I have not written a post in about four weeks. This is partially because I’ve been doing so much but also because I have not fully taken the time to devote to writing (those may sound the same but one is an excuse and the other is truth). So here’s what’s been going on with me:
A new job/career/ministry….
On October 23rd I began this new phase of my life as a substitute teacher in my county’s public school system. God has been developing my speaking presence/ability and I have always had a passion for working with people with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities so when it came time for choosing work assignments, I gravitated towards cases in Special Education. This population of children is talented beyond belief and have so much love to give… yet people tend to shy away from working with them because of perceived “differences” or “difficulties”. I guess because my own niece is on the Spectrum and this population is all I’ve ever known, they do not “scare” me… or maybe it’s because I carry God with me everywhere I go so that nothing and no one can scare me. Whatever the case may be, this is my calling.
I call this a ministry because of how God placed it in my lap….
Earlier this year after hearing a sermon from one of the pastors at my church, I started changing my prayers and began praying for my sister’s blessing and increase… instead of my own. I made her the focus of my prayers and started asking God to bless her and bless her indeed. I further said that when she found employment, I would step in and help more with my niece so that she could work freely. Soon she was studying for a para-professional exam, passing said exam, and becoming a substitute teacher in our county. When she became a sub, I became a volunteer at her daughter’s school so that I could help her. In volunteer orientation I learned that the county still needed subs and I filled out an application. And then I got hired.
I was a floating sub for about six or seven days (one week) when I realized that I had never applied to be a long-term sub within the special education department. So I emailed the respective HR coordinator and he immediately emailed me back with an opening and wanted to schedule an interview for me with the school’s principal. After some back and forth emails and calls, I was able to get an interview with the principal on the same day… and about 30mins after the interview, I got a call saying the principal had selected me.
Wow. The principal had selected M.E. to be the long-term sub for a class of 13 special needs students. She chose me, a woman with no prior knowledge of special education, but a heart for service and a love for those who are unloved. She chose me, a woman with loc’d hair, a nose ring, and an unapologetic love for my beautiful melanin. She chose M.E. because that’s where God needed me to be.
Two days later I began my assignment. I should note right here the difference between a floating sub and a long-term sub. Floating subs follow lesson plans laid out by the teacher. They are the teacher for a day or two. A long-term is the teacher. They create lesson plans, attend teacher related meetings, create and input grades, and they are in place for two or more weeks. They are the interim teacher.
During my time within this role, God has really shown me His love for me. From day one, He has allowed every skill and subject that I’ve ever learned to play a role in my teaching. It’s hard to describe, but basically God has taken 31yrs of learning and living and made it all applicable to my teaching with these kiddies. I have had to pull on thoughts and school lessons that I learned back in grade/middle/high school in order to succeed here. I have literally tapped into every resource that God had ever given me in order to teach a lesson to these wonderful kids. Every day I seek God, asking for Him to pour into me so that I can pour into the kids and He pours abundantly.
In my short time as a substitute teacher, I have learned that this is where I want to be. God has shown and confirmed that this is where He wants me to be so this is for M.E.
This is no longer a job; it is now the career that God has prepared me for, and since it’s work in God’s kingdom, it is also my ministry.
A new branch of this ministry…
While I love my teaching position, this particular classroom stays on cold. I have worn long johns (thermal pants and shirt), sweaters, etc. and I am still cold in this room. So one day when I was relaxing at home, I decided that I needed to go to the store and buy some yarn so that I could hand-knit a scarf for myself. Not even 5 seconds after having that thought, God added “and make scarves for others, too.” For one of the first times in my life, I did not question God, I simply made the plan to go to Walmart and buy the yarn that I needed. I did not ask God how I was going to pay for this (remember, I was unemployed for five months), I just trusted that He had a plan and He needed me to be obedient. There were three more things that He distinctly told me: 1. I must donate the scarves and not charge a single cent for my work, 2. The scarves must go to an organization that will not sell the items, and 3. This branch of ministry would be entitled “Scarves & God.”
So last Monday I went to Walmart and bought almost $60 worth of yarn (including two, already made blankets to donate, too). I had learned how to arm-knit a few years ago and it had become my wintertime hobby. Every winter I would normally knit a scarf or two for me and whoever else randomly asked for one. But this year would be different. God said that He would provide if I just kept knitting. I came home with all of my yarn and I was excited to begin this process. I showered, ate dinner, blessed the yarn and my hands (did you know that you should bless EVERYTHING that you do in Jesus’ name???), and began knitting away. After God had given me the name “Scarves & God”, He told me that I should attach a note to each scarf saying “The world can be so cold, but warmth is found in Scarves & God.”
The following day in school, I learned that one of my students was in dire need of winter items and that her family could not afford to buy her the items. Immediately, I thanked God for His wisdom and promised her that I would bring a scarf in for her on the following day. Her favorite color is yellow and I just so happened to have a pink & yellow scarf, already made, at the house. I brought it in the next day and she loved it! Of course when they saw it, a few other girls asked for scarves, too. I had no problem bringing scarves in for them because I knew that like the first student, their parents also could not afford to purchase these items. Each girl loves her scarf… and wears it throughout every day. My heart rejoices because God allowed me to bless their lives yet again.
Once I finished making scarves with all of the yarn, I gathered the scarves, more clothing for donations, and prepared to drop them off at a clothing closet here (a free clothing closet and food pantry that is operated by a church in the county). Little did I know at the time but the closet was closed for renovations. I texted a handful of my sorority sisters, asking where else I could drop my donations. Naturally, they all referred me to the same place- The Rescue Mission. So I drove over to the mission, dropped all of the donations, and my very own winter coat into the donation bins. The scarves are all tagged with the message that God gave and I pray that someone really does find warmth in both the scarf and God.
Currently, I am working on a way to make Scarves & God a nonprofit organization. I want this to be something that I do yearly- clothing the homeless and poverty-stricken. I am seeking nonprofit status that way people can donate financially, if they so choose. (So if you know how to start a nonprofit in Maryland, please help me. Thanks in advance!)
And then there’s EVE….
Last week God was just laying message after message on my heart! My bestie, Amy, and I have a yearly, end-of-year celebration. Normally, this consists of a movie and dinner but this year God told me to add something else- the creation of vision boards. I made my first vision board for 2017 and it has really blessed me! At the end of 2016, I sat with God and mapped out the things that I wanted for 2017. God politely shifted my wants into His needs and my vision board was created. While everything on the board has come to fruition, most of it did not come the way I expected. For example, I stated that I wanted to develop a new hobby and specifically wrote “knitting”… and now, here I am, working on a nonprofit that arm-knits for the impoverished.
So I texted Amy and made the suggestion to add in a vision board session. As soon as I hit “send”, God told me to text other leader-friend of mine. She and I have been working together lately for the women’s ministry that God has placed in her and God knew that this vision board session would be exactly what she needed for her ministry… so I texted her, too. She texted back that she would love to do it… but suggested a date that I could not attend. For a split second, I got discouraged, but then I said “Lord, You gave this to me so if You want it to be done, please send the right atmosphere and setting.” My sister-friend texted me back (like right after I had uttered that prayer) and we secured a date. After my nightly prayers, I hopped in bed and the Lord said the word “EVE.” I love alliteration and acronyms so once He sent that, I began thinking of what the letters would mean. And then He said “Embracing Visions of Excellency.” Wow, God. WOW!
Eve is defined as “the day or period of time immediately before an event or occasion (Google definitions).” The full title is this E.V.E.: Embracing Visions of Excellency. This event is the period of time immediately before our breakthrough. For this event, we are fully and wholly trusting God to take control of our lives and guide us, as He sees fit, for 2018. Creating my vision board for 2017 with God was one thing, but true power came when I actually referenced back to the board. (Isn’t how the Bible works?…it’s great on its own, but true power comes when we reference back to it daily)
Turns out, one of the biggest lessons that Christ wanted me to learn in 2017 was to constantly reference back to Him. He didn’t want me to seek Him once and then do my own thing. No, He wanted me to seek Him daily and through that, He would continue to lead me and guide me.
Today is November 20, 2017; there are 41 days left in 2017… and God is not finished blessing my year! Just when I think I have nothing else left to give/share or learn, I turn to God and He readjusts my vision to see that there is still more. It reminds me of a sermon that my pastor preached in October on the feeding of the 5,000 by Jesus Christ. Jesus took the two fish and fives loaves of bread, blessed it, and broke it. He then continued to supply the food as long as His disciples returned to Him with a need to feed the masses (Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:30-44; Luke 9:10-17; John 6:1-15). Don’t miss that. Christ provided as long as there was a need. And in His providing, He provided abundantly. So I will continue to seek Christ and allow Him to continue to pour into me so that I may be able to bless others. The need will always be there, so I will always be in front of Jesus…. and as He pours into me, I will continue to pour into others.
The year may be almost over, but my life has just begun.