Saturday, February 25, 2012

February Quotes-2012

I don't have as many this month but here the few I have.

From Highland Sanctuary by Jennifer Hudson Taylor
"She raised up on her tiptoes.  "In times of crisis, we fast and pray as a whole," Kyla whispered, glancing back at the bent heads.  "This is how we fight our battles.""

"Change won't just take all the strength you have; it will take more.  You need God's power.  Do what you can, and trust God to do what you can't."

From Dietrich Bonhoeffer
"Christianity without the living Christ is inevitably Christianity without discipleship and Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ."

From  Be Determined p 13 by Warren Wiersbe
"The worst sin toward our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them; that's the essence of inhumanity."

Friday, February 24, 2012

Seeing and Our Long Winter

This week I have been home and sick so have had lots of time to think.  At the beginning of the week, I was feeling tired not only physically but emotionally from the cold and its challenges.  I did not want to despair but found myself crying for what Big D said was two minutes after calling in sick to school.   As I dried my tears, I looked outside and saw the sunlight shining down on the snow.  I smiled at the wondrous gift God had given me.  We had been days without sun and just having the sun shine in the window made the day seem brighter and warmer.   When the sun does not shine, it is hard to imagine that spring will come.  On the other hand, just a day of sunshine brings the hope of Spring and a reminder that we can make it through the rest of this winter.

 As I was thinking about the challenges of this winter in staying warm, worrying if we have a enough wood/fuel, staying well, and dealing with all the snow, I reminded myself that these are minor inconveniences compared to what many people face daily.   For one local family in our organization, the winter just became longer as they lost three of their four children to a house fire.  Hope is something they are struggling to see.  For some, their long winter may be more figurative such as having a terminal disease.  For others it is dealing with the grief of knowing a loved one is not coming back.  Still others it may be a hard marriage or children making wrong choices.  Some problems seem to have not solution or end in sight.  It is easy to despair and lose hope.  They do not see the Son so can't imagine Spring ever coming their way.  Here is my prayer for those who are struggling in whatever long winter they are in.

Dear God, There are many people who are struggling right now physically, emotionally and spiritually.  They have no hope.  God, show them your Son Jesus.  May they find hope in him.  May they see that in Jesus, spring can come and the long winter can end.  Give them the strength to endure.  Show me those people in my life that are struggling right now.  May I love on them.  May I say your words.  May I be your hands and feet.  Most of all, may I not forget that Spring is coming and this long winter will soon be over.  In Jesus Name, Amen

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Seeing and Lunch Duty

Even though I am a high school teacher, I have lunch duty for 1st and 2nd graders with another staff member.  Overall I enjoy the time in the middle of the day to be outside and interact with these precious ones.  As you can see, we are now inside.  The weather has been terribly cold and we have had lots of snow.  With all the students packed in this basement room, it can get chaotic.  This past week I dreaded going to lunch duty.  The students were not listening.  The big table cloth is a pain to get clean.  The kids had lots of energy and no way to release it.  It seemed like a no win situation.

What was I seeing?  I was seeing students who were totally disregarding the rules and what I was asking them to do.  I was seeing students who were making my life hard.  I was seeing actions and not the students individually.  Then as I looked closer, I saw students who were trying to clean up as best they could.  I saw students who had lots of energy and no way to get it all out before heading back to the classroom.  I saw the lunches lovingly prepared by their mothers and the smiles the students gave me when they said "hi."

The question was how could I love and motivate them to do better instead of yelling at them and us both being miserable.  The solution was a contest each day to see who could clean up the best.  I seated each class separately and explained the rules to them.  The whole class area had to be clean.  The whole class had to work together.  The class who did the best would win and could go outside to play first.  The other classes could go out as soon as their area was clean.  This contest reinforces a school motto of living for more than me.  Helping clean up a mess that is not yours is hard for this age.  "My area is clean", they tell me as I look at the mess they have moved onto another person's spot.   Well, I only had a chance to test it one day but it was a success.  Two classes went way beyond my expectations.  They all worked together to get the trash picked up and the messes wiped up.  The other class I will be working with but at least I have a place to focus my training.  Who knows, maybe they will be first on Saturday.

I thank God for helping me think of this simple idea.  I am praying for some ideas to help with my Algebra I class.  It is so much better to be rewarding my students rather than getting on to them for misbehavior.

Dear God, Thank you for your help.  Thank you that you perfectly demonstrated the concept of living for more than me.  In this area, may I model for the kids and train them on what living for me looks like.  Thank you for these little ones who want to learn.  Be with them and show them your light.  Amen

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

10 Ways Not To Rest

I was having coffee with a friend last week and she asked me how I was really doing.  She had noticed that I was more quiet lately at some of the gatherings and was a little worried about me.  I thought about her question and could not think of anything that I was having an issue with but being tired.  I am tired.  I am tired physically.  I am tired of always having to be on top of things with my students.  I am tired of trying to keep all things together with our family during this cold.  But I just had a 3 week break during the holidays, how could I be tired? Besides, I like my job, my family and I am enjoying all that I am doing here.   So if I am enjoying life and fill like I am doing what God has called me to be, why am I so tired?  Maybe you can relate.  So I have have been thinking of how to incorporate rest more into my life.  God rested on the 7th day and commanded a day of rest for his people.  God made it a priority so should I.  What does that look like?  I am not sure what that looks like for me in this season but I am figuring out what it is not.  So here is my list of what rest is not for me.

1. Rest is not found by sitting in front of the computer whether just surfing the internet or hanging out on Facebook. 
2. Rest is not found when I have no margin in my life and head from one thing to the next.
3. Rest is not found when I have a to do list in my mind that won't shut off.
4. Rest is not found when I feel like things would fall apart without me doing all the things I need to do.
5. Rest is not found when I always have to have noise in the background such as music, podcasts, or the TV.
6. Rest is not found when I don't have a normal sleep schedule.
7. Rest is not found when I have unresolved conflict with God or another person.
8. Rest is not found when my eyes are on myself and how much I am doing or how tired I am.
9. Rest is not found when I have unrealistic expectations for  myself and those around me.
10.  And most importantly, true rest is not found apart from God.

Feel free to add to my list in the comments.

Dear Jesus,  You said in your word that all who are weary and heavy laden are to come to you and you will give us rest.  I come to you.  I ask you to show me how to rest in you and find true rest.  In your name, Amen

Monday, February 13, 2012

Favorite Links-February 2012

As February continues cold and snowy for us, here a a few of the blogs I have enjoyed reading in the last month.

From Scotty Smith- A prayer for Casting Our Burdens on the Lord

Encouragement for those needing friends and even for those who feel like they have enough.
Finding Friends.  This blog also has some great desktop calendars for your computer if you click on the calendar button.  For me, it is a fun way to brighten up each month.

From Ann at Holy Experience, I am reminded and convicted of what it takes to Build a Strong Home.

Here are two posts from Lysa Terkeust of Proverbs 31 ministries.  I will let the titles speak for themselves.
I Don't Want to Raise a Good Child  and  Advice to Wives: Stop Praying

On a practical note from Simple Mom, advice of making a wardrobe work for you.  I plan on going through my clothes and using some of her suggestions as soon as my closet/bedroom gets warmer maybe about March.

What have been some of your favorite reads lately?

Blessings, TJ

Thursday, February 09, 2012

On Those Days When You Feel Like Quitting

This day was full of no patience, students not listening, one student sent to the principal and a teacher with a big headache ready to go home.  Okay, that teacher was me.  It is on days like this I wonder why I do what I do.  I hate it when I have no patience.  I hate it even more when I get angry at my students.  It is on days like this when I think about quitting or at least not coming back next year.    

Think about it.  This job brings out the worst in me.  If I want to be a better person, I should either get a different job or maybe just stay at home.  Great logic, don't you think?  Isn't that how we think sometimes? I'll change my circumstances and then everything will be okay.   Maybe it is a new job, a new set of friends or even a new church.  But does better circumstances, really make me a better person?  Or does it just make me look like a better person?  I know there is a time and place to move on to different circumstances but I have a feeling we are more prone to do it when things are hard whether the time is right or not.   As a teacher, some weeks have more bad days than good but not a day goes by that I don't forget how much I depend on God.  Even though I feel like a failure some days, I know I will never become who God made me to be if I don't keep doing what he has called me to do even when it is hard and I mess up.   How to do what I do and practice his presence at the same time?  Well, I am still working on that.  I wish that God would miraculously overnight make me into this amazing teacher who could handle all sorts of discipline challenges.  Instead, God has chosen for me to take it one day at a time as he works away at the flaws in my character.  He wants to replace my impatience with his patience.  He wants to give me gentle words for the rash ones that want to come out.  He wants to change me from the inside out as I teach and change my students.  

So today, I came home and had a good cry.  Once again, I laid it all at my Savior's feet.   I pray that this week I will depend on Him and not on me.  I pray that my students will see more of Him and less of me because right now the me they are seeing isn't so great.  For some reason, I know I can't quit even on my toughest days.  How about you?

Dear God, Thank you for working in and through us.  Forgive me for trying to do things on my own.  Today was one of those days and it was not pretty.   Work in me and through me.  Help me to have the patience and wisdom to teach these students everyday in a way that pleases you.  Amen

Monday, February 06, 2012

Seeing and the Snow

One thing I am working on this year is trying to see people, issues and things from other points of view.   So many times I see things through the lenses I have of the world and fail to see how things really are or how God might see the situation.  So I thought I would attempt to do a post about seeing each week.  I decided to start out with snow since we received about 18 inches of it this last weekend.   To me, the snow was beautiful.  I didn't even mind walking to church in the snow as my children ran ahead bombarding each other with snow balls.  I loved seeing the joy on my son's face as he engaged his friends and even people he didn't know into snowball fights.   I enjoyed the day watching the snow come down while I sat by the warm stove working on my computer.  This week I have enjoyed the brisk walks I have had in the morning to friend's houses for a warm drink and chat.  This Iowa girl loves the snow.  It also makes where I live look a little less bleak.  For many where I live, snow brings the promise of a good spring and summer with plenty of water.  For others, it just reminds them of how cold they are because they don't have enough wood or fuel for the winter.  For example, my cleaning lady commented that her home was as cold as my upstairs that we don't heat.  So even though getting to my house was difficult, she didn't seem to mind since I had at least a few warm rooms and as much hot tea as she could drink.   Then there are those I saw yesterday walking down the street with a snow shovel over their shoulder taking advantage of the opportunity for work and possibly some money.  For one friend, the snow meant a two day delay of leaving to go home to the states.  For another it meant not being able to return to his third grade class bringing challenges for those trying to cover his class.    So today I am thankful for the beauty and fun of the snow and the water that it brings but pray for those who are cold and are experiencing even more challenges due to the snow.

Dear God, Help us to see you in all situations.  Help us to see people as you see them.  Thank you for the snow.  Be with those who are sick and cold.  Provide for them physically and spiritually.  Amen