Joyful Moment on this Monday

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Today I’m thankful for the sun!  What a gorgeous day it was today- a reminder that Spring is coming.   My classroom doesn’t have any windows (except for the nice little poster of a window that the teacher from last year left).

When I left the room at the end of the day to do dismissal duty, I overheard another teacher saying  “Oh wait!  It’s sunny today??”  She has several tiny windows in her room but when she saw the big picture windows at the front of the school, she saw how sunny it really was!

It’s so easy to get caught up in the day and not make a point to walk by a window or an outside door.  I live in my own little world not seeing the effects of the sun.

It makes me think…How often do I go about my day without recognizing that the Son is here?  Do I stop and “glance out the window” to see what He’s doing?  Or do I live like I’m still in the dark?

Do I look for the blessings that He pours down?  Do I notice when He shows me a glimpse of Himself?  Do I see how He’s working in that student in front of me or in that relationship with my coworker?

I’m thanking God for His Son today-for the amazing gift that He’s given me.  He sent His Son to this earth so that I could live in the light and not in the darkness anymore.

How am I still living in the darkness?  Yes, we’re still living in a broken and sinful world with darkness all around, but am I allowing Him to sanctify me?  Am I watching when He points to the light?  Am I basking in those glimpses of the light that He sends my way?

Where have you seen the God’s light today?

Parent Conferences

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Today I had back to back conferences from early in the morning until the end of the school day.   I spent most of yesterday completing all the folders and writing notes so that I could remember what to say in each one.   I felt very organized when I left school but, of course,  when I got home, I began to stress a  bit about all of the things that I wanted to make sure to say.

I began to pray through all of these conferences.  What a joy that was to be able to spend some time thinking about the strengths of each student.  It changes how I go into conferences when I take the time to thank God for each child and to pray for wisdom for our discussions .

I was reminded today how much I love parent conferences!  After being in hundreds of IEP meetings over the years, I have often seen the ways that collaboration between home and school is a major key in a child’s success.   I love being part of that collaboration.   Whether it’s an “easy” conference or a more difficult one, the process of connecting and talking about strategies and tools for a student’s success makes me excited.

Sometimes there is a fear that there will be fireworks during the conference if there are disagreements or hard things shared, but when we  focus on the relationship and work towards finding common ground, there is a joy in knowing that we can work together as a team.

I’m thankful tonight for the things that were shared in our meetings-the strengths and the hard things. There were times today that I was reminded that there is a bigger picture.  Sometimes academics and the school day are the least of these students’ worries.

I’m thankful for each family that God has placed my students in.   I’m thankful for all the teachers that I have worked with over the years that have so genuinely cared for their students-not just the academic part of their students but the whole child.     I pray that we would continue to be able to work together as a team to encourage and challenge each student as they take their next step towards independence.

What is your favorite part of parent conferences?  How do you prepare?  How do you encourage parents and students during these meetings?

Thankful Heart

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Here it is Monday-the day I said I would share a moment of joy, but sometimes I just don’t like the path that I’ve been given.   As I walk with another friend through a rough time, I am saddened.   I am thankful for so many things , yet sometimes it’s hard to remember those things in the difficult moments.

I can’t always see what’s ahead and at times that brings fear.  What if those things that I’ve hoped for do not come to pass?  What if my desires for my life aren’t God’s desires?  What if I am disappointed by the road that I take? What if something happens to those I love?   How will I cope? How will others around me cope?

Tonight, I was with some friends.  We began talking about the journeys we’re on.  We’ve all had disappointments.  We’ve all struggled with what our hope should be in life, but tonight we remembered together that we can trust in a faithful God.  We don’t know the future and we don’t always know where He’s leading us, but we can know and believe that He is a God that loves us.  He promises to work good in all situations.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t always see how a situation can be used for good.  There’s a step of faith that I have to take to put my trust in God’s promise.   Sometimes gratitude is a choice.  Sometimes I have to look back and see the glimpses of good that God has shown me in difficult situations in the past.  I have to allow my mind and heart to be reminded that He is at work now even in this broken world.

Sometimes gratefulness is a choice.  Today I’m thankful for the body of Christ who can remind me of God’s promises.   I’m thankful for His Word that reminds me that this world is not all there is.  I’m thankful that He has given us the hope of eternity with Him.  I’m also thankful that He gives us glimpses of hope now.  I’m thankful that He is making all things new.   I’m thankful that He is with me through those times that I struggle and those times that I doubt.

I’m thankful that He hears my cries.  I’m thankful that He knows my fears and my sadness and that He walks alongside me.  I’m thankful that today He pointed me back to His promises.

Where did you see a glimpse of hope today?

New Year’s Eve

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I sit here tonight reflecting, as we all probably do in some form.   There have been times this year that have been amazing and times that have been extremely hard.

What has your year been like?  I’m guessing it’s been kind of the same-some great things and some not so great things-maybe some horrible things.  At this time of year, it’s easy to focus on how to make next year better.

We begin to dream about what would make our life easier or happier or less chaotic or more fulfilled.

I guess it’s ok to dream but what would it look like if we focus on joy in the moment?  Not joy for a year or even for week or a day, but for this moment.  What would it look like to live in this moment?

Yes, it’s important to plan and to prepare and to look ahead.  It’s also important to look back and reflect so that we know how to change, but we can’t change on our own.  We’re not promised tomorrow or even the next moment.

So how will we live in joy in this moment?

What can you praise God for right now?

How are you living for Him right now?

What do your relationships look like in this moment?

Where do you see God at work in this moment?

How are you seeing Him work in your life or your friends’ lives or your family’s life right now?

Are your thoughts glorifying Him in this moment?

Do you have sin to confess right now?

What can you talk to God about in this moment? (maybe it’s the sadness or the fear or the sin…maybe it’s the gladness or the thankfulness.  Whatever it is, He wants to know. He wants a relationship with us).

What choice can you make to live in joy right now?

 

(Yep, you’ll have to make another choice in the next moment…but let’s not worry about one yet:).  God will be there meeting us in the next moment just as He is meeting us in this moment.

Happy New Year!  Let’s commit to living in this moment this year.

 

Monday Moment-Thankful for Memories

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Tonight I was thinking about what I was grateful for.  I’m in a Bible study that is studying  prayer.  Tonight we talked about the different kinds of prayer-one of those being thankfulness.   When I got home, I was reminded  grateful I am for the body of Christ.  I’m thankful for long term and shorter term relationships.  This Bible study is a combination of both.  Several of us have been together for years but about a month ago, several new women joined our study.  Tonight I was grateful for getting to know these new women (even though I’ll admit that a month ago, I wasn’t so sure I wanted to open up to a new set of people:).

When I got home, I found a list of things that I was thanking God for in December of 2009.

Here are some of them…

  • Fun family gatherings – birthdays, spur of moment times, Christmas celebrations-thank You for growing us and helping us to love each other more and more
  • Healing-time to grieve-as I stepped back from leadership at church ,You gave me some time to be emotional and to do a little more healing and to see Your presence
  • Tears
  • Smiles
  • Newness of life
  • Times of grace within relationships in the body of Christ
  • The women’s ministry at church growing to be more real
  • The women that have been involved in my life from church
  • Your grace in the midst of my sin and my inability to give grace to others on my own
  • My job-in the midst of a very hard year, You’ve shown me Your grace and helped me to give grace to some students and families that I never would have been able to give grace to on my own. Thank You!
  • Thank You for those students and families that are hard to work with.
  • Long term relationships –friends from high school, family, friends from church, youth at church, students and families from school

Wow!  What a great blessing to find that list of prayers of thanksgiving written down.  It make me realize how important it is to actually thank God for those things that I am feeling grateful for.  When I got home from Bible study tonight I was grateful for the body of Christ, but I hadn’t actually lifted up that prayer of thanksgiving to God.

Thank you God for the body of Christ!

What are you grateful for?  Have you told God yet?

Sunday Worship

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What an amazing day of worship.  I’m thankful for a body of believers and relationships that stand the test of time.  This weekend was a long, hard weekend of grieving for my former church.  I’m glad I was able to be there during this time.

It was good to see friends I hadn’t seen in a long time even though it was under difficult circumstances.  I’m thankful for the way the Gospel was shared multiple times throughout the weekend.  The raw emotions that were shared kept it real.  Life is hard, and it may not get easier on this side of heaven.  We need words of truth.  We need hope.

It’s hard to figure out how to keep walking through life when something like this happens.  We need others to walk alongside us.  We need the body of Christ to remind us of truth.

I don’t have answers for the “why” questions, but I do know that God is faithful and that He promises to be with us as we continue to live in this broken world. I’m thankful that He hears me when I cry and that He walks beside me.  I’m thankful that this world is not the end.  I’m thankful for the hope that we have of a future with Him.

Where do you run for comfort?  Where do you run when it seems like there are no answers? Do you run to our Savior or do you try to survive on your own?

Monday Moment

Today I’m thankful for a new week.

I’m thankful for the joy that comes from watching students get excited about learning. It makes me wonder can I help to facilitate this joy more often?

 

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I’m also thankful for….

-Fall weather and beautiful colors

-Full moons (I might have to remind myself of this as the week goes on and there’s a full moon and Halloween:)  They are so beautiful though!  Thanks God for your gorgeous creation.

-Friends who keep me accountable and encourage me to pray often

-God’s Word that reminds me that my hope is certain and it comes from Him not from my circumstances

-Family who listens to and encourages me daily

-The body of Christ

-God’s presence with me all the time

What are you praising God for today?  I’d love to hear!

 

 

 

Sunday Surprises

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I sit here in shock, in sadness and in prayer.  The last few weeks, it has been my goal to start blogging again.   I thought that I’d start with a post on a Monday so I could begin, again, a pattern of praising God for what He’s done.  I began thinking of things that I could share-things that God has done recently but today I realized I couldn’t wait until a Monday.

Today I’m mourning the sudden death of a friend’s son. It came as such a surprise.  There have been conversations about why this happened.  Our church has had many surprise deaths in the last few years.   What is God doing?  How come He took someone so young?  How will this family and the body of Christ get through this again?

There’s hope in knowing  that this world is not all there is but it doesn’t make the pain go away now.  It did, however, remind me that today matters.  We don’t know what tomorrow will look like or whether we’ll still be here.  We don’t know what God has in store for us, but we do know that He is present with us today and that He holds the future.

How will I make today matter?

I don’t always understand why things happen but I know that I have a God who cares about me and desires to be in relationship with me.  I can go to Him with my fears and my questions and my anger and my shock. He’s big enough to hear all of those emotions, and He promises to never leave me.   He promises to walk alongside me in the good times and the most difficult times.

These things may have surprised me but they haven’t surprised Him.    I don’t understand His ways but I can look back and see how He has been faithful in other hard times.

Today I’m thankful for His presence and that I can run to Him when I don’t understand this life.  I’m thankful that He invites my questions.   I’m thankful that even when I don’t know how to express my feelings, He is there listening to my tears and walking beside me.

What are you questioning today?  Run to Him and talk to Him about those things.

Grateful Monday-He guides and leads us.

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Today I’m thankful for God’s sovereignty.  Listen to what Isaiah 52:12 says.  “…for the Lord will go before you, the God of Israel will be your rear guard.”

As I think about this new year, there are many things that I could be anxious about.  There are also many things that I’m excited about. I don’t know what the future holds.  I don’t know what tonight or tomorrow will be like, but I can trust that God is there ahead of me.  He will lead and guide me along the way.

I remember kayaking down the Colorado River a few years ago.  I was a bit nervous at times about what was around the corner.  Would there be a power boat rushing at us?  Would I be able to navigate around that log or that rock that’s jutting out up ahead?  I had to learn to trust our guide who had navigated this river hundreds of times.

As I think about this new year and all the unknowns, I can trust my Savior and Lord. I may not know what is around the corner, but He is already there!  He’ll know how to guide me around that corner.

That verse also says that He is our rear guard. I take comfort in knowing that He protects us from behind as well.  Sometimes, bitterness or regret or frustration or anger creeps in from our past.  As I read that verse in Isaiah, I am encouraged to know that God will guard us from those things as we move into the future.  There’s hope in knowing that He walks with me before and behind.

I pray that as we move into this new year, that we ask God for his courage to step into those new adventures, for His joy and forgiveness as we move through things that have happened in the past and for His hope as we consider His sovereignty and His active care for our lives.

It’s over! Christmas really is over.

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Yes, it’s true!  Many of you have probably already realized that:)  but I have felt that my Christmas season has zoomed by so today, I thought “Wow it really is over.  Where did it go?”

I taught through December 23rd.  I had a sinus infection since Thanksgiving so I was ready to sit on the couch and do nothing for the first few days of break.  But of course, that doesn’t happen when you “have to” do all those great things to get ready for the holiday.

You know, you need to wrap the presents.  Oh wait, you need to buy or make them first!  You need to make sure you remember all the people on your list and then also remember those people who might give you a gift.  You know how important it is to have those extra gifts ready.  You have to bake the cookies and prepare the food for the big day.  You have to go look at lights and model trains.  You have to go to church.  You have to lead the pageant or sing in the choir.  You have to make sure you have the right dress for the Christmas party.  You have to rush from party to party.  Oh no, did you make the cookies for the third cookie exchange?  You have to host the family.  You have to watch the Hallmark movies and stay up late enjoying the lights on the tree.  You have to decorate the house.  Wow, no wonder that season flies by!

This year, though, my Christmas season flew by for other reasons.  That sinus infection that I got the week of Thanksgiving didn’t go away until last Wednesday so by the time Christmas came around, I was exhausted.  I would get home from work and have NO energy to do anything except finish the 7 IEPs that were due, try to plan for the next day, shove some dinner down my throat and then climb into bed.

I did manage to wrap a few presents on Christmas Eve but most of those other things on that list just didn’t happen.  All of a sudden there were 3 days left of break, and I began to get a little sad that I hadn’t checked all of those things off my list. I felt like I missed out on Christmas.

Then on the 2nd day before the break ended, I came down with the flu.  Hmmmm  not exactly part of  that crazy Christmas plan.  I ended up on the couch for  4 days.  It made me stop!  It also made me start to think.

I do take a lot of joy from doing most of those things on that list above.  When I couldn’t do all of those things, I began to think about where my joy comes from. Does it come from happy feelings about what is going on around me or does it come from who Jesus is and what He’s done for us?

I’m thankful for God meeting me where I am.  I’m thankful that I had to slow down this Christmas and not do all those time consuming things on my list.  I’m thankful that God reminded me that He is my all in all…that I can’t make my own joy or happiness.  It comes from Him.