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.

The Flowers and Thorns

If you were to choose between a flower, a thorn, and a flower+thorn combo, what would you choose? Duh. The flower, right? 💐 It is an easy choice because flowers are so much prettier, make you happy when you look at them, smell good, and won’t hurt you. The thorns are the complete opposite…they have no smell, no attractiveness, dull color, and are painful when you pick them up. And why would you even consider a flower+thorn combo when you can just have the flower with no thorn? Hmmmm…

I am seeing too many Christians go through the Bible and follow the things that THEY want to get out of it while ignoring the rest. They are choosing the flowers and ignoring the thorns (aka: the convicting parts/the stuff we don’t want to give up/fleshly desires). If you are a saved Christian, the entire Bible needs to be applied to your life! You can’t read all Ten Commandments, for example, and choose one to follow. You’ll be convicted by the Holy Spirit for not following His Word and will have to deal with the consequences too. You don’t need to live a worldly life if YOU ARE NOT OF THIS WORLD. When you are saved, you are made new and a totally different person. We are fighting against our fleshly desires to live for Christ instead of the world.
Choose the flower+thorns combo (the feel good parts of the Bible and the convicting hard-to-swallow parts of the Bible) because if you are follower of Christ, choosing just the flowers will damage your witness, others, and ultimately, the body of Christ.

Battling Negativity in the Classroom

On a daily basis I witness interactions between teenagers. I witness harshness and competitiveness more than anything else between them as sad as that is to admit. Very rarely do I witness togetherness and kindness. The talk I hear in my classroom disgusts me at times. In between lectures when kids are supposed to be working on the assignment I have given them, I hear…”No, *name* doesn’t rap near as good as I do.“ “I lift more weights than he does.” “I think *name* is so much better at basketball. He scored more points than *name* the other day. There’s no way *name* can make it on the team.” I teach almost all guys. I always thought that girls were tough on each other, but I guess I didn’t realize the amount of competitiveness between guys too. Why do we feel the need to see the next person as our competition? Why can’t we see them for who they are…a human that deserves respect and love? We gossip and spread rumors sometimes unintentionally hurting others in the process. I hear negative comments about other teachers in my room which leads me to believe that all they can possibly be saying about me is negative as well. Much of what is said between them is discouraging and is meant to tear down instead of lift up. Before the end of the year is over, I’m actually going to bring this matter to their attention. What is discussed between a small group of people leaves that group until the larger population knows about the business discussed. If that business is nothing but negative, it can cause fights and broken relationships and friendships. Although I see this happening in my classroom and school grounds, it is only a reflection of what’s happening out in the world. But we can fight it. We need to go against the grain and instead of encouraging negativity, battle it with positivity. Show what it means to be positive, to love, and to respect another person. We are supposed to be followers of Christ and to be a reflection of God’s love that was made known to us. There may be mess and drama everywhere, but we have to be the ones who clean it up and start the change.

Lessons from Honeybees

“Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.” -Proverbs 16:24 🐝🌼 Honeybees can only sting once because they die shortly after. They must be selective of what or who they sting to defend the hive/queen. They are constantly working to provide food while also pollinating flowers. We should learn from honeybees. Our words can sting like the honeybee or be as sweet as a honeycomb. Instead of saying what first comes to mind, we need to think about their lasting impacts. What if they are the last words we ever say? The honeybee chooses to be patient because it knows that stinging someone or something will be its last time. Let’s go about our business as honeybees do and not be easily provoked to say words that may be hurtful. We can also look to the honeybee as an example for defending our faith. Have you ever been afraid to express your faith to people and tend to shy away from taking a stand? It was probably your pride or being afraid of receiving judgment from others. Again, once the honeybee stings their enemy, they die shortly after because the stinger leaves the body. Now, I don’t think we should go around stinging people with our words, but when we feel the Holy Spirit nudging us to defend Him & our faith in Him, we shouldn’t back down! We need to be more tactful than the honeybee and rely on the Holy Spirit to give us the words to say, but we need to be as INTENTIONAL as the honeybee. 🐝 Once provoked to protect the hive, they are willing to lay down their lives for it just as we should “lay down our lives for our friends.” (John 15:13, 1 John 3:16) If we truly care about the people in our lives, we will share Jesus to them regardless of what they might think. And by the way, if they totally space out from you and won’t talk to you again…does that make them a real friend? The honeybee works knowing it’s purpose is to provide & store food for later. While it’s out working, it’s also spreading pollen from one flower to another leading to the reproduction of flowers. 🌸🌷🌼 We need to work, work, work to build the kingdom of God which means spreading His love, light, & the Gospel to those who need to hear it all while saving up treasures for ourselves later in Heaven. So the next time someone asked you what all the buzz is about with this Jesus dude, this is an opportunity presented to you to share Him with this person! (So punny, I know)

What Happens If I Fall?

”Let’s stand on that rock together for a picture,” Brad proudly announced with his finger pointing out into a creek. He’s normally not a picture taking kind of guy, so this was a surprising gesture to me. I was wary of stepping onto that slippery rock because 1. It was freezing & I didn’t want to take a chance of sliding right into the water 2. I didn’t have faith in the soles of my boots. 🙃 Despite my two good reasons, Brad’s hand reaching out for me was inviting. “Are you sure?” I asked him. He motioned for me to grab on and pulled me onto the rock for this picture. His assurance in me was what I needed. I had to feel that someone would be there for me if I fell before I took the step. Isn’t it strange how we think we must SEE what’s ahead or who is there before we “take the next step?” What if, as soon as we were told to take the next step, that we just did it without questioning God…without hesitating…without doubting what He can do for us on the other side? I get it. You’re an over thinker like me meaning that you analyze all possible angles of every scenario in life. But, the only thing you need to know is that if God tells you to move, He’s going to be there reaching His hand out to you. And if you fall, He’s going to be there to catch you. And if you don’t, He’s going to be there to hold your hand in the moment. You don’t need to know the details, the script of your life, how it is going to pan out in the end. God is there with you through EVERYTHING. Grab His hand. Make your move. He’s waiting for you.

We Can Be a Funnel Cake…

I usually go to fairs & festivals for their food more than anything else (can I get an “amen!”) and my favorite classic fair food is the funnel cake. The batter is literally dumped through a funnel into hot grease which is how it gets its name. As soon as it turns golden and flaky, it is placed on a plate and sprinkled with an endless amount of powered sugar. Much like funnel cake, we go through times of pressure and change our “form.” Our ideas, thoughts, decisions, lifestyle, and habits may change dramatically because of a situation that has caused tension and pressure on our lives. It could be a horrible grade at school, not making a team, a loved one passing away, a diagnosis of some sort, being fired from a job, a relationship ending…these are all examples of being dumped into hot grease for awhile to change us. Life interruptions tend to move us out of our typical, everyday lives to a big adjustment whether it is forever or temporary. We usually don’t understand them when they happen out of the blue, but in a few days, months, or even years, we begin to see why those times of pressure happened. Sometimes, God never reveals to us why some things happen. But, y’all, if you were to reflect on your life a few years ago, how have you changed? What situations made you change into who you are now? I bet they were those “hot grease” type of situations. Did you migrate towards God or did you run away? What did you learn? God never said He wouldn’t give us too much to handle on our own because He wants us to lean on Him during those times so He can handle them for us. The next time you feel like funnel cake batter, look ahead to what the end result will be…more beauty & wisdom sprinkled on your soul. 😉

The Cotton and the Farmer

After farmers plant cotton, they spray a defoliator on the plants to knock off the leaves when the cotton bolls are ready to harvest. During the cotton plants’ growth, farmers apply pesticides to kill weeds and bugs from destroying their crop. Most farmers check their crop daily to ensure maximum production. The cotton bolls are taken to a gin where the seeds are separated from the cotton. The cotton is then transported to factories to be made into clothes, furniture, and even money. From there, the plants are tilled back into the soil, and the process starts over. We are the cotton, and God is the farmer. We have to bury our old lives to find life in Jesus Christ, and we need to be willing for God to use us in many different ways for Him to achieve maximum production through us. Our old lives can still be used for good because God tills it up for a Gospel seed to be planted there. Sharing how you used to live and how you live now can be all the dirt God needs to lead someone to salvation. The Holy Spirit urges us to repent of our pest problem that we all know as sin. If we don’t repent and ask for forgiveness, our production will greatly decrease. Our lives won’t be as full, our Gospel seeds cannot be planted, and if we don’t check our hearts and recognize our sin as we should, our nutrition from Word and prayer will be stolen by sin. Just as the cotton seeds are separated from the cotton, God separates us from the rest of the world to be the most widely used fiber that helps hold the world together!

Trusting God with Your Job

I was in 8th grade when I knew I wanted to be a teacher one day but wasn’t exactly sure what content area I wanted to teach or what grade level. In 9th grade, I knew within a month that I was going to become an ag teacher one day. As crazy as it sounds, I never changed my mind. Of course, I studied and researched numerous careers within the agricultural field after I found ag as being the most interesting topic, but NONE of them were as appealing to me. I didn’t change my major at all while I was in college. I was built, made, fashioned, formed, BORN to be an agriculture teacher. It became my dream, and now, my dream has come true. God had this plan for my life, and He knew that I was going to be an ag teacher before I knew. He sent me to Varnado to inspire, educate, discipline, advise, and mentor students. I prayed so much throughout the years for God to give me this opportunity and to place me where He wanted me. Not only has He done these things in my life, but He has allowed me to work alongside my husband. You may not know where you want to go or what you want to do with your life. That’s okay! God will reveal His plan for your life. Keep praying and staying in the Word for Him to make it clearer to you. Don’t ignore the doors He opens for you. God made it apparent to me early in life of His calling for me to be a teacher. I didn’t know where He was going to place me until this summer! You may “figure things out” last minute, but it is all in His timing! Dream big because believe it or not, YOUR God is BIGGER!