Ag Teacher’s Guide to FFA LDEs

Untitled Design (1)I am super passionate about FFA LDEs, y’all. I love training kids in these speaking events because I find that it pushes them more than any of the other FFA contests. Personally, this is one of my favorite parts about being an ag teacher: watching kids bloom! If you have ever trained your students to compete in LDEs before, you have probably also witnessed how they come out of their shells more, and they gain more confidence, self-esteem, and friends.

I was on a podcast called Ag with Ms. Wedger, and she sent me the following questions before we talked for the episode. I wanted to make the written content available to y’all in case you couldn’t take notes while listening to the podcast or if you aren’t much of a podcast listener (I still recommend listening to it though)! It was a fun experience for me. I’m not much of a podcast listener myself, but there are several that I constantly lean towards…Ag with Ms. Wedger is one of the few!

I hope that you are able to implement some of these ideas in your LDE training and practice sessions or in the classroom. If you have any suggestions or additions, please feel free to email me at mrscooperffa@gmail.com!

1. How do you introduce LDE’s to your students? 

I show the students a list of all the LDEs they can participate in and briefly describe them during my Intro to FFA Unit. I show them the banners they can win by participating in these contests. During this unit, the students are assigned officer parts for opening ceremonies which is how we begin class for the first couple of weeks. I show them a video of the National FFA Officers saying opening ceremonies. Some of the students will try to imitate how the officers said their parts which I have always found entertaining. This allows for students to become more comfortable with public speaking and creating the culture of the classroom. Then, we read the FFA Creed together as a class. I typically choose one person to read each paragraph out loud. They are given copies at their desks. They star their favorite paragraphs, circle words they don’t know, and box off each time the phrase “I believe” is in the FFA Creed. I separate them into pairs after this where they have to answer questions about the FFA Creed. We discuss their answers and the words they don’t know. Then, I tell them they can choose any paragraph of the FFA Creed and deliver it in class. I also show them a video of the national winning FFA Creed speaker as an example. I tell them to write down 3-5 things that they observed from the speaker. We then discuss and share our thoughts about the delivery. Students have a week to memorize their paragraph. When the students deliver the creed, I pay very close attention to their confidence, poise, and natural speaking ability. I grade them using the FFA Creed speaking rubric. I make sure to advertise the FFA Creed Speaking LDE Contest by telling students “you already have one paragraph memorized!” I usually pull aside the students who exhibited good public speaking skills to encourage them and ask them personally if they would be interested in participating. For employment skills, I give students index cards with different careers on the cards. Some of them are fun ones like background vocalist for Taylor Swift, bee keeper, or hair stylist. I call random students to go up before the class and pretend it is a real job interview for that position. I tell the other students (employers) that they have to come up with one question they would need to know about this person before they hire them. You would be surprised at the questions the students think to ask and the eloquent and sometimes, funny answers you receive from the student being interviewed. I place a time limit for each student. I advertise employment skills following this activity.

2. How do you encourage your young students to “dig deeper” with their LDE’s? 

  • Claps like cow clap, firework clap, power clap etc after they read in class and during opening ceremonies to give them a boost of confidence and make them want to volunteer/not be afraid of public speaking. This helps set up my classroom to be a positive environment!
  • Give them two positives and one SUGGESTION *never too harsh about improvement
  • Focus on improving one particular area for each practice like time, word memorization, voice inflection in certain places, movements, hand gestures, etc. 
  • I ask them, “what do you think you can do to improve?” Reflection on their presentation and practice session is very important to their growth!
  • Watch videos of national competitors giving speeches
  • I try to be a constant source for ideas but when I give them ideas, I always remind them that this is THEIRS and is up to them what they want to do with it
  • One-on-one time with me

3. How do you structure your LDEs and practicing for middle school students?

  • Guideline packets for each LDE were a lifesaver for me last year and available on my TPT store. My ag students are given a choice of which LDE they would like to compete in even if they aren’t a FFA member. Every student must pick one they are most interested in. They complete a certain amount of objectives that are listed on the packet each week, and I check in with each student as they complete the objectives. I get more participation from students this way since they realize that they are doing this for a grade. When they are given a choice of which LDE they would like to compete in and do the work to get the grade, some of them decide to go ahead and try to compete! It’s easy to see which students really want to compete by the effort they put into their work.
  • I practice with one/two particular LDEs once a week after school. I don’t schedule too many different LDE practices on one day because I feel like I am spread too thin. I like to spend as much one-on-one time with the students to help them prepare as much as possible.

4. What are 5 tips and tricks you have for middle school LDEs and/or LDEs in general?

  • Focus on quality > quantity
    • Try to slow down the new FFA kids who want to compete in every single contest and make them realize that they need to put forth a lot of work into just one for now!
    • You don’t need to overload/overwork yourself.
  • Encourage students to practice in class before the contest. Most are scared to death to do this but have the class give them positive feedback ONLY! It’s an instant confidence boost and if you make the other students write five positive things about their presentation/delivery, it keeps them engaged.
  • Set up your classroom to be a positive environment so students will become comfortable with the idea of public speaking at the start of the year. The biggest effect of this is that more students will gain the confidence to participate in LDEs.
  • EXAMPLES and clear, specific steps are EVERYTHING especially in middle school. Middle schoolers become easily overwhelmed and high schoolers can also get the idea that a contest seems like it will be “too much work.” You have to ease them into the LDE. If you feed them just a little bit of information at a time like the requirements of the contest and the workload, it’s less daunting to them. If they can see an example of a speech, resume, cover letter, good interview, bad interview, etc, they will be able to have a better idea of where to start and won’t completely shut down. YOU, the teacher, can also be an example. Show them how they can change their voice a certain way in the speech or how they can emphasize words. Use hand gestures that you may be suggesting in certain places by reading their speech to them and showing them what they could do to improve.
  • The teacher should constantly remind the students competing that this is supposed to be fun and the placing they receive does not define who they are as a person. It does not mean that they are terrible if they lose or that they are the best if they win! If the kids win, I remind them to stay humble and keep working hard to push towards the next level. I ask, “What can we do better next time? There’s room for improvement and we should try to keep growing.” I also ask students what they learned and if they made any new friends! This keeps everything in perspective and takes the pressure off.

5.What are some examples of LDE’s that have been done really well at this age level? 

  • 7th Grade State Champion and Top Middle Schooler in Geaux Teach Ag Contest (Louisiana based)//before this level, the student achieved top ranks at the parish, district, and area levels
  • 7th Grade State Top Middle Schooler Prepared Public Speaking Contest (had to beat 50% of high schoolers to achieve this at the state level)// 2nd place at the area level and top middle schooler
  • 7th Grade 2nd place Employment Skills and Top Middle School at the area level qualifying for state
  • 7th Grade 4th place at the District level in Gulf of Mexico Speaking (Louisiana based) and qualified for area

6. What are some specific roadblocks to watch out for?

  • Giving too much criticism at one time or not focusing on the positives! This results in students not wanting to participate, giving up, or losing confidence.
  • If you refuse to put in the time, work, and/or give advice to your students, they won’t perform well. Let them see your dedication to them. It is absolutely amazing what this can do! If you don’t care, they won’t either!
  • Make sure that the parents are aware of practices by sending home permission slips or calling home.
  • Cell phones! Make a cell phone rule when practicing. They’ll be more focused if you don’t let them on their cell phone for the one hour you are practicing with them.
  • Don’t make practices too long.

7. What support and/or resources are available?

 

 

Devos for the Newly Engaged Girl

Day 1: Breathe

Everything was going wrong; bridesmaids’ dresses were coming in different colors, things I was ordering were sent to far away places other than my address, I was told my wedding dress may not be able to get altered after having it a year in advance, my engagement ring somehow warped from rough use (#agteacherlife) and the list goes on. I was freaking out, stressing out, crying all the time, and probably going overboard in the dramatic department. I want our wedding day to be perfect and all that I imagine it to be just as almost every girl in the world! But with all the hiccups in the way, I was losing sight of what mattered the most. It has taken me awhile to realize that crying about things going wrong won’t fix anything…coming up with a solution and handing it to God no matter how stupid I thought it might be would fix it all. I pray for patience because I struggle the most with being impatient, and I think God was using those little bumps in the road to show me to be patient and He would take care of it even if it seemed like it would take longer than I wanted. 1 1/2 months from now lies our wedding day. Regardless of what may go wrong, all will be right…I will marry the greatest blessing to ever walk in my life! So if you’re a future bride-to-be, a girl stressing and worrying because nothing seems to be going right, or a guy with a lot on his plate…there’s no need to worry about it. At the end of the day, God is in control and He’s got ya! Don’t forget what is most important! I believe our wedding day will be the most beautiful and important day in my life next to the day I received Christ as my Savior! Keep the faith, stay patient, and trust, trust, trust!!!

Day 2: Just Love

I researched, pinned, and read about 20 blogs on the hot topic of “how to prepare for marriage.” At the end of most of them, they made the statement that there isn’t REALLY a way to prepare yourself for marriage.
Whaaaaat?! Post after post and article after article I was becoming frustrated because I wanted to be the best possible wife for Brad by the time we got married. Now that I have been married for one month today, I understand what they mean…
Nothing prepares you for the happiness you feel each day that you spend with him. Nothing prepares you for the laughs you will share over late night popcorn and movie dates in your pjs. Nothing prepares you for waking up to him each morning. Nothing prepares you for the smile on his face when he eats a meal you cook. Nothing prepares you for how you love him more and more, and just when you think you can’t, he does something that makes you fall in love with him more.
No, you’ll never be able to prepare yourself for marriage.

Day 3: Satan Will Attack Your Marriage

It’s a team effort. Marriage doesn’t take two people; it takes God, you, and your spouse. It is a growing and learning process especially the first month together. You can’t have unrealistic expectations diving into marriage. You have to realize that marriage is two imperfect people serving a perfect God. You will both fail and make mistakes, but it’s learning to say “I’m sorry” and “I was wrong.” It’s forgiving each other every day and loving each other through it all. You need to admit how you feel and be open and honest with each other about everything. I’m a newly wed, so I’m freshly stepping into this whole marriage thing, but I have learned that the enemy tries to destroy what he sees as good in God’s sight. You need to understand the he will try to pry his way in your relationship with your spouse. He will intentionally place barriers between you to cause you and your spouse to feel distant. He makes a small, petty detail seem like it’s the biggest deal in your life at the moment. You can’t let Satan win. You have to keep God in the middle and pray for your spouse and your marriage. Remember, when troublesome times come your way, you need to let God handle it. Marriage is beautiful, and Satan hates beautiful. He loathes goodness, righteousness, and truthfulness. He despises seeing couples thrive in this world in which he roams like a lion to steal, kill, and destroy. Stand up for your marriage!!! Date intentionally. 👠Pray daily. 🙏🏻 Forgive easily. 👫Love always.💕

Day 4: Never Stop Dating

Dating intentionally isn’t difficult. Everybody has an issue with the amount of time they have on their hands, so not having enough time isn’t a good excuse. So what does it mean? Dating intentionally simply means to set aside time to spend with your special someone or go out of your way for them once in awhile to show them that you love them. For example, when Brad and I had been dating for a few months, he drove to my favorite coffee shop and bought me three large cups of coffee. Then, he dropped them off by my apartment as I studied for two exams the next day. See? It doesn’t have to be anything like wearing a tux and a dress for all your dinner dates. It CAN be watching Netflix but letting him/her pick the movie (not recommended for a first date)! It can be putting a sweet note on their car in the parking lot. It can be ordering fries to go with a frosty (if you haven’t done that, you should). Dating a person with intention can be full of little ways you display that you care for them and love them. Like I said, it isn’t fancy, and it doesn’t require a ton of money. Never stop dating the person you love when you get married. Brad washes the dishes, cooks, and washes clothes when he sees that I need help around the house. To me, THAT is dating intentionally. He is demonstrating his love for me in those ways. So whether you are in those early stages of dating, engaged, or married, date with the intention of showing how much you love your significant other.

Day 5: Evaluate Your Focus

It’s easy to fall in love with the idea of having a wedding of your own, but when it clouds your mind of the real reason you are getting married, that big idea soon turns into an issue. Focus on WHY you want to get married. Focus on WHO you are marrying. Focus on who YOU need to become before you get married. Every girl has this perfect image in their mind. This picture is one I dreamed of for years. You deserve a wedding to make your own and to plan, but you also deserve a man who is going to love you unconditionally, protect you, and provide for you. Change your perspective, and fall in love with your spouse-to-be over and over again instead of obsessing over the wedding. The wedding is merely a celebration of the love and marriage between a man and woman. Whatever stage of the wedding planning process you may be in, the details are fun and important, but it’s the relationship of you and your future husband that takes precedence over the wedding!

Day 6: Don’t Get Lost in the Details

I wrote my letter to him two weeks from our wedding day. I spent at least two hours writing it because I didn’t want it to be any less than perfect. I placed a bow on the front of the envelope and attached a burlap flower on it. It was a ridiculously beautifully packaged letter. I mentioned to Brad that I wrote my letter that day, and he told me he had yet to write one to me. This was understandable. I realized I was ahead of the game, and Brad was more a last minute kind of guy, so I didn’t ask again until a few days before. He still hadn’t written the letter. Being the slightly crazy bride I was at the time, I ensured that he wouldn’t forget to write the letter by making him a checklist for our wedding day. Okay, I know…it may seem stupid that I cared so much about one little letter. But written words from Brad that I could keep forever serving as a reminder of our special day were of high importance to me. He did write the letter the morning of our wedding. It meant more to me that he wrote the letter our wedding morning because those were his thoughts on that exact day. There wasn’t anything special about his handwriting or the packaging of the letter. The contents of the letter, however, contained rich words full of love and looking forward to spending our lives together. The letter situation is just one of many that reflect our differences in handling our careers and life altogether. I am one to dress up things to the point that it’s almost hard to see the real purpose of it…like the letter. I was focused on completing it and making it pretty instead of setting aside the time to write it on our wedding day and having those thoughts recorded. I was afraid it wouldn’t be good enough or even worse, that I would forget to write it. I can’t rewind and make the decision over; what’s done is done and in the past now, but isn’t it funny how easily we become distracted by what REALLY doesn’t matter? We find ourselves lost in the details…lost in the busyness of life…lost in our jobs….lost in our education.
This is not to say that those things are bad, but if we aren’t careful, they can take all the time we have. Time is precious, and you can never get it back. If you aren’t carving out time to spend with God each day, is He #1 in your life like it may say in your IG bio? I’m not trying to be critical, but I’m just trying to get you to examine the depths of your heart. I’m not going to lie, it’s hard to read the Word every day or to pray especially on days when you “just aren’t feeling it” or are tired. Do it anyway because if God is a priority to You, give Him the time that He grants you. Focus on the contents in your heart…not the packaging!!!!

 

Day 7: Family > Work

Through the hardest times, we have each other. When we visited Brad’s pawpaw in the hospital today, he commented about our wedding ceremony. He has been a man of few words lately because he is fighting pancreatic cancer. He looked at me and said, “You laughing was the sweetest thing.” He smiled at us.
It’s a moment I will never forget, and I would have missed it if I would’ve chosen to stay at work. Those simple words he said and the way he looked at us will always be in my mind. You are replaceable where you work, but you are irreplaceable to your family. It would have been so much easier for me to stay because I hate making sub plans and grades were due today, but I needed that time to be beside my husband and with our family. Please never take your loved ones for granted and cherish the time you have with them as much as you can. Remember that post I wrote awhile back about me wanting to move ahead all the time and not being present in the moment? I may not ever be a “wing it” type of girl, but little by little, I’m learning to take in every precious moment that God gives me.

Day 8: Why We Didn’t Live Together First

We didn’t live together before we got married…here’s why:
1. Marriage is sacred between you, your spouse, and God. Once you are married, you become ONE. Before you are married, you are not ONE. This means that there is 0 stability. Are you sharing finances? Are you sharing the same…everything? Are you okay knowing that someone who isn’t completely committed to you will have access to all your stuff & money? This leads to more arguments which is completely unnecessary and why cohabitation normally doesn’t work out in a couple’s favor.
2. Living together sends the message that you are doing a trial run to see if things will work out, but the thing is, it probably won’t work out if you already believe you have to go through a “trial run.”

3. God commands us to remain sexually pure and wait! Living together creates a stronger temptation to go against His plan of waiting until you are married. In addition, your witness of Christ will be broken to those you are trying to witness to because they will automatically assume that you are committing adultery (having sex with someone you are not married to) and going with the flow of the pressures from society!
4. Let’s look at stats too…”On average, researchers concluded that couples who lived together before they tied the knot saw a 33 percent higher rate of divorce than those who waited to live together until after they were married.” -The Atlantic.com
I know that this isn’t popular and cohabitation is disapproved by only 27% of Americans today. But if living together before you are married is something on your mind or if your significant other is pressuring you to consider it, look at the facts and for the sake of your relationship with God and your possibly future husband/wife, don’t live together before you’re married! 💋💕

Day 9: Treasure the Moment

I couldn’t wait to graduate high school to go to college. Once I made it to college, I was ready to return to my hometown to teach. When I was engaged, I kept looking beyond the sweet engagement season to finally getting married.
And now, here I am, graduated, teaching/working, and married. Don’t get me wrong, I love the season I’m in now! But if I could go back and tell myself one thing in all of those seasons it would be this: spend your time wisely & cherish the moments. I felt like I wished some of the time away. I was antsy for the next season of life instead of fully living in the season God allowed me to enjoy at that time.
I find myself missing my favorite coffee shop I huddled up in while in college. I like to remember what it was like to have my wedding dress on or trying out cake flavors for our wedding cake. I think back to when I would study for FFA contests more than school subjects. 😅
Time is precious & fleeting. Some of us try to plan it out (I’m one of those)! 🙋🏻‍♀️ There’s nothing wrong with setting goals and “shooting for the stars.” But are your goals set to build the kingdom? Were they created based on an eternal perspective? Are you so focused on meeting goals, especially earthly ones, that you don’t enjoy life & all its moments?

We can become obsessed with goals and planning our lives so much to the point that WE DON’T EVEN LIVE THEM. Don’t take this life that God gave you for granted. 💋

Day 10: This is Real Life

Burnt toast, dirty dishes overflowing the sink, clothes that need washing, floors that are begging to be cleaned, boxes still needing to be put up and organized…over and over I’ve been looking around our house and seeing nothing but failure my first week of being a wife (the honeymoon doesn’t count). Although it has been blissful and wonderful doing life with my new husband, I have been focusing on all that I’ve been doing wrong and what needs to be done instead of what I’ve done right. Where did I get this idea of what a perfect wife looks like and what she accomplishes? Who in the world have I been using to define myself? Social media, women in my family, women in my church? The reason I have been feeling like a failure is because I’ve been comparing myself to more experienced wives than me! I took snippets of what I’ve seen in womens’ lives and created a “perfect wife standard.” There is no such thing as a perfect wife, student, boss, teacher, blogger, or mom; the only perfect person to ever walk the earth was Jesus. And the cool part? He lives in you and me and He shows His perfection THROUGH our weaknesses and failures. Doesn’t that make you feel warm and fuzzy? God uses OUR weaknesses to say, “Look to Me for strength.” Quit trying to live up to this perfect *insert role here* standard that YOU created like I did. The one and only person we need to try to be like is Jesus!

Day 11: Control Your Reaction

Crazy Sunday morning…good grief, there are times when I just KNOW that the Devil is out to keep us or me from making it to church & this morning was one of those mornings! My biscuits didn’t cook as fast as they normally do, my mascara wand touched my eyelid with eye shadow already on so I had to redo my eye shadow 🙄, a piece of my hair WOULD NOT STRAIGHTEN for anything so I had to turn my straightener back on to fix it when I noticed that it didn’t straighten the first ten times passing through lol, and then, I didn’t remember turning off the straightener! When we left the house five mins later than normal, I started to think back if I turned off my straightener. I was scared that we would come back to a burnt house, so I told Brad that “I guess I will have to come back and turn it off then.” He drove all the way to church, I dropped him off, and I drove all the way back home. Lo and behold, the straightener was unplugged. 😅 After I was relieved of that, I drove back to church again hurrying to make it to Sunday School. Just reading this makes me feel the adrenaline rush all over again. You may be wondering why he didn’t turn around for me to check my straightener, and it’s because he hates being late for church. I didn’t mind coming back if it meant he could be on time and I could actually focus on the sermon instead of worrying about our house the whole time. Now, I also could’ve prevented some of this by waking up earlier, but there were a lot of things that probably would’ve happened anyway. Haha.
For someone who loves preparation and cute planners with stickers, I don’t have it all together. WE don’t always have it together. There are circumstances that take us by surprise, but as Brad likes to say, “you just gotta wing it.” When these surprises happen, we can control our reaction. My first reaction was anger and aggravation, but when I put my hand on the door to walk into church, I silently prayed for God to get me in the right mindset and for Him to calm me. We must recognize when we are being attacked and I most definitely did driving back to church. Let God help you control your reactions to your crazy circumstances.

 

The Piano

A story, a symbol, a masterpiece…
Brad, my husband, saw a piano free on Facebook. It was left in a shed where it received water damage and the fluctuating temperatures ruined its insides. He decided to take this on as his biggest woodworking project to date. He completely refurbished it. He changed out all the inside pieces, rebuilt and stained some parts, sanded it, varnished it, and gave it to me as a gift. I was and still am completely in awe. When I opened up the inside and he explained to me how he replaced the parts, I just stared at him with my mouth open. The amount of time and patience that was placed into this beautiful work of art cannot be numbered. I didn’t even know I wanted a piano until he gave me this one. I have a keyboard that I bought for myself while I was in high school with money I made from selling watermelons. It only got the job done through the years, but I will admit a keyboard is nothing like playing this piano!
I’m not writing this to brag about how good Brad is to me (although, I don’t deserve him at all because he’s entirely too good for me). We’ve been married for a year and a half and the big secret to it is letting God be in the middle. This piano reminds me that marriage is simple and shouldn’t be complicated. Marriage is like playing a piano…you go through highs and lows, you hit the black keys every now and then that take you by surprise but turn out being all part of the song, and when a key sticks or you hit a wrong note, you work through it and keep playing anyway. ❤️

Where Confidence is Found

I went through a major fashion phase right after I got married. If it was on sale, cheap to me, and cute, I would ask Brad and buy it. Now that I look back on it, I have understood why. Fashion + clothes + shoes are tons of fun to me, and I ❤️ being creative with outfits. I have been that kind of girl before I could talk (just ask my mom), but it increased so much more after marriage…
I have slacked up buying clothes the past 6 months and haven’t bought much of anything except books (Brad and I are book nerds now🤓) and groceries.
It just dawned on me WHY I would buy clothes other than just liking them and being on sale. It isn’t because I had more closet space. I did have more room which was a bonus, but that wasn’t the reason. It also isn’t because I needed to give clothes away and make a wardrobe update. I did that too, but again, this isn’t the reason.
It’s clear to me now: clothes became my way of finding confidence. Being newly married, I felt a crazy amount of pressure to be a perfect wife and everything good I’ve read about. It was my way of gaining stability when my circumstances changed. I was seeing girls at church with the latest fashion trend on or fashion bloggers on my IG feed stating the must-haves for the season. I was looking to prove myself to people and finding confidence in clothes…🤦🏻‍♀️
You guys, it took me until NOW to figure this out. The message I need to get to you is this: look deep into your heart. Satan plants pressure there, little lies that don’t seem to be a big deal until they grow into a monster that tears your life away piece by piece. Harsh, I know. Confidence & stability when life is changing can only be found in Christ. Carefully monitor what you are allowing yourself to believe. You control whether you believe LIES or TRUTH, friends!

Are You Like a Fake Pharisee?

The beignets (pronounced ben-yay) + coffee are as real as it gets at Cafe Du Monde, and it’s hard for anyone outside of this restaurant to mimic their iconic food. The Pharisees remind me of a good lookin’ beignet or cup of coffee but a bad tasting one….
The Pharisees were classified as Jesus’ enemies even though most of the people were deceived into thinking they were “for” Jesus. The Pharisees prayed loudly in the streets and synagogues and wore exquisite and beautiful clothes. They constantly tested Jesus, and they made stupid, impossible laws for people to follow. They waited for someone to mess up to call them out on their sin. This particular group was about bringing glory to themselves and basically, wanted people to worship them. Jesus warned His people to be careful around the Pharisees and not to listen to them. He was quick to tell them when they were wrong and found them to be hypocrites!
The Pharisees were FAKE to the core. Looking at them, they seemed to have it altogether on the outside but their insides were nasty.
The Pharisees also made things public. They always wanted attention. But how much time did they spend with the Lord in private? What did they do that went unseen to the people but not to God?
Everything we do in private will be reflected in public….
praying and handing our burdens to God=peacefulness + rest
asking for forgiveness=released from guilt + shame
reading our Bibles=gained knowledge and wisdom to share
tithing=more blessings
And the list goes on.
It’s not about you. It’s not about us. It’s about God, our Father. Your heart needs that time away from the world and to share private moments with God to live authentically and in a way He wants you to live. Don’t be a Pharisee.

Backslider

Backsliding is what I call this. I’m a teacher maybe grading papers on a messy desk which only stays clean for one hour tops btw. But you can’t see my heart or where I stand with God and that’s where the backsliding is happening. I am annoyed with myself + feel guilty + am convicted.
I have my reasons for it and excuses but nothing can justify why I haven’t read my Bible in five days. Yeah, five days.
The pattern is very apparent to me. When I don’t stay in the Word like I should, I become easily exhausted and not filled. I run out of fuel, and today, I was running on empty. I am not surprised when I wear out quickly on a week like this week and don’t pick up the Bible once. I should’ve prepared myself for each day and what was to come, but I didn’t do it. I prepared lessons-not myself.
Don’t do what I did this week. It’s so much easier to not set aside time to spend with God because everything else seems to be looming over your head and you want to get it all done. If you can barely function from being exhausted, don’t expect good results. Running around like crazy trying to get everything in order in a chaotic setting was totally me all week & I don’t see how that’s a good example. The truth of the matter is that it wasn’t. It’s really hard to spot Christ in someone’s life if they aren’t spending necessary time with Him. To pour out, we must always be filled up.

Tough Stuff Series

It’s time for the tough stuff. The topics that I will be sharing have been laid on my heart over the past few weeks. These are topics that aren’t necessarily brought up in churches. Before commenting or messaging me if you find something offensive, please find the truth for yourself, and don’t run from conviction. When you are convicted, there aren’t fuzzy feelings, and it’s hard to face the truth. I am not here to offend but to be your friend in Christ! I actually pray that what I write really speaks to your heart. 💕 God disciplines us because He loves us. He is our Father. Keep this in mind.

Tough Stuff #1:

You can’t please everyone, and there will be people who dislike you. It could be because you are saved, they are jealous, they could be holding a grudge from the past, or you looked at them “weird” one time. You have to remember that you are called to lead people to Christ and help gather more disciples. You cannot worry what others think about you. Jesus told his disciples to “shake the dust off their feet” when a city wouldn’t accept Him meaning for them to move on to the next city because they did what they were called to do! (Matt. 10:14) You can’t wallow in negativity and let others’ thoughts weigh you down. When God gives us an assignment, the most we can do is complete it. God will do the rest & give you rest!
So, now…I have a question for ya: are you a people pleaser or a God pleaser? Are you doing what God wants or what people want?
Are you hiding truth from someone b/c you are scared of losing them as a friend? Are you going for the job only b/c someone encourages you but you know it isn’t what God wants for your life? Are you not starting that business or blog b/c “so and so” says you can’t make it work when God is telling you otherwise? If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, you are a people pleaser. Choosing a person over God is not okay. Christ is the only One Who can fill the empty places in your life and the One Who is directing you. Be a God pleaser! Those people don’t know what’s happening tomorrow, but God does!

Tough Stuff #2:

I’m sure you have said at one point in your life, “Where are you, Lord? Are you listening to me? I don’t feel you here with me.” You aren’t the only one who has felt this way….I’m right there with ya. As David was running from Saul, he experienced this same feeling and wrote it down in song form. We read his songs today in the Book of Psalms. We see him praising God and yet, in others, crying out to God wanting Him to listen or longing for His presence. Why is it that we “feel” closer to God or more distant from God? Faith & trust in Him, y’all.
I’m clicking the rewind button in my brain for a second to make a point. When I experienced the deaths of two important people in my life, I prayed more, read my Bible more, and trusted for God to get me through the rough patches. After healing, burdens and pains were relieved and I was comforted. A traumatic experience seems to push me closer to Christ, and I’ve seen this happen with many people. It is definitely not a bad thing! But then, the praying becomes less, reading the Bible turns to one verse in two minutes a day from a phone screen, and all is well in life because the deep hurt has scabbed over. We then wonder, “Why can’t I feel God like I did before?” I’ve also seen the opposite when people become angry at God for allowing a tragedy to happen, and they ask, “Where is God at a time such as this?” These are both examples of a wavering faith and not completely trusting God.
God doesn’t move away from you. You move away from Him. We are so sinful and being the imperfect humans we are, our fleshly nature keeps us swaying back and forth in our relationship with God. We choose the lies & the sin over the truth. Satan fuels the lie that the tragedy was “God’s fault” or on the opposite side of the spectrum, that “You’re good and don’t need God again until the next major life-changing event.” Be aware that Satan is going to strike you the hardest at your lowest. Consider your relationship with Jesus right now. Is there a difference b/w when you got saved and now? WHY is there a difference?
I bet you moved forward, stayed lukewarm, or fell backwards!

Tough Stuff #3:

The fire alarm went off at a hotel I was staying in at Indy this summer, and we had to evacuate the building. A mall was right next door, so I chose this time to meander to Sephora and “test” their dry shampoos in the store. (Tbh, I just didn’t want to buy a whole bottle of dry shampoo only to throw it away before a flight.😂) The very next day, a chemical spill occurred in the washroom by the lobby of the hotel, and we were evacuated yet again. I was with a group of young women who I quickly became acquainted to, and we decided to go to Starbucks and Old Navy together as fire trucks and police cars barricaded the entrance to the hotel. We decided to embrace the moment and use our time wisely (maybe not our money though, lol).
There are always going to be situations out of our control. We can, however, choose how we react to these situations. We can see it as an inconvenience or an opportunity for growth, change, and/or exploration. People are watching you, and sometimes, they wait for you to mess up. Have you ever noticed that?! Christians are ridiculed and persecuted for everything. People are curious at the joy in our lives, so they keep us on their radar. They want to see if what we have is authentic and something they can hold onto. No, don’t care about what others think of you because we do all make mistakes, but be mindful of the way you are displaying Christ’s love to them, your behavior, your actions, your reactions, and your decisions. Your life could be what leads someone to Christ. I could’ve sat on the curb of the entrance of the hotel, gotten impatient with the hotel management and been rude to them, or ran around to everyone staying in the hotel talking negatively about the experience. I saw it as an opportunity to make friends and use the time for developing relationships with people. Imagine looking at yourself through a lost person’s eyes. What needs to change? How could you have reacted differently and in a more Christ-like manner in some situations?