Big Changes

Today marks a big change in my life. For two years I taught elementary kids, and before that, I taught preschool, and I loved every minute of it, but today I accepted a position teaching middle school students.

I didn’t plan on teaching middle school this year. I have been considering teaching middle school since 2007, but I had always planed on teaching elementary for a few more years, then eventually move into teaching middle school, and then maybe high school, but last week I got an email from a district I hadn’t even applied to. They wanted to know if I was interested in teaching at their district and if I was interested, they would send my things to the principals in the district. I went out on a limb and said that I was interested in elementary schools. The next day I got 3 phone calls wanting me to interview, one of them was a middle school.

I was kind of surprised that a middle school would be interested in me, since all of my experience was in preschool and elementary schools, but I decided to step out and go to the interview anyway. After the interview was over, I honestly didn’t feel like it had gone well at all. I answered all their questions to the best of my ability, but I could only answer the questions based on my experiences in teaching preschool and elementary students. When they called me today, I thought for sure they were just going to thank me for coming in and interviewing, but that they were going to go with someone else who had more experience, but they didn’t. They said they were going to recommend me to their human resources department and that they liked hiring teachers who have a background in elementary.

Just a few years ago, this kind of big change would cause me so much stress and anxiety. I was one of those people who hated change with a very strong passion, but in college God showed me that change is good. We may feel uncomfortable with it for a short time, but that’s only because He’s growing us and preparing us for something more, and while I do have to admit that I am a bit nervous about this upcoming school year, since I’ve never taught middle school before, but I know that this is where God wants me to be, and I’m super excited for this new adventure and to go on this journey. I’m also excited to see where God is going to lead me in this new phase of my life!

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Dear Single Guy

Dear Single Guy,

If all you’re looking for in a girlfriend is someone to party and sleep around with, then you’ve got the wrong girl. I’m the type of girl who is only interested in a man who puts God first in his life and has a personal relationship with Him. This man is going to be the one to pursue me, like Christ pursues us, His bride. He’s going to respect me and show me that he’s not just interested in dating me to see where things go, but he’s going to be intentional about dating me because he knows that I’m his future wife, because he’s already cultivated a friendship with me first. This man isn’t going to play games or make me guess what his intentions are; he’s going to make his intentions clear from the very beginning. This man is going to want to protect me in every way, including my purity. He’s going to be a man who leads me closer to God, and not a man who distracts me from God. I may not know this man yet, but I would rather be single and wait on this man than be the girl with a man who is anything less.

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.