Satisfied Saturday: a Funeral, a Wedding and the Body of Christ

Here it is Saturday evening, and I sit here satisfied.  Last night as I thought about my schedule today, I began to dread the long day.  I had a funeral and a wedding on the schedule for today.  Both were things that I wanted to go to, but I was a bit worried about my tiredness since I was still getting over the flu.

Tonight, however, I’m thankful!  During both events, I was reminded of God’s faithfulness.  His faithfulness to a couple who had been married over 60 years.  His faithfulness to that family as they are now mourning their mother, their grandmother, their great grandmother.  I pray for her husband who, with his wife, has modeled a life of joy for years and years.  I pray for comfort and joy for him in these new circumstances.

I’m thankful for the pastor who preached about God’s peace and about how God is present with us now even as we miss this dear woman.  We can and should grieve our loss but also find strength and hope in God’s presence as we continue on to live our life for Him for as long as He has us on this earth.

I’m also thankful for God’s faithfulness in the body of Christ.  I’m thankful when the body of Christ works the way God designed it.  Tonight I got to reconnect with some dear friends who I spent years in ministry with.  We got to celebrate one of those couple’s son’s wedding.  What a joy to watch him lead worship with his wife.  What a joy to see how God continues to work in people’s lives even when we don’t see each other often anymore.  It made me stop and remember how much I learned about the body of Christ through these believers.

I’m praising God for the way that He works through the people in our lives to point us to Himself.  I’m satisfied in His faithfulness.

Thankful Monday

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“Great are the works of the Lord.  They are pondered by all who delight in the Lord.”  Psalm 111:2

So another school year has started for me.  I started the day with great positive thoughts and ended it feeling more stressed. Sometimes days (or weeks) just don’t go way I plan!

As I began to think about posting my Monday Moment of Joy, I was having a hard time coming up with thoughts that made sense. 

Then I read those words from Scripture.  “GREAT are the works of the Lord.”  I began thinking….”what are the works of the Lord?”  Psalm 111 then says “They are pondered by all who delight in the Lord.”  So I was reminded that the act of remembering and pondering God’s great works can give me joy.  

So, today I’m just going to make a list – a list of God’s great works.  Why don’t you help me make that list?  Feel free to comment and add to the list of God’s great works.  

Then let’s ponder those together!  It will help to put our focus back on Him instead of on our circumstances.

-He saved me.

-He showed me His grace in sending Jesus to die for my sins

-He loves me with an amazing love.

-He gave us His Word.

-He gave us the body of Christ to encourage and sharpen us.

-He gave me a family that loves me and is always there for me.

-He made me unique with gifts and talents that He allows me to use for His glory. 

-He gave me a job that I love with a team that I love.

-He knows me inside and out and yet He loves me anyway.  

-He gave me friends that help point me to Himself.

-He takes care of His people over the ages.  Remember all those times that Israelites walked away from Him or grumbled against Him?  He forgave them over and over and continued in relationship with them!  He does the same for me!

-He left the Holy Spirit to lead and guide us.

What else?  There are millions more of His great works!  Let’s ponder them together.  

There’s peace when we are still and think about Him!

Nature’s Beauty

 

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Tonight I’m satisfied after spending some time in God’s creation.  After several long, busy weeks, I had a few hours to slow down and enjoy some downtime.  My friend found this great little park by the water.  I read and prayed and enjoyed the beauty.

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As the sun went down, music floated across the water and the sky was painted with beautiful colors.  I’m thankful for the time I sensed God’s presence in His creation.  Although it was only a few hours, it felt like many more.

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I’m thankful for the time to take a few moments and just enjoy being still.  Where did you see God’s presence today?  Let’s remember to slow down and take those few moments to enjoy His beauty this week.

Monday Moment of Joy in His Word

teaching joyfully

One of the things I’m thankful for in the summer is the slower schedule and the time to slowly savor God’s Word in the morning. This morning I was reading 1 Thessalonians and was encouraged.

Over the last few days, I’ve been thinking about the phrase “Relentless Positivity” that I got from the conference.  I’ve ALSO been thinking, though, about how much I want to enjoy this week and make it go slow because I am a bit nervous about how the new school year is going to go.

Change is hard.  I know it’s part of life, though, so I’ve been praying that I would find the joy even when things change.  This morning as I read 1 Thessalonians, I was reminded, once again that the joy comes from our God and Savior.

“We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Thess 1:3 NIV

Look at that!!  Our endurance comes from hope in Him!  I don’t have to trust in my own strength to make it through life but I can trust in Him and find joy and hope in Him.  He is my Savior and Lord, and I can find strength and endurance in that.  Paul also was encouraging the Thessalonians because their labor was prompted by love.  That love comes from Him as well.  Is my labor prompted by the love of Christ?

I don’t have to go into this year stressed about all the change.  I can trust that He knows me and loves me and has a plan for me.  I pray that as you start this year that God would remind you to find hope and joy in Him and not in circumstances of life.

A Positive Outlook for a Satisfied Saturday

So Satisfied Saturdays are back (or at least that’s the plan:).  Yesterday I was reminded of the importance of being satisfied with where we are and with who we are.

At the last minute, I decided to go to a Temple Grandin conference.  Her mother, who is in her 80s also spoke.  What an amazing treat to hear both of these women live!

The other speaker is someone I had not heard yet but had definitely heard a lot about! Jennifer O’Toole, with Asperkids, spoke twice.   Check out http://asperkids.com  -an amazing place for encouragement and resources!  In her first talk she encouraged us to find the positive in each person-thus her phrase “relentless positivity.”

As I thought about teaching, I realized that many times, we (or at least I) get sucked into the negatives…I think we truly care about kids and want what’s best for them, but it’s so easy to see all the needs and not to focus on the positives.  Yes, we want kids to make progress so we have to know their needs, but what if we made a point to focus on their strengths and what they do well and then use those strengths to help them grow where they have needs.  Isn’t that what we want people to do with us?

I also had the unexpected joy of spending time with some good friends throughout the conference.  We started talking about the term “relentless positivity.”   I think it might be my new mantra:).  Am I being relentlessly positive?  Am I looking for ways to be encouraging with those around me?  (not just my students, but my neighbors, my family, my friends, the cashier at the grocery store, etc)  Are my eyes open to see the good?  Am I enthusiastically searching for strengths?   Am I determined to find the beautiful things in those around me?  Am I uncompromising when I share positives with others or do I get caught up in the gossip or in the negativity?  Am I unstoppable when I start looking for the constructive instead of the destructive things in life?  Am I unrelenting when I look to affirm others instead of tearing them down?

Do you remember my last post-how I tend to stress when August is upon us?  Well, yesterday was just what I needed.  I walked away from the conference encouraged and excited about starting the school year again:).  I was once again reminded why I do this job.  Thanks to Jennifer, Temple and Eustacia for encouraging us to think positively!

 

 

August Already???

a stream right next to our campsite

 

Can you believe it?  Is it really August?  I feel like it’s still spring and all the craziness that comes with getting ready for school to end.  But, no, summer is now almost over (or maybe it is over for you:(, and I’m wondering what I’ve done with it.  Yes, I taught Extended School Year, and I did some family things.  I also helped out some friends who were under the weather,  but today the stress came back in full force.

Funny thing is that at first the stress did NOT come from thinking about all the things I need to do for school to start.  It came from feeling like my “me” time is almost gone.
Many of those books in my summer pile still sit on the bookshelf.  My summer bucket list never even got made this summer.  My deep cleaning list still sits on the counter with nothing crossed off.  I started feeling like I was missing out on all those fun summer things we as teachers look forward to.   I was frustrated because “after all that hard work, I deserve to have fun during the summer!”  
Then I went out to lunch with a friend I hadn’t seen in months.  We ended up talking about ministry and the body of Christ.  I started to remember that it’s not all about ME!:).  
My plan when I got home was to start on that deep cleaning list.  By the time I got home, however, I had begun to stress about school again. We haven’t officially started yet, but I have started to get emails. (Do you remember before email when we didn’t know what was happening until school actually started?:)
 I became very anxious about some changes that “may” be happening this year.  I sat on the couch and started thinking about how bad things could be.  I began to pray and asked God for joy in the midst of changes.  I sat in His presence for awhile.  I then got up and start cleaning.
As I cleaned I listened to a recording of a Sunday School lesson from another church.   The first words I heard from that recording were “Is anyone here anxious today?”  I think I laughed out loud!    Hmm…yep this was meant for me today:).  He was talking about the end of 2 Thessalonians chapter 2.  
Listen to these words.  “May our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father who loved us and by His grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, ENCOURAGE your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.”  (verse 16-17 NIV)
The verses before 16 and 17 talk about us being called to Him.  We can find peace in the fact that we are part of His family.  He loves us and gives us strength for the things that He has called us to do.
 I don’t know about you, but I do feel like teaching is my calling.  I really don’t want to do it haphazardly or  just to get through the day.  I want to do it joyfully because He has called me there.  (I just have to remember that’s what I want:). 
What about you?  How are you feeling about school starting?  Are you anxious?  Are you tired of all the politics and all the changes?   Are you overwhelmed by all the things you know you want to get done but won’t?  
My prayer is that we will, instead, be overwhelmed with what God has done for us and how much He loves us.  He can give us hope, so let’s choose JOY this August. 

Another Snowy Monday

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Does this picture look familiar?  Did you get another snow day or are you basking in the warmth of somewhere like Florida?:)

We’ve now used 9 snow days.  If none of them get waived, we get to go all the way through the last week in June!!!  Yippee!!  Just in time for Extended School Year to start:).

I have definitely loved these unexpected days off, though.  A friend posted that he was trying to be upset with all this snow in the “spring” but when it starts falling, it’s just so beautiful and fun to have that day off that he can’t complain.  It’s kind of how I feel.

Although, I really don’t want to go to school year round, I LOVE those snow days where I can pretend that I can’t get out on the roads and I just HAVE to stay inside and read or watch movies or bake or take a nap.

It gives me time to slow down and enjoy that quiet time….enjoy more time reading God’s Word, enjoy more time praying for those in my life.

With all these snow days, though, I’ve been thinking a lot  about how to slow down and enjoy God’s presence throughout the busy days as well.  We all have 24 hours every day.  How are we going to use them?

How can I slow down even on my busy days and SEE those around me?  How can I FIND joy in the middle of a day of meltdowns and unexpected schedule changes, and many pressures from many different angles?

I’m spending time right now praying that God would open my eyes to His presence whether I have a full snow day or whether I have a full day of teaching.

Would you pray that with me?  Would you pray that you would SEE those around you-see their needs/see their joys and their hurts?

Would you pray that you would FIND joy in the middle of whatever God has for your day.

 

Monday Moment- February 17

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So here it is Monday again.  I missed last week-I’ll blame it on snow, but really life just got away from me.  Today as I sit at home watching Olympics and enjoying another day off (this 5 day weekend has been great!), I am finding joy in rest and slowness.  I’m thankful that I could stay in bed a few minutes longer and spend a few more minutes in God’s Word.

I’m also finding joy in time just to sit and read.   What are you reading right now? The Book Thief is what I’m enjoying right now.

Now there are MANY things on my list to do today-schoolwork, vacuum, clean the kitchen, make that soup with the leftovers, etc…but right now, I’m moving slow and doing one little thing at a time.  Trying to find joy in the moment-even if that moment is cleaning or cooking.

Can I remember this slowness tomorrow when I go back to work and am running quickly through my day to deal with the next meltdown?  How can I slow down not only when there’s a whole day off in front of me but also when I have a very full day in front of me?

Praying that God would remind me to find joy in the moment-not ONLY on Mondays or not ONLY on days that I have extended amounts of time with no schedule, but also on every other day.

How have you found joy today?

Monday Moment-Student Success

Wow am I having fun teaching these last few weeks!!  Shhhh….don’t tell me that it’s because I’ve only been there 2 and half days because of snow days;).

But, really…I have loved my job the last few days!

On Friday, my students had a project due.  We’re studying the Olympics.

Check out this project I created here.

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Winter-Sports-Competition-Project-ClassworkHomework-Language-Arts-1035796

I did this project four years ago and my students really got into it.  After researching athletes, sports and countries, they took over the whole room and shared their wealth of information and their amazing 3D projects that they had created.  Those special education students shared their projects with the whole school!

The last few years, when I’ve tried to do similar projects, they basically failed!!  You know sometimes your ideas just don’t work with the class you’ve been given that year. They just have different needs and your teaching needs to change.

So I was a bit hesitant to try it again this year, but….I thought maybe it could work with this group.

They struggled with the research part over the last few weeks.

They needed a lot of guidance to understand what a country was.  They didn’t remember seeing the winter Olympics (of course because they were young)!

I kept plugging along teaching skills such as prediction and summarizing through this theme, but I wasn’t sure how long we’d last into this unit.

The due date for their projects was Friday, but I had visions of haphazard projects thrown together at the last minute or no projects at all.

WOW! Was I surprised!!

Every student in that group completed an AMAZING project at home.  They ALL had parent support, and they ALL could explain the facts that they had researched.

They even were able to answer questions that their classmates asked them.

They told me they had used their snow days to research and to find objects from their home to create their projects.  So, as I sat on the couch watching movies on those snow days, my students were LEARNING and LOVING IT!!!

When one student proudly found me Friday morning to show me her project, she beamed while I turned away and cried those happy tears.

I then caught every teacher that I could in the hallway and had her share her success with them.  (You know even those teachers who said she never could do anything right!  I caught those teachers too and showed off that proud moment of learning).

I’ll post pictures soon of their projects.  I now can’t wait to continue this unit.

So, in light of Friday, I came into school excited today.

I had been reminded that my students CAN learn and CAN have successes!  That perspective gave me joy this morning as we struggled through new concepts in Math.

I even saw my students persevere a little bit more today because they also were reminded that they can be successful!

Where did you find joy today?

Satisfied Saturday-sadness and joy

Here we are-it’s Saturday again!  Let’s put on those “thankful hats!”  That’s what Satisfied Saturdays are all about.  What can you praise God for today?

This is hard, though because as I write this, I’m thinking about some joyful moments that happened at school this week, but I’m also sitting here saddened as I listen to the news about another shooting at a mall.  It just seems so wrong-to keep hearing over and over again about people being hurt by acts of violence in our world.

I don’t know if you’ve seen that e-card floating around Facebook today-it makes a joke about how we don’t worry senselessly-we worry because we know all the bad things that can really happen.

It seems to resonate with me today and other days as I hear, over and over again, about all the bad things in our world. How do we keep living and moving in the wake of more bad news?

It’s so easy to worry when my mind is filled with the brokenness all around me.  So, I step back and I pray for those involved.  I don’t really know what to pray except for comfort and healing and for God to make His presence known.  I’m thankful that God tells us that He’s sent the Holy Spirit to be our intercessor.  So, even when I don’t know what to pray, He hears my groans and my wordless prayers.

I’m thankful that He knows me inside and out. I’m thankful that He knows those families that are now unexpectedly mourning.   I’m thankful that He has the world in His hands.  I don’t always get it.

I don’t understand why bad things happen.  I can somehow trust, though, that He is bigger than all this.  He has a plan that is much greater than anything I can imagine.  (At least that’s what a friend told me the day before he died of a heart related incident).  I had a hard time believing it at that time.  I sometimes still have a hard time believing it, but looking back over my life I’ve seen it to be true.

This world is full of brokenness because of our sin.  It’s messy and yucky and confusing and sad, but God has conquered that brokenness.  He sent His Son to die for me, for my sins.  It’s still broken right now (full of violence and mourning and tears), but He is making us new.  He is redeeming His creation.

Today I’m sad as we’ve come face to face with that brokenness once again today.   I’m sad for those involved in the tragedy today.  I look forward to the day when Christ comes back and when the new heaven and the new earth are revealed.  I long for that day. My hope comes from looking towards that eternal day-from having that eternal perspective-from knowing in my heart of hearts that God is bigger.

Where are you finding hope today?