Monday, October 22, 2012

Armed with a Rock and a Promise

"He's just a boy."  David  "He's just a shepherd. "  

There was David, in the middle of negative comments.  

"You didn't take the year-long class to prepare you for this?!"  "You didn't take the summer institute to give you a head start?!"  me  "You have no one else from your school or even district to be in your cohort?!"  "You don't have any financial assistance?!"

There I was, in the middle of negative comments.  "Criticism couldn't stop David.  While the rest of the army stood around, he knew the importance of taking action.  With God to fight for him, there was no reason to wait.  People may try to discourage you with negative comments or mockery, but continue to do what you know is right.  By doing what is right, you will be pleasing God, whose opinion matters most." (Life Application Study Bible)

Saul dressed David in armor he thought would be helpful.  Very nice candidates gave me tons of advice.  "Get this book."  "Organize your files like this."  "Do this when video-taping."  "Meet every Saturday at Barnes and Noble with a co-candidate."  I know they meant well.  But I couldn't help feeling like David being weighted down with armor that wasn't meant for him.  He took them off, and so did I.  

God put this on my heart 12 years ago.  He clearly said that after ten years of teaching, it would be mine.  He told me then, before I was even married, to wait until my children were in school.  Would you believe me if I told you this is my tenth year teaching and the first year that both children are in school?  Talk about timing.  

Twelve years is a long time to wait.  It's akin to a child waiting for Christmas Day.  They eagerly anticipate it, but if they solely focus on that, they will miss out on the joys of Easter, Fourth of July, and Thanksgiving.  They almost have to subconsciously forget about Christmas in order to endure the wait.  

I have had to do the same.  There were times when I thought that maybe I could speed things up a bit.  But, the timing was never right.  

David faced a physical giant.  I face a giant of sorts also.  It is true that most candidates take a college course to prepare them for this process.  I didn't know about it until March.  Most candidates take a week-long "institute" to give them a head start.  I was at the Transplant House with Joe this summer.  And yes, most candidates come from a school with a legacy of Nationally Board Certified teachers, from whom they can glean advice.  Those same teachers have cohorts that meet monthly to offer advice and support.  Even if I were to join their cohorts, I live 3 1/2 hours away.  Every candidate there had 100% financial support from their district, including the 3 retreats ($250 each).  I have none of that.  

What I do have is a promise from my God.  "I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me" Philippians 4:13.  

I will admit that the negative comments were starting to get to me.  Those and my own negative self-thoughts.  Then, God gave me a breath prayer.  If you aren't familiar with a breath prayer, it is a short prayer that can be whispered with a single breath.  "Lord, bless the work of my hands."  I repeated this several times in my head.  I felt the need to write it down and claim it.  I put it on the cover of my humble 3-ring binder.  It looked like a little note.  

Bless the work of my hands.

It felt unfinished, like it needed a closing.

I signed it "Your servant".

Not until I went back into the Word, did I remember that David said "your servant will go and fight him".

When I opened my account on Saturday, I found an unexpected scholarship in my name in the amount of $1250.  I did not apply for any scholarships.  I may not be a "rock star" yet, but God is already working out the details.
Since I wrote this, I have returned to it many times.  It's usually when I'm feeling overwhelmed or I doubt.  I know, right?  How can I doubt when God has done so much?  But, I'm human.  Today, something amazing happened and I just had to update this post:
I might just cry. It's been difficult. Extremely challenging, but in an awesome, open-your-eyes, become-a-better-teacher way. I know I will never be the same. However, it's been arduous to say the least, to keep up with my teaching responsibilities, to be a wife, to be a mom, to be a friend. In fact, I took today off work to just work on NB, still disappointed about NOT being allowed to go to the two NB retreats where they would have burned my DVDs. But, when we woke up, Joshie had a huge puss bubble on his face. His teacher told me they had impetigo in the classroom. I was less than thrilled at the prospect of yet another trip to the doctor's office. Seriously people, we are on a first name basis. We spend a LOT of time there. I surrendered and knew that I have to do what is right. Priorities. I'm a wife first, then a mom, then a teacher, then a National Board candidate. In that order. I was feeling a little sad thinking that I probably won't pass all 6 entries this year for NB because I refuse to put my loved ones in a lesser position. I consoled myself by thinking that if I can at least pass 1 entry this year, that's one less entry I need to re-do next year. I saw the due date looming ahead. I took Josh to the doctors, swam upstream in the first-of-the-month Walmart crowd, only to have them tell me they are out of stock, drove across the street to Walgreens, and then came find an email from NB. Effective for the first time ever, candidates can upload their documents, as in "immediate" and not have to mail them and fret about lost packages. Candidates can also upload their videos, as in "you don't have to burn DVDs" that I missed out on anyway. And..........since the process is more streamlined, candidates now have an extra TWO MONTHS to submit their entries. Excuse me, I need to go wipe my tears.

where Glory meets my suffering