Son of God

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Ten years ago the movie Passion of the Christ made waves in Hollywood.  It rocked the theaters with a rivoting portrayal of the last week of the life of Christ. I remember sitting in the theater and watching people walk out because they couldn’t bear to watch the torture Christ endured.

My husband and I were dating at the time. We went together to see the movie. As with everyone else, we sat in tears as we caught a glimpse of the sacrifice Christ made for us.

Now, ten years later, it is time to return to the theater. This time we are celebrating the birth, life, and ministry of Christ,  as well as the death and resurrection. A new movie, Son of God, will release in February.  A dear friend of mine shared the news with me not too long ago. We now are making plans for our youth groups to go see it.

As a teacher, I am excited that my students can get a taste of what life was life when Christ walked the earth. They can see him stand on a mountain and calm the sea. They can hear him command fishermen to cast their nets and command the dead to rise.  They can witness the awe on the faces of the crowds as Jesus heals. 

Each Sunday I try to bring to life the words in the Bible, but know I fall short. This movie can give my youth group a new way to meet Jesus.

To learn more, head to http://www.sonofgod.com

Blessings!

Sweeping Those Cheerios, Again!

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

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.

Today is snowday number 4 in a row for me. My kids have been home much more than usual, and I am left wondering if my life is meaningful enough.

I am a teacher! I teach math, reading, writing, manners, respect, time management,  and responsibility.  When teaching is taken away from me, I am stuck wondering if I am completing the work I am called to complete while here on earth.

Cleaning, laundry, washing dishes, and wiping sticky finger prints off windows does not feel like God’s work. However, I was reminded this week that many women are called to do God’s work inside their home. Some of us are called to do God’s work inside and outside our homes.

Steven Curtis Chapman has a song that compares sweeping up cheerios to mission work. He makes it clear that it doesn’t matter what our daily tasks are. We still do them to honor and glorify God.

My job for this weekend will be caring for my kids and cleaning house. Both of these fulfill the Proverbs 31 way of life.

Proverbs 31:27-28
She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.

Creating a home where my family is warm, loved, safe, and joyful is as great of a job as any issued by God. It is challenging, rewarding, and honors Him. As I enter our weekend, my focus will remain on doing my best for our family. There will be plenty of time Monday to focus on my students.

Blessings!

John the Baptist According to Middle Schoolers

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As usual, my middle schoolers gave me great writing material yesterday at church.  After Christmas, I decided to dive into the life of Jesus.  We began a study of the book of Matthew.  Specifically, we were discussing how Jesus got from the manger to his ministry.  More about that topic later….

During our study, we read Matthew chapter 3 about John the Baptist.  The kids remembered our discussion about Elizabeth and her relationship with Mary from the Sunday before.  They even knew that John the Baptist would be beheaded later in the book of Matthew.  However, my students didn’t really know why John the Baptist was important in the life of Jesus.

As talked, here are the important points they discovered about John the Baptist.

1.  Eating locusts was probably gross.

2.  He probably smelled terrible since he wore camel skins.

3.  Point two was contested because he spent a large amount of time in the Jordan River.  They water may have kept him clean.

4.  Jesus needed to be baptized to signify his coming of age.  The baptism didn’t cleanse Him of sin, since he was sinless.  However, it showed that he was now old enough to begin his ministry to the people of Israel.  It was sort of like a coronation ceremony for a new king or queen.

5.  John the Baptist was perfect to baptize Jesus because they were related, John the Baptist knew Jesus was the son of God, and John the Baptist was humble enough to serve Jesus.

The lesson to be learned, I think, is that we all have to humble ourselves to serve Jesus.  It doesn’t matter where we live, how dress, or how smelly our lives may be.  Our job is to create a relationship with Jesus, jump in the river with him, and do what he asks us to do.

Blessings!

What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?

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Do you ever feel like there is something out there that is missing from your life? Do you sometimes think a different career would be better, or maybe you feel like you are being called to do a different job?

Many adults struggle with this question. What do you want to be when you grow up?

“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.” (Romans 12:3)

I hope you are successful in your chosen career. I hope you feel that it matches your gifts given by God and His plan for your life.

But what if it doesn’t?   Each of us was given a set of spiritual gifts. Each of us has been given the right tools to be awesome at the job God has for us. When we make a choice aligned with His plan, we succeed! We stop comparing ourselves to others. We realize that our unique talents are to be celebrated.

With the inspiration taken from the person who teaches our youth on Sunday mornings,  I am about to launch a Spiritual Gifts unit with my middle schoolers.  We will begin with a survey found at http://www.spiritualgifts.com.  There is a test designed just for youth. As they search for their strengths, I pray they also find ways to use them.

If you are searching for the right path, maybe a survey like this is right for you, too.

Blessings!

Day 3

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Middle schoolers! Yep. You read that right. I love the group of curious 5-8 graders I teach at church. I am thankful for their inquisitive nature, their curiosity, and their awe for the Bible. They remind me that seeking knowledge is greater than already knowing the answers. They amaze me with their faith. They are a gift of which I am thankful week after week.

Clap Your Hands With Joy

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I love sitting back and watching my kids. Usually, I am up cleaning or doing school work while they play freely, but occasionally I just sit back and watch. Last night they were playing with Halloween candy. Yep, we still have a bunch left. Superhero Son wanted to eat it. Darling Daughter just wanted to move little pieces from one bucket to another, then back again. She loves sorting.

Like usual, they began to argue. I told Superhero Son to let her sort. He could eat some later. She sorted, and sorted, and sorted some more. Finally, she squealed, clapped her hands, and said, “Yay!”  I guess she finally fixed them just right. Then she carried two pieces to her brother.

Upon receiving his anticipated gift, he clapped and shouted. He ripped open a piece for himself and a piece for his sister.

They both displayed great joy by clapping their hands and shouting. Was there a moment in your day yesterday when you did that?

As a teacher, I get to say things and do things that make my students clap and shout for joy all the time. Of course, it doesn’t take much. Five extra minutes of recess on a pretty day will do the trick.

We are 1 week from Thanksgiving now. Today, be thankful for those that bring you joy. Praise God for the ones in your life who make you clap your hands and shout for joy.

Then try to come up with a way to be the joy in someone else’s life. For my husband, all I need is a good home cooked meal. For my teammates, a quick, funny video from YouTube about the stresses of teaching.

Psalm 47:1 Clap your hands all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy.

This isn’t just a nice verse in the Bible. It is a command for our lives. We were not created to stumble miserably through this life. We were made for joy!

Blessings!

Life Without a Microwave

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I am a planner.  I plan everything from meals, outfits for the work week, activities for the kids, family trips, and daily lessons for my students.  Part of my incessant planning comes from being a teacher.  We are trained to plan!  Part of my need to plan everything is simply my nature.  It drives my husband crazy!  Did I mention that I often plan his life, too?

Normally, my plans go well.  Most of the time, our lives run smoothly because I plan the details.  The kids always have snacks on hand.  I don’t get caught anywhere without an extra diaper for Darling Daughter.  My students have plenty of meaningful lessons.  My house always has plenty of food stocked for us.

Occasionally, something throws a kink in my plans.  Then I fall apart.  Yesterday, it was the microwave.  It decided to quit.  My microwave, nearly a member of my family we use it so much, decided that it wasn’t going to heat anything anymore.  I could not quickly fix a baked potato for the kids.  I could not heat up leftover corn in less than two minutes.  I could not reheat my husband’s dinner at 8:30 last night when he got home from work.  Everything I needed to do took longer than I had planned.  Therefore, I didn’t get everything accomplished before I crashed at 9:30!

Do you ever have those days?  I have a hard time recovering from messed up plans.  I get agitated.  I feel angry at the situation and take my anger out on others.  I know it is just a microwave, but it makes my daily routines take more time.  I haven’t planned for more time.

Yeah, I know I sound whiny.  My husband told me that, too.

It is times like these that God reminds me that, despite what I may think, I am not in charge!  He is!  I don’t have to control every aspect of my life.  If I do, He will make sure I learn that He is still in control.

After accepting the fact that breakfast won’t be microwaved this morning and remembering that God is in control of my worries, trials, hardships, and plans, I suppose life without a microwave served its purpose.  It became my humbling reminder that I need to just let God have control.

Blessings!

The Importance of a Name

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Two of the toughest decisions we’ve had as parents were choosing the names of our kids.  It was a painstaking process in which we vetoed decisions from the other,  argued, compromised, and argued some more.  We probably sounded a bit like our Congress during this government shutdown!

A good name is more desirable than great riches;     to be esteemed is better than silver or gold. Proverbs 22:1

Names are important.  A name says a lot about a person.  Throughout the Bible, God and Jesus have many names.  In fact, songs have been written just about their names.

With just a name, I can send my four-year old into a tizzy.  Mention Santa in this house, and you will get a reaction.  My one-year old has the same reaction when you say, “Daddy.”

Some shudder in fear when they hear a certain name.  They cower as if the name itself is a threat.

Yesterday, during my middle school lesson at church, we read through the Ten Commandments.  The kids were discussing what each one meant when they started talking about taking the Lord’s name in vain.  I heard a kid ask why that was as bad as the others.  My first instinct was a quick prayer asking for help with this one.  I replied that God has power in His name.  The name of God, alone, is a powerful word.  I tried to explain that Jesus tells us to pray in His name.  I don’t know how thoroughly I explained it, but hopefully the idea will stick with the kids.  I clearly have a Bible verse for next week’s lesson!

And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. John 14:13-14

What power does the name of God hold in your life?

Blessings!

The Power in Positive Language

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A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger. Proverbs 15:1 KJV

The morning routine has changed for my students this year.  Many of them arrive in my classroom about 30 minutes earlier than they did last year.  I didn’t think the added thirty minutes would make that big of a difference, but it does for one kid.  

There is one young man who walks into my classroom every morning in a rage!  He barrels through the crowd of kids, pushes desks, knocks over water bottles, and yells at people to move out of his way, grunting and kicking the whole time.  Now, he isn’t a mean kid.  He can actually be very sweet.  This behavior surprised me, so I began to investigate his bus situation.  I wanted to know who he sat with, was someone picking on him, what was the bus driver doing, and was something happening during the walk from the bus into my room. I got nothing! In fact, his ride on the bus is very short.

After a bit more investigation, I realized that this kid’s mornings are crazy at home.  I imagine his mom yells at him to hurry up.  His step dad is the disciplinarian, and probably rubs the kid the wrong way.  This child starts his day in chaos, and then he can’t calm down.  

We all know that it doesn’t take much to put us in a bad mood.  One person can speak a negative thought to us and set us up for a bad day.  We also know that it can be hard to turn around a bad mood.  

I began playing soft music in my classroom.  I started requiring my kids to work quietly.  I now watch my words very carefully.  I know that I need to ignore his bad mood and say several calming, kind statements to him before he can calm down. I have noticed that other kids are beginning to react to him in the same manner.  They are using calming statements with each other and seem to enjoy our quiet moments before the instructional day begins. 

Those of us with kids know how important this is.  We all have had those mornings where our bad mood rubbed off onto our kids.  God doesn’t want us to walk through this life in misery.  He gave us an amazing world full of blessings to enjoy!  Whose morning can you influence tomorrow?  Can your positive language change the day for someone?

Blessings!

Freedom Granted Through Following God’s Rules

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For those of you who may not know, I teach a group of kids each Sunday morning.  Their ages range from around 10 to around 14.  Occasionally we have a guest whose age is beyond those boundaries, but for the most part, they are middle schoolers.

My curriculum for yesterday required me to teach the story of Moses leading the Israelite nation out of Egypt.  The kids knew the basic story.  They understood the plagues, the celebration of Passover, the parting of the Red Sea, and the power of God transferred into Moses and Aaron.

Upon the suggestion of a fellow teacher, I approached this well known story as a way to teach how God grants us freedoms, but only when we follow the rules.  They began by listing their freedoms and rules in their own lives.  Of course, they had way more rules!  At the end of class, we added rules and freedoms created by God for us.  Again, they had more rules.  However, after a few minutes of discussion, one girl said that the greatest freedom is the promise of Heaven.  She continued to explain that Heaven’s freedom far outweighs any rule we follow on Earth.

I continued thinking about her statement throughout the day.  It is the end of the month.  My husband works terribly long hours when trying to finish out the month at work.  When he is gone this much, I grow weary from my own job and taking full responsibility for all things relating to our kids and our home.    It is easy to let exhaustion overtake my willpower.  God has set forth a clear set of rules for my life.  It is so easy to let those requirements slide when life gets hectic.  My student reminded me that this life and this exhaustive state are temporary.  Time for prayer, Bible study, and following God’s commandments over my life will carry me through eternity.

It isn’t easy following God’s rules all day, every day.   However, with the promise of His love for all time, we can’t afford to not follow God!

Blessings!