Stepping Out of Our Synagogues

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“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcism nor uncircumcism counts for anything, but only faith working through love.” (Galatians 5:6)

Want to live like Jesus? Really? Luke 4 shows Jesus teaching in his hometown only to be driven out by an angry mob. Are you willing to step forward and live like Jesus if it means making the friends and family in your life mad?

I struggle all the time to balance daily to-do lists, raising my kids, working, caring for my home and husband, and trying to do something in this world to make a difference. I am the queen of great excuses.

Why do I not volunteer at soup kitchens or pregnancy centers? My family! I have to take care of my kids. Why do we not go on a mission trip? Our jobs don’t allow much time, and who would keep my kids?

I am slowly working my way through a study of Luke. While reading about Luke on, I found a quote I wanted to share with you.

Whitney writes, “If we want to truly live like Jesus, we need to step out of our “synagogues” of schedules and selfishness and step onto the streets to love the broken in need of a savior.”

That requires living in a bold and courageous way. It means setting your own family aside occasionally to serve others. It means trusting God for enough strength and time to meet everyone’s needs. It means sacrifice.

Do we show love through action?

I don’t know about you, but I have some things to think about today!


Making Tough Choices With Courage

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Wouldn’t it be nice if all of our decisions could be based simply upon what is right and what is wrong? In a perfect world, the right decision would be easy to see, cause no harm, and always “feel” like the right choice.

Unfortunately, that isn’t the way our world works.  Occasionally we are faced with choices that will hurt others no matter which decision you make.

As a teacher, I often have to choose between devoting more time and energy to my job and spending time with my kids.  Putting in more effort at school, staying later, bringing home more work, and spending more money on my students can be very helpful to them.  I may be able to reach a student in a different way.  I may be able to take them further through the curriculum.  The added effort may be the difference in this kid passing state tests or failing.  But at what cost for my own kids?

When I stay late at school or bring home piles of papers to grade, my own kids lose their mom.  That extra time should also be spent folding clothes, cleaning house, and playing with my kids. Darling Daughter LOVES to spend her evenings reading books and singing songs with us.  Superhero Son wants to spend every moment drawing treasure maps, creating “movies” with his action figures, and reading his books about superheroes.  Don’t they deserve my time?

Then again, my students deserve the best teacher they can get, too!

Tough decisions face us around every corner.  It stinks when we know our choices will hurt someone no matter which direction we choose.  We pray for guidance, we hope for miracles, and we ask others for help.

Sometimes we even come across those choices that take great courage.  Jesus is a great example of a man who needed great courage to do what was right by God.  He also didn’t worry too much about hurting the feelings of others.  He was truthful and confrontational.  That takes courage!  For those of you facing one of these decisions, a choice that will require courage, go pray about it.  Take comfort in knowing you aren’t alone!



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?


Supporting the Children in Our Lives

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I started working with children when I was 15 years old.  A local daycare hired me to come work after school until closing.  Within a few years, I was totally committed to the school age group of kids, planned their summer program, and had a blast spending time with those kids.  Since then, I have spent a decade teaching fifth graders.

Through those years I watched kids fall victim to abuse and neglect.  I placed calls to the police or Child Protective Services on several occasions.  I attended funerals for children who lost parents to drug overdoses.  I gathered clothing for a couple after their homes burned.  I even had one child who slit his own wrists at home, and then he tried to stab himself while at school.

Many of these kids are adults now.  I don’t have any contact with them.  I often wonder if they are doing well, or if the vicious cycles of poverty and violence swallowed their lives.

As teachers, we help when we can.  We report circumstances in hopes that government agencies can assist the families when they struggle.  Most of all, though, we pray!

At night, when praying for my own two kids, I often find myself praying for my students just as hard.  We have two students in our school right now who just lost their father to cancer.  We have some who are barely hanging onto their homes due to financial hardships.  For others, school is the safest place they go.

When you say your prayers tonight, remember the children around you.  I don’t just mean your own kids.  Look at their friends and those in their schools who need your prayers.


Making Those Hard Parenting Decisions


Sometimes we find ourselves in situations that don’t have clear answers.  We cannot think of a Bible story or verse that helps direct us in a way that makes sense.  We pray for guidance, but we don’t always feel like we know how to handle the situation.  This happens to everyone.  We take advice from others, and we do the best we can.

I know that almost every parent I have ever met has had their child’s best interests in mind. Parents want to raise their children well.  Somewhere along the line, we sometimes get off track.

I had a conversation yesterday with two football moms.  These moms have little boys in the fourth grade, age 9, playing football in the same league.  They were talking about some parents who were forcing their kids to play.  The kids clearly hate it.  These kids cry at every practice.

I try hard to not be too harsh on these parents.  This may be their first time raising a nine year old.  I have spent a decade working with ten year olds.  I don’t pretend to know everything, but I know enough that I can tell them the kid isn’t ever going to want to play football.  It will be a rare case if the kid suddenly decides they like playing the sport when they are this miserable at every single practice.

So why are they doing it?  Is it mean? One parent could be overheard saying that the kid is overweight.  Football would help.  One parent may think football will toughen up their kid and prepare him for rough times in life.  Others may want their sons to feel a sense of camaraderie with their teammates.

Little boys can be tough to raise, but their aren’t always tough kids.  My advice to people in situations such as these parents would be to find someone who raised several boys.  Find a parent who worked hard to raise her sons in a Christian way.  Look at these boys and determine if their life is one you want your son to emulate. Then keep praying.  God is a parent, too.  These professionals can probably guide you well.


Permission to Relax!

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This morning I will begin my fourth day with my new group of fifth graders.  We are back into the fast paced life of two working parents! I am already feeling overwhelmed!  However, this post isn’t really about just me.

As I picked up my kids yesterday, another mom was there picking up her son.  Let me tell you, folks!  She looked amazing! She was wearing an outfit far nicer than what she normally wears.  Her hair looked awesome!  I was blown away.  I quickly learned that she had a job interview that would change her life!

This new job was great for her career.  It also would bring more hours and tons of stress.  She was not sure she was ready for the pace of life that came with that job. As a single mom, she is concerned that she won’t be able to spend as much time with her precious little boy.

As I began my own “dinner rush” hour in my home, I thought about how I handle the added stress and fast pace of life.  I think I do it because I give myself permission to relax every once in awhile.  We know God calls us to stay busy and work hard.  However, He wants us to make time for Him first.  In those quiet moments of prayer and Bible study, we learn that God wants us to give the stress and worry to Him.

This week, I didn’t write much.  I had to push something to the side.  I couldn’t give up washing clothes, cleaning bathrooms, or feeding the family.  I gave up writing.  (Just for a few days!)  I gave myself permission to relax during those times.  I gave my family time to adjust to this new pace August brings.

Sometimes we think that taking fifteen minutes to just lay in the floor with our kids is bad.  We think the dishes are more important.  Sometimes we obligate ourselves to a point that we can barely function.  It is okay to say no to committees or organizations when we feel ourselves getting overwhelmed.

My prayer today is for each woman out there to take a few moments for herself.  I hope she gives herself permission to relax.  God has control.  We don’t have to try to wrestle control from Him.  Enjoy this life!


A Woman of Strength

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17 She sets about her work vigorously;
    her arms are strong for her tasks. (Proverbs 17:31)

Last night I couldn’t open a jar of jelly.  I was trying to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for my son, but the jar lid wouldn’t budge.  I had a few options, but the easiest was the hand the jar to my husband.  He laughed.  He loves knowing that he is stronger than I am.  It gives him this boost of feeling needed.

I manage our family without my husband about 90% of the time.  We only see him after church on most Sundays.  He works the last Sunday of each month.  And we see him on Tuesdays, his day off.  Usually he works until 8pm and arrives home around 9pm.  By 9pm, the kids are in bed, and I am not far from it.  (I get up at 5am when I am working. I go to bed early!)

Most of the time I cannot rely upon his strength to help our family with our daily issues.  I learned long ago that I had to be strong enough to guide our family when he isn’t around.  I can’t!  I am not equipped with strength enough to run our family, work full time, raise our kids, cook, clean, shop, plan meals, prepare our kids for school, and keep up with bills.  There aren’t enough hours in the day or enough energy in my body.

The Proverbs 31 woman had a secret.  She had help from God.  That is the only way any woman can have enough strength to complete her tasks!  And we all know how many tasks are required of us each day! We need God to help us!

I pray daily that I will have all the resources, including strength, I need to complete my tasks for the day. Lucky for us, God wants to see us succeed in raising our families and guiding our homes.  He will pull through for us if we trust Him.

This morning, at 5am, I set about my work vigorously.  Today is the first day back to work for me after the summer off.  I will sit in meetings most of the day, but I will be back to work nonetheless.  The maddening dinner rush awaits me when I pick up the kids and return home this evening.  Will I have the strength needed? NOPE!  But I can count on God to pull me through!