Thankfulness in everything: from Christmas poems to college papers

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When I ask my 7-year-old what she wants to be when she grows up, she says she wants to be a DJ, an artist, and a mom. When I ask my 6-year-old, she says she wants to be a police officer on Mondays and Tuesdays, an astronaut on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and a dentist on Fridays in addition to being a mom all days. When I ask my 4-year-old, he asks if he can have a granola bar. Maybe he wants to be a chef or food critic?

I knew from an early age that I wanted to be a mom, a teacher, and a writer. My third-grade teacher was one of my favorites in elementary school and watching her made me want to teach too. Then I had a teacher in eighth grade who encouraged me in my writing and that fueled me to write lots of poems and short stories. I did internships with preschool and fifth grade to see what age I preferred to teach. I started college working towards a degree in Education, but the more I continued in the degree, the more I knew I didn’t want to teach – at least not young kids. At that point, I had no idea what I wanted to do so I stuck with the education field but shifted gears towards the administrative side.

 When I graduated from Moody Bible Institute in 1999, I found a job at a small company that produced continuing education materials for adults. I was thankful to have found a niche to use my degree. I also got to do some writing. Five years later I had finished my Masters and was hired at Awana Clubs Int’l where I began as an editor and later became a program designer. In that role, I got to write lessons and resources for teachers as well as contribute to developing materials for kids.

Since then I’ve been able to work from home, writing, editing, and, since 2013, teaching. I’m an online professor for Moody Distance Learning where I teach Research Writing and College Writing. And for years now, I’ve been freelancing as a writer and editor.  

My parents were cleaning out their attic in December and sent me a picture of a poem they found. It was a week when I was grading a slew of papers and trying to get final grades posted. Stress was high and I struggled to find the energy to keep going. But the picture drew immediate happy tears. My dad found a poem I had written around Christmas in second grade and while the poem won’t win any awards, it was an affirmation. I’m doing exactly what I should be doing.

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I smile when I think about where I am as a 41-yr-old. I’m doing what my second-grade young self wanted to do. First, I’m a mom to three precious kids and I get to be home (even though there are days where a quiet office to work in sounds glorious). Second, I’m very fortunate that I can work from home because we still need my income. Third, I can’t believe that I get to do work that I love! I’m a teacher but instead of teaching younger kids, I teach college students. And I get to write articles, blogs, and curriculum.

But between third grade and now, there have also been maaaaaany struggles and difficult times. Maybe you’re doing what you dreamed about doing when you were a kid. Maybe you’re discouraged with where you are. Either way, 1 Thessalonians tells us to give thanks: “In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Notice it doesn’t say to give thanks FOR everything. It says IN everything. I need to remember to be thankful during the frustrating times and the exciting times. I need to be thankful regardless of my circumstances. But that’s not always easy. I’ve had frustrating jobs and fertility struggles and I haven’t always been gracious or the first to give thanks in those situations. But during a rough week of grading, God encouraged me – the poem my parents found was a reminder to give thanks in everything. Will I always be thankful in everything now? Nope. But I’m going to frame that poem so I’ll have something tangible to look at when I need to be reminded to be thankful!

Posted on February 8, 2019 and filed under Building Your Faith.