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Valentine’s Day, True Confessions, and Looking for the Best...

Ah, February...the month of love is coming to a close. The month of chocolate, flowers, and perhaps a nice bottle of red (merlot, kombucha, or sparkling grape juice perhaps?) The month of expectations, some met, some not so much.

Almost two months in on the resolutions and in some parts of the country, even some signs of pending spring showing up here and there ~ thank the Lord for Tennessee! I’m not going to lie: Valentine’s Day has never been my favorite holiday. Don’t get me wrong, I like it just fine. There are just others which top it on my top 10 list. Like Thanksgiving. How about Christmas? Easter? Yep, all of those are way up the list in comparison.

What I DO love about Valentine’s Day is that it can give people the opportunity to be intentional in expressing affection, appreciation, and connection with the people in their lives. Stating the obvious here: It’s all about RELATIONSHIP. [Definition: (1) to make or show a connection between; (2) to feel sympathy with or identify with].

In a social media post earlier this month, I highlighted a quote by Allen J. Boone, which was paraphrased on the Capturing Kids’ Hearts Facebook page.

The most effective way to achieve right relationships is to look for the best in every person, and then help that best into its fullest expression.

This was, by far my favorite part of teaching: building relationships with students, helping them to discover the tools needed to build relationships with their families, one another, and themselves.

Lest you think I’m trying to portray myself as a perfect teacher, let me set you straight.

This focus on relationship-building didn’t happen right away for me. No, for too long I fell into a self-set trap baited with self-imposed expectations. Add to that the expectations from outside of the classroom: meetings, deadlines, testing goals, and a personality like mine quickly succumbed to the pressures and let the wrong priorities rise to the top of my list.

I’m sorry to say that for too many years I often saw the first student walking through the door at the beginning of the day as somewhat of an interruption. I was always trying to squeeze one more thing in. (One more email, one more paper graded, one more minute of quiet before a hectic day with energetic or apathetic high-schoolers.) That is if I saw that student at all. I am afraid to think of the numbers of kids I just didn’t see.

One summer I had the opportunity to attend a professional development training called “Capturing Kids’ Hearts”- a game changer for me. No longer did I try to squeeze in tasks up until bell-time, but I made sure I was ready to go in order to stand at the door and greet each student with a handshake and a smile. Building relationships became a priority over perfect PowerPoints and having a zero inbox (well, that was never really a thing…) The boiled-down concept of CKH is that you can’t have their heads until you have their hearts.

Isn’t that true in all of our relationships? Until your spouse, child, friend feels seen, heard, and understood, they aren’t likely to be open to what's on your mind. It makes sense, right? They want your heart first. Looking someone in the eye, extending a friendly touch, engaging in some un-distracted conversation. These are things we know. But (speaking for myself) how often do I think, “Just let me finish this one thing…”? I still have to remind myself of what we all know. Put down the phone. Turn of the computer. Just stop already. Be present.

Our daughter is a first year teacher now. I am so encouraged by the focus and intentionality she has on building relationships with her students first. Yes, she wants to build her program too, but she has already figured out what her mama didn't right away. And her program for next year has already grown by double-digit percentages.

Amazing how when you do things in the right order, everything tends to work out just fine.

Here are a few of my favorite scripture verses about building relationships:

  1. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 ~ Encourage one another and build one another other up.

  2. Philippians 2:3, 4 ~ Do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility count others better than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

  3. Ephesians 4:29 ~ Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for edifying, as fits the occasion, that it may impart grace to those who hear.

p.s. click here to find out more about Capturing Kids Hearts. If you are in education (or business), I highly recommend their trainings!

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Growing in Grace
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