Thursday, September 22, 2016

Today was a good day...

Today was a good day. It was that kind of day that every teacher dreams of. Oh, the kids were in their normal pre-October, pep-rally tomorrow kind of frenzy, but it was still a good day. A really good day.

Wonder what could make a teacher say this amid the stacks of papers to grade, lessons to plan, and paperwork to fill out? It was a teachable moment. Teachers understand that unmistakable shift in the cosmos when a student asks just the right question and suddenly you are no longer talking about how to punctuate a sentence or find the answer in the text. You are touching that glistening edge of eternity. Okay, that's probably a bit overdramatic, but it's still pretty amazing because today I got to inspire.

That would have been a pretty good day with just that moment, but there was more to come. Later in the day, I had the opportunity to see the lightbulb go on in two students who previously seemed oblivious to the English lessons I was trying to teach. I got the chance to see them succeed at something they had been struggling with in class and the smile on their faces when they saw that their efforts had finally paid off. A connection was made.

Now all those who are teachers understand my excitement about this day, but those who don't teach may be wondering why I am going on and on about these brief moments in an otherwise ordinary day. What makes it worth paying attention to is the way this day started.

It started with a devotion that challenged me to center my life on Jesus and invite him into every moment of every day and then be sensitive to how He leads. To be honest, I thought this was pretty neat, and I needed to read this devotion again when I had more time...and I said a short prayer inviting Jesus to lead me.

On the way to school, I listened to a CD sermon from Charles Simpson about sharing your life with those around you and being ready for those "moments." It wasn't just about sharing the gospel, it was about sharing our lives and getting to know those around us. So again I prayed. I asked Jesus to make me aware of those "moments" that He brought my way. That was all. Nothing fancy, no lightning bolts or even sunshine streaming through the clouds. 

I really didn't even think about those prayers again until I got home and my husband asked that "How was your day" question. Then I realized, it had been a day with a whole lot of "moments" that I had somehow recognized, and that had made all the difference. Could it be that these were the result of the simple prayers I had uttered this morning? More importantly, would I pray them again tomorrow?

The devotion that came in my email this morning challenged me to take the next 7 days to "Stay open to the new and unexpected. This centering process is like thrift store shopping: frequently we don't find what we're looking for, but we encounter something better that wasn’t even on our list. Trust that Jesus knows what you need today." It also challenged me to write down what I did. Can't wait to see what happens tomorrow.

Yep, it was a really good day, indeed.

Interested in the devotional? Here's the link.  Jesus Centered Life I look forward to hearing from others who take the challenge and discover what happens when we center our lives on Jesus.

The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him. — 2 Chronicles 16:9 NKJV

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Getting tired yet???

The following is a repost from 2013...but it seems appropriate for us all, but especially for teachers. This goes out to all my "teacher friends" out there...

Unless you are a teacher or in a field like it, you don't understand how tough this time of year can be. I've been teaching now for over 14 years and this is ALWAYS my toughest season. We've been in school long enough to start to get on each other's nerves and the weather is changing so the kids get restless, there ALWAYS seems to be a full moon, and thoughts of Halloween and candy are beginning to hit the stores and imaginations of children in every classroom. It is always at this time of year that I begin to wonder why in the world I went into teaching in the first place!

After many years of dealing with kids bouncing off the walls, parents who are exhausted because they've been working and playing taxi driver and homework helper for a few too many weeks, and first report cards looming on the horizon, I have learned that if I can just hang on till mid-November, it will all get better. Candy will be gone, some sports have slowed down, kids are finally realizing they actually have to DO the work to get the grade, and we all have Thanksgiving and Christmas to look forward to.

This season shouldn't surprise us, but it always does - perhaps because it can be so wearisome. You see, teaching, like so many other professions, is a seed-planting industry. At first each year, we must break up the fallowed (fallow: 1. Plowed but left unseeded during a growing season: as in fallow farmland. 2. Characterized by inactivity) ground. This alone is hard work. Students have spent all summer having fun. (I joke and tell my students I just know they rushed home after pool parties all summer so they could diagram sentences!)We have to loosen up the soil again, remove the thorns that have cropped up, and get them ready for planting once again.

Next, we begin to plant the seeds and we wait. Right about now we are exhausted from all that "breaking up" and the "thorn removal" and we've put in the seeds for the first crops, but all that is staring back at us is dry earth. It takes an act of faith to believe that in the future, a harvest will come. But we're already tired. Did I forget to mention that we are those parents who are pulled between work and practices and helping with homework at night, too?  
Teachers plant and plant and plant, then water, weed, and tend...but before we can truly see the harvest, the year is over and the students move on up to another who will tend what we have planted and plant a little more. (If this doesn't make you want to go hug a teacher, I don't know what will!)
But we have a promise from One who never lies. We will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 

Galatians 6:9-10 (MSG)
So let's not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don't give up, or quit.

So to all my teacher friends out there. Don't give up. God sees your work and He is in charge of the reward.....We work for Him and He can be trusted to do what He said He would do.

Don't give up my friends...November is on its way.  

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Everything was in black and white.....

Post from 2010...still makes me laugh when I think about it.

I remember where I was standing the day my class and I discussed what life was like 100 years ago. The students were naming things that they used every day which did not exist 100 years ago. I hated to admit that they didn't even exist when I was in college, but I digress. Finally came the statement, "Everything was in black and white." I paused...."Do you mean the pictures were in black and white?" I asked. No, they thought the world was black and white. 

I had to laugh and shake my head in disbelief. At first I wondered how could an 11 year old be so naive'? Then it happened again during a similar discussion...this time the students were two years older! That's when it hit me. These students were basing their conclusion on what they could see, on what they thought they "knew". In both classes, these students were assuming that since the pictures from long ago had no color, evidently the world had no color either. Yes, I know you're laughing, but these kids were sincere in their confusion. They could operate a complex computer and do advanced math, yet in that one area, their understanding was definitely flawed.

As I got to thinking more about it, I remembered that when my sister was a little girl, she got very excited that The Wizard of Oz was going to be coming on TV! She had heard that once Dorothy landed in Oz, everything turned to color! That of course must mean that our old black and white TV would be suddenly transformed and we'd have a color TV at last! Yes, the confusion existed even in my own family....because it is normal.

As an educator, we learn that children are not really capable of abstract thought up to a certain age. Oh, we may think they understand the difference in pretend and real, but probably less than we realize. Some concepts, such as spiritual ones, are very difficult for them to grasp. As children grow and mature, they reach a stage when they can make the connection....understand the "color" of the situation as it were.

What strikes me is, as adults we think we have matured past all that. We think we now understand...but do we? In the 1 Corinthians 13:12 (Message translation), it says, "We don't yet see things clearly. We're squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won't be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We'll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!"  

We think that we understand so much about God and about the Christian walk, but do we really? We are basing what we know on our ability to understand....just as my 5th graders based their understanding on life 100 years ago based on the pictures they had seen. But God is so much beyond our comprehension!

To think that I have the audacity to try and tell God how He should go about "fixing" things. I am basing all that I know on what I can understand, and the older I get the more I realize how little I really understand!  "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:8-9

All this makes me wonder how many times have I said something that makes God want to just shake His head in disbelief. In my limited knowledge, am I spouting off something that is the equivalent of thinking life used to be all in black and white? Right now, I'm feeling a bit like a five year old trying to figure out the world....and discovering, guess what - it's in color!

Friday, September 2, 2016


According to, the word overwhelm means 

1. to overcome completely in mind or feeling
2. to overpower or overcome, especially with superior forces
3. to cover or bury beneath a mass of something, as floodwaters, debris, or an avalanche

Example sentences include: 
  • Those who don't become part of the solution will be overwhelmed.
  • Children with autism are easily overwhelmed by information and can react badly-even violently-to the wrong kind of stimulus.
  • Feeling overwhelmed or inadequate is not a terribly unique feeling either.
  • Roberta does her best to help, but she feels overwhelmed.

I'm thinking those last two pretty well hit home for a lot of us. Honestly, for most of us, I probably didn't have to give the dictionary definition or example sentences - we probably could simply point to our own lives and say "This is what overwhelmed means."

Whether it is the daily demands of life, parenting, or the news of the day - most of us feel pretty overwhelmed most of the time. 

But today I heard overwhelmed come from the lips of someone who truly knows what overwhelmed means. Today I got to hear from an extraordinary woman, Allie Mellon of The Hard Places Community as she shared about the mission to fight against sex trafficking around the world. 

As I heard her share the stories of looking at these precious children who were being sold into slavery and because of the laws of the land being unable to do anything, I truly felt the weight of the word "overwhelmed". 

So much pain. So much hurt. So much damage. How do you fix that? Overwhelmed. Looking at how great, how impossible the need is and thinking, I'm not smart enough, rich enough, anything enough to know how to fix this! Overwhelmed. The need is so great. I don't know what to do. Overwhelmed.

Then she said a very simple phrase. God told her to just get out of the way and let Him meet the needs. He knows what to do. The need is great, but He is greater. Just share what He has given you - pour it out on them and get out of the way.

Overwhelmed, but this time by the love of God for the least of these. Overwhelmed by the desire to wake up and do something....anything. Overwhelmed by the knowledge that God loves these little ones and has spoken a dream into their hearts (have I forgotten that?) Overwhelmed that God wants to use me in this process. Overwhelmed. Overwhelmed. Overwhelmed.

I wonder if Moses looked at the vastness of the Red Sea and feel overwhelmed, yet he obeyed when God told him to hold up his rod. Did Joseph look around at the prison cell he sat in and yet still hear God speak to him about that dream he'd had so long ago? Did Nehemiah look out at the city that was torn to ruins and feel overwhelmed, and yet hear God tell him to go rebuild the walls.  Surely Peter must have looked at the stormy waters and felt overwhelmed - yet Jesus told him to step out. I wonder if even Jesus, when he looked at the cross that was before Him, feel overwhelmed, yet He went forward still.

Maybe it's time we felt overwhelmed not by the impossibleness of the task, but by the power of our Lord that calls us to it. That dream - the one you thought could never possibly be because it was just too overwhelming...maybe it's not so overwhelming after all. The needs He allows you to see, the ones you hope someone else will meet...maybe they are there for YOU to see so that God can work through YOU. 

The things you never thought you could do simply because you felt so inadequate and they seemed so overwhelming....Maybe it's time to realize that the things that look so overwhelming to us are not nearly as huge as the overwhelming love and power of our God. How overwhelming is that love? Remember the feeling you got the first time you looked into your child's eyes and thought no one had ever felt a love this great? Well that is only a small grain of sand compared to the vastness of God's love for us. (Yeah, I know - impossible to wrap you mind around, isn't it.)

I don't pretend to understand how so much evil can exist in the world today...all I know is that now I am overwhelmed with the knowledge that somehow God wants to use me to take back that which the enemy has stolen.

I try not to think too much about the "how" - since that overwhelms me. It's sort of like standing too long at the end of the high dive and looking down. Do that long enough and you'll talk yourself out of diving in at all...the kiddie pool looks like a much safer place to be. I'm thinking it's time to stop thinking so much and just walk to the end of the board and dive in. Then I can be overwhelmed by the depth of God's love instead of fear. That sounds live an overwhelmed I can live with.

Psalm 139:17-18

The Message (MSG)
Your thoughts—how rare, how beautiful!
      God, I'll never comprehend them!
   I couldn't even begin to count them—
      any more than I could count the sand of the sea.
   Oh, let me rise in the morning and live always with you!

"We are intimately linked in this harvest work. Anyone who accepts what you do, accepts me, the One who sent you. Anyone who accepts what I do accepts my Father, who sent me. Accepting a messenger of God is as good as being God's messenger. Accepting someone's help is as good as giving someone help. This is a large work I've called you into, but don't be overwhelmed by it. It's best to start small. Give a cool cup of water to someone who is thirsty, for instance. The smallest act of giving or receiving makes you a true apprentice. You won't lose out on a thing.

"The seed cast in the weeds represents the ones who hear the kingdom news but are overwhelmed with worries about all the things they have to do and all the things they want to get. The stress strangles what they heard, and nothing comes of it.

*Repost from 2012.