Out of the Box

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Smiling Faces

This past week students came back to school.  Seeing their smiling faces and the attitude of a new year gets me excited about not just what the year holds but their future.  I have been in education long enough to know that many are coming to school seeking a safe haven.  I have always felt blessed that God called me to love all children, and there is nothing like building relationships with young people that last a life time.  I pray that God gives me the wisdom each year to plant seeds that will grow and flourish in the young students that he has brought across my path.   As I meet and greet all these smiling faces I am reminded of the verse in Mark 10:16, “And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.”

Out of the Box

This week also gives me pause when I think of all the teachers who have opened their classroom doors across this country to love all of  God’s children.  I am always amazed when I meet teachers across this country at the passion they have for their students.  It is contagious. Teaching is truly a calling for so many who want to love, inspire, and challenge our children to find the best inside of each of them.  These are the innovators thinking outside of the box to challenge our students to reach deep inside themselves and dream big.  Educators across the country are opening their arms and hearts to these children.  Watching educators love children is an example of Christ calling the children to him in Mark 10:14, “But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.”

God’s Blessings

Beginning a new year is exciting and like a rebirth.  The innocence of children and the exciting of a change to start over is a perk to educating children.  2 Corinthians 5:17 reads, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”  The old has passed and the new school year has come and may God bring blessings to those passionately educating our future and the children who walk through their doors each and every day.  Jesus spoke in Matthew 18: 1-5, “At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me,” to remind us that we should also be like children as we search for the kingdom of heaven.  Watch a child learn, Have you Forgotten?

Closing Verse:  Psalm 127:3, “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.”

Challenge:  Thank an Educator that has blessed your life or your child’s life.

The World Around Me

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Traveling NC

I have had a great opportunity to travel across the state of North Carolina over the last two weeks.  I have lived in just one area and worked in that same community, so I have forgotten how big just this state is and how beautiful.  Not just the natural beauty but the people.  Especially those teaching our students each and everyday.   What a life changing experience to see our state and engage with educators who care about the students they teach?  I wanted to pack so many in my suitcase and carry them back home to my students.  Learning with educators across the state reminds me of the verse in Isaiah 40:31, "But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint."  As educators we are on the front line for our students.

Educators in NC

These past weeks gave me the opportunity to meet such strong passionate people and reminds me of how God is working in the lives of people around me each day, but also people across the state, the country and around the world.  His guidance is evident when you talk to so many who just care so much about children.  Jesus was an example to us all on how to love children.  In Mark 10:16, "And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.", we read how Jesus take the children and changes their lives.  I met educators who with whatever they have they strive to give their students the best they can and in turn they are a blessing to their students.  This experience has been a reminder to me of not just why I do what I do but why so many have chosen to love all our children just as Christ has chosen to love us.

Natural Beauty of NC

Finally, as I drove across the state, I was blessed with seeing so much of God's beautiful creations.  Sometimes the Sun was shining and the breeze was awesome. Then the storm clouds would open on the fields and pastures.  I watched the sun rise between the mountains of NC one morning as I drove through the valley.  I saw the flatlands of eastern NC humid and dry and then drenched and wet.  I drove back roads I would have never known without this adventure and all of it was full of God's beauty.  I watched the sunset each evening in a new location and praised God for his beauty.  I was reminded of the verse in Ecclesiastes 3:11, "He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end."  No matter what the circumstance be sure to take the time to see the grace and beauty of God all around you.

God's world is full of beautiful people and beautiful places.  Sometimes I just can't get enough!  Makes me want to find another adventure.  Maybe I will head to Syracuse, New York….Stay Tuned.

Closing Verse: Psalm 145:5, "On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate."

Challenge: Open your eyes to all the beauty God has given us.  Sometimes it is an unexpected blessing.

 

God’s Perfection – Me!

Life isn’t about finding yourself.  Life is about CREATING yourself.  -George Bernard Shaw

Who Am I?

Maybe I have been trying to find myself for too long, and now I finally realize that I should have been creating myself.  So, if I want to create myself then I must look deeply at who I am.  So who am I?

I Am A Christian

First and foremost, I am a Christian.  I am not a perfect Christian because I fall short of God’ glory each and every day and seek his forgiveness and mercy in my daily life.  I believe in and love the Lord Jesus Christ as my Savior.  Sometimes, I forget what an important piece this is in my life and that nothing else that I do is more important than my life as a Christian.  I am reminded by John 3:16 ““For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”  This famous verse in the core of my faith.  God has provided an opportunity for me to show the world how God has saved and blessed me.    Recently, My husband and I were given the chance to share his grace with a neighbor.  We did not have a sit down and discuss, but just modeled his love and blessings in our lives and tried to help her refocus all her anger and bitterness on the positive.  She has just let life get the best of her like so many of us and learning to lean on Christ in both the good and the bad is what should truly define our lives.  I pray that I continue to CREATE myself as a Christian so that others will always see Christ as Matthew 7:16 reads, “You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?”  I pray I bear his fruits.

I Am A Wife And Mother

As I really look at the life I am creating, I see the blessings I have from a loving husband of 28 years and two beautiful adult daughters.  I know that as a mother I failed them both many times, but I hope that above all they knew I loved them and Christ.  Psalms 127:3 brings me joy, “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.”  I hope that somehow I showed them how to love those that God will place in their lives both now and in the future.  Being a mother never really stops as I continue to pray for their futures, their lives, and that they will be blessed.  I could not have been a loving mother without a loving husband by my side.  He is my greatest blessing from God.  Ephesians 4:32 defines my marriage blessing, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”  My heart hurts when I think about how I have let him down, but the life that he has given me is one of laughter, fun, and dreams lived.  He helps me see the future so that I can believe in my own dreams.  Each day and each year just gets better and I can’t wait for the future with him.  He is the gift God gave me so that I could CREATE the real person that I truly am.

I Am An Educator

God has given me the great opportunity to work with so many children in my career.  I get excited when I bring a child and learning together.  I love the sparkle in their eyes when the learning means something to them deep inside.  I know that this comes from the Lord because Jesus has a special place in his heart for children, Matthew 19:14 reads, “But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.””  Over the last twenty years, I have been a school librarian and this has changed my life.  Working with both students and teachers in this role has allowed me so many opportunities to see not just the success in the classroom but around the world.  Proverbs 8:10 clarifies this purpose, “Take my instruction instead of silver, and knowledge rather than choice gold,”  I hope that my future somehow holds a piece of this in it because I truly love this part of me, but I know that it is not the definition of who I am or who I want to be.  It is just a piece of me, but a piece that I love.

I CREATING Myself To Be Free

What I have learned about myself is that I want to live a life as free as the life Christ has established for me.    What does that mean? Psalm 119: 105 explains it this way, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”  I look for the path where I feel free and I find that is when I am on the sand and near the water.  This is when I feel free.  I want a simple life that is what is deep down inside.  I want to CREATE that person who needs less, loves more, and explores the beauty of God’s creation all around me – (but especially those areas near a beach and the water!)  Digging deeper into myself has allowed me to really see what I have been created to love and to be.  I am ready to start CREATING a new part of me!  “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”  Jeremiah 29:11

Closing Verse:  Proverbs 16:9, “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.”

Challenge:  Stop trying to find yourself and look deep inside so you can CREATE who God planned for you to be.

 

A Time to Love God’s Children

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The past two weeks at school, students have been struggling through their state test.  This is such a difficult time for the students that I love so much.  It is also difficult for teachers, parents, and the entire school community, just read the post by parents and teachers on social media.  The state places a whole years worth of work on a few hours each May.  If a child is sick, had a bad night, didn’t get breakfast, etc. then their score is effected which determines their placement for the next school year.  I know both good and bad can result from testing because I have witnessed both over the years, but it does not make these 4 days any easier for the school community.

All I do is pray that God will show me how to love and care for our students through this time and beyond.  Educators stand in the gap for them and guide them through each spring.  Philippians 2:4 reads, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interest of others.”  This verse is a constant reminder each day and especially during this testing period to love my neighbor.   I try to understand how we got to the place that a few hours determine a child’s ability going forward that a teacher could not determine after building relationships for 10 months.  I just struggle with the whole child being cared for because so many students need so much more than to be successful on a test.  Of course, test like these provide data but should not be all that defines our students.

A quote by Woody Allen reads, “If you don’t fail now and again, it’s a sign you’re playing it safe.”  This quote reminds me that in order to be successful in life we all need some failure.  As I watch students test this week, I wonder if we are teaching students this valuable tool.  Are we teaching students how to fail?  Are we teaching students how to learn and grow from failure?  Or are we burdening them with the what will happen if they fail.  I have heard teachers over the past month give passionate encouraging speeches, but what will be the speech for the child that had the bad day.  How will we leave them after we give them a score.  I pray that students feel loved and encouraged as  Thessalonians 5:11 expresses, “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”

As we close out this year and testing completes for students, I grasp for the verse found in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”  It is time for students to just rest, have fun, and prepare for a new school year to build on both their successes and failures.  I find myself digging deeper in how I can show students how to grow?  How to believe in themselves in the midst of failure for some and success for others?  How not to be defeated but to find their inner passion?  How do I show them the love they need during this time of their life when they are learning and growing?  How do I love these students (my neighbors)?  Failure is important for us all.  The struggle for some will be too much failure.  These are the students I am praying for moving forward.

As I sit in the silence as students test, I pray for God’s guidance in their lives.  I pray for success from failure.  I pray for a time of rest and renewal.  As I watch students during these testing settings, I am  reminded that this too shall pass.  There is a time to test and a time not to test.  There is a time for everything as Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 reads,

1 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

2 a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;

3 a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

5 a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

6 a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

7 a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

8 a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.

Always time to love God’s children.

Closing Verse:  Matthew 19:14  ‘but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”‘

Challenge:  Are you loving all God’s children as Christ loves you?

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