|Cape May 2007...I can't wait for this year's trip to celebrate our anniversary...|
Psalm 20:4 May He grant you according to your heart's desire, and fulfill all your purpose.
1 Corinthians 7:7 Each one has his own gift from God, one in this manner and another in that.
Isn't it so great to know that nothing happens by mistake? I find comfort in knowing that no matter what I know that God has a purpose for me and my life. He has given me gifts and abilities and I can find joy in honoring and serving Him with those gifts in everything that I do.
When I think of this topic of purpose, right away, what comes to mind is how much God has blessed me with the ability to teach. Since I was a little girl I have known that I wanted to teach. How many of you played "School" in the summer? How many of you always had to be the teacher? Did you give homework to your siblings? To your cousins? To your neighbors? I did. I was one of those kids in high school who didn't blink when she met with her guidance counselor about what she would study in school. God put the desire in my heart and He gave me a love for learning.
During my student teaching I even had a "run in" with my co-teacher because after the first week of me being in her classroom, she pulled me aside and said, "You know what Kristi, you should really try to be the students friend." I sweetly nodded and agreeably smiled, but in my head I thought, "These kids have friends, they don't need a friend, they need a teacher." She saw that I had high expectations of each student, that I expected them to walk quietly in the hallway, that I waited when they were talking when they shouldn't, that I required respect and attention...maybe she wasn't expecting that. Regardless, by the end of my time there she saw that the students and I had a bond and that the students rose to the challenge, that they obeyed me and yet loved me too, and she wrote me a glowing recommendation.
Teaching at Timothy Christian School for almost 7 years were some of the best years of my life. I loved my job. I knew God had me there for a reason. I felt such a peace and such a purpose. I got to school early each morning and cleaned my students desks, wrote their morning assignment on the board, and couldn't wait for them to arrive. After my first year of teaching there, I decided I wanted to learn more and earned my Master's Degree over the next 3 summers. It was a sacrifice, and yet God put people in my life whom I still keep in touch with to this day, people whom I love and respect and have taught me so much about the Lord and my relationship with Him. Dr. Hartzler, our dean, and dad-like figure (father of five great kids) would tell us daily in our chapels and in our courses..."Changed lives change lives." That was our motto and each August as I would prepare for the new school year I would be so excited to meet a new group of students and share all my new ideas from grad school, all my new experiences from traveling, all my new Bible truths I studied.
In 2005, I got the Teacher of the Year Award, this was a very big deal to me because it meant that not only was I doing my absolute best at Timothy, but that other parents and teachers noticed. Growing up I never felt like I did anything praise worthy, but this felt like real proof that I was doing something great, that I was impacting lives, and that God was really blessing me.
In 2007, John and I were anxious to add to our family...after 4 years of marriage we knew it was time. Even after finding out we were to have a new principle, 3 new curriculum changes, which meant creating our own Reading program (A LOT Of extra Work) and even though I would be going into the new school year pregnant there was no doubt in my mind that I wanted to teach up to the last minute. I was 5 months pregnant that September and all the new challenges of teaching 4th grade and a new major curriculum was so exciting to me. The month of December the new teacher who was to take my place, Mrs. Wilt (a young girl just graduated from PBU, and darling dear she was and is...I was so thankful to her) "shadowed" me and got to learn the ins and outs of our schedule and curriculum. My last day of teaching was December 21, and 10 days later, Julia Star was born into our lives...our New Year's Eve baby...we were so happy.
All of the sudden, I don't know if it was the change of not teaching anymore, of being home all day, the hormones after you have a baby, or just plain depression, but for the first few months of being a new mom I suddenly felt like, "What is my purpose?" I missed my students, I missed being in the classroom, and I didn't like not having a schedule. I mean I had a new schedule with John and Julia, but it didn't flow like my old one, it wasn't predictable, and I didn't feel I did anything right. From the pain of breastfeeding, to not sleeping well, I started to lose my focus, and I started to feel so hopeless. Thank goodness it didn't last too long, but it was there all the same. I got lots of advice and encouragement from friends, and mom friends, and I started going to MOPS which connected me to a group of Christian Moms...but it really wasn't until I just started praying more, reading God's Word more, and just accepting my new role as mommy that I found out my purpose. I really just needed to be obedient and ask God to give me the strength and the grace to get through each day at first.
And then I started to love it! I started to find delight in planning our meals for the month, teaching Julia how to read and talk, learning how to cycle clean my home. I just started to find joy in the little things of each day, and God really helped me to feel like a good mom. He helped me to see my purpose clearly. And then I started to feel fulfilled in each day knowing that I was doing what God had planned for my life, that he designed me to have a Julia and a Mark, that he planned for me to be a stay at home mom, that he planned for me to have a husband named John, and that my job was to make life amazing for all of them. The joy you find in just fulfilling God's purpose is unspeakable. It feels so good. Maya Angelou said, "The best part of life is not just surviving, but THRIVING-with passion and compassion, and humor and style, and generosity and kindness." For the first few months of being a new mom I was just "surviving" each day. I was just going through the motions and praying for the time John would be home at night and on the weekends. But God had to teach me to find joy and contentment in every situation. We don't serve a God of haphazardness, confusion, or strife. We serve a God of joy, order, peace, and love. Thank goodness we have a God that has a plan for us (Jeremiah 29:11) and for our lives, and our purpose is in bringing glory to Him with our gifts and abilities.
I love the quote, "Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass, it's learning how to dance in the rain." God has taught me how to dance in the rain, sometimes I dance better than others, but He is still working on me.
Today my prayer for you and for my John is that:
* you will be able to see your purpose clearly
* you will know that God has a high calling on your life
* you will walk in obedience to fulfill your purpose
* you will find joy and fulfillment and contentment in your purpose
Love Dare #15: Choose a way to show honor and respect to your spouse that is above your normal routine. Show your mate that they are highly esteemed in your eyes.