Jade Morgan Part 7 

I went on a mini adventure with a couple of friends today to Knoxville. We walked in abundance in this grueling heat, but it was still a good day!

It occurred to me, as I was walking down several flights of stairs, how so very easy and effortless a descent is. It is practically painless and requires little dedication. Once on the downward slope, you could virtually just coast on and on until you reach the very bottom.

The climb to the top is another story entirely. As I ascended the strenuous trek up to my final destination, I was out of breath and in much pain. My muscles were aching and burning with each step I took, but the sight of the top, just ahead, kept me going. I was so grateful to reach it and see the flat terrain before me.

How like life? The way down always seems like it's "no big deal", simple and smooth. However, once you reach the bottom, you have two choices.. stay there, or start making your way the only direction you have to go- up.

The upward expedition will not be near as easy as it was coming down, but the journey up, no matter how long or difficult, will always be worth it.

At the bottom, you'll more than likely end up alone, or surrounded with others at the bottom that cannot build, encourage or push you to be better.

At the top, you are with others who have also made the pilgrimage there. They understand the immense struggle you have experienced to get where you are. They get it. I have found that those like-minded people love to love and embrace others like them. Let them. 

 

|| Let me know Your ways, O Lord; Teach me Your paths. Guide me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation. || Psalm 25:4-5

Jade Morgan Part 6

This morning, I woke myself up at 5:30 to go watch the sunrise with a friend of mine. This was an unknown place to me, and to be honest, I have never watched the sunrise before. We drove for what seemed like forever, all the while watching the clock. The sun was supposed to rise at 7:19am. The GPS told us we would not arrive until 7:30, but still, we continued on our trek. We ended up going too far and totally missing the turn off. We turned around, parked, and then walked the half mile to the rock. It was full of gravel, tree roots, and mud. I definitely had on Birkenstock sandals too. At different points on the trail, the sun would peek out between the trees. It was like a little teaser that filled us with anticipation of what was to come.

When we got to Snooper's Rock I was completely blown away. The forest opened up to the most beautiful sight. The sun was just coming over the mountain on the other side. The fog was lifting off the water. Unbelievably, gorgeous nature that no man can take credit for.

On the drive there, the Lord was already speaking to me and we had not even arrived yet.

It doesn't matter whether you are looking for the sun or not, it will still rise. It doesn't matter if you are running late, get lost, miss it, go too far, or not far enough.. the sun will still rise, with or without you paying attention to it. Just like Jesus, His Will will be carried out no matter what, whether we are paying attention to it or not. Whether we take our time, get lost, avoid or ignore. His plan will be carried out with or without you/us. Choosing Him, choosing to see Him & seek Him out, is more than worth it. No, it is not a smooth path without obstacles. It is not an easy or short route, and sometimes we lose the way and miss Him. Even in a place I had never heard of before, that I didn't even know existed; He was there waiting to be discovered. He will always be there, rising, every day, waiting on us to see Him, to join Him, to choose Him.

|| Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge Him. As surely as the sun rises, He will appear. • Hosea 6:3 || @ Prentice Cooper State Forest

Jade Morgan Part 5

I’ve been struggling with feeling selfish lately. We all have the desire to be included, invited, heard, thought of & accepted. That is normal, but when it becomes more about “me” than “He”, that’s when selfishness creeps in. It’s hard to recognize sometimes, too, because we know we are not supposed to be selfish, right? We know that, so we choose to label it something else in order to justify.

I’ve asked the lord to shift my mindset from me, to He.. to help me truly grasp that it’s not about me. It quickly came to mind that those that are walking with the Lord are commanded in numerous scriptures to “die to self” (see references below).

If we truly die to self, we cannot be offended, we cannot take things personally, we cannot hold onto anger or unforgiveness, we cannot harbor bitterness, we cannot gossip or slander. After all, dead people cannot feel, nor act.

In this part of the country, & the world, majority of us would say we are Believers. That when it comes down to it, we do believe in God. So why do we not behave like it?

We tend to worry so much about how we look. If we whole heartedly think about it, who are we trying to look good for? I used to answer this question with, “Other people”, but not anymore. We are trying so very hard to look good for ourselves. It is a standard we have set internally without thinking about who is watching us and what we are telling the world, specifically children and youth.

Does it ever occur to us that “not fighting the battle” only fuels the flame?

This is my tenth year teaching high school students. These are good students and I truly love my job, but they are still kids. They often play the, “Well, he/she wore/did/did not _________ so, I can too” game. Again, they are kids, they push and fight because they are kids. It is our job as adults, not just teachers, to guide and direct our children and youth as they mature and grow up.

However, we are seeing that these kids do not grow up. They do not have to. So we are living in a world of “big kids” where there are virtually no consequences for anything. We have made it acceptable to justify any behavior, no matter if it is breaking a law or not, moreover, if it is actually “hurting” anything or not. We don’t know our limits because we don’t have to. Everything is abused and taken advantage of; even good things. We are in a place where there seems to be no solution because what we have in place to enforce is not enforced; it is not permitted to be.

There are no “lines” anymore. They have all been crossed and/or misused. There is only one standard we are called to live by.

We cannot be surprised when lost people act lost, especially when Found people do not act Found.

There comes a time when being silent is the absolute worst thing we can do. It seems we are there.

So, how do we respond?

[...“to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life & is corrupt through deceitful desires, & to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness & holiness. Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry & do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.” Eph. 4:22

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20

“Am I now trying to win the favor & approval of men, or of God? Or am I seeking to please someone? If I were still trying to be popular with men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.” Gal. 1:10]

Jade Morgan Part 4

Anxiety is no stranger to me. I have battled it for several years now. However, the last year & a half or so, it has been pretty much nonexistent. Sure, it will rear its ugly head from time to time, but I now have the tools to conquer it fairly quickly. The main tool being Truth.

When I was struggling with anxiety pretty badly, breaks off of work were the absolute worst thing for me. Getting out of my daily routine seemed to throw me off balance, as well as not seeing my students. Something about doing for them made me strong & helped me to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Yesterday, I woke from a two hour nap filled with anxiety. I was consumed with fear because I had no idea where it was coming from. I had not felt this way in so, so long. I tried to find the source, or root, of what was causing this anxiousness in my mind & body. After battling a couple hours, I forced myself to get up & mill around the house. I started watching Parenthood & within minutes turned into a blubbering mess on the couch. I reached out to a few friends to pray for me & hoped that sleep would rid me of this awful anxiousness.

I woke this morn feeling good, really good. I was so thankful! I ran some errands, picked my niece up & took her to lunch. I had one fleeting thought that, again, filled me with anxiety. I lost my appetite. I felt nauseous. All of the things that “used” to plague me when in the anxiety pit came flooding back. This old familiar feeling evoked much fear & I just wanted out.

Later when I got home, my mind was racing trying to figure out what the issue, or trigger, was.

Finally, it came to me. I was consumed with shame over my actions. Both past & present. I kept thinking, “Why did I do that?”, “What was I thinking?”, “I am so foolish.” Once again, I was creating a trap in my mind that focused on me, me, me. What I did wrong. What people think of me. How I am perceived.

In reality, there’s a 99% chance no one is thinking about me. No one cares what I said or did. It is over & in the past. If, for some reason, someone did have an issue with something I said or did, or if I offended someone... it is their responsibility to tell me. I cannot consume myself with what “could” happen or what someone “could” be thinking. What a miserable way to live.

I was feeling so blah that I did not want to have Community Group tonight. However, the Lord had a message just for me... funny how He does that.

1 Peter 5:6-7, “So be content with who you are, & don’t put on airs. God’s strong hand is on you; he’ll promote you at the right time. Live carefree before God; he is most careful with you.”

I have been created complete, lacking in nothing. He has created me just as I am to glorify Him. My overly anxious, overthinking mind & all. No, He does not want me to be anxious & have that struggle, but every time it pops up, I find myself running to Jesus. It keeps me close to Him & reminds me of who is in control, & it is definitely not me. I am learning, slowly, to be content with who I am.. because He is content with me, after all, I am His

Jade Morgan Part 3

Healing is most definitely a process & I am learning that the Lord wants us totally healed, whole & complete.

Nearly six years ago I decided to go to Africa, convinced this would be the answer to all of my problems.. that doing for “the least of these” would automatically wipe away my sin & put me in good standing with God. However, I neglected to even ask the Lord. I selfishly made my plan & asked Him to follow me. There were many signs, I suppose you would say along the way, that should have gotten my attention that this excursion was forced & not at all in the plans for me.

I was not in church at the time. I had no accountability or community surrounding me. I was not in the Word. I was not armed with Truth. Therefore, spiritual warfare hit hard & I was not prepared to fight back.

Although totally unaware, for the first time, I was experiencing debilitating anxiety.

For me, anxiety affects my mind so much so that my body reacts in the form of intense nausea, which leads to vomiting. I lose my appetite. My thoughts become irrational & race nonstop. Often times I wake in the wee hours of the morning obsessing over things.

It was quite some time before I realized that the “sickness” I experienced when I got to Uganda was manifesting itself as anxiety.

I became so ashamed of myself. I did not want anyone to know because those I did confide in did not understand. It’s crazy how you can seem “fine” on the outside when a literal war is raging internally.

Fast forward a few years...

I was approached by a friend to go on a trip to Romania with our church, Public Church. I had so much fear because of how the Africa trip went that I did not even entertain the thought. I was terrified of failing the Lord again.

Reluctantly, I agreed to go to the informational meeting about the Romania trip. I knew I didn’t have the money, so that was my out. Someone mentioned writing support letters. Hhmm.. something began to stir in my heart. So, I wrote letters, with zero expectation of receiving any funding, I might add. Literally within a few weeks, I was fully funded. Wait... what?! I had to go?!

Go I did & it was the most life changing, freeing & healing experience of my life thus far. Being in the center of God’s will & completely surrendered to Him in obedience is an indescribable feeling. This trip changed me. I had to go back.

I went back the next summer & it was even better. The Lord allowed me to share some of my story with the ladies there, & relationships established the year before continued to grow.

By the third summer, this past summer, going to see my second family in Romania was a given for me. I got a little more comfortable with each trip & I so enjoyed loving on these precious people.

We left on a Thursday afternoon & everything was going well & as planned. We made it the long journey to Romania & got settled in. Sunday at church I had the privilege of teaching the children the story of Lazarus. Monday night we had a ladies night & I formed bonds with some little girls whose mothers were involved in the ladies night.

Tuesday morning, I woke up feeling a little funny. I text my team leader that I wasn’t feeling well & I was going to skip breakfast. Once I met up with the team at the church, I was still not feeling well at all. I tried to be a trooper, but it was obvious I was sick. Midafternoon, I went back to the hotel & got in bed. I fell asleep for a couple hours & when I woke up a horrible sensation overcame me. I ran to the bathroom & got so, so sick. This continued for the remainder of the stay. I was literally miserable. I could not eat & I had no energy. I was so out of it I did not even check my phone. At one point I either fell asleep, or passed out on the toilet. I remember waking, head to my chest, in a cold sweat, completely disoriented.

Friday, we were to drive the three hours to Bucharest for some sightseeing & shopping before we flew out the next day. I had not even packed. I seriously contemplated leaving my belongings. I did not care about anything but getting well. I was supposed to go visit my best friend for a week in Europe after leaving Romania. I had worked everything out beforehand, but there was no way I could travel by myself as sick as I was. I made the difficult decision to come home with the team.

This was when the guilt & shame started to take hold. I missed out on the last half of our ministry in Romania. I missed out on saying a proper goodbye to my friends there. I missed out on getting to see my best friend face to face & spend time with her. This was not the plan. I felt like I let so many people down. I got on the bus with my team with tears streaming down my face. I did not understand why this was happening.

I had so much fear that everyone would think this was an Africa repeat, or extreme anxiety that I could not control. It was hard to not feel anxious since in the past I experienced nausea, vomiting & other stomach issues when anxiety filled me. However, I knew this was different. Something was not right.

I was glad to be coming home to get to the doctor & get well, but I was also mourning things not going the way I planned for months beforehand. We got back home late Saturday night. Sunday, my mom took me to the doctor. I was diagnosed with the Norovirus & extreme dehydration. I was given two bags of fluids & other medications.

After about a week, I finally started to feel somewhat better. It took nearly three weeks for me to get back to “normal”. I have never been that sick in my life.

I was so embarrassed. I did not want to talk about it. I tried to act like it didn’t happen. If anyone asked me about Romania I felt this tingly feeling inside.. I now realize that feeling was anxiety because I was so ashamed. I felt like I had done something wrong & had again failed.

The strangest thing was that on the flight back home, I noticed a numbness & tingling in my fingers & thumbs on both hands. Two weeks after being back home, the numbness remained. It was driving me absolutely crazy. It was like this constant reminder of that horrible sickness & situation I experienced.. & all of the people I let down.

I went to my doctor & she did blood-work. My B12 was “in the tank”, she said. She also explained that this neuropathy in my hands was most likely permanent & probably got set off by the Norovirus. Unbelievable.

It has been almost four months & I still do not have feeling in my thumbs & a few finger tips on each hand. I have gotten used to it, but every now & then I am reminded of the cause.

This past weekend, a friend who went to Romania with us this last summer contacted me about an art project for one of her college classes. She said she had been thinking of how I got sick in Romania & the numbing in my hands.. she asked to mold my hand. Not fully understanding the project, I agreed, trusting Julie’s vision. She came over & molded my hand. As the mold was setting up, I asked what her project was. She said that she wanted to mold hands that had a story & she thought of me.

You see, the finger tips are cut off of the mold & covered with greenery, representing life & growth. When Julie finished explaining the project idea to me, I was so choked up.

I went to Romania to serve. Most often when we think of serving, we think of serving with our hands. My hands were the body part most affected by the virus.. oh, but God. He has grown me in this situation. He has shown me so much about His limitless power, His control, His plan & His unconditional love.

It was like the Lord was reminding me of this story, His story, that I have tried so hard to stuff away.. but, He wants me healed. Totally, fully, & completely healed. He has also shown me that stuffing this story, & others, is giving it power over me. So, with Julie’s beautiful project, I knew it was time to share my story.. His story. As my favorite scripture says, “... His power is made perfect in weakness...” - 2 Corinthians 12:9.

[Notice: Julie molded my left hand, which is the wrist I happen to have two tattoos. Yes, I know, prob not the best life choice.. nevertheless.. my white cross is a constant reminder of the price Jesus paid for me. The other is the Hebrew word for Truth.]

 

Jade Morgan Part 2

Yesterday, while slicing lemons, I cut my thumb. Of course it immediately stung because of the lemon juice, it bled and bled. I put a band aid on it and eventually the bleeding subsided.

Every time I grazed my thumb against something it sent a tinge of pain through my body m. Before bed last night, I took the band aid off and cleaned it. It looked totally fine, no bleeding or redness, although I could see an opening on the tip of my thumb. It was not even hurting that much at all.

Things tend to look different in the morning, I woke up to an ache and throbbing in my thumb. I brought my thumb up to eye level and I noticed redness around the wound, as well as inside. There was no bleeding, but it hurt and was super sore.

I started thinking hard... this injury to my thumb was self-inflicted, a rather small, tiny even, cut. Yet, the pain radiates throughout my hand, arm, and entire body throbbing incessantly.

Isn’t this like life? We can make the smallest compromise or poor decision, it takes a stab at our pride, our morals, our standards, or our heart and it hurts initially, but several hours later we justify it. We push it away, deep down where we don’t think about it or see it, often acting like it never happened.

Then, the next morning we wake up, the pain is back and feels so different, deeper even. It seems every single thing we do reminds us of our affliction, what we did wrong, or what we could have or should have done. Then, before we know it, shame is seeping in, saturating our minds; any truth in our hearts starts to slowly fade.

We hurt. We ache. We feel pain that radiates throughout our entire bodies for days on end. We have a constant reminder of the self-inflicted wound, and we shamefully regret the “what if”.

Pain is an indicator of a problem. Pain is also an indicator that healing is needed. Healing is rarely, if ever, a solo thing. Sure, I could leave my cut exposed without proper care, which would involve cleaning, ointment, and a protective covering, but it would still hurt for a time. Most likely longer than necessary.

Sure, I could ignore the pain, but for how long? Eventually it will start to affect other areas of my body, most especially my mind.

What happens if I don’t clean and care for the wound? Infection occurs that will no doubt spread and will begin a slow ooze into other healthy parts of our bodies.

Our wounds need cleaning and care to enable thorough healing to take place. How long the hurt lasts is really up to you. If you clean it daily, change the bandages, take any necessary medication or ointment, see a doctor if needed etc. The process could take some time depending on the severity of the wound. It also could take a variety of people to help you and walk with you.

No two wounds look the same, nor do any two wounds feel the same to the person(s) afflicted.

Healing can come if you let it. It is a process that may take some time, but it is worth it. I was a pro “stuffer” for years and convinced myself I was good, but eventually the infection from my internal wound crept out into other areas. Eventually, I got to a place where I was totally exhausted and ready to try something. That something for me was Jesus and the Truth of His Word. I knew Him for years, but I never really gave Him a chance. I never let Him in. He became so real to me.

He has healed many of my wounds, from the inside out and some from the outside in. New wounds occur here and there, but now I know how to treat them. How long the healing process is up to me.

Let Him heal your wounds.

He is there, waiting.

 

|| He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds [healing their pain and comforting their sorrow] Psalm 147:3 ||

Kyle Briner

How do you live out some of our core values at work?

I believe that if Jesus is the focus, all core values play a role in my job. By making Jesus the example, the attention is shifted to creating success for others. Some of the practical ways that I live out the example of Jesus are, leading by example, carrying a positive and contagious attitude, doing things people normally don’t do or complain about, and leveraging my influence to make others around me better. My goal is to not be in the light, but give some else to opportunity to be in the light and pray Jesus will divinely intervene. 

 

How do you live out some of our Behavioral values at work?

Like I mentioned before, it’s one of my goals to tackle each day with a positive and contagious attitude. My 11th grade English teacher once told me this quote, “It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice.” When co-workers see you are willing to help them continuously and work with a great attitude, they will notice something is different about you. It’s not that you are trying to one up another colleague or get on someone’s nice list, it’s purely servant leadership with the willingness to show Jesus unconditional love.  I’ve had people approach me at work and spark a conversation about Jesus when they had no idea I was a follower. Attitude and work ethic can reveal Jesus in a profound way!

 

Does any particular Scripture inspire your approach to your job / craft? 

I don’t have a scripture but I do have a story where God revealed himself through my work to prove that I was in the right place. The very first day of my job I woke up early in the morning and had some quiet time with God. I didn’t know what part of scripture I wanted to pick up so I just decided to read through Daniel. Now going into my first job I had a lot of questions about whether this was a place for me? There aren’t a lot of believers here, will I fit in? Will I be able to reach such a large crowd? I had some doubt in my mind to say the least. I arrive to work early before everyone got there because no one wants to be late on their first day. The first person I see is the Janitor. At Lee University where I graduated, they taught us to get to know the janitor because they do a lot of things that I wouldn’t want to do…. Which is a testimony and a great platform to reach people. Anyways, I introduce myself to him and he responds back with, “Hey man, my name is Daniel…” If I had any doubt beyond that conversation I would be a fool. Daniel has been a huge testimony in my work experience. 

 

Do you have any stories of how Jesus has used you to impact your co-workers?

I do have a couple of stories but I believe Jesus uses me every day in some fashion to reach my co-workers. Like I mentioned above, he has me here as a sphere of influence and that’s not just when I feel like it. It’s a daily grind. It may stink at times and you may feel like you are being taken advantage of, but in the greater picture it’s all about servant leadership and how can I leverage my influence to make an impact of where I work and in the community and pray that leads them to the cross.

Jon Brose

 

How do you make Jesus your pattern…at home? at work? during leisure activities? in your rest? 

To be honest, weaving Jesus into everything that I do has been something I’ve struggled with in the past.  I think I’ve always tried to treat people in a Godly way no matter what the situation, but where I’ve really struggled has been seizing opportunities to actually talk about my faith and sharing with people what Jesus has been doing in my life.  I’ve just always been very hesitant to insert Jesus into my conversations at work, whether it’s with my coworkers, students, or soccer players.  This is definitely an area of my life that God has been challenging me recently to do more.  

 

In order to do this, I know that I have to be more intentional, and in the past year of my life I feel like I have been.  What’s really helped with this is, one, spending more time in God’s Word, and two, praying specifically for God to help me seize upon those opportunities that arise in everyday conversations in all areas of life.  I know that God is still refining me in this area, but I really do feel like I’m being much more intentional recently.  As I teach my history classes, coach my soccer teams, or spend time at home with my boys God has given me the strength to just be more open about my faith, and He’s allowed me to see opportunities where I can insert Him into my conversation.  

How do you live out some of our core values at work?

 

When I was growing up I was an extremely shy student in school and speaking in front of large groups of people made me very nervous.  So early in my college career when I felt like God was calling me to be a teacher I knew that I’d have to rely on Him to help me.  Now in my 14th year of teaching I know God’s got me exactly where I’m supposed to be.  A core value of ours that comes to mind when I think of my career is “we generously pour out our resources for a mission bigger than ourselves.”  Working with young people is not always easy, and there are times when I feel like I’m putting in a lot of work and not making much of a difference, but I know that God is using me to make a positive impact in kids’ lives.  His mission is bigger than me and there are times that I need constantly remind myself of that.  

 

The core value that I am always asking God to help me with is “we serve by coming alongside people rather than completing projects.”  There are times in my day where things get busy, and a lot of times I need to remind myself that I need to drop what I’m doing and work on building better relationships with my students and coworkers.  By building these relationships, and really getting to know people, that’s when I’m able to “strategically engage” and “point people to Jesus.”  

How do you live out some of our Behavioral values at work? 

 

As I said before, an area where God is constantly refining me is the relational part of my work.  I have over a hundred students this semester, about 60 soccer players that I coach, and many colleagues that I work with.  I have to constantly remind myself that if I want to make a difference in their lives and point these people to Jesus then I need to prioritize them and build solid relationships with them.  

 

Working at a public high school also means that I come into contact with all sorts of different people.  So another big thing for me is trying to “engage culture without compromising Jesus’s values.”  I need to find ways to connect with my students and coworkers, but at the same time I know that God has called me to live my life for Him.  My hope is that my love of Jesus will shine through and that the way I live my life will prompt questions from other people, which will then give me an opportunity to talk about Jesus.  

 

 

Does any particular Scripture inspire your approach to your job / craft? 

 

One particular verse that inspires me at my job is Colossians 3:23. It says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.”  God wants me to work hard at my job and to be the best teacher that I can be, because I’m working for Him.  I’m sure that everyone has parts of their job that they don’t enjoy, and working in education is no different.  However, even when times get tough I need to remind myself that I’m working for the Lord and not for humans and when I do that it helps me to keep things in the proper perspective.   

Do you have any stories of how Jesus has used you to impact your co-workers?

 

A few months ago I had a fellow teacher that needed to move his class into mine for the last period, since the air conditioning had gone out in his room.  As his class ended I was busy working on something on my computer.  When he started talking to me I could tell that something wasn’t right, and the Lord prompted me to stop what I was doing and just talk to him.  Unfortunately, he had just found out a couple days before that his mother had skin cancer, and I think he honestly just needed someone to talk to about it.  About 6 years ago my father passed away from cancer so I was able to empathize with what he was going through and we had a very good conversation.  Not only was I able to provide him with some comforting words, but I was also able to pray with him at the end.  It just reminded me once again that sometimes we need to drop what we’re doing and just be there for people and walk alongside them in their difficult circumstances.  And when we spend time doing that God will open doors for us to be able to talk about Him.  

Questions by: Todd Stevison

Answered by: Jon Brose

Evie West

How do you live out some of our core values at work? 

 

One day, as a young child, I lined up all my stuffed animals and began preaching to them. Somewhere in the middle of my sermon, I ran to my mother who was washing dishes in the kitchen. I said “Mom, what do you call those people that tell others about Jesus.” She said “Missionary” I said; “that is just what God told me He wanted me to do.” I ran back to my animals and resumed preaching. Throughout my life, even when I veered off course, I always felt like one day, I would be serving the poverty stricken in the jungles of some foreign country in Latin America. Funny how I end up serving as a police officer on the city streets of Cleveland, TN. However, my work is just as important here as it would be in some jungle.

 

My greatest leadership achievement has been the ability to share my story with a very diverse group of people, thus influencing a wide range of people groups. Locally, I have stood in our jails speaking to men and women inmates about their purpose. I have addressed self-identity, gangs, and abstinence issues in our middle and high schools. Local churches have allowed me to occupy the pulpit to share my testimony.  On the streets, I have shared with the prostitutes, crack dealers, domestic violence victims, their offenders and the children who are left with nightmares because of what they are exposed to, homeless, special needs, drug addicts, the sexually abused and violent offenders. He opens the doors for me to share my story with a banquet hall full of businessmen and businesswomen so that a pregnancy center tucked away in a ghetto of Albany, New York can continue serving abortion minded clients and unwed mothers who find themselves in desperate situations. I am humbled that God could use me to accomplish His will in others.

 

My greatest frustration and disappointment would be the inability to see immediate change in people I mentor. Frustration and disappointment stem from expectations that people will respond or change quickly.  

 

I desire to “fix” people and situations, but my calling is not to “fix”, but to plant seeds through my transformative leadership.   Due to the transformation I have experienced in my own life, I have seen the harvest and the greatness of God’s transformational power and wish that for others who find themselves stuck in dark places.

 

These achievements and frustrations force me to take my eyes off myself and what I desire and understand that leadership is servanthood. Ultimately, it is through the work of the Holy Spirit that men and women come to know God and experience Him fully. It is my job to have relationship, be patient, encourage, love, lead and motivate throughout the process.

 

Reminding myself of this makes me want to be used to the fullest and to walk in my purpose to fulfill God’s destiny for my life and the lives of those around me. 

 

 

 

How do you live out some of our Behavioral values at work? 

 

Relational:

 

November 24, 2014 was a cold day. I was headed to lunch when I heard the call of a possible hostage situation. Two co-workers went on scene and after intently listening to the radio traffic, “shots fired” came across in clear tone. Several hours later, the last investigator left the scene with evidence to process. But that was just the beginning for the victims and the family the suspect left behind.

 

It was a few months later when I met her. She was his wife. Now, she was a widow. But after spending a little time with her, I understood her to also be a victim of every kind of abuse. Sure, she was hurting. It took everything within me to step out of my police officer mindset and step into my role as a sister who had no inkling of understanding what this woman had endured over the years at the hands of her husband. I remember, quite vividly, the first meeting. She hung her shoulders and her head. Her hair was straight and she didn’t mind that it covered half of her face. She wasn’t great at making eye contact.  She was quiet, in fact, sometimes, it was hard to hear her words. It’s been three years since the shooting and I have seen her bloom and blossom throughout the years. We meet monthly for breakfast at a quiet place downtown. We sip coffee and talk about our lives. Now, she sits up straight. Her voice carries as a graceful woman. She uses me to practice on when she’s asked to speak. She is kind, confident, compassionate. She has come a long way and because she is my friend, I get to watch the transformation take place.

 

 

Does any particular Scripture inspire your approach to your job / craft?

 

John 15:12 says “Love each other as I have loved you.” To the “normal” person, it may seem easy. Love others….because Jesus loves us. But, for me, the “not so normal” comes out because I’ve answered a call of a 19-year-old who has bludgeoned his grandmother because she refused to give him money for his drug addiction. So I’m supposed to love him? The answer is yes. What about the man who has raped his 7-year-old step daughter. I don’t want to love him. Do I have to love him? The answer is yes. How about the man who beat his 8 year old daughter, broke her ribs, because she told someone at school her address was outside of the school zone? Or the man who murdered his girlfriend and shot her 5 year old son while the little boy was in the bathtub? Surely God wouldn’t expect me to love him? But, this is our Father, the One who leaves the 99 to rescue “that one”-the black sheep, the molester, the murderer, the abuser….He loves us all. And when I look back at my life, I see that I’m not much different from them, because we have ALL sinned and it is His deepest desire that ALL should repent and be free by His grace which redeems us and draws us to our Savior.

 

Do you have any stories of how Jesus has used you to impact your co-workers?

 

Police work is a tough job, not just physically, but emotionally. Police officers experience, see, hear and feel horrible things. Some things are branded into our minds and are hard to erase. Listening and praying are two of the most important actions to take. Its important to listen to the hearts of those who hurt, ask the Holy Spirit to help you understand them and pray for healing.

Questions by: Todd Stevison

Answered by: Evie West

Erick Innis

How do you make Jesus your pattern…at home? at work? during leisure activities? in your rest? 

I think this must begin with Jesus being on your mind, and that will begin with making a decision to think about Him, but at some point, He should be so engrained into our decisions and our thoughts that there really isn’t a time where He is not leading and driving them. One of the harder things is allowing Jesus to be the standard instead of American standards, even when they seem pretty harmless (and sometimes, even “Christian”). I have noticed that I have let the “American church” dictate my priorities and what is expected of me with my money, time, and energy instead seeking Jesus’s desires through scripture and personal time spent with Him. So, it starts with knowing Scripture, trusting it, and as that trust strengthens, you find that your faith in it drives you to live by it.

How do you live out some of our core values at work?

Similar to the way I feel about “time” and “money,” there really isn’t a set “event” or “period” that is designed to be ministerial, and then the other times are for you and doing what you want to do. Every minute of our lives should be available for sharing Jesus, and God has set up every encounter so that He can be glorified in some way (and, for the record, that doesn’t even necessarily mean that you have to speak His glory). I think the only way that we have this mindset is if Jesus and others have that kind of priority in our lives. Do we love Him and them enough to soak up moments at work, at home, and while we are relaxing? Do we love people enough to feel almost a desperation to share the gospel because we can’t stand the thought of someone not getting to experience His love and joy for another day, let alone for eternity? Do we fully grasp the opportunity that we have when we encounter people; and not only that, but we have a responsibility! People are depending on us, whether we, or they, know it or not! Therefore, we can’t AFFORD to NOT weave Him into our daily lives strategically. Actually, THEY can’t afford it. And just because they have encountered church does not mean that they have encountered Jesus, so I think we have to be intentional in the way we show the nature of Jesus instead of the nature of the American church.

 

I have a blast doing this at work every day because I think it’s fun to navigate how I’m going to advertise God in a public high school. God hit me with an analogy that changed how I taught one day last year. I realized that I can enhance your intrigue in an artist better by showcasing his work FAR BETTER than I could simply by telling you about him. In other words, I don’t have to mention the artist’s name to showcase their unbelievable talent or skill. In the same way, not being allowed to mention God’s name does not mean I won’t be able to show you His majesty. I can’t say His name? Fine, but if I craft my words and lessons well, God will allow me to instill in you a hunger to meet the “painter” simply by seeing and hearing how beautiful his masterpiece of “biology” is. 

How do you live out some of our Behavioral values at work?

 

When your clientele at work consists of 13-15 year-olds, you have to understand that they won’t automatically walk into your “office” or classroom wanting to spend time with you. With this generation, respect is not something you can assume that you’ll receive; it is given once it is earned. One way that students really appreciate a teacher is by recognizing their dedication to their job and to their students. I hear it all the time; students know who is there for the right reasons and who WANTS to be there. When you show through your work that your “clients” are worth your time and energy, a budding relationship begins, and the growth continues if you find time outside of the school day for them. This is where connections are deepened and life-long relationships begin. One of the most advantageous characteristics to have when you are trying to connect with kids, at least in 2017, is to be uncharacteristically open and vulnerable. Barriers and walls crumble in the wake of an adult telling a 14-year-old about their struggles and heart aches in life, and that develops a level of trust that you can build on going forward.

 

Does any particular Scripture inspire your approach to your job / craft? 

 

1John 3:16 says that, “We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters.”

Shouldn’t our work reflect this as well? If we are called to give up our very lives for others, then are we not certainly expected to give up our time? And whatever we do for work, shouldn’t it be in total dedication to people?

 

Do you have any stories of how Jesus has used you to impact your co-workers?

Co-worker, no, but students, definitely. A year and a half ago, some other teachers and I created a community group for students at McMinn. Throughout this time and across all of our meetings, we have seen amazing things. We have driven students who had no way, seen kids find a deeper relationship with Jesus, watched an atheist become a believer, and established a consistent group that students genuinely want to be a part of and look forward to. Also, now that we are planting a church, this community group has already started feeding the beginning of a possible “youth group,” and they have begun coming to our church planting community group. So, looking back, God has shown His glory to tons of our students, but that number is only going to continue to grow as we start to develop our youth group.

 

Questions written by Todd Stevison

Answered by Erick Innis

 

Lindsey McChesney

Core Value: We make Jesus our pattern by weaving him into our every moment. How do you make Jesus your pattern...at home? at work? during leisure activities? in your rest? 

 

Sometimes weaving comes naturally in our lives and sometimes it’s really hard. Our flesh rejects the weaving, but I believe we have to consciously ask God to make it our pattern for everyday living. Weaving Him into our every moment is a daily prayer that I use to focus my attention on Him. At home that involves my joy and happiness within my home, my interactions with my husband, and in return, my response to outside influences. Home is where I choose, daily, the outcome of my day as it pertains to my mindset before I even walk out of the door. 

At work it takes a little more attention and focus some days. I want students to feel comfortable in my classroom, therefore I place an emphasis on relationships. Jesus is the perfect pattern for this because He placed importance on relationships with the undesirables. This automatically weaves Jesus into my mindset because I plan for these opportunities within my schedule day to day. I am a big believer in application, so if I’m reading or watching something or someone, I want to know how I can apply it to my life. Consistently looking within myself and self-evaluating where I am and where I want to be, with God’s help, is where I find rest. Through these outlets, Jesus is naturally woven into them because he is woven within me.

 

How do you live out some of our core values at work? 

We strategically engage wherever we are to point people to Jesus. 

 

When I was in high school I felt like God was calling me to the mission field. I was always caught up in the fact that being called to be a missionary was this elaborate venture of somewhere far away, but in that moment I felt God was saying that every day I was called to be on mission for my students. With that being said, I try to point people, coworkers and students, to Jesus on a daily basis through my interactions and conversations. My coworkers know they can count on me if they need a prayer partner or just needing someone to listen to. I pray that my students will see the joy and mercy of the father through my teaching, homework, and various projects. Through my daily interactions I believe that God shines through me as I listen to students discussing their current situations or plans for the future.

 

We generously pour out our resources for a mission bigger than ourselves.

Not only do I feel like I’ve been called to the mission field, but I have also been called to give to others and love others. In my life, my hope is to help people by giving them something they don’t already have, or have yet to discover it in themselves. We live in a big world, but serve a bigger God. We are called to be set apart and called to live for the mission, by being the mission. Giving of ourselves and loving others is everything to me. As a fitness instructor this means a great workout where people can come in and completely forget about the world outside the walls of the exercise room, but also gain confidence and security in who they are and where they’re going. In the community it shows through being a part of Junior Auxiliary of Cleveland whose purpose is to help children and families in the community. With family and friends this can be anything from a laugh, happiness, comfort, encouragement, building confidence, spending time with someone, or just loving and living life together. Giving your time not only shows people that they’re important, but it also helps them pour their resources into someone else, expanding their mission that is bigger than themselves. 

 

How do you live out some of our Behavioral values at work? 

Relational: 

At school I facilitate a bible study for girls. We meet once a week, and although I let them lead, I ask God for opportunities to share my experiences so that they can see the mercifulness of Him and all that he’s done in my life. (Outside of school) Starting a discipleship group with some women at the church has been an awesome experience before. I had led various studies before, but this group and study have been great because we are in community group together, but now we are taking that knowledge of ourselves a little further as we discuss and meet together.

Relevant : 

As a Christian, I have been called to be set apart. I believe that being relevant is showing Jesus despite what the world defines as relevant or what others see as engagement in the world. Students walk through my door every day that are so beaten by the world that it’s written all over their faces from the moment I see them. I realize that I may be the only person they come into contact with that isn’t a product of the world, therefore I strive to be Jesus. With my coworkers, I strive to be a positive and calm person amongst the chaos that education can be sometimes. So many people get so caught up in the negativity that it becomes a distraction to others and takes away the positivity that can come from a situation. I try to remain calm and stay positive during these moments. 

Reliable: 

Over the years I have always filled my plate with appointments, meetings, hang outs, etc., because I put an emphasis on relationships. Sometimes it’s a lot to juggle, but my coworkers, administrators, and students know that I will always follow through with my commitments. I want people to know they can count on me, to be a constant in their lives. To trust that someone is going to do what they’ve said they will is a challenge, but that is something I strive to accomplish.  Being a constant in someone’s life takes time, but it’s so worth it in the end. I am nowhere close to perfect, but this has always been important to me. 

Does any particular Scripture inspire your approach to your job / craft? 

Titus 2:7-8 

“In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness, and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.” 

Proverbs 9:9

“Instruct the wise and they will be wiser still; teach the righteous and they will add to their learning.” 

Do you have any stories of how Jesus has used you to impact your co-workers? (Somewhat mentioned before. )

It’s awesome to be introduced to a coworker’s family member as a prayer warrior (sometimes this word seems a little stronger than I feel). A friend of mine was going through some hard times with her mother who had just been diagnosed with breast cancer. As this is difficult for anyone, I always struggle with “the right thing to say for someone”. I started off just by telling her I would pray, for her, her family, and her mother during this time. The first time I met her mother, she said, “This is Lindsey, the one I’ve been telling is praying for you.” What a feeling, but all credit to Him. 

 

Questions written by Todd Stevison 

Questions answered by Lindsey McChesney