Wednesday, March 7, 2018

the classroom as a basketball team...

You're a basketball coach. You got into the field because you wanted the chance to work with kids, to give back by helping kids develop into the people you know they are capable of being (because let's face it--coaches do so much more than shape players. They shape teenagers into the young men and young women they will become.). You know the superstars will be few and far between, but that's okay. You're happy to spend most of your time helping your players develop the basic skills they'll need to be effective on the court. You know that they can't move forward to accomplish big things unless they grasp the fundamentals.

Over time, though, something changes. Instead of having players who understand responsibility and the importance of self-discipline, your players start getting lazy. They stop coming to open gym and shooting around to practice on their own simply because that takes extra effort that they really don't feel like putting in. Basketball just isn't a priority to them any more. At first, that's okay. When someone stops trying, you can cut them from the team. But then, someone decides that every kid should have the chance to play and they do away with cuts. No big deal--you can just bench those players who refuse to work. If they don't put forth the effort, they don't get to play--it's as simple as that. You give everyone the workout and you teach them all the fundamentals, but if they choose not to work, that's not on you. The players are responsible for their own effort, because that's not something you can control.

Then one day, you're told that your focus has to change. You are told that there are too many players who aren't getting playing time. You explain why those players are on the bench, how they are skipping practices and barely working when they show up. You talk about the kid who doesn't even try when the team is shooting free throws in practice; instead, he stands at the line and plays around, tossing the ball up in the air but not actually shooting. Obviously, that explanation should be enough. You can't control whether or not a kid actually tries in practice, especially since the school has done away with cuts. And then they make another change--since basketball is something everyone should have some knowledge of, they are going to push every kid to play. Now, you will have a full team from 9th grade through 12th grade because 4 years of basketball are required for graduation.

And oh yeah--you are supposed to get 80% of those kids to master the game. That means they should be hitting 70% of their shots from everywhere on the court. It doesn't matter that some kids have the ability to shoot 3s and other kids struggle just to make a shot from right under the basket. You, as a coach, should find a way to reach each and every kid who comes through your gym. You should be able to find a way to motivate each one and encourage them enough to make up for any differences in ability levels, right? It's not just shooting, though. Your players should master everything about the game of basketball, including everything from dribbling around defenders to stealing the ball to running plays, and everything should be done with 70% accuracy.

By the way, you should really start using the internet to teach them these skills. Technology is a wonderful tool, and we should include it in every aspect of practice. Your kids should be able to learn just as well that way. After all, the school sunk a lot of money into programs that claim to increase accuracy and even make learning the fundamentals not seem like work. And we all know how much people (especially kids) value things they don't have to work for, right?

You know this isn't going to be what's best for the kids, but you're told you don't have a choice. You either do what's required, or you find a new job. So you do your best. You take those kids who have never been able to dribble, and you start working with them. Not only do you have to get them dribbling, though, you have to get them shooting 3s. So while you're trying to get them caught up on the basics, you're also trying to get them to understand the nuances of a good shot, an effective screen, and that 2-1-2 defense. You should also get them to develop an incredible court awareness. It's not enough for them to be able to do the skills when you tell them to; a good basketball player should be able to see the game as it unfolds and figure out which skills are needed and when: zone vs. man-to-man, or driving to the basket vs. setting up a 3.

It doesn't matter that you have a bunch of kids who have no interest in basketball. Even if they are an accomplished musician bound for Julliard, they still need to master advanced skills in basketball. That math genius who is doing Calculus at 14? Doesn't matter--basketball is required for her. Or the kid who is a computer aficionado and hacked into the Hubble telescope? Yeah, he needs basketball, too. That's part of a well-rounded education, and we need to show that all of our kids (not just the ones who want basketball to be part of their futures) are better at basketball than every other set of kids in the world.

It doesn't take long before your whole team starts to suffer. Since every player is supposed to get the same amount of playing time, your former stars are riding the bench more than they're on the court. In practice, you're stuck having them help the kids who are struggling with the basics, because you have to figure out some way to teach everybody separately, at the same time. The higher-ups have a solution, of course--simply have those more talented players move on and practice on their own. They should obviously be able to teach themselves the more advanced skills, right? Why should they need an actual coach when they have all these other resources at their disposal? Just give them some videos, diagrams, and a court, and they'll go on to develop their talents on their own.

It sounds insane, right?

Sadly, that's what is happening every day in classrooms across the nation. I'm a math and physics nerd, and I love the puzzles and beauty of those subjects. I think it would be wonderful if everyone loved what I love, but I know that's not the case. In fact, some people actually hate both of those subjects. And you know what? That's okay. Part of the beauty of people is that we were all created with different interests, strengths, and weaknesses. That's what makes things so amazing. If you are interested in something, that becomes your focus and your passion. If you don't like something, you leave it to others. You don't have to become 70% proficient in every topic. You try some things and fail spectacularly; you try other things and become an expert.

In our schools, though, somehow the people making the decisions don't see things that way. Teachers are expected to find a way to take a lack of ability and take all the apathy that gets thrown at them from kids who don't care and turn all of that into mastery of the huge list of topics that gets thrown at us.

We need to focus on individualized education, but not in the way that is being pushed right now. If a kid is interested in trade school, why can't that start in 9th grade? If we have a kid who is gifted with welding, or wiring, or engines, or a whole host of other things that I can't wrap my brain around, why do they need to sit in a classroom learning Algebra II or American Literature or (as much as it hurts me to say it) Physics? And if we have a student who is planning on medical school, shouldn't that student be given the chance to be in advanced math and science courses without having to be that kid who pulls everyone else along?  What about our writers? Singers? Artists? Farmers? Architects?

I completely agree that there are basics that every student should get. It's a throw back to the "3 Rs" of "Reading, wRiting, and aRithmetic" that we used to see when compulsory school went to 8th grade. But when did we decide every student needed to be an expert in every subject?

And when are we going to realize that those making the decisions about education are pushing a system that isn't in the best interest of our kids, and start pushing back?

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

let them be kids

I was at the park one day, watching my kids play. They were enjoying rolling around in the grass, climbing & jumping off the rope tower, running, and simply being loud. I sat on a bench nearby, letting them be kids.

A little boy ran by and then sat down in the middle of some clover and started looking for that perfect one. Almost immediately, his mom swooped in. "We don't sit on the grass--it's dirty," she said, pulling the hand sanitizer out of her bag. He was crushed. I can't say for sure, but it wouldn't surprise me if he had been searching for the perfect clover to show his mom.

That same day, I watched parents who stood right beside their kids the whole time. They were there in case of the smallest bobble, intent on catching them before they fell. After all, it would be horrible for that precious little one to get a scraped knee or a bruise, right?

Parents seem to swoop in at the slightest sign of trouble (or even when there isn't any real trouble), ready to save their kids from experiencing bruised feelings, bruised knees, or bruised egos.
  • Little Johnny didn't get invited to Little Joey's birthday party? Mom immediately calls to make sure the school knows her precious baby was left out, and soon the rule at school is that invitations have to include everyone (or at least all of the boys) if they are going to be handed out at school.
  • Sweet Susie gets cut from the basketball team and feels like she might somehow not be as good as the others, so pretty soon there aren't any tryouts anymore--everyone gets to play, and they all get equal time on the court.
  •  Poor Petey got a bad grade, and his parents automatically decided it must have been because the teacher doesn't like him (nevermind the fact that he never turned in a single homework assignment), and soon schools put "no zeros" policies in place--because we wouldn't want to discourage any of the kids.
Here's a novel idea: we should let our kids experience hurt.

My kids have fallen and scraped knees. They've been left out at school or not invited to parties. They've earned bad grades for turning in assignments late. They've found out the hard way that not everyone wishes you well when we had to deal with bad neighbors. They've dealt with the deaths of 3 different dogs. They've spent their whole lives with stories of an uncle they'll never meet on this earth. Most recently, my little girl has cried huge crocodile tears over a dying baby goat, one we brought in and bottle fed all weekend because she was born so much smaller and weaker than her twin brother.

And like every parent, it breaks my heart to see my kids hurting. I want to shield them from this world in so many ways because I know how much this world hurts. At the same time, though, I know that what my kids face now will determine who they will become in the future. If I shield them from everything that might hurt them now, they won't know how to deal with those things in the future. What's more, they'll miss out on incredibly important lessons:
  • When you get left out, you learn empathy.
  • When you fall down, you learn to stand back up.
  • When you make a bad grade, you learn to work harder.
  • When you deal with loss, you learn to appreciate those you have and love.
  • When you're let down, you learn to lean on the only One who always stands true.

As parents, we are supposed to protect our children. Most importantly, though, we are supposed to teach our children. Some of those lessons are wonderful: we get to teach them the beauty of the mountains, the peacefulness of the country, the magnificence of the ocean, the joy of laughing so much your stomach hurts.

But as much as we would love to focus on the good things and keep them away from the bad things, those hard lessons may just be the most important things we teach our kids. For us, a lot of those hard lessons will be learned on the farm--and for that, I am thankful.

Because, you see, facing hard times can build strong people.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Do you see the chaos or the Creator?

It's easy to look around at this world and see the chaos. News reports are full of earthquakes, fires, shootings, wars...if there's anything bad you can think of, you're probably being bombarded with it every time you look at a screen. It's easy to get focused on all of that and get discouraged. I have to be honest--I get into that mindset quite a bit myself.

"Instead, pray."
 Philippians 4:6b

Instead of focusing on the chaos of the creation, turn your attention to the Creator.

"God is our shelter and our strength.
    When troubles seem near, God is nearer, and He’s ready to help.
So why run and hide?
No fear, no pacing, no biting fingernails.
    When the earth spins out of control,
we are sure and fearless.
    When mountains crumble and the waters run wild, we are sure and fearless.
Even in heavy winds and huge waves,
    or as mountains shake, we are sure and fearless."
Psalm 46:1-3

Sometimes when we look at all the stuff that's happening, we lose sight of the fact that all of creation is still answering to the Creator. No matter what gets thrown our way or what mess we find ourselves in, we can have faith that He is still there, still loves us, and can still calm all our fears.

Friday, January 12, 2018

why teachers are tired...

I'm going to go out on a limb here, and assume that I'm speaking for a majority of public school teachers in the United States with this post. If you're in that category and you don't agree with what I'm saying, feel free to let me know. Honestly, I would love to hear from somebody who feels differently right now--it might help to restore my faith in our public educational system and the future of our country.

If that sounds a bit drastic, I'm sorry. Right now, though, my feelings about teaching, the students, the state of education, and the future of our country are all a bit raw and ragged. You see, I'm tired. If we're honest with you, I imagine any teacher you talk to would say the same thing right now.

First, we're burnt out. Yes, even those of us who have only been teaching for a few years, like myself. This is only my 4th year in a high school classroom, but I'm already in a place I couldn't have imagined myself being right now. I often leave at the end of the day feeling run-down, disappointed, and dejected. I ask myself on an almost daily basis if it's worth it. Is teaching worth the stress? Is it worth the tears, the sleepless nights, the shortness with my family? Too often, in too many situations, the answer is quickly changing to no for too many teachers.

We are in this field because we are people who have made the decision, for one reason or another, to spend our time teaching children. We want to make them smarter, more responsible, and just all around better human beings. We teach because it is the profession that was developed to touch every aspect of the future. The problem is, though, that is being taken away from us. Once, teachers were trusted to figure out the best way to reach the kids they taught. Teachers were seen--and rightly so--as experts in the field of education, and they were given the autonomy to make decisions that were in the best interest of the students they dealt with on a daily basis. Now, though, that has been taken away.

We are told what to teach and when to teach it. We are given standards (check over here for my view of those) and outlines and even, in some cases, scripts. That's the issue one teacher friend of mine is facing right now. This teacher has always been one every student loves, a teacher who focused on creative, innovative ways to reach kids and get them excited about learning. Now, this teacher is supposed to stand in front of a classroom of kids and teach them by reading from a script. Gone are the days of teachers being able to actually make decisions about their classrooms...

Teaching used to be considered "the noble profession." Teachers, after all, shape the future...right? As it turns out, that privilege (and great responsibility) is being taken away from us. Instead, it is the policy makers--people who haven't been in a classroom since they were students themselves, in most cases--who are determining the present status of education, and therefore the shape of the future. They hand down decisions based on the latest trendy ideas, and it seems like they never stop to consider whether or not those ideas will actually work in a classroom. They listen to big names and people who are making money off of systems and ideas and "teacher accountability systems" instead of the people who are in the trenches on a daily basis--the teachers.

And what about those ideas in themselves? What works in one classroom, with one particular group of kids, is just as likely to fail miserably in another classroom as it is likely to prove effective. The same goes for teachers--an approach that seems almost magical for one teacher is one that another teacher wouldn't be able to use in a million years. Take my husband and I, for example. Nathan dances around and sings in front of his kids at school. For him, it works. For the most part, I have those same kids in my classes (one of the consequences, for better or worse, of being in a small school). Ask any one of them what they would think if I started singing and dancing in class, and you would probably get a lot of answers that all had the same basic idea: they would think I had lost my mind.

What works for one teacher doesn't necessarily work for another teacher.

As teachers, we are now constantly being required to prove ourselves. It is almost as if our administrators are telling us, "You need to prove to me that you aren't a horrible teacher." If an issue arises, it seems the students are trusted before the teachers. If something goes wrong, it is automatically the teacher's fault.

~Low grades? Forget the idea that grades depend on the effort of the student; the teacher must not know how to teach the material.

~A student fails a class? It can't be because that student never did homework, never turned in assignments, and wrote "IDK" on half the test questions. It must be because the teacher personally had it in for that kid.

~Low Aspire scores? It can't have anything to do with the fact that the kids had already taken half a dozen standardized tests, or that they knew that their scores actually had no impact on them personally. It must mean that the teachers aren't doing their jobs.

We have dropped everything on the teachers. Teachers who are already stooped over from the weight of caring for kids they can actually do very little to help, in many cases. Teachers who are already over-worked and under-paid. Teachers who have to get more Professional Development hours than people in the medical field. Teachers who cry over kids who aren't theirs, who show up at all the ballgames because they know there won't be anybody to cheer for little Johnny otherwise. Teachers who stay at school for hours after everyone else has gone home, because they are trying to figure out a way to finish everything that is required of them.

While these things are bad enough for the teachers, we aren't the ones being most affected. We are, after all, adults. We can choose to walk away, to get a different job in a different area where the stress is different. We are making a conscious decision (whether it is a rational one or not is a different issue...) to stay in a profession that is slowly carving away pieces of our souls.

But what about the kids?

Sadly, that's a question that those making the decisions about education don't seem to be asking.

~What happens when you stop holding kids accountable for their decisions and actions?

~What happens to their future when they think the world revolves around their feelings?

~What happens when kids learn to think of themselves as entitled to things in life instead of as having the privilege--and responsibility--to earn things?

It used to mean something when you earned a high school diploma. My Papaw talked about being afraid to open his folder after he walked at graduation, because he wasn't sure that little piece of paper would be in there (it was). You had to work to earn it, and that wasn't something everyone had the drive and/or ability to do. Now, though, it seems to be a guarantee. Schools are judged based on graduation rates. Judged might not be the right word--bribed is probably more accurate. School funding is based on the number of kids a school has and the percentage of those kids who graduate. State and Federal groups hold the money over the school's head, with no thought for how that actually affects education. It used to be that disruptions in the classroom weren't accepted. Disruptive students were disciplined. The same goes for students who refused to turn in assignments. Now, though, we are told that we can't "drive kids away." Many schools have adopted "no zeroes" policies, because if a kid gets a zero, he may fail a class. And if he fails a class, he may get discouraged. And if he gets discouraged, he may drop out of school.

What gets left out is the end of that thought--the part that never gets mentioned, but is the reason behind the rest of it: If he drops out of school, the school loses money.

It seems as if those making the decisions about our schools simply see dollar signs when they look at our kids.

To be honest, we are failing our kids. It all gets dumped on the schools, and therefore on the teachers, but what are teachers supposed to do to counter the effects of a confused, chaotic world full of "adults" who live off of other people, never take responsibility, and require "safe spaces" to keep them from feeling offended?

I read an article that was written at the beginning of the 2012 school year that says the following:

"Deadbeat dads, pushover moms, vulgar celebrities, self-interested politicians, depraved ministers, tax-sheltering CEOs, steroid-injecting athletes, benefit-collecting retirees who vote down school taxes, and yes, incompetent teachers—all take their turns conspiring to neglect the needs of the young in favor of the wants of the old. 

The line of malefactors stretches out before our children; they take turns dealing them drugs, unhealthy foods, skewed values messages, consumerist pap, emotional and physical and sexual traumas, racist messages of aspersion for their cultures, and countless other strains of vicious disregard. Nevertheless, many pundits and politicians are happy to train their rhetorical fire uniquely on the teachers, and the damnable hive-feast on the souls of our young continues unabated. We’re told not to worry because good teachers will simply overcome this American psychic cannibalism and drag our hurting children across the finish line ahead of the Finnish lions.

Yeah, right.

Today, teachers across the land dutifully cast their seeds on ever-rockier ground. We were all told that a mind is a terrible thing to waste, and we all became adamant about education; but no one told us not to waste kids’ hearts or weaken their spines or soften their guts, and we long ago abandoned our traditional cultural expectations for children’s formation. I’m not calling for picket fences and Leave it to Beaver; I’m calling for childhoods that aren’t dripping with pain and disenchantment and a huge chasm where there should have been character-building experiences from the age of zero to five. That aren’t marked by an empty space where there should have been a disciplinarian. And a gap where there should have been a rocking chair and a soft lap waiting when the child was hurting. I am referring to missing ingredients that I now recognize as the absolute essentials, things I took for granted when I was too young to realize I had won the parent lottery.
Adults—not merely teachers—have caused these little ones to stumble, but journalists and nonprofits and interloping government experts offer not a hand to the young but rather a cat-of-nine-tails across the backs of their teachers. Injustice for teachers is confused with justice for kids." (

Those aren't the only things our kids are facing. Not all of our kids come from broken homes. In fact, a lot of kids have loving parents, safe homes, and warm food at night. Something else most of those kids have?


And within those phones, you'll find their lives. Those are lives of constant distraction, the constant seeking for attention, and constant need of approval. They are filled with social media, where a person's worth seems to be determined by how many reactions--good or bad--they can get from other people. Creativity, daydreaming, and just good old fashioned communication are almost a thing of the past. Study after study is showing how detrimental smart phones and other devices are, and yet almost every kid is carrying one around. I've seen kids who can't even talk yet who know how to use a tablet or smartphone.

And as a teacher, I'm told that I should use technology in my classroom. I'm told that since kids have shorter attention spans, I should cater to them by making my lessons shorter and more exciting. Instead of teaching kids to put the phone away, we're told, "The kids are going to use them anyway, so you need to find a way to have them use their devices in class." In a growing number of schools, there is even a push to have "1-to-1 capabilities", meaning we have our kids carrying around chromebooks or iPads or some other tablet around all day. What about teaching respect for others? What about the fact that studies are starting to show that there may be a link between social media and the rising rates of depression and suicide in teenagers? What about the studies that show people having "withdrawal symptoms" when they don't have their phones?

Teachers have been sounding the alarm for years, trying to warn of the harm that is coming to our children. What I'm afraid of is the possibility that things have gone too far. I'm afraid that teachers are too tired--

~tired of being blamed for problems they didn't cause

~tired of being told to solve the problems, but having their hands tied behind their backs

~tired of being seen as villains

~tired of being forced to do things that aren't in the best interest of the kids they choose to serve

~tired of having to pay for the bad choices and bad decisions of others.

If our society doesn't wake up soon, I'm afraid it may be too late.

I said at the beginning that this sounded drastic. To be honest, it doesn't even begin to do justice to the dire state of education in our country. 

Sunday, January 7, 2018

one word 2018

"Brothers and sisters, in light of all I have shared with you about God's mercies,
I urge you to offer your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice to God,
a sacred offering that brings Him pleasure;
this is your reasonable, essential worship.
Do not allow this world to mold you in its own image.
Instead, be transformed from the inside out by renewing your mind.
As a result, you will be able to discern what God wills
and whatever God finds good, pleasing, and complete."
Romans 12:1&2

Sacrifice isn't a word we really talk about any more. I know for myself, I focus on what God can do for me, the blessings He gives, and all too often forget that I'm called to sacrifice myself to Him. My life is supposed to be His to do with as He wants. All too often, though, I try to control what He does with it. I struggle with wanting to know His will for my life when I've been told pretty plainly how I'm supposed to find it: deny myself, take up my cross, and follow Him.
It's hard to stumble around in the dark, trying to find the path, carrying all the baggage of trying to become this idealized version of what I think I should be. It gets frustrating and I fall under this weight I've put on myself. Then I get aggravated with myself, because I'm further from the person I think I should be. So I pile on more weight--more expectations--and try once again to stand under that heavy load. You see, my focus is all messed up. I keep looking to myself, to my own understanding of what I'm supposed to be like, how I'm supposed to act, what I'm supposed to do--and maybe the thing with the biggest impact for me, what I think it looks like to serve God.

Instead, I need to lay everything on the altar: my expectations, my ideals, my dreams-- myself. If I give all of that over to God, I won't have anything left to focus on except Him. It its His will I'm trying to find, it makes a lot more sense to follow Him than to try to search it out for myself.

So for 2018, my focus is going to be on becoming a living sacrifice. I want to drop my expectations and preconceived notions of what it looks like to serve God, because my thoughts and plans can't even begin to match up with His.

 I know it's a week late, but here's my one word for 2018: sacrifice

Thursday, December 28, 2017

what is Christmas?

"Before time itself was measured, the Voice was speaking.
The Voice was and is God.
This celestial Word remained ever present with the Creator;
His speech shaped the entire cosmos.
Immersed in the practice of creating,
all things that exist were birthed in Him.
His breath filled all things with a living, breathing light--
A light that thrives in the depths of darkness,
blazes through murky bottoms.
It cannot and will not be quenched."
~John 1: 1-5

Unbelievable, indescribable power is displayed in God speaking all of creation into existence. This power, above and outside of everything we can imagine, simply had to breathe for life to begin teeming across the surface of the earth. Besides that, this Voice whispered the cosmos into being.
Think about that for a second. Taking a line from Star Trek (because I'm a nerd): "Space: the final frontier..." I'm not sure what the purpose of my physics degrees is or will be, but I'm thankful for the courses I took. Because of those classes, I've been given the chance to see just a bit of how powerful the whisper of that Voice had to be.

Generations of brilliant minds have been devoted to attempting to wrap their thoughts around how this universe works. They've stumbled across theories and equations ad principles that scratch the surface, and they attempt to dig deeper and figure out a little more, another little piece of the puzzle. But that's all any of it amounts to--little pieces, tiny glimpses of God's creation. No matter how much we learn, we just barely scratch the surface. Describing the intricacies of this universe quickly becomes a complicated process that even the best minds have trouble keeping straight.

The Voice spoke, and light formed out of darkness. The stars began to burn and spin in the cosmos. He spoke, and subatomic particles spun together to form molecules. Those molecules twisted into proteins, then cells and tissues and organisms. The ultimate power of creation was revealed in His Voice.

"The Voice took on flesh and became human
and chose to live alongside us.
We have seen Him, enveloped in undeniable splendor--
the one true Son of the Father--
evidenced in the perfect balance of grace and truth."
~John 1:14

All that ultimate power, and He laid it all aside and came to earth as a helpless baby, born in a stable and placed in a manger. He left the splendor of Heaven to be greeted by shepherds and watched by livestock. Yet in the midst of that, a star heralded His arrival and wise men from the East brought gifts--gold for the King of all kings, frankincense for the Great High Priest, and myrrh for the One who would give His life as a sacrifice.

The story of Christmas is not one simply of a baby born in a stable. It is the story of the Voice, the ultimate creative power of God, choosing to put aside His splendor in Heaven to come to earth. It is the story of the Creator choosing to become the sacrifice for the created. It is the story of the manger, the cross, and the empty tomb. 

Friday, December 1, 2017

God, what do You want from me?

That question is in my head on a daily basis, roaring out over all the noise and chaos that fills my mind. It colors everything I think about--every decision I make. For years now, I've been desperately seeking God's will for my life. I've begged and cried and prayed for some answer, for just a hint of what it is that God wants me to do for Him. I've made decisions based on what I thought would work best for serving Him...and then felt broken when those decisions led to plans that fell through.

I've wondered just what it is that I'll do for God since I was old enough to ask that question. I want to know His plans for my life, because I know and fully believe that God sees what is in my future and is there to guide my steps.

I have this tendency, though (well, bad habit if I'm being honest) to rely on my own thoughts and opinions and ideas instead of letting go and listening to God. Don't get me wrong--I know that His plans are better than mine and that I can't even begin to understand His mind.

I know that, but for some dumb reason I keep trying to do everything my way.

At church Sunday, though, Pop pointed something out that I didn't really want to hear. He was talking about someone he used to know who was constantly stressing over God's will for his life, wanting to make sure each and every step was in line with what God wanted for him. He may as well have been talking about me. To be honest, he most likely was talking to me when he pointed out this verse:

"Now this is God's will for you:
set yourselves apart and live holy lives"
(I Thessalonians 4:3a)

That's it? No stressing and striving to figure out if each and every step I take is falling exactly where it's supposed to?

I want to go where God leads me, in ever aspect of my life. What I'm starting to realize, though, it that it's a lot easier for God to lead me if I'm close to Him. So instead of focusing on the path, trying to figure out the exact place for each step, what I need to focus on is drawing closer to the One I'm supposed to be following.

"Place your trust in the Eternal; rely on Him completely;
    never depend upon your own ideas and inventions.
Give Him the credit for everything you accomplish,
    and He will smooth out and straighten the road that lies ahead.
And don’t think you can decide on your own
what is right and what is wrong."
(Proverbs 3:5-7)