7 More Weeks

Image result for school images free

The hallway is quiet. The teacher unlocks her classroom door and thinks to herself…

7 more weeks. I can do this. I can! There is so much left to get to. I’m going to have to make every minute count. No days “off”. I’m going to have to use every second to make sure those kids are ready for the next grade. I don’t want them going on with holes in their understanding, with gaps in their comprehension. Wow…I’ve got so much to do in only 7 weeks, and some of that will be interrupted by faculty meetings, PD, testing, and a mountain of end-of-year paperwork. Can I really do this and do it right? I can do this. Okay. 7 more weeks…

Down the hall, another teacher sits at her desk and gazes around her classroom. She thinks to herself…

7 more weeks. 30 years of being an educator, and now it all comes down to 7 more weeks. This room has held my career within its walls. It’s seen the tears, the frustration, the laughter, the wonder, and the joy that comes with teaching and learning. It’s held open the window of knowledge for so many children. Bobby–wow–I thought he’d never start reading, and then, boom! One day, the light came on and he was reading everything he could get his hands on! And then, I taught his boy, and Jenny’s boy, too. I wonder if those kids remember me? I wonder if they know how much I loved teaching them? How they helped me, REALLY helped me,  through those three years that I had cancer? I’m tired. I’m ready for new adventures in retirement, but–goodness–I will miss this room. These kids. I will miss standing at my door and getting hugs and good morning smiles each day. I’ve done it for 30 years, and now I have 7 more weeks…

Next door, another teacher turns on her computers and fumes to herself…

7 more weeks. If I can just get through the next 7 weeks, I will be free of this place, at least for the summer. Free of the pressure. Free of the frustration of giving, giving, giving and seeing nothing gained. I wonder if Sally had her medicine before she got on the bus this morning? Because there is no way I can fight through 7 more weeks of her all day long. I need some help. I’m so burnt-out. Let’s see…I’ve “covered” all of my standards, so I’m going to coast through these next weeks and make them go as fast as I can…

Across the hall, a teacher hums to herself as she posts the day’s assignment…

7 more weeks. I’m going to miss these kiddos. All of them. Yes…all of them! I hope I’ve done what they need every day. I hope I’ve shown them how much I love them! I hope that Ben ate dinner last night, or he’s going to be starving this morning. I’ll need to make sure he eats breakfast either way. I hope that Missie got some shoes that fit her since she is growing so much. Shoot! I should have gotten her some while we were on break…why didn’t I remember that? Well, I still have 7 weeks to take care of these kids. I can do a lot in 7 weeks…

And on the bus, a child solemnly stares out the window and thinks…

7 more weeks. That’s all I get. Only 7 more weeks to call that teacher mine. I only get 7 more weeks to see her smiling at me, to tell her about my days at home, to smell her perfume. I only get 7 more weeks to get some good food for lunch and breakfast, for her to give me a snack. I’m glad she doesn’t fuss at me for not having a snack. I only get 7 more weeks to listen to her read stories. I like her voice. It’s never too loud or too mean. I only get to listen to her for 7 more weeks. I wish we could come to school every day, even on the weekends. Even in the summer. And I wish she could be my teacher all the time. But that’s not how it works. I get 7 more weeks. That’s not very long…

There’s a lot of ways to look at 7 more weeks. How can we make it count?

Posted in Uncategorized | 16 Comments

100 Books A Month

Would it be possible to read 100 books in a whole month? Can you read too many books to a class?

As December was approaching, I was thinking about my reading instruction, especially in the area of comprehension. I was thinking about all of the activities we do in December…the fun things that the kids love, like Santa pictures, Elf Mart, Christmas crafts, ornament making, and many more. I was even thinking about the reading-related activities we do in class, like filling out sheets that correlate to reading strategies, completing practice pages, and station games that may(or may not) relate to a phonics strategy.

I knew that December would be busy and short, and I was feeling like my students’ reading comprehension strategies were fair at best. I read some articles and a few professional books on the subject, and what I came to realize is that the number one most important thing I can do as a teacher to increase reading comprehension is to…well, read. Not just two or three books a day, either. I’m talking about reading a lot of books!

I approached my students with my idea to have read more books in our short-but-full month of December, and they came up with a goal of 100 shared read-alouds.

Whew! Would we have time for this?

We did.

We made time. I really had to look at my reading-related activities and decide the purpose for each and every one. Was the activity necessary? Was it more important than actually reading?

We read 104 books in the month of December, and yesterday, on the last day of January–which was filled with snow and ice days (we came for one whole 5-day week)– we finished our 102nd book of the month. Since the beginning of December, we’ve had 206 shared read-alouds in Mrs. Givens’s classroom.

Today, we had a class discussion about the impact of so much reading in two months. How have we changed? What have we gained? What have we learned?

Here’s what we came up with:

1. We have connected with the books. When you read and read and read, you can’t help but connect to the different texts. The most natural connections, which were connecting between two stories, came swiftly and without effort.


Hey, this reminds me of Goldilocks and the Three Bears! I think the author is trying to write that story, but with different characters. 

That’s the same guy who illustrated Max and Maggie in Winter. No wonder the pictures remind me of each other!

All of her books have characters who are ducks! That must be her “thing”!

Once I pointed out the connections that were being made by the students, they came even more swiftly. Not only were kids connecting between two texts; they also started connecting the book to their own lives and to the world around them.

This story reminds me of a song I heard on the radio. 

That grandma reminds me of my grandma.

This book taught me a lot about Antarctica. I didn’t know scientists could go there.

The Gingerbread Boy taught me that you should never talk to strangers. They may want to eat you up. <yikes!>

Making connections to a text helps readers to understand the characters, the events, and the outcomes. It simply helps people to become better readers. Our text connections were my favorite part of the 100 book challenge.

2. We have read a variety of books (or as one child said “a varlogaty”).

I have read a lot of books! I’ve read so many that I previously would have looked over in the busy-ness of the day. I’ve found so many wonderful works of literature, and several of my kids have started forming interests and preferences based on authors and styles. It’s amazing to hear their conversations.

I like Mercer Mayer books because I feel like Little Critter is my friend now.

I like to read the Jan Brett books because she writes fairy tales in a new way. I might try to do that during Work on Writing at stations.

I like nonfiction books about animals. I’ve learned a lot about fish by listening to those and reading them myself.

In reading a large volume of children’s books, I’ve learned what I already knew about my own favorite reads as an adult…

Not all books are created equally.

Some books just aren’t that good. The writing is shoddy, the characters aren’t developed, and the story doesn’t seem to complete itself.

Student: I didn’t really like that book. <everyone gasps in horror and looks at me>

Me: You know, you’re not going to like every book you read. Guess what? I don’t like every single book I’ve ever read. Good readers know what books are good fits for them.

We’ve had a whole new revelation in my classroom. Sometimes we are not going to like the book that we’re reading, and it’s okay. However, there are times in life when we may need to read things that we don’t like (college textbooks, account summaries, etc), and we will have to make meaning out of those things. That’s why reading comprehension is so important. And that’s why we need to read a lot to and with our kids.

3. We have learned a lot of new words.

Our vocabulary bank has exploded. We have had multiple natural encounters per book with new vocabulary words. We’ve used picture and context clues to figure out those words, and most importantly, we’ve started using them in our every day speech.

Child (holding up the story The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog): This book is so inspiring.

Me: Really? Is “inspiring” a word you want to use for that book?

Child: Yes! It inspires me to write a hilarious story…I’m going to call it The Bluebird Found a Corn Dog.

Another Child (with three different tellings of The Gingerbread Man): I think that it is okay to read the same story over and over. I like to read different versions of the same story.

4. We have learned a lot of content.

The amount of background knowledge, vocabulary, and facts that we’ve tucked away is exciting to me. In looking back at our December chart, we discovered that we read way more fiction stories than  nonfiction, so our January goal was to read at least 100 books and texts together, and to make an effort to read more nonfiction stories. My first choices for nonfiction books was informational stories on snow, winter, and polar animals. The kids listened with rapt attention.

I was startled to realize one day that most of my students thought that only books with real photographs were nonfiction books. Many thought that stories with “drawn illustrations” had to be fiction because of the pictures.

This led us into a series of discussions about fiction vs. nonfiction, a concept that I had thought we were solid on in kindergarten. We delved into nonfiction text features as well, like glossaries, tables of contents, and indexes.


In January, we tried to have a more balanced approach to reading fiction and nonfiction books. We marked our nonfiction books with “NF” by the title. 

Without our 100 Book Challenge, I may never have discovered this misconception among my students about nonfiction and fiction stories.

5. We have developed a love for books and reading.

Sometimes during our literacy stations I will notice how quiet the room has become, and I will look around at my kids. Several will be lounging on their bellies on the rugs, chin in hand, with a book in front of them. Some may be sitting in our tiny chairs, pretending to be the teacher, reading each page and then showing illustrations to their pretend students, stopping to ask  questions about text connections. Others may be writing a response in their notebooks about the last book we read as a class.

These precious moments, if there was nothing else, make our shared reading goals worth reaching.


Questions I’m Asked:

*Where do you get all the books? 

My librarian is my friend!!!! I quickly found out that my classroom library only lasted about a week. While I don’t consider my classroom library small, I definitely don’t have 100 books per month to share.

After reading through my classroom books, I visited our school library, which led our class to about three-fourths of the way towards our goal. Then, I borrowed from other teachers and invited students to bring in books pertaining to our current holidays, themes, and units of study.

Note: I did NOT simply read any random story just to put a book on the board to 100. I was careful to make sure our stories had purpose and meaning.

*How did you count chapter books towards the goal?

I read a chapter a day every day, so I counted each shared reading experience as one shared reading. Our current chapter book, Little House in the Big Woods, has been a surprising favorite for many students who didn’t necessarily look forward to the story at first.

*How many books did you read per day?


*How did you find time to read that many stories?

We made time. After careful consideration, we did get rid of some busy-work activities to make more time for reading. I also have had to stay on my toes and keep my eyes on the clock in order to make every minute count in my day. I keep my books for the day on a counter behind my “Reading Chair” and the stack itself keeps my mind on our reading goal for the day.

*How do you keep up with how many books you read?

We have a simple chart and some little sticky notes (pictured above). I just write the name of the story on the sticky note and post it! In the future, I plan to let students fill out the sticky notes and chart our titles themselves.


Do you have shared reading goals in your classroom? How do you accomplish those goals? What growth have you seen in your students’ reading comprehension? Let us know!


Posted in Teaching, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Mary’s Treasure-A Christmas Song

When I was younger, I heard the Christmas story over and over again until it became just that to me…a story from a glossy book, with picture-perfect characters.

But it’s more than a story! It’s history, it’s now, it’s our future. God’s Son, come to earth to be near to us–to save us.

Little Mary…imagine her dismay…even if she was past the point of mourning over her now “interesting” reputation, her family back at home, and the life she’d once known, Mary was now presented with a stable-cave full of animals and expected to give birth to her first child.

There were germs, among other things. There were animals. There was no mother, no bed, no midwife.

Little Mary…she gave birth to the One who creation held it’s breath for. There was no family waiting in the next room to come and visit…

But there were kings, wise men, and shepherds. They were on the way to visit. There was a brilliant star, shining on the one true Light of the world.

Imagine her dismay…she, little Mary, had been chosen to carry this Miracle.

After the stable, after the birth, after the visitors, the Bible tells us in Luke 2:19 that “Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them often in her heart.”

I would think she pulled out her “treasures”–her memories of that wondrous night–over and over again as her Savior-son grew from a baby to a wobbly toddler,  to a smiling young boy, through his teen years, and to a man who was Jesus, Healer of the world. I imagine they flashed through her mind and heart even as her boy was dying. Dying for her, dying for us.

Little Mary…she carried the Gift that we all crave. The one thing that will fill the void we try so hard to feed. Her story–Her Son’s story–it’s more than just that. It’s a treasure we can all keep in our hearts.

This song…the words are His, they are not mine. I pray this Christmas season fills you with the treasure of Jesus.

Mary’s Treasure, Paige Givens (2005)

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

A Thankful Teacher

Teaching is a joy. It’s a privilege that some take for granted, and others long for.

Teaching is hard. There are days when you give and give and give while it seems as if the ones you are giving to just take and take and want more.

Teaching is rewarding. It’s one of the most rewarding gifts that I’ve been given in this earthly life. There are hard days, when I question my ideas and the things that have always worked. There are hard years, when I question my core beliefs and philosophies.

No matter what my year is like, no matter how the day went, there are certain things that I am always thankful for as a teacher–and I’m pretty sure that my teacher friends feel the same way.

I am thankful for my classroom. It’s my home away from home. My nook. My niche. My nest, where I gather all my chicks who are ready to learn. Ask any teacher what their first thoughts are when they get a new job, and the thoughts will center around the room. What’s it like? What’s in there?

I spend  summer nights laying awake, mentally arranging and planning my classroom. I sit at my table on quiet afternoons and look around, imagining what will happen there tomorrow, remembering what happened today.

I can look at certain places in the room and see kids from years ago, and I remember the miracles that happened there. I remember when she realized she could read. I remember when he told me about his mom, even though we never thought he’d talk about her again. I remember when they surprised me with a baby shower for my first son. I remember when we sang God Bless America for the parents. (And yes–I remember when that mouse ran in the door!)

I’m thankful for the noise. There are many times that the outside observer would think otherwise, but I’m thankful for the noise in my room. Noise means productivity in a classroom. Noise means communication and communication means that my kindergarten and first grade friends are learning and sharing new ideas with each other. If my classroom ever becomes silent for days on end and there are children inside, I’ll have to wonder what has become of my teaching. Yes, I am thankful for the noise and the commotion in my classroom!

I’m thankful for my husband. My husband has contributed to my  classroom and mental sanity as a teacher more than anyone will ever know! 🙂 From arranging and rearranging my computers every year, moving me in and out of my room, setting up my webpages, and so much more, he is my biggest helper. In addition to helping in my actual room, he is also my therapist! Ask any teacher’s spouse, and they will tell you that listening is the key when you are married to a teacher. I’m so thankful that I can come home and his listening ear will be ready for me to unload my day’s woes and new ideas.

I’m thankful for my teacher friends. How I love them. We spot each other’s classes for restroom breaks, we share food, ideas, jackets, even clothes in emergencies! We can communicate with “the look” at a moment’s glance, and there’s nothing like a tissue and a Coke pushed through the crack of the bathroom door from an empathetic soul when you’re having a mini cry-session over your current classroom situation. That may have happened to me once.

There’s no judging from your teaching besties, only understanding. I’m so thankful for those teacher friends who share stories, activities, lesson plan ideas, tears, laughter, and Oh-no-they-didn’ts with me!

I’m thankful for the bus drivers.  They see where the kids come from and get them to school daily. They braid hair. The clean up “accidents”. They dry tears. They give treats on holidays. All the while, they are driving our children to school safely, day in and day out. Bus drivers are often overlooked, and they carry our most precious possessions to and from school.

I’m so thankful for the bus drivers at my school, who are the first and last faces that many of my students see each school day!

I’m thankful for the mess. Okay, this one is hard for me. But I AM thankful for the messes in my room.

Learning is messy. It’s not a simple, clean process that can quickly be wiped away. Real, authentic, learning doesn’t look the same for every child. It takes multiple routes and forms, and it leaves a mark.

When I’m mentally present–facilitating, following, guiding, teaching through my day–my room often looks like a mess by the end of the day. There’s not always time to tidy the day away.

It’s been a process, but I’m thankful for the mess. The mess shows me that I have spent the day teaching to the best of my ability.

I’m thankful for the parents. The parents, who trust me with their babies. The parents, who are my partners in education. The parents, who spend the evening after a full day of work reading with their kids, making lunches and snacks for the next day, filling out forms and money requests for class.

I am so thankful for the guardians and parents who give their time, efforts, and resources to make our room so much more than ordinary.

Most of all, I am thankful for their understanding and patience with a somewhat scattered teacher. They seem to always look past my inadequacies to see a teacher who loves her students and tries her best. For that, I am forever grateful.

I’m thankful for my students. My friends. My girls and boys. My precious students. Without them, I would not be called a teacher.

I am thankful for them. The talkers, the “helpers”, the rascals, the quiet ones, and the readers. The artists, the mathematicians, the writers, and the builders. The giggly ones, the sad ones, and the wiggly ones. I am thankful for all of them.

I am thankful for the big ones who come back to me and say, “Mrs. Givens, do you remember me?”

I am thankful for the ones who walk by and shyly wave, wondering if I’ll wave back.

I am thankful for the ones who stop for a hug every single morning.

I am thankful for the ones I taught today, with their grins and shouts and whispers. I am thankful for the ones I will teach tomorrow and next week and next year, if the Lord plans for it to be so.


I am a thankful teacher. I pray that I never take for granted the privilege and honor that I’ve been granted to teach some of my favorite people every day. I still willingly admit that there are days I walk around my school thinking, “I get paid to do this!”

Teaching is a profession unlike any other. There are hard days that make the good days even better. There are triumphs that are made sweeter by the trials. And there are always reasons to be thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving my teacher friends!


Posted in Teaching, Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Dear Weary Teacher

Dear Weary Teacher,

I know it’s only September, and I also know that you are tired. Beat. Worn down. And it’s only September. I know that you are overwhelmed. Stressed. Frazzled. And it’s only September.

I know that you are because I feel some of those things too. And my calendar says it’s only September.

September is an interesting time in the life of a classroom. It’s an important one, too. The climate that has been tentatively set at the beginning of the year has the potential to bloom into something wonderful–but it also has the ability to nosedive into something bleak.

By now, the “honeymoon” period has ended. You know, August wasn’t so bad. The routines were planned. The days’ goals were few because you planned to delve deep into the behavior and procedural tasks for the majority of your time. Your biggest celebrations came from the students following the routines smoothly and efficiently enough for you to begin teaching academic content. And that should be one of your biggest celebrations!

But then…other things started to crowd in. The meetings that told you about your system’s new initiative(s). The emails that told you about the new way of saying things that you’ve been saying–which is really the same things you’ve been saying, but you’re just going to learn new words to say it with and you have to say those new words from now on. In your letters to parents, in your lesson plans, and to your students.

The kids are more familiar with you now, and some are braver, too, and a few hiccups in the behavior routines start to happen. And…if you’re like me, you’ve started to loosen  your handle on a few routines that you may need to tighten back up on…and it wears you out.

And now, October is coming. And it’s bringing Halloween with it!

And after that, the month of November will sprint by, followed by December, where you try to fit in holidays and district assessments all at once and you wonder why those kids are acting so crazy!

So you are tired. Some days are hard. You may go home and wonder what teaching actually went on today because you were too busy running behind your routine, trying to catch up. You may go home feeling a little defeated because some of your kiddos don’t seem to get what you are teaching. You may go home poorer because you’ve spent a big hunk of money on school supplies that you think will enhance your lessons. You may go home with a hoarse voice because you’ve talked, discussed, listened, and talked some more. All. Day. You may go home and need a little bit of silence. Or Tylenol.

You are tired. I understand. I am, too. 🙂

But we will discuss the woes that make us tired no more, weary teacher friends. Lamenting those things will not make us more energized. It will not make us better.

If we want to feel better and more alive over our classrooms, our schools, our climates, and our own teaching, then we should focus on a few key aspects of teaching to wake us up.

1. You’ve made a difference already.  Remember how I said it’s only September? And you’re tired? Your weariness can also come from the fact that you’ve been working hard and impacting the lives of not just one other human, but at least 18 others! And their parents. And their siblings. That’s tiring work! You’ve already established a mindset in your students (I hope) that they are learners, able to use their learning to make a difference in their world and community. That takes effort on your part, and while you may not have received any feedback yet, you have made a difference. (By the way, my personal kids tell me all about their teachers’ cars, families, food preferences, and favorite colors. Your students love everything about you!)

2. You may be their only bright spot. You may be the only smile your students see, the only hug they get, and the only road that leads them out their current cycles. Some students go home and count the minutes until they are back at school, where they are safe, loved, and happy for a few hours. This alone can motivate us to keep pushing through these busy, overwhelming fall months. You can be the reason that they love school, whether you are tired or not.

3. You know your students best. It gets hard when people who don’t know your students and their situations tell you what they think is best for them. Especially if those people aren’t educators. Instead of letting this discourage you, take it as an opportunity for a breather. Step back, take a deep breath, and remind yourself that you are the professional in charge of teaching your students. Think of their needs and your teaching goals. The advice you’re given from those on the outside, who are usually just trying to help, may actually be the best advice that you need! Or, it may be a reminder that what you are already doing is what’s best for  your students’ education.

So weary teachers, when you feel like giving up, remember those kids’ faces that lit up today when you told them how smart they were. Remember those parents who wrote their gratitude to you for encouraging them to keep reading, keep counting, and keep writing at home with their child when he or she needed it, ushering in a change in  learning. Remember the girl who told you how good you smelled and the boy who told you how pretty your smile was. Remember the little guy who will go to bed with more food in his belly and more confidence in his heart about learning and life and people.

Because of you.

Remember it all, and rest easy. Our students–they are worth the weariness.

Rest up, weary teachers. Tomorrow is another day!




Posted in Teaching, Uncategorized | 7 Comments

Running Back to the Ark

The drop hit him on the nose first. He looked up, squinted into the sky.

The air smelled like rain.

Another drop, then another.

Soon the sound of pattering rain filled his ears as the air around him danced with drops.

What was his instinct?

Was it to run? Was it to panic, to grab his loved ones close and drag them back into the ark?

Before Noah had built the ark according to God’s instructions, the earth had not seen rain and storms that were strong enough to flood the earth. The Bible tells us that “By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family.” (Hebrews 11:7)

Even though they’d been warned, their human minds could not comprehend what a flood would be like.

I don’t know if our human minds can comprehend a rain that floods the whole entire earth.

Noah listened to God and was spared. He built an ark and his family was safe in the flood.

After forty days and forty nights, the rains ceased and the ark eventually landed on dry ground. God promised Noah that He would never destroy the earth with a flood again (Genesis 9:11).

God promised. He is sovereign. He is holy. If He said that He wouldn’t destroy the earth with a flood again, then the ark was no longer needed, right? The animals could be released, homes could be rebuilt, and a new life could start.

But I have to imagine…had it been me, what would I have done the next time I saw rain? What would I have done the next time I heard the distant roll of thunder? How would I have reacted when I saw the sky flash with lightning?

I’m pretty sure I would’ve hiked up my robes and taken off towards the ark, leaving muddy footprints in my wake.

God’s promises hold true. He has promised to take care of us. In Deuteronomy, we are told to “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

I’ve heard those words my entire life, but have I really taken them to heart? He is with me. He is for me. He will never forsake me.

I say I believe, but I struggle with carrying blueprints to my own personal ark around in my back pocket.

What will I do if _________________ happens? What plan will I have? How will I take care of _________________?

Anxiety has long-since been my shadow, the one I can’t get rid of. It’s a greedy being, following me around, lurking in the shadows, always taking but never giving a solution.

I can watch the news and the anxiety reaches out and steals my joy, holding it high above my head where I can’t seem to reach. I can go through a School Crisis Training, and anxiety sidles up and envelopes me until I feel like I can’t breathe.

I’m sprinting back towards the ark.

I’m ready to hide, even though He promised that the floods wouldn’t overtake me. Even though He promised to take care of me. Even though He promised to be with me.

I think the problem with my heart is that I know storms will come in my life, and I’m not trusting Him with His promise.

God’s promise was not to keep me dry in the storms. He didn’t promise that no bad thing would ever happen to me.

His promise was that He was going to take care of me. He promised to be with me, to never leave me. His promise was that I will not be destroyed by disaster.

Storms will happen. Disasters will happen. But He has promised to take care of His children and uphold us, that we won’t be destroyed. Even in death! “…that all who believe in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

There’s no need to run back to ark to be saved, because He said so. Jesus is my rock, my salvation, my calm.

Jesus is my ark.

And that’s all I need.

Posted in Devotionals, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

The Least Likely One

I may have been the least likely one from my first grade class to become a teacher. I was probably the least likely one to sing in front of large crowds, and especially to speak at churches and teacher conferences.

I was very shy and apparently, I was a slow reader. I recently stumbled across my old first grade report card, and I noticed that every six weeks my wise teacher would write something like, “She’s very quiet…needs to work on reading.”

I lacked confidence. Maybe I lacked ability, too.

I remember how my class divided into groups to go into different first grade rooms for Reading instruction. Now, I know this process as something like “Walk to Read” or “Reading Rainbow” or some other fun name that simply means the kids are going to be divided up to meet with a teacher who will come to whatever level they are presently reading on and take them up from there. It’s a good concept and I’m sure it gave me a great foundation. But…

I. Was. Terrified.

I had just become comfortable with my new first grade class and teacher and now–BOOM–I was going into another room for about an hour a day with a different teacher and different kids. And I had to try and read when I couldn’t really figure out how to get started.

“She’s very sweet…her Reading needs improvement. She is very quiet and shy. She needs to gain some confidence in her abilities. ”

I was the least likely one from my class to become a teacher. Or a speaker. Goodness, maybe even a writer.

But God, He had other plans for me.

I eventually learned to read, as many, many kids do. It wasn’t on the timeline that was dictated by a set of standards created by non-educators. It just happened with time, practice, and patience from great teachers and great parents.

And then…I didn’t just learn to read…I LOVED to read. When I was in fifth grade, I found a book in a yard sale pile from a series called The Babysitters Club. And just like that–I became an avid reader. I started saving money for Babysitters Clubbooks, begging for books at the grocery store, asking for  historical fiction books at birthdays and Christmas, and hitching rides to the library. My school librarian came to know me by name, because I was no longer the girl who needed to work on her reading. I was the girl who was learning vocabulary, building up my comprehension and background knowledge, and even working on my speaking skills with each and every new word I read.

And I read all the time. I read on the bus, in study hall, in front of the TV, in the dark (“Paige–you’ll strain your eyes!”), in the floor, outside–everywhere.

I was now a reader. Albeit, a shy, quiet reader. And there’s nothing wrong with that at all, except that God had other plans for me.

Because of my love for reading, my writing abilities were honed and sharpened. My teachers encouraged me greatly as a writer and gently prodded (and poked, too) me to write out of my comfort zone. I wrote for the school newspapers and the yearbook. And then I started writing poetry.  And then I started writing songs.

But sharing them was pretty hard.

You see, the devil, he is our enemy. And he will take things about us that are NOT bad, and he will make them seem like the worst possible traits to possess.

You’re too shy. You aren’t really a writer. You can’t even read the Biology book in front of your class without panicking. You won’t be able to share this.

I grew up in the “Singing Munchers”,  you know, and I’d been singing with my family for awhile (if you call my whole life awhile). I’d even sung solos and duets with my friends.

But sharing my own songs, and talking about them…that was another matter entirely. Sharing words from your own heart can leave  you feeling raw and vulnerable like nothing else.

I was the least likely person to be doing those things.

But God, He had other plans for me.

He had songs, He had words, He had women’s conferences, He had an army base full of singing soldiers (and a skipping CD), He had roomfuls of children waiting to learn, He had teachers wanting some inspiration. Yes, He had lots of plans for me.

Even though I’m the least likely one to work on His plan.

He has a history of doing that, you know. In the Bible, we see so many least-likelies. It almost seems like the least-likelies are His favorite ones to use! Could it be?

A tongue-tied Israelite adopted into Pharoah’s family, who later leaves his adopted family, only to murder someone and run away into the wilderness. That’s who God chose to use to guide His children out of slavery and towards the Promised Land. Moses was certainly an unlikely leader.

A harlot. That’s who God chose to aid His people in the fight for Jericho. And Rahab did exactly as He purposed.

A scrawny shepherd boy who slayed a giant, became a mighty warrior and leader, and then fell to temptation and committed adultery. That’s who God appointed as a King after His own heart.

Jonah was a runner who became a great prophet.

Mary was a young virgin who became the mother of Jesus.

Matthew was a despised tax collector who became a disciple.

Peter was an impulsive loud-mouth, by some standards, who became a leader of the New Testament church.

Paul was a Christian-killer who became a Christian and wrote much of the New Testament letters to the Christian churches.

And I was a sinner who became saved.

I was a struggling, shy reader and writer who became a teacher, writer, singer, teller of God’s faithfulness, and disciple of His love.

Even though I was the least likely one.

Where are you at now? Where are your struggles? The Lord delights in taking you right where you’re at and healing you, growing you, changing you. For BIG things. For GREAT things. For His glory. Through the blood and grace of Jesus Christ, His only Son.

He has great plans for you.

The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7

Posted in Devotionals, Uncategorized | 2 Comments