Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Stretching My Faith

Holly created this wonderful opportunity to connect with others on our spiritual journeys. Spiritual Journey Thursdays are a time to slow down, think deeper, dig deeper, reflect on my journey with God, and learn by connecting with God and other God followers. Join me and others as we travel on this journey each Thursday with Holly and friends. This week we are writing about Ramona Behnke's One Little Word: Stretch. 

I have been reading Holley Gerth's Opening the Door to Your God-Sized Dreams. Here are a few of phrases that have left a mark on me:

"God-Sized dreams are about faith."

"You have to take the first step when you are still afraid. And when God comes through for you, your fear will shrink just a bit."

"You can't kill fear instantly. You can only starve it by feeding your faith."

What are your dreams?

Mine have been very small lately. Enough help to get through testing season. One day when the weather is at least a little warmer. More sunshine. Cloudy day so that we could watch a video in my classroom. 

Then I read another chapter of Holley's book. God-sized dreams........ Where are mine? 

Have I grown too complacent or is my fear holding me back? God hasn't healed anyone through my prayers. None of my students have miraculously become fluent in English. I haven't woken one morning (or any morning for that matter) and realized that all my extra pounds have melted away during the night. 

So, what is holding me back?

Is it faith? Or more precisely, lack of faith? Am I not stretching far enough or high enough? Then I read again Holley's reminder: "You have to take the first step when you are still afraid."

So, today I am taking a step towards my God-Sized dreams!! I will practice my faith and starve the fear just a little. Then I will do it again tomorrow, and the day after. I know my faith will be stretched, but I also know where my help will come from. I will stretch my faith like I would stretch before a workout. I will maintain regular practice sessions of my faith because I want to see results (like exercise). 

I look forward to new discoveries as I travel on this journey of my God-sized dreams. Will you join me in discovering your God-sized dreams?

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Secretary of State #60

I read a lot of books. Sometimes I read to escape. Other times I read to learn. But most often I read just because I enjoy reading.

Last week I had to go to the Secretary of State to renew my driver's license. I had everything all planned out. Paperwork in the bag and wonderful book in my bag to read while waiting. I was even late leaving because my book was so interesting. (Extra reading as a result of freezing temperatures and a day off.)

Finally arrived that Secretary of State. Took my number from the machine. Prepared to sit down and continue reading my book.
Where were all the people???
I saw three (that is 3) people sitting!!!  I hope you understand I have NEVER seen the Secretary of State office like that. Never!

I sat down. Still holding my number. Getting ready to take my book from my bag.


That's my number!
I looked at my book little sadly. I had not even had time to take it out of my bag. I really wanted to read!

"Do you want to buy the state park permit?"
"Okay, move over by the screen and we'll take your photo."
"Now you are all done. You'll get your new license in the mail."

That was it? In less than 5 minutes I was done (it might have been even less than 4 minutes)?

What happened to me reading my book? I was in the middle of an exciting part. I had to find out what Ann would do next.

What was I reading? Come back next Tuesday to find out!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Diving and Saving

Holly created this wonderful opportunity to connect with others on our spiritual journeys. Spiritual Journey Thursdays are a time to slow down, think deeper, dig deeper, reflect on my journey with God, and learn by connecting with God and other God followers. Join me and others as we travel on this journey each Thursday with Holly and friends. This week we are writing about Greg Armanmentos's One Little Word: Dive. 

One cold morning I woke up early. Looked at the clock and decided I had a few extra minutes to catch up with friends overseas via Facebook. I never expected to read about my friends' daughter who had been found dead in Florida. She had been in Florida to complete an internship. Enjoying sunshine and warm weather. One phone call home where she sounded a little "off", and the next call informed that she had been found drowned.

What does one say in that moment? How does one answer to the grief that grips parents when their child is taken so suddenly and with no reason? Words seem so incomplete. Parents' questions multiples with no guarantees of answers. Thousands of miles separating us. 

Why was she taken so early? 

What was God's plan for her? Was it already complete?

Do I pray for the perpetrator to be caught and brought to justice?  Or was there one? Was it just an accident? 

I truly feel so inadequate to offer comfort when my friends are facing so many unanswered questions. 

Perhaps my only answer is to just pray and let them dive into God's arms. Or pray that they are able to find God's arms and feel them around them and their other children. 

I don't have answers. 

I have to trust that God has answers. 

I hope that He will provide us some of those answers as well.

"Father, when they are ready to dive into your arms, catch them, and hold then tightly. Let them feel your arms, your love, your comfort."

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

She Came, Changed, and She Changed Others

I remember the day when Z. came. It was September 2, 2014. First day of school. She walked in timidly and sat down very quietly. She smiled a little, but did not say much.

September went by. Z. worked so hard. She wanted to complete everything perfectly. Z. smiled a little more. She was also a little less timid. She offered opinions.

October arrived. The weather turned colder. Z. was even more determined to learn everything she could possibly learn. After all, she is a junior. She will only have two years of high school before heading to college. Z. was now asking more questions. She came during lunch and study hall to get help, or just to complete homework that required the use of computer. Often she had a younger high school student with her.

November came almost too quickly. Z. was learning really quickly as well. Her generic questions had become specific questions. But now it wasn't just Z. who came or who wanted to work hard. N. who sat next to Z. in class was starting to pay more attention. N. was beginning to complete her homework. She did really well on a quiz (the first one ever that she did well). I asked N. "What happened?" N. replied that sitting next to Z. has been really helpful to her.

December was a short month at school, but its shortness did not limit Z. She continued to work hard. All her grades were As or at least a B+. Don't forget that Z. had just come to America from a country were unrest or war has disrupted everything for many years. When Z. would come during study hall, she would often help one of the younger high school students in math. Z. would quietly sit down next to the struggling student and say, "Can I help you?" --Could I please have ten more students like Z?

January started with snow. For Z. this meant a couple extra days to study at home. Even her father says that Z. is always studying. Taking a break in her studies means helping her younger brother with his homework! End of semester exams were stressful for Z. She worried how she would do. Would she pass? Nevertheless, she studied. She came during lunch or stayed after school. When she could not find the answer to a question in the study guide, she came with specific questions. She passed all of the exams. She ended her first semester in America with wonderful grades.

This is only a part of the story of Z. The other part is how she encourages other students. Z. is always willing to help or work together with those who are struggling. She often tells N. and many others: "You need to study. You can do this." There are many new students this year who are doing much better because Z. has walked alongside with them. She has whispered encouraging words. Z. has literally changed lives! Z.never complains. Just today she came with another student who is struggling with her science fair board. Z. said, "Come, lets go. I will explain it to you. I will help you."

Thank you Z. for making a difference in your fellow students' lives!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Snow Day-- Does That Mean More or Less Work?

Snow day #2 is here! Yesterday's snow day was expected. The call came early Sunday evening. Texts went back and forth with coworkers about the perfect timing (we just finished exams).

Then in the middle of the day yesterday, I got an e-mail telling that our field trip to see a live production of Romeo and Juliet is cancelled due to the inclement weather. Really???? Okay, rewrite lesson plans. But first, shoveling and enjoying the sunshine!

Doesn't this just make the world a better place?

I hope my roses feel cuddled surrounded by the snow blanket.

It really was beautiful outside! Joy to feel the light breeze and
sun warming my face while shoveling. Winter beauty at its best! 

The sunshine was amazing! I felt rejuvenated! Granted I did not have to do all the shoveling by myself. There was a crew to do most of the work. Still, little exercise.

Lesson plans finally rewritten. Plans made for after school on Tuesday. I kept looking at the growing school closing list at the bottom of my television screen. None really for my county. Time to post lesson plans. Five minutes later, school is closed on Tuesday as well! What about my rewritten lesson plans???

Could this be a sign to spend more time to discover the great outdoors? Read some more for pleasure? OR do I need to rewrite the lesson plans once again? I will ponder that while doing a few other things that I enjoy (like reading blogs and commenting)!