The Reward for Surviving Rough Seas

The Reward for Surviving Rough Seas
We are all like sea shells tossed about in rough waters and being re-shaped in wondrous ways. But have you ever contemplated the notion that sea shells have to complete their journey through the rough waters before they get to rest on the shore? Yeah, we are ALL like sea shells and Heaven is The Great Shore.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

I Will Carry The Thought-Kernal of this Weekend...


Let me set the scene for you:

Its 6:43 a.m. on a Sunday Morning as I type this sentence. It is the Lords' Day. And I am sitting in the dark in a hotel room, sipping freshly brewed coffee by the light of my computer screen (which has been dimmed to a meager 10% of its usual brightness). The room is equipped with blackout drapes and so no natural light will invade the velvety darkness in here. I had been working on my prayer journal for a while and but have now moved on to writing in this blog.  My husband snores quite softly in the background, creating a cozy & comforting backdrop for thoughts of safety and blessing and hope.

And I am keenly aware that God Is HERE.

He is in the room with me...with us.  He has kept us safe all weekend long. And I am overwhelmed when I consider His abundant blessings and protection.  He has provided beautiful scenery all around us and we have enjoyed looking at His handiwork this weekend.  And today, as we begin the drive homeward, we plan to stop somewhere scenic along the way and break the unleavened bread and drink the grape juice.  We Will Take Communion in the middle of HIS landscape...and HE will be there with us.

 Matthew 18:20 "For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” 

God is Good!

Today, Lord Willing, we will travel back home.
And tomorrow, Lord Willing, we will return to the treadmill.
We will earn our daily bread and we will get tired doing so.

But I will carry the thought-kernal of this weekend in my memory-pocket like a little gemstone that I have secreted away.  I will retrieve it from that pocket and take it out, and watch it shine on days when I need to gain perspective on life's difficulties. 
And the memories of this weekend will be a blessing for the days ahead.

I thank God for the husband to travel with and the ability to do so.

It is an amazing thing to ride in the palm of HIS hand.
In Him,

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Lessons From The Horizon

Good Morning God,

Father, Thank You for The Horizon. 

Thank You for the eyes to be able to see to the very edge of what I then Can NOT see.
Thank You for the knowledge that there is more out there than my weak human eyes can detect.  
God, I can not see beyond the horizon, yet I know that what I CAN see is not all that exists.  
This sounds so simple...yet this same principal applies to why I believe in YOU.
Thank you for Faith.

God, when people say that they can't see You and therefore don't believe that You exist, are they relying on their human eyes?  
Don't they know that it takes faith to see some of the best things in life?
We can't see love, but by faith we know that it exists. 
We can't see a friends' forgiveness of a wrong we committed, but by faith we know it exists.

There are plenty of things, that we deal with every day, that can not be seen with human eyes, 
And when we encounter such a situation, we utilize tools that help us see better.

We have lots and lots of such tools including glasses, contact lenses,  microscopes, telescopes, and all sorts of special cameras for speeding things up or slowing things down. 

But we also use larger tools when we need them; such as satellites.
We use these tools for everything from watching television to predicting weather to waging war. 
Whether large or small, each time we use one of these tools, we confirm that human eyes have finite limits.

So why do people get so frazzled when they can not see you God?
They need the right tool for that.
And that tool is called Faith.

There are others who mentally process the subject of Your Existence in just the opposite fashion.
Rather than express frustration about looking For but not being Able to see you God, these folks claim that no logical person would ever even Try. 
Instead of looking for You, they say that there is no logical proof of Your existence, and declare that You are a myth.

These folks are all about Logic.

God, will this help them?:

1. Evil exists! (Copious acts of evil have been recorded throughout history. Evil is clearly documented.)
2.The presence of evil demands its' opposite in order to define its' own boundaries; otherwise there would be no compare/contrast and we would be unable to perceive evil from that which is not evil.
3. Therefore: If evil exists, then according to logical principals, that which is not evil must also exist.
4. That which is not evil is good.
5. The name for the ultimate Evil is Satan
6. The name for the ultimate Good is God.
7. God exists! 

Perhaps that is too simple an explanation for the Intelligent Folks of this world?
Perhaps they crave a more detailed set of proofs?

But what if no further proof is needed?
And what if is it really IS this simple?

God, Thank you for the Horizon.

In Him,

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Pretty Pie Chart of Student Data

If there are any other high school teachers who are reading this blog, it's likely that we may be in the same boat:  The S.S. Paralysis of Analysis.

(Father, please help those of us who teach!)

For those readers who are not in Education, I am about to whine a little; just wanted to give you fair warning.
It seems to me that Educators have been forced to become Data Addicts.
We have to analyze failure rates.
We have to make graphs and charts.
We have to make Intervention Plans.
We have to Assess, Evaluate, Implement, and Assess and Evaluate all over again.
And we get so busy looking over our shoulders at what has already been done, that it is impossible to look ahead at where we are going.

(Father, thank you for this privilege of teaching.  You blessed me with the ability to reach kids. And I love helping them learn.  It's why I became a teacher. And God, I am stymied at how to help them learn when I can't teach them the way I know they need to be taught)

Whatever happened to Teachers teaching and Students learning?

Don't get me wrong, I don't mind accountability.
It's a good thing.
It builds responsibility and helps build an ethical approach to life.
Accountability sometimes gets unwarranted bad press, yet I hold that Accountability is critically important.

Honest...I GET why we have to test.
I GET why we should assess and evaluate.

But when Accountability drives the Pace and Depth of Curriculum, it seems to me that we have got the cart before the horse on this issue.

At this point many teachers are no longer able to utilize "the teachable moment", because it would throw off their timeline of teaching...which is be able to prepare for the next local or state level test.

Example:  A good friend of mine teaches World History and was recently told that he was not allowed to discuss Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. He was told to mention the names of these great thinkers, but also told that he could NOT discuss their impact on thinking or on education today. When he asked "Why?", he was told "The timeline of testing says that by the end of May teachers are required to be up to the year 2000 so that we can cover Terrorism"

Yes, this REALLY happened!.
And yes this means that if a student is interested in Socrates, Plato or Aristotle and asks a question about those learned men, this teacher can not take the time to answer that question fully or lead a classroom discussion about the topic.
Accountability (measured in distance IE: how many pages of the curriculum guide a teacher covers each year) has taken priority over Learning (measured in depth of understanding IE: application & evaluation & creation ).  How backwards is THAT!

Yes...The Emperor is naked and no one is saying a word about it because he would be angry if he were to be embarrassed.  So, the kitchen staff is working diligently on the menu for his next banquet as if nothing whatsoever is wrong, for no one ever wants to anger the Emperor.

The ACCOUNTABILITY Guru's have mandated the pace in public schools..
And teachers' jobs are on the line if their students don't score well on tests.

Meanwhile, Teachers sadly pat each other on the shoulder and mutter about how it's just not right.

We just want to Teach kids!
We just want to REACH kids!
We just want to make them fall in love with learning!
And all the Pretty Pie Charts of Student Data in the world won't accomplish that.

Go ahead and hold me accountable for good teaching.
PLEASE hold me accountable for good teaching.
And then let me TEACH.

But know this:
I can't fix broken homes or the students who suffer from depression and anger because of them.
But I can give hugs and listen while kids cry.
I can't fix Fetal Alcohol Syndrome or the lack of higher brain function that those students will live with for the rest of their lives.
But I can hold tutorials and help these kids every way I know how.
I can't fix MOST of the social issues running amok in American Home-life.
But I can show up every day and greet my students with a smile and a lesson full of Best Practices.

Yet for all of my "going of the extra mile", I can not guarantee that some kids won't fail.
Please don't hold me accountable for what I can not control.

I LOVE being a Teacher.
My classroom is a place of high energy, high success, and high efficiency.
But all too often we are sacrificing good teaching on the alter of high accountability test results.

Regardless of my inner struggles about this issue,  yesterday I took data from the most recent round of state assessments, and made pretty little pie charts

Yup, I have these pretty multicolored pie charts that are impressive to administrators and make me look like a  really good teacher.

But during the time I spent making pie charts, I could have been doing lesson plans, or grading, or reflecting on which students could benefit from a little more TLC.

I would talk longer with you on this issue, but I'm busy going over the menu for the Emperor's banquet right now.

(Father please help us. We need you to strengthen us and give us courage to teach the way we know it should be done. Help us to be able to reach our students and teach our students and heal them in every way we can...and still stay within the parameters expected of us.)

In Him,

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sunday Morning

It's Sunday...
"Today is the day which The Lord hath made, let us rejoice and be glad in it."
                                                                               Psalms 118:24

Father, I know you make Every day, and that every day we should rejoice in you.
But God, thank you for Sundays.

Thank you for the Assembling of the Saints.
Thank you for the sound of voices raised in praise to you.

God, sometimes I close my eyes and listen to the song service, and then I try to imagine what it would be like to hear ALL the saints singing, ALL of us...and then I try to imagine adding ALL the angels voices.
Even though I really can't grasp what this heavenly soundtrack will be like, the idea of it thrills me.

God, please let me be one of your singers in heaven, if that's even one of the jobs there.
I want to sing to you God, forever.
I can not imagine anything better than singing to you eternally.
Singing with no air restrictions, no more asthma, no vocal damage, singing with my whole soul in praise to you.
God, please let me be one of your singers in heaven.

God, help my voice to be strong today.
Help my lungs to breathe freely today.
Please let my voice edify and encourage someone today.

God, Thank You for Sundays.


Saturday, October 15, 2011


Greetings Everybody,
Got something on my heart today.

Do you remember these song lyrics by Michael W. Smith? 

         "Friends are friends forever if The Lord's the LORD of them."
There is wisdom in those words, real wisdom.

I recently visited with a friend whom I haven't spent time with in a long while.
We met and talked for many hours.
We are both Christians, and because we are, we have common bonds that connect us.
We play by the same rules.
We live by the same standards.
We understand each other.
We laughed and cried and hugged and shared and were keenly aware that despite the time of absence from each other, the friendship is still very much alive.

Her path has been difficult in recent years.

Have you noticed that some folks seem to get the "gentle scenic drive" in life, while others get a life path that is more like a "slippery mountain road with dangerous curves and sheer-cliff edges"?

Interestingly enough, she doesn't ask "Why Me?"

It does not matter to my friend that some people don't seem to have struggles (while her life is so difficult), because she knows that she has access to Strength and Power beyond her own comprehension.

God is her strong right hand.

Psalm 118:16-17

New International Version (NIV)

16 The LORD’s right hand is lifted high;
   the LORD’s right hand has done mighty things!”
17 I will not die but live,
   and will proclaim what the LORD has done.

I can not tell you why some folks get the easy path and some folks get the hard one.

But I can tell you that when Christians endure hardship, and in so doing, turn to God's Strong Right Hand for their strength,... they grow.
Their faith gets stronger.
They sink deeper spiritual roots.
They begin to personify The Fruits of the Spirit.
They increase in wisdom and stature in The Lord.

And they become equipped to help other people.

If mountains are created by deep earth pressure pushing techtonic plates around...
If diamonds are created by intense heat...
Then we can see that in nature, pressure and intensity can create great beauty and value.

It's the same in the life of a Christian.

I have known many Christians who have endured great spiritual pressure and intensity.
And those who turned completely to God seemed to gain a beautiful and valuable patina on their souls.

They became wise.
They became gentle.
They drew closer to God and in the process were transformed.

My friend is already spiritually beautiful and spiritually valuable.
And I for one, can't wait to see how God will use her "spiritually spit-shined self"
in His Kingdom and to His Glory!

In Him,

In the Quiet of the Dark Morning

It's a little after 5 am on a Saturday morning.Yes I am an early riser, usually earlier than this.  Today I slept in for a bit.
This is my prayer time and I have found great joy and comfort in the discipline of getting up early, getting my coffee and sitting down at my computer to do my prayer journaling.
Let's talk for just a minute about prayer journaling: It's Amazing.

I start off every morning with a blank page. I type the date and the phrase "Good Morning God,"
It looks like a letter to God.  And I have found that in the quiet of the dark morning, the first words out of my mouth are generally "Thank You".  This is when I usually begin to itemize the list of Blessings that came to me the day before or have already come that morning.

It is a humbling and soul satisfying thing to begin itemizing every little thing that God has blessed you with.  Often I thank God for my coffee, and the fresh milk in it, and for the coffee pot and the filter and the sugar and the pretty cup I drink from,... and the refrigerator to keep the milk cold, and the money to pay for the electricity that runs the refrigerator.

Do you see how one blessing links to so many others?
Do you see just exactly how many things we tend to take for granted?
Do you see my point about how humbling and soul satisfying it is to itemize the zillions of blessings that surround us?

When I am done with the listing of the blessings (though I have never managed to exhaust the list...ever), my frame of mind has been altered significantly.  The tasks of the upcoming day, the cares of the world and the fears in my soul have been subdued; for I have just been reminded that I am loved, blessed and protected by God.

I challenge you to start off your prayers listing blessings and see if it doesn't change your whole sense of well being. My prayer journal awaits:)...time to list my blessings and invite God to enter my day. It's time to thank Him for allowing me to ride in the palm of His Hand once more.

God is Good!

In Him,

Friday, October 14, 2011

Today I needed Grace Under Pressure and God delivered!

The idea for this blog came today.
It came to me after I began to reflect on the various ways that God had been in control all day long (and after I began to dislodge my shoulders from my ears, which is what happens sometimes when I get stressed lol)

I reflected on how it had been a day full of Pressure but that The Lord had supplied Grace throughout.

And it hit me, that perhaps I should start a blog.
I prayed about that, and then kinda got excited about it, and then the name came to me.

Grace Under Pressure

So this is the first post in the first blog I have ever started and I hope it blesses someone!
Honestly I hope it blesses a LOT of someone's lol.

Ok...back to the story of how God helped me today and supplied me with Grace Under Pressure.

Let me give you a bit of background.
I teach high school students (this alone should be sufficient to cause many of you to drop to your knees and begin lifting me up in prayer right? lol).

Anyway, this was anything BUT a normal day for me. Such chaos. Such emotion. Such crisis.

Here's a few of the highlights:
During 1st period, there was a knock on my classroom door. Two young ladies were on the other side.

One of them said, "I wanted to speak to the drug counselor, but he is not here today.   I heard you were wise and that you help kids. Can I talk to you?"

I reminded her that I am not a school counselor.
I told her that if she talked about a safety issue or a legal issue that I would have to report it and asked her if she was sure that she still wanted to talk to me.
She said she was certain.
And so her story began.
These were not my students, but they consumed a HUGE portion of my day.

While I was in the hallway talking to the girls, my student teacher took over my classes.
She didn't know she was going to teach today.
But she was there and she was able, and she took over so that I could tend to something that continued to escalate for the next several hours.

The rest of the morning is now a blur from dealing with issues about drugs & pre-marital sex & theft & gang activity & knife fights & crime stopper reports & parents & counselors & assistant principals.

I was exhausted by the time the ending bell rang for the day, but still had major things to attend to. There was an Air Conditioning Repair man who was scheduled to be waiting for me by the time I could get home. Our AC died yesterday and here I was looking at a Friday afternoon repairman and the viable probability of no AC for the weekend.  We were preparing for the the 6-8 thousand dollar buck-fest-o-fun  that would be required to replace our old unit.

I had forgotten that God had been in control all day long.
I had forgotten that he takes care of his own.
Not sure HOW I temporarily forgot that, but it happened.

Now before I deliver the punchline in this little story, let me remind you that it was a day of a thousand challenges followed swiftly by a thousand blessings.

Did I mention that during my lunch period, I helped my student teacher test drive all the technology she will need for an upcoming lesson, ate soup while helping her, and also responded to several campus emails from people seeking information quickly. No quiet restorative lunchtime for Grace today.

Did I mention praying with one of the counselors in her office today.  She was having the same kind of day that I was.  She was overwhelmed. Did I mention that I was in tears and feeling overwhelmed but that I got up, closed her office door, took her hand, and prayed outloud for her and me and for the kids and for our school.

Did I mention talking about God with one of the assistant principals I had to visit with today?  She is just back from surgical leave, and while we were talking about the situation with the students I was dealing with, I couldn't help but feel that there was something else on her mind. She had a far away look in her eyes.  She is just back from surgical leave and is only able to work half days. God opened a door, and she told me a little of her situation and shared that she knew she could trust me.

Did I mention that as soon as I left her office I walked straight into a faculty member who was crying in the hallway, doubting her ability to reach these kids and needing someone to hug.

God just kept giving me GRACE UNDER PRESSURE.

He positioned me to help kids today.
He positioned me to help grownups today.
He positioned others to stand in for me while I was called to do what was needed.
And He brought me blessing after blessing after blessing.

Here's the punchline of the story:  The Air Conditioner repair bill today was an even 100 dollars!

YUP another blessing.

I was honored to serve The King today.

Let me leave you with two of my favorites:

"And my God will supply all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus."
                                                                                   Philippians 4:19

"Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven."
                                                                                   Matthew 10:32

In Him,