for: Steven Furtick
and Danny Green
Sadly, what went from a burden to a load to heavy to bear was the weight of standardized testing.
0; The pendulum has swung too far and our state legislators have pushed standardized testing to an unreasonable level.
Each year it became harder and harder to keep up with the changes and as the budget continued to cut funding to schools, time and resources were lost. That burden falls on the heart of each teacher who still wants and now needs to find a way to meet each struggling student where they are, while challenging the high achiever.
There were many days last school year that ended in tears and I knew that was not a heart God wanted me to have.
But He always stirred in me a creative design. When I wasn’t at school, I would dream of writing and occasionally I would find the time to collect my thoughts, weave my words and pen my passions.
Somewhere inside, I felt there was a novel waiting to be written, published and shared with others. I wanted my words to inspire, encourage and teach others regarding God’s word and the richness of a life known in Him.
And this is when I find myself at a crossroad. I stand at the intersection; looking left and right… or do I stay on the path going straight ahead; the good life that I know is safe.
I spend many days and nights wrestling with this difficult decision. I have, over the years, had numerous students tell me that I was the only math teacher that made sense to them, that I made it easy, that my class was fun, and that I was their favorite teacher.
God had given me a gift, even as a second career, in the ability to teach and to explain math in a simplistic manner and to make it approachable and fun. How could I disrespect God or throw away His gift? Was that selfish and wrong?
This struggle finally ended when my husband gave me freedom and told me that he would support me no matter what I decided. He encouraged me and told me that even if I took one year off to reflect and rest my mind, we could afford it financially.
And then God told my heart, “If I taught you how to teach and gave that to you as a gift, I can teach you how to write.”
BURN THE PLOWS
After quitting my job, I began to relax and found peace. I was writing, studying my Bible and catching up on things I had put off for too long.
And then I had a great idea. I’ll help out my sweet math teacher friends by substitute teaching occasionally when they need to be out, since I already know the lessons. That would be like a sweet gift I could give them.
As the day came for me to work my first of these assignments, I began to feel my peace dry up. I could feel my heart rate increase and my mind began to whir.
I awoke that morning with the worst of headaches. My stomach churned all morning. The assigned hours were only for half-day in the afternoon, as my friend had a meeting she needed to attend.
I hadn’t felt this ill in months. Hmmm? Months? When was the last time I felt this way? My peace was gone?
I kept telling myself that I was doing something good and kind for a friend. That this was a gift of time and talent that God had given me.
When I arrived, I told my friend about my physical feelings, but not my emotions.
The afternoon went just fine. She even texted me that evening to tell me she had prayed for me and wanted to make sure I was ok.
“Sure,” I replied, knowing that there was more to my illness than I was willing to say, and of which I was completely healed upon my departure from the school.
Enter Elisha (I Kings 19:19-21).
Elisha went to tell his family goodbye and then killed the oxen and burned his plow.
And as I reflected back on the commitment that Elisha made for God, I realized that by “helping” my friend, I was really just keeping my foot in the barn door and peeking in at the plow.
And I told God that it’s breaking my heart to let my friend down again. But He reminded me that “I” got myself into this!
He didn’t tell me to go back and substitute teach. “I” got off track and decided that it was a nice thing to do. It’s not part of what God called me to do with this chapter of my life. It doesn’t fit into the purpose that He has for me, and is just a distraction from the greater thing that He is trying to do in my life.
He gave me the grace to resign and the end of the year, and then I peeked back in that barn, “darn it!”
That rusty old plow ain’t worth a thing!
Yes, God gave me the talent and ability to teach. Yes, it was good for a season. But that season of my life is over. It’s time to burn the plow and let go.
I want to live at peace and walk at the pace, on the path, that God has for me. There are greater blessings in store for me. I will reap a harvest if I do not give up. (Gal 6:9)
So now that my life is on the right path and I’m completely (well mostly) void of distractions, I need to dig some ditches! I need to get ready for God to start filling the valley with His goodness.
So, by faith I got started!
I had begun my website, but I wanted to really refine it. (lisawagneronline.com)
I created a logo.
I designed business cards.
I added links to my website for twitter, instagram and facebook.
I updated my blog and was posting at least once per week.
I studied, wrote and researched.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
please click the link, then read:
STRIKE THE WATER
So I meet with Mandy, the principal of StillCreekAcademy, who wants to know when I can start. Not only do I not know the answer to that, but also I have absolutely nothing to bring.
When I quit my teaching job, I distinctly heard God tell me to, “be generous.” And in doing so, I gave away all that I had acquired over my 9 years of teaching to the one taking my place.
She had been a science teacher and wanted to become a math teacher. She had no materials or resources, so I gave her all that I had.
God actually knew that I would teach again, He just didn’t let me in on that tiny secret… yet.
But, if I truly believed that this was His will, then I was equipped for this purpose and He could equip me to do all things He set before me.
In 2 Kings 2 Elisha faced his true test of faith. After walking in the shadow of Elijah, could he really believe that God would work through him?
It is awesome to believe that God is at work in others lives. But to speak it over my own life and claim it in front of others, striking the water when I know that I have brought nothing of my own, is more difficult that it sounds.
The school where God has brought me is an incredible place. It is one where heroes are truly born. I am, at times, overwhelmed by what these young students have endured and humbled by the grace that God has measured out in my life. How could I possibly have deserved more?
But I cannot deny that He planted me here, no matter how crazy it seems and no matter how much I “feel” out of place. Even when I am asked, “Mrs. Wagner, have you ever done drugs?” To which I replied, “No,” and was laughed at.
Even at 48, I wanted to run and hide. I felt embarrassed that I didn’t fit in. Crazy. I never wanted to do drugs and still don’t. But who wants to be different and not “relate” to others.
How could I possibly have anything to offer these kids? I still often wonder.
But maybe in the midst of this He’s changing me? I learn and grow every day.
I pray deeply that I can help them and give them hope, value, strength… something.
I know, without a doubt, that this is not a place I have control or something I can do in my power. I don’t even have a cloak to swing at the water. I don’t even have water. I’m just waving my arms around and praying, “Lord, fill me to overflow!”