The Thief of Joy

Comparison is the thief of joy.” – Theodore Roosevelt

I, like many people, find myself constantly comparing myself to others. I think about what makes them better than me or vice versa. I think about how much prettier they are, how much skinnier they are, how much more talented they are. You name it, I’ve compared it. But I’ve never experienced it worse than comparing myself to other teachers.

I want to be the best teacher for my students because that is what they deserve. So I am ALWAYS thinking about what is going well and what isn’t, how I could change things to be more effective, more efficient. That’s not the problem. Reflective teaching is important for both personal and professional growth. It helps me change what isn’t working so that I can be better and my classroom and students can be better in return. No, that’s not the problem.

The problem comes when I start doing that and then comparing myself to other teachers. I see another Pre-K class walking down the hallway and their teacher doesn’t have to say a word and they walk in a perfect line quickly and quietly. Meanwhile, I am constantly praising the students that are following expectations, “____, I love the way you are keeping your bubble,” or “Wow! ____, I am so impressed that you know how to walk on the first big tile with your eyes forward.” I do that, yet my students are still turning around causing them to run into the people in front of them when they stop. They are making silly noises, touching the wall, stomping, walking in the middle of the hallway. You name it, they are probably doing it (unless of course you name doing it the right way).

So I start thinking, “Wow, what are they doing that I’m not doing?” Not a bad question to ask. Learning from colleagues is also important. But then I take it a step further, “What am I doing wrong?” Still not the worst question to ask, even if it is phrased poorly. But do I stop there? Nope, I keep going, “I must just be a worse teacher. I must not know how to talk to these kids or how to teach them. Why did I even become a teacher in the first place? I’m not any good anyway.”

This is the problem. It is unhealthy and untrue.

Yet I still do it. All. The. Time.

So how do I draw the line between healthy reflection and unhealthy comparison?

In Galatians 6:4, it says “Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else.” Another translation of that verse says, “Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others.”

This is the key.

God clearly says that it is important to reflect and to become a better version of yourself each day. By focusing on myself and doing the work that He has sent me to do. I work each day to become the best teacher, never staying satisfied with where I am at. Continually striving to be more. I look at what I am doing and the growth and progress I, as well as my students, have made. That is how I judge how I am doing. Are they getting better each day? Am I? Great, keep working at it. This is how I gain satisfaction from my work.

But do you know what I can’t do? I can’t compare myself. To anyone. About Anything. It will just bring me down and make me feel unworthy. Like Theodore Roosevelt said, it will steal my joy.

No, it’s not going to be easy. But it will be beyond worth it. And when I feel like comparing myself again, I’ll just remind myself, “Are they getting better each day? Am I? Great, keep working. Don’t compare.



Alone, yet surrounded by people who love me.

Empty, yet doing things that should fulfill.

Broken, yet putting on a front that everything is okay. That I’m okay.

This was me two months ago. I didn’t know what I wanted from life or what step to take next. I felt lost – like I couldn’t find my way out of the mess I found myself in. Until I was intentional. Intentional with my time. Intentional with my relationship with God. Intentional with my attitude. I truly believe being intentional helped pull me out of the dark place I was in. But let me start from the beginning.

I grew up in the church. I memorized and recited bible verses like no one’s business. I knew all of the words to the hymns and songs on Christian radio.  People always referred to me as “innocent” or as a “goody two-shoes” because I generally refrained from anything that could get me in trouble and disappoint the people I care about. But I resented being seen as this person when I knew that it wasn’t necessarily true. This life wasn’t what I had chosen for myself – it was chosen for me. Don’t get me wrong, I am incredibly thankful I grew up in the church, but at the time, I wasn’t.

In January, after being newly single, I tried to live life without any concern for God or what was “good” or “right,” but just living for myself. Lucky for me, God must not have liked this too much and He kept putting roadblocks up that didn’t allow me to go very far down that path. At the end of January, on a night where my beloved Jayhawks had just pulled off a win against Kentucky – a night I should have been elated and ecstatic – I got into my car and cried. I didn’t understand what was wrong and nothing I did made me feel any better. I just kept seeing time and time again that whatever I was doing wasn’t making me happy, but rather making me miserable. Making me feel alone and empty and broken.

So I had some tough conversations with my best friends that helped me see why things hadn’t worked out in my relationship because, I’ll be honest, it was really starting to eat at me. Because of what I came away with from these conversations, I felt the need to reach out so I intentionally prayed so intensely for answers on what step I should take next.

Things turned out so well from that and just putting complete trust in God that whatever happened would be the right thing and knowing He would help me get through it, that I started intentionally praying when I was grateful, when things were tough, when I was anxious, when others needed it, whenever I could. I cannot tell you how much God has worked in my life through the simple act of bringing a genuine prayer to Him. 

By being intentional about my relationship with God and my prayers to Him, I grew immensely closer to Him in such a short time. I no longer feel like having God in my life is something that was chosen for me, but rather something that I 100% have chosen for myself.

This intentionality brought me out of a time when I felt like I could barely make it through a single day. This intentionality helped restore a relationship that I never thought could mean so much to me. This intentionality showed me God. I have seen what He has done in my life in the past two months. I have felt Him work in me through an intentional prayer and the faith that He will answer it.

If today you feel like you are in that dark place that you can never get out of. If you feel alone, empty, and broken, be intentional. Pray to God and have the faith that He can answer your prayers. Give it all to Him. Doing this has changed my life in a way I never thought possible and given me genuine happiness, and I know it can do the same for you.

When things get hard, know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, but we can’t see it on our own. We have to ask God to help us up and through it. So if today you can’t see the light, intentionally pray to God and ask for His guidance. And then believe that He can do all things.

Growing Through Tragedies

Last night I woke up to blaring sirens.  When I opened my eyes, I realized that I could actually see the lights from my bedroom window.  It turned out that a house about a half a block away was on fire.  As I sat up in my bed and watched the firefighters work to put the fire out, I was reminded of another tragedy that occurred almost three months ago that took the lives of two boys that would’ve turned two less than a month later.  Their house, only three down from mine, caught on fire in broad daylight two days before Christmas.  Since my mom and I were the first ones on the scene, we saw and heard more than everyone but the firefighters.  I will never be able to forget the screams of the mother whose children were still inside her burning house.  Nearly 30 minutes later, we watched as the firefighters pulled out a lifeless little body, followed by another a few minutes later.  Two lives were taken much too early on that tragic day, but I believe that even though I may not have been directly involved, God still put me there to experience those events for a reason.

Unfortunately, all too often I think we get comfortable where we are and can easily lose our fire for God.  Yesterday on the radio, Chip Ingram from Living on the Edge was talking about how because God loves us so much, he will put things in our lives that may seem harsh to protect us from ourselves.  Only God knows what we will do in the future if our situation does not change.  Just like Chip said, God will let things in our life that will likely hurt us and nearly break us as a way of telling us that something needs to change.  I also think that the tragedy doesn’t have to directly affect us for it to bring us to our knees, just like the fire I watched claim two innocent lives.  That day broke my heart for the families involved, but it also made me realize that that could’ve just as easily been me or my family or someone else I cared about.

I’m not saying God is out to hurt us.  The opposite is true – He is out to love us and protect us.  But I am saying God will let things that will hurt us into our lives to help us grow.

A God-centered life is not an easy life.  Life will never be easy for long, but a God-centered life is also truly rewarding if we choose to live it because of the unconditional love He will always provide.  So let’s choose to look past the tragedy and the hurt and know that God has more in store for all of us.  Let’s see the light.

(If you want to listen to Chip Ingram’s entire broadcast, copy and paste this link: )

*I began writing this post in March and am just now finishing it, so please forgive the incorrect dates.

This, I Believe

Children deserve a place, regardless of ability, to laugh, love, be loved, and grow. This, I believe.

For the past eight months, I have worked with young toddlers in a daycare on campus. Each semester, some new kiddos are brought into our classroom so we see a constant sea of new faces. This semester, two of the new kids have disabilities. One little girl has Down Syndrome, who I will call Krista, and the other little girl will likely be diagnosed with Autism, who I will call Bella. Before working with these two girls, I had never had the chance to interact with children with disabilities before on any level so it was incredibly new for me.

When the semester began, Bella often played on her own and didn’t make eye contact even when my eyes were right there for her to look at. Getting her attention, much less holding it, and figuring out what she wanted when she wasn’t happy was difficult and that became frustrating to me, until I started singing to her. Bella loves to sing and be sung to. As soon as I start singing, she looks into my eyes and the biggest grin comes across her face even if she was crying just a second before. Knowing that she struggles with this, it melts my heart every single time. I sing song after song to Bella, and she continues to look at me, with a grin from ear to ear, and we love the power of song together.

Now, a month and a half later, Bella will tell me what sound an animal makes when I prompt her, use simple sign language, and even occasionally make eye contact with me even when I’m not singing. I have seen the progress that Bella has made in such a short amount of time, and it warms my heart to know I played a part in it. My experience with Bella has shown me that if I actively choose to laugh with and love every child that is in my classroom, then I can make a positive difference in a child’s life someday or maybe even today.

All of the toddlers that I work with hold an incredibly special place in my heart and have shown me what it really means to love someone like they are my own. All of these kiddos deserve the world, and I believe that through showing them it’s okay to laugh, love, be loved, and grow with me that it’s at their fingertips.

Starting From the Beginning

I have recently been thinking about beginning a blog – a place to publicly express my thoughts and, hopefully, inspire someone.  Today I had the extra strong desire to do this, so here I am.

Although I have only been around for 19 years, I have had my own share of ups and downs throughout my life like anyone else.  Even so, I have consistently been referred to as a positive person because I try to see the best in every person and in every situation.  I have the “unique” ability to put things that hurt me so far in the back of my mind that sometimes I can forget it actually happened.  For example, today marks the five-year anniversary of my father’s unexpected passing.  There are still days when I think he is here and I can talk to him whenever I need to hear his voice.  When I think about it, I miss my daddy like crazy and just wish he could have watched me graduate high school and that he would walk me down the aisle someday and witness other huge life events I will experience.  The truth is, I often forget the grim reality of him not being here anymore.  I don’t know if this is because I am just so optimistic that I’ve adjusted incredibly well or if this is solely because I’m delusional, but it is the truth.  Instead of choosing to dwell on something I cannot change, I am actively choosing to learn from my father’s death and become a better person.  As the saying goes, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”  I firmly believe that God does not put anything in our lives that we cannot handle with His guidance, but He will allow obstacles to block our paths so we can grow.

The point is is that I have learned to look for the best in every situation.  Being positive brightens my days and makes my life feel like it is so much more worth living.  I don’t understand the point of constantly being pessimistic because the only person you are really bringing down is yourself.  Negativity holds you back, so why choose that for yourself?

I hope my blog will encourage people to take a positive outlook every now and then, as well as help me grow not only as a person, but in my spiritual walk with God, too.  I want to share my struggles so that maybe others can learn something and not make the same mistakes I did and not have to face the same heartaches.  I feel my best when I am helping others and I hope that I can inspire just one person to be optimistic and see the light.