Throughout this semester of student teaching, I have seen and felt God lavish his love on me in so many ways. He has taught me so much about himself through my student teaching placements and my community in Lynchburg. In the midst of the many lessons that He has taught me are these three takeaways:
- God is refining us every day to be more and more like him. At the beginning of my first student-teaching placement, before I even started teaching, I observed my host teacher during the first few days. She was going over a math problem and one of the students was frustrated that he wasn’t understanding it. Another student chimed in and said something along the lines of: “It’s okay if we make mistakes and it’s okay if we don’t understand this right now. But in time, we will understand this, it’s just going to take some practice and hard work.” My host teacher and I kind of just looked at each other in shock because of 1. What he said and 2. He was actually listening to what we were teaching him. It was such a cool reminder of how God is constantly refining us every day in our walks with Him. Every day we’re learning to become more and more like Christ and sometimes, the lessons we learn aren’t always a pretty process. We’re going to make mistakes and have to learn and grow from those things and continue to choose Him every day. And He leaves room for grace in that process. I wasn’t able to verbally share my faith in a public school setting in the States, but I was able to share with them what grace looked like and live out my faith by my actions and words that reflected Christ and His character. Just as Christ demonstrated His own love for us while we were still sinners, we now have the opportunity to demonstrate His love to our kiddos in our classrooms.
- Looking back at God’s faithfulness strengthens our own faith. These past 4 months have been so refining in my own personal walk with the Lord as well as a teacher. I look back and praise the Lord that His plans are far better than my own and called me to stay Stateside to do my student teaching and to even have more time to prepare my heart for Mexico. God has answered so many prayers of mine during these past 4 months. Things that I have prayed and prayed and prayed for and shed many, many tears over during the past 4 ½ years. When I first moved to Lynchburg to start my first year of school, I knew no one besides my best friend from high school. I prayed that God would not only surround me with a community at Liberty University, but also within the community of Lynchburg itself. I came from a smaller church and a teeny, tiny town in northwest Ohio where everybody knew everybody. Lynchburg to some people is small, but to me it was HUGE. When it came to my Junior year, I struggled with feeling like this city was home to me. I longed for a community of people that weren’t all just my age and to have some kind of mentorship with someone older and wiser than I was. Over time, God answered that prayer of mine and led me to a family who took me in during my student teaching and not only allowed me to live in their home, but to live life with them every day. From kids’ ball games, to family outings, to camping trips, movie nights, and snowball fights, they made me a part of their family for 4 months and it was the biggest blessing and a big answer to prayer for me.
- God pays close attention to details. Ever since I moved from the flatlands of Ohio, I became obsessed with the mountains of Virginia. I love how you can look at Creation and see just how big and magnificent God truly is and how He has intricately designed each and every form of life. The first morning on my drive to school during my first placement of my student teaching, I rounded the corner along the backroads and came face to face with the entire blue ridge mountain range directly in front of me. With the sunrise on my right, I had to slow down and pull over to fully take it all in. But I remember thinking “WOW God… you actually love me so much and pay attention to what makes my heart dance that you went as far as providing a reminder of your love for me every morning with this view right in front of me.” But not only did He do that, but He ALSO gave me the same view from my desk in the classroom that I student taught in. He is so sweet and so good all the time. He knows the deepest desires of our heart and the things in life that make us look to Him in awe and wonder of who He is! I could go on and on about all the ways He has done this for me inside and outside of the classroom this semester but I’m afraid we’ll have to just get coffee and chat more about it!
It’s amazing to look back and see God’s faithfulness even during the times when you may not have been able to see it so clearly in the midst of your circumstances. Though I have walked through difficulties in my life and still wrestle with my sin, I can rest knowing that Christ has already won the battle. These past 4 months have been sweet to me because God gave me the strength and ability to see past the hardships that I had to go through to see just how He has always been faithful to me. I can’t stop thinking about His goodness. I would encourage you to also take time and “pull off to the side of the road” and reflect on the ways of how God has been faithful to you as well.
Lastly, The song Remember by Lauren Daigle has been one of my go-to’s recently and I would also encourage you to go give it a listen as you take time to reflect on His goodness and faithfulness.
“I will lift my eyes even in the pain
Above all the lies, I know You can make a way
I’ve seen giants fall, I’ve seen mountains move
I’ve seen waters part because of You
I remember, I remember,
You have always been faithful to me
I remember, I remember,
Even when my own eyes could not see
You were there, always there”
If you’d like to support Shelby as she serves with GEM in Mexico, you can do so HERE. You can also contact her directly to talk further about what it means to be on her support team and find out how you can be praying for her!