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Posts Tagged ‘daily devotionals for women’

Are you a teacher here for the $50 Gift Card Give Away?  To register to win the gift card, please leave a comment on today’s post.  Just scroll down and  click on the word comment found in fine print at the bottom of today’s post (right next to the tags).  This will bring up the comment form.  You can leave a comment as a Guest, but don’t worry, your email address will not be visible.  In your comment please tell us the grade you teach and/or your school’s name.  You can register once per day and this Friday at midnight a comment will be randomly chosen to win this week’s gift card.  Full rules and part one of this teacher’s story found at this link:  Given the Time.

Does your spiritual life play a role in making you a better teacher?

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
Matthew 11:27-29

There’s a huge difference between liking your job and having a passion for what you do. I tend to lean towards the latter. My life as a teacher is simply so much more than lesson planning and checking papers. I impact lives. I make a difference. I have the power to make or break a child’s spirit and I’ve learned not to take that too lightly. I teach mainly because I believe I’ve been gifted by God to work with children.

There are many things I would love to do if I wasn’t a teacher, but I don’t believe it’s where God wants me. God’s providence was evident throughout my entire journey towards becoming a teacher. This IS where he wants me. With that said, I have to daily give my life over to him, but I fall short. I lean on my own strength to get through the day many times and I leave exhausted and frustrated.  I work in an affluent district that borders the inner city. The influx of children that have migrated to my school is never ending. Many days I feel as though I have put out more fires than the local fire station, one issue after another as I deal with at-risk children.  Most are at risk for failing school because of the lives they live at home. Many are at risk for continuing the cycle of drug abuse and neglect that they are currently experiencing. Many days I feel as though I’ve been a therapist, or a social worker. The emotional needs that have to be met are endless. There is no way I could do what I do WITHOUT leaning on God for my strength.

This past school year, I had a young man I will refer to as Dan. His mother left him and his father when he was 5. His mother’s boyfriend had abused him both physically and sexually. Dan was a mess and could hardly function in a regular classroom.  I fought DAILY with the system to help get Dan in a classroom more equipped to help him with his issues. Teachers before me had tried with no success. We all saw that Dan needed more intensive and structured teaching. He needed immediate consequences and he needed to be kept away from certain students. He was a threat to himself and to other kids. I built a strong relationship with his father, grandmother and aunt, all of whom were leery of me. They were defensive and felt I was attacking him and picking on him. I spent hours and hours in meetings during my lunch hour and before school with the specialized teachers to help them to see what Dan truly needed. And during my entire crusade, I met with God daily. I hurt for Dan. He was a very sweet boy who was impulsive and needed consistent monitoring and behavior modification.

On May 8th, six weeks before the end of the school year,  God won the battle and Dan was transferred to another school in our district that was equipped with a classroom geared especially for his needs. His family was supportive and the staff in my building couldn’t believe that I was able to cut through the red tape and get him certified. I explained to them all that it was God who moved these mountains, I  knew it wasn’t me. I had given Dan to God from Day One and I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that I could not do this alone.

 

 

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Are you a teacher here for the Gift Card Give Away?  Just leave a comment below by clicking on the word comment, and tell us the grade you teach and/or your school’s name to register.  You can register once per weekday.  Full rules and part one of this teacher’s story found at this link:  Given the Time.

What do you find most challenging in your job?

I truly feel the most challenging part of my job is not being able to reach all students. I take my job very seriously and want so much to make an impact on children, but often times the outside influences are much stronger than mine. I was frustrated that I couldn’t reach Jayla.

Jayla’s mom is a single mom. She’s never met her dad and her older brother and girlfriend take care of her most of the time. Her mom’s job is unclear but Jayla says she cooks meals for a bishop. Jayla was street smart, was often a bully, and dressed completely inappropriate for an  8 years old.  She looked like a 15 year old and was often disrespectful in class.

When mom couldn’t be reached by phone, I tried letters home. I never received a response.  The principal called a few times, no response or call back. Once I was able to leave a message but no one returned my call.  I worked hard with Jayla.  I gave her chances to each lunch with me as an opportunity to get to know her better. I moved her seat so she was closer to me and I gave her leadership roles in the classroom.

She was inconsistent. She would cling to me on some days, and others she would bully girls and call them ugly. She had low self esteem, and seemed almost depressed at times. As the school year ended I reflected on Jayla and wondered why I wasn’t able to make a difference with her. Every attempt to reach her fell flat……or did it?

I look back on the journey of my life and I see the times where God was teaching me things, but I chose to look away. Seeds were planted for me along that course…through people and situations. Those seeds, combined, have blossomed and have helped me become who I am today. I may not have recognized it at the time, but it was there….and I feel God telling me that I have planted seeds with Jayla. I may not have had any huge breakthroughs with her, but I’ve planted seeds. And now God needs me to pray for those seeds to be watered for Jayla…that God would bring along people and situations in her journey to lead her to Him.

“He who has compassion on them will guide them and lead them beside springs of water.”  Isaiah 49:10b

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Are you a teacher here for the Gift Card Give Away?  Just leave a comment below with the grade you teach and/or your school name to register.  Full rules and part one of this teacher’s story found at this link:  Given the Time.

What do you learn personally from interacting with your kids at school? Any good stories?

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”  1 Peter 4:8

Teaching for me has been much more than just a career. It’s been my mission. I carefully plan lessons and incorporate fun activities and work hard to reach the individual needs of my students, but in the end, it’s they who have taught me.

One specific student stands out to me as my most challenging and yet most changed of my entire career. Frank was from Nigeria and he and his family had moved to the states several years before he arrived in my 3rd and 4th grade multi-age classroom. His face was that of an angel and his smile could light up a room. But, when Frank was upset, a dark side emerged. He threw anything that was in his way. He tore down bulletin boards, threw desks and then would run and hide somewhere in the school. When found, it would take myself along with another teacher to hold him down, doing deep compression rubs on his back and legs to calm him down. He was so strong, but eventually he would give in and sob. Deep, gut wrenching sobs from deep within his soul. We would then cradle him until his tears ran dry.

His parents were very supportive and worked hard to help identify the root of his anger. Each time Frank would feel slighted by a classmate, wrongly accused of an action or redirected for behavior, he would erupt. My heart really went out to Frank. I worked hard all year with the counselors, parents and with Frank himself to help him deal with his anger. And I prayed. I asked God to teach me to love Frank unconditionally. He was, most times, sweet and loving and had a heart of gold.

I remember one time when he had a meltdown, someone accused him of taking his pencil. He became angry, tore down a bulletin board filled with student work and he ran and hid under the reading couch in the hallway. Several students immediately informed me. I walked out to the hallway, got down on the floor and made eye contact with him. I told him that no matter what happened, I loved him. And I got up and walked back into the classroom. About 5 minutes later, he walked back in the room. The children stared as he approached me. His beautiful doe-like eyes were downcast. He took a breath and then courageously looked at me and said “I’m so sorry Mrs. Hunter.” I nearly broke down. I pulled him into an embrace and he sobbed. I had him sit on the floor next to me and we held a class meeting. We discussed how to handle our emotions and we discussed forgiveness. Frank suggested that he reassemble the bulletin board and two girls volunteered to help him. He put everything back with the help of his classmates. Their support meant the world to him.

The next year, Frank was still in my class, but this time as a 4th grader. He emerged a leader. Frank was in control of his emotions and was excelling academically. It was quite noticeable as his 2nd grade teacher approached me and made a comment that she could barely recognize him anymore. She said he seemed happier and more in control. She mentioned that she had another student in her class this year that had similar issues as Frank. I suggested that Frank become a mentor for Devin. Each day Frank checked in with Devin. After lunch Frank met Devin at his classroom door and asked him about recess. At times when his teacher felt he was on the verge of a meltdown, she would send a student over for Frank. Proudly he would jot across the hall and go sit next to Devin and help him with his work, etc. He once told me, “Mrs. Hunter, I love helping Devin. I told him that I struggled with the same things he did and I showed him some of the things I learned to control my anger. Thanks for letting me do this.” Devin’s teacher was amazed at how Frank’s behavior affected Devin. I was so incredibly proud of Frank.

As Frank moved on to 5th grade, he would stop by my classroom everyday (sometimes twice!) and grab a hug. When he was upset, he was allowed to come visit me to calm down or to just talk. At 5th grade graduation, he came up and gave me a long embrace. His parents followed suit and thanked me for “whatever you did for him, he is a changed person.” I simply told them… “All I did was love him.”

On the last day of elementary school Frank stopped by and said he was nervous about moving to middle school. He said he wasn’t sure what he was going to do without my support. I encouraged him, told him I would pray for him and I told him to trust God. I told him that God had a plan for his life. He smiled, hugged me and cried. I did the same.

Frank taught me about love and he taught me about patience. He taught me to look at each child differently and uniquely. He taught me that everyone deserves a second chance. And I know that the God I serve is a God of second chances. No matter how much I mess up, he’s there to say, “ I still love you.”

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Today is Part Five of the story for the week.  If you missed the introduction on our Given the Time site, click here:  From Why to What. For Part one through four  go to this link. 

“Remember the wonders He has done…”  Psalm 105:5

The other day at a follow up appointment hopefully winding up my whole blood clot saga, the ultrasound tech asked me questions about my condition.  She was writing a paper on Thoracic Outlet Syndrome and was curious about what I had experienced. At this point, now months down the road of recovery, I had to think hard about the details because what I most easily remember are the spiritual lessons God taught me through this time.  The little and big ways He showed up for me during that time far outweigh the memory of the pain or the medical details that arose.  The way He took me from asking why to what is what I want to remember.

Is there a challenge in your life that qualifies as a trial? Maybe it isn’t a physical illness, but is there a challenge that causes an emphatic Why, God? to be a common question in your conversations with Him? Why may not be the wrong question, and God absolutely wants us to come to Him with our questions and our hurts.  But from my own experience, I would encourage you to take the question a step further. Perhaps like me you may need to begin seeking for the what that God wants to reveal to you in your challenges.  Or perhaps there is a different question God will lead you to ask of Him.  You may well find His answers give you a completely different perspective on the trials you are facing.  You may find that your personal relationship with Him will never be the same!

I waited patiently for the Lord;

he turned to me and heard my cry.

He lifted me out of the slimy pit,

out of the mud and the mire;

he set my foot on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.

He put a new song in my mouth,

a hymn of praise to our God.

Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord.

Psalm 40:1-3

Thanks for letting me share my story with you this week.

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“Glory in His holy name;  let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.”  Psalm 105:3

The story continues…  If you missed the introduction on our Given the Time site, click here:  From Why to What. Part One and Two were Monday and Tuesday on this site…or go to this link.

At some point in the middle of the hospital stay, my heart sensed that in asking God why I was asking Him the wrong question. Well, not really the wrong question so much as there was a better question I should ask of Him. I needed to ask what.  What can you teach me in this?  What was most important in my life?  

And so I committed to pass on the why’s and look for the what from that point on.  Answers to this new question began to filter into my heart from God’s heart. In fact, there were many answers, too numerous for this story, but a couple of my favorites I will gladly share with you.

This time of enforced separation from my world as I knew it caused me to evaluate some of the commitments and goals that I held dear. What commitment was important and what was not?  What did I need to let go?  Some of my commitments and goals I needed to let go were actually really good things, but just not what was most important for me right now, not God’s best for me in the season of life I was in.  I sensed I wasn’t to stop at letting go of some things, but also look for what God would have me do next.  If I was in a rut in God’s path marked out for me, now was the time to step out of it and move forward.  It took enforced separation from “my world as I knew it” for me to see this.

Ends up, both the giving-up and the adding-on were a little scary and even emotionally painful, yet very much the right course of action. Old habits are hard to change, and change in and of itself can be difficult.  2 Corinthians 12:9 tells me that God’s grace is sufficient. In fact, His power is perfected in weakness…when I am weak, He is strong. Outside of faith, this is such a hard concept to understand…strength in weakness doesn’t make sense in our rush-about do-it-yourself culture.  But through this challenging time, I have experienced this to be completely true and it is a faith lesson that I don’t ever want to forget.

Tomorrow I want to share another sweet lesson learned.  See you then!

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“Sing to Him, sing praise to Him; tell of all His wonderful acts.”  Psalm 105:2

The story continues…  If you missed the introduction on our Given the Time site, click here:  From Why to What.  For Part One, yesterday’s post, go to this link.

After further tests, the doctors found the cause of the blood clot.  This was a good thing to discover, but it would require surgery and a procedure to restore blood flow. I had Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, a rare find for a 40 year old woman since this typically is a condition young athletes suffer.

My hospital stay ended up totaling an unexpected and rough 9 days.  If there was a negative and slight statistical possibility, I had  it.  I had 4 hour-long procedures in an effort to restore blood flow and reduce swelling when only one was expected to be needed. Following that first procedure, I dreaded being wheeled back to that sterile room to undergo yet again a procedure I knew was going to be uncomfortable.  I had a dangerous reaction to morphine, at one point waking up to find a nurse seated at the foot of my bed with a syringe ready because my heart rate had dipped so dangerously low. And the surgery ended up taking five hours instead of three due to a  “difficulty” encountered with my anatomy…whatever that means.   Instead of shrinking, my arm grew several times its normal size as additional clots continued to form and nerve damage caused my left hand and arm to be numb and useless. I was unable to eat for six days out of the nine because I was continually sick to my stomach and I couldn’t hold anything down.

Emotionally, I was at a low to say the least.  I had very little contact with my children due to the extent of my complications and the fact that I was so ill.  I missed them terribly.  But it would have been frightening for them to see their mother in such a poor state and so we kept them away.   I received no visitors except my husband, my parents, and a nurse friend who would not take no for an answer.  I could barely talk on the phone, so I allowed calls from my friends to go to voice mail.

Through the pain and the fear and the confusion, how can God be praised?  How can I sing of His wonderful acts with this level of physical discomfort?  During the worst of it, honestly I admit, I struggled.  But God led me to take a baby step forward towards Him as I cried out to Him.  He brought to my mind Scriptures I had memorized as a child and I recited in my mind over and over the 23rd Psalm.  I still struggled, but it was a step in the right direction.

Tomorrow I will share more of how God held my hand during this time that make me say now, without question, God has shown Himself wonderful in my life.  See you then!

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“Give thanks to the Lord, call on His Name; make known among the nations what He has done.”  Psalm 105:1

The story this week is my way of giving thanks to God and an attempt to make known just a little of what He has done in my life.  If you missed the introduction at our Given the Time site please click here so you don’t miss out on the beginning:  From Why to What.

For 3 days I sat in the hospital connected to an IV drip of heparin.  I was the healthiest patient in the hospital, without any painful symptoms to keep me pre-occupied.  I was bored!  Even with visitors coming occasionally to entertain me, it was mind-numbing to just lay in the bed staring at the wall or the t.v. screen.  I had things to do, places to be!  And the worst of it was I was missing the first scrimmage for my son’s senior year.  The fact that I had a blood clot with potentially life threatening complications seemed distant and un-real.

At last, after three days, I was released to go home and just in time to celebrate Thanksgiving with the family. But there was a catch. I could only go home if I was willing to give myself shots in the belly every morning and every night for the next couple of weeks.

May I just say, I am a card-carrying baby when it comes to pain!  And with every shot I added another ugly bruise to the growing collection on my belly making it harder to actually put the needle in the next time. I went from pep talks, I can do this…I’v been through child-birth for heaven’s sake, to faking myself out, I am not really giving myself a shot right now…oops, there it went in, to personal threats,  Do you WANT to go back to the hospital for the next two weeks during the holiday season?  Pathetic…I know!

And always there was the little whiny voice in the back of  my mind saying, Why, God? Why?  I am really uncomfortable!  How can this be a good thing that you have allowed in my life?

Have you heard that voice in the back of your mind too? Perhaps not over a physical issue, but over a life situation of some sort?

Please join me tomorrow for more of my story and how God held my hand through some of the hard stuff yet to come with my recovery.   It took time for me to see the purposes of what God had done for me through allowing this kind of personal struggle and I can’t wait to share with you some of those lessons I learned.

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