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!

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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!

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!

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.

Blessings!

Making Those Hard Parenting Decisions

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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.

Blessings!

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!

Blessings!

The Calm Before the Storm: Times Filled with Hope and Motivation

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In just a couple weeks I will be back to work full time again.  That means early morning postings on the blog at 5am, the 5pm dinner rush, evenings full of preschool activities for Superhero Son, lots of papers to grade, and the stress of school work piled on top of cooking, cleaning, and caring for my family.

Since that first summer after I had Superhero Son, I have felt a sense of loss when the summer winds down.  I love our days of hanging out in our pjs, the summer activities, time with family at the lake, and not working on Tuesdays when my husband is off from work.

When the end of summer is upon me, I feel like I need to treasure every minute with my kids.  However, something inside of me kicks into high gear, and I feel drawn to my classroom.  I acquire this need to get it ready for anxious fifth graders.  I have an amazing amount of motivation to be supermom!  At this point on the calendar, I believe I can do it all.  I can be the perfect wife, mother, and teacher. Then reality sets in!

I wish I could bottle that energy, motivation, and confidence and use it when I falter in a few weeks. At some point I will have to remind myself that I am human and not perfect.  For now, I am off to conquer the world!

Blessings!