I know that He will bring that person to me one day, but until that day, I will be the single girl, and even though the waiting is hard sometimes, I rest on God’s promise to me that He will bring that person to me in His perfect time.IMG_1327