Sunday, October 16, 2011

Spiritual Warfare

It's amazing how strong spiritual warfare is.  The more I battle daily, the more I realize just how powerful Satan can be (and how MORE powerful Jesus is!).  All of the issues that I've battled for years have been so strong at times.  And the ONLY way to overcome is to spend time with my Savior and ask Him to battle for me.  My anxiety, at times, is paralyzing.  I always assume that it's my circumstances (hence... we have changed those many times), but everytime I change my circumstances, my anxiety follows me.  Two things about this anxiety: 1) it's my "thorn" and there's no way to run from it... I just have to rely on the power of Jesus to get me through each day, 2) Satan knows just how and when to make me feel like life is falling apart.  One day I can feel completely at peace and feel like life is perfect, then I start hearing the screams of Satan and I feel like life is falling apart.  It's crazy.  Then, when I'm "past" it, I can look back and totally see that it was Satan screaming in my ear.  Another thing that I've started to notice is that Satan SCREAMS loudly, and Jesus whispers.  So when I feel like I'm getting screamed at, I know it's not Jesus (though sometimes I can't see that while I'm in the moment). 
Despite how hard it is, it's so good that I'm starting to see and understand where my anxiety is coming from... I think over time, I'll be able to deal with it better and better. 

Another thing that I've thought about is that God must be using me or the battle wouldn't be so hard.  So, that's comforting and reassuring.  Satan only fights when he is being threatened.

Being a teacher in a Title 1 school is NOT easy.  But I know that God is using me to reach kids and I'm thankful that He would choose me to do that.  I'm just having to learn where to draw the line, and that's a hard thing to do.  I have three VERY important jobs: 1) Wife, 2) Mom, and 3) Teacher.  I love all of my roles... so I'm having to learn to balance them.  Being a follower of Jesus encompasses all of these roles... and thankfully since He allowed me to "wear all of these hats," He'll give me what I need to do the best I can at each one.  It may take some more time.  And that's okay.  Ultimately, God is sovereign and knew that I would need help in these areas, and that I would need time.

I've been "told" to not share stuff like this because it should be between my family and me, but I know that others who struggle like to know that they are not alone... so I'm sharing :).  I've been told by many that sharing has really helped them.  God can use us in so many different ways, and I pray this is one of the ways that He will use me.  I would like to know that my anxiety is at least good for something! 

2 Corinthians 12:7-10
"7 So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations,t a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited.8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me.9 But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

What is your "thorn?"  What is a spiritual battle that you fight regularly?  How do you overcome? 

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Living and Loving Life

Loving Life Right Where I Am
I've mentioned this before, but one of the things that I have struggled with for the past few years is just living life.  I always look for ways to make life easier, ways to change things, ways to improve myself, etc.  I've also moved so many times in the past 8 years and had so many changes, that it's hard to just "live."  So when things get difficult, my default coping mechanism is to find a way to make things better or easier.  I always think that I need to make some kind of change.  People who know me well know this about me!  And most of the time the advice that I get is to just rest and take some time to myself and NOT make a change while I'm emotional/stressed.  And I'm so thankful for those people because if I didn't have them encouraging me, I would NEVER finish anything (because life is just hard sometimes!).
So far this school year has been 10X easier than last year (mainly because I'm with a great team, in a grade that fits me), but it has still had it's very difficult moments... including moments when I've wondered if I could continue, but deep down I know that I'm where I'm supposed to be.  So, instead of just wanting to quit, I've decided to make decisions that would be more constructive, and seek out some help with making things work better for my family and for me.  I want to be an effective teacher without feeling like I'm putting my family on the back burner (cause they always come first!), and I feel like is exactly what has been happening, and will continue getting better.  I met with my teacher trainer the other day (I LOVE having a teacher trainer!) and she gave me some good advice for ways to improve things, ways to be more organized, learning how to delegate, learning how to prioritize, and just reminding me that it's okay and actually better to do things the way that comes naturally to ME, even if that means I'm not SUPER creative all the time.  I am who I am, and some things just don't come natural to me.  I'm creative at times, but it would take me working/planning ALL THE TIME to be real creative all the time... and I don't have time for that!  And it's OKAY.  I work in the best team of teachers EVER, and many of them just think creatively... so I try to also.  But it's okay when I don't.  I need to get my students to where they are learning the objective, but how I get there doesn't really matter... as long as they get there!   Since I talked to her, I have felt a HUGE weight lift and I've decided to do things the way they come natural to me.  It has made my teaching better already.  I learned a lot about who I am as a teacher and about good ways to teach last year and I haven't really been applying that this year!  I am a good teacher, and I am starting to see that now.  That is the gift that God has given me, so that I will glorify Him, and if I'm not applying it, then He isn't really getting the glory that He deserves... so I'm going to start applying it more! 

My Family
I am so beyond thankful for my family.  I don't know what I would do without my husband.  He is more than supportive of me and picks up the slack when I can't.  We work together so well as a team!   We have come up with a schedule that works well for us.  Mondays and Thursdays I stay late... he picks the kids up, cooks dinner, puts them to bed.  I work as late as I need to.  Mondays I plan and Thursdays I prep.  I do these days because I already stay late on Mondays to tutor and Thursdays for meetings/trainings, so Karis goes to afterschool.  It has worked well so far!  I end up grading papers on Saturday mornings most of the time, and this works out well too.  I sit at the dining room table and the kids play outside or in the house, but I am still "spending time with them" so I don't feel like I'm neglecting them.  Often times Karis will sit next to me working on things (she LOVES to write and draw).  I have been striving to have a schedule like this for a while, and I feel like I'm finally getting there.  Sometimes I have to do some work on the weekends, but I try real hard to not go to school to do that work.  If I can get it done at home, I try to... because at least I'm here with my family.  Most evenings I don't work at home at all unless I have some kind of a deadline.  And most of the weekend I don't work.  I will be working this weekend (for various reasons), but next weekend, except for grading, I won't work at all because I'm going out of town. 

Karis has been reading books to me every night before bed.  And she wants to be doing something to learn all day/night.  It amazes me!  She comes home and tells me what she has been learning "Mommy, a noun is a person, place, or thing!"  "A text-self connection means it's something I have done."  (Pointing to a question mark) "this means it's a mystery!"  When I called ! an exclamation point, she said, "Mommy, it's an exclamation mark."  "Sentences start with capital letters."  Pointing to the outside circles of a venn diagram, she tells me that the outside circles are things that are different and the inside are things that are the same.  With a little bit of help, she can count to 100 (she basically needs help going from 29-30, 39-40, etc).  And she's learning all of this while not paying attention. Haha.  She's still a talker...
Ethan likes to sit next to me in the mornings when I'm reading my Bible, and he "reads" his Bible.  I love that!  He also likes to "read" books to us after Karis reads to us.  He does a really good job of making inferences from the pictures and telling what's going on (even if he's never read the book before).  So, that's a good sign of what's to come :).  Ethan is finally completely potty trained; just one more to go!!!!!!  Woohoo!
Levi is talking more and more.  When he wakes up in the morning, instead of whining/crying, he says "moooommy" or "daaaaaddy."  He often says a few words at a time now.  Sometimes it's hard to understand him, but he's getting there.  He follows in his older siblings' footsteps often and wants to play with them so bad (though sometimes can't keep up).  They also get annoyed with him at times because he gets into everything and makes a mess of their "set up."  I feel bad for him but can understand why they'd want to play without him.  So, I try to have balance of him playing with them and spending time with me.
Here are some updated pics of the kids:

My Classroom
I LOVE my classroom.  I never felt that way last year, but this year I tried to make it so that I feel comfortable there... I mean, I'm there all the time ;).  The pics that I have here are pictures from right before school started.  I have made a few changes since, but it's mostly the same.  The big bags on top of the students' desks are their supplies before we went through them on the first day... so ignore that :).  Since these pics were taken, I have moved my desk against the wall where my Texas State bulletin board is, and I've moved the horseshoe table (teacher table) right in front of the word wall.  There's also more on my walls now :).   I'll get some updated pics on here eventually... until then, this is what I have :).