Thursday, November 27, 2008

Give Thanks

A few reasons to give thanks:
  • We give thanks to you, O God, we give thanks, for your Name is near; men tell of your wonderful deeds. Psalm 75:1
  • You are my God, and I will give you thanks; you are my God, and I will exalt you. Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. Psalm 118: 28 - 29
  • I always thank God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. I Corinthians 1:4
  • But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.1 Corinthians 15:57
  • Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.”- Colossians 3:16
  • Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. I Thessalonians 5:16 - 18
  • We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and have begun to reign. Revelation 11:17
Verses taken from Bible Gateway, New International Version: http://www.biblegateway.com/




Wednesday, November 26, 2008

What'd you learn?

How many parents begin a conversation with their kids "So what did you learn today?" Generally, the kids' answer is "nuttin."

Well, I spent the past 3 days at the A.C.S.I. DC Convention: "Life on Life: Transformational Teaching" (http://www.acsi.org). And now my question to myself is, "So what did you learn?"

While there, I enjoyed the fellowship of my colleagues, listened to some challenging general sessions (Guy Doud (http://www.guydoud.com/ and Sue Thomas http://www.suethomas.info/) , delighted in the music of the Annie Moses Band (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fgumSGoGSFY), and learned from some educational experts.

By far, my favorite presenter was Cynthia Tobias (http://www.applest.com/). Years ago I read the book How They Learn and heard hear speak about learning styles; since that encounter I've attempted to adjust my style so that I can effectively teach all of the different learners. But when you are dealing with nearly 100 students every day, it's impossible to hit each style, preference, personality. In the seminars I sat through ("Why even good students hate school", "Motivating students to take charge of their own success" and "Teaching Strategies"), she focused on teaching the students to understand their own styles and allowing them to make their own accommodations. She gave practical ideas and insightful suggestions. It helped take the pressure off me to change my styles so much, but to help look for ways the KIDS can adjust.

I learned much . . . so much . . . . in some ways too much to take in.

And so I sit here a day later, still mulling over and digesting the information, and I find the question is shifting: It's not WHAT did I learn, but How can I USE what I learned. What can I use in my classroom? How can this make me a stronger teacher? How will I use this to teach my students more effectively? For if I cannot apply what I have learned, than what I learned will be merely useless head knowledge.

So when my kids finish a day of school, maybe now instead of asking "What'd you learn?" I'll ask "What are you doing with what you are learning?"

Friday, November 14, 2008

Faith

Hebrews 11 – the “hall of faith”. Stories of men and women who endured seemingly impossible situations because of faith. They had faith that gave them courage to do whatever God called them to do. Faith that said their lives and their stuff and their dreams didn’t matter as much as God’s Kingdom. Do I have their faith?

  • Do I have the faith of Abel? He sacrificed his best because he believed God. He died – but he is remembered as a man of faith.
  • Do I have the faith of Enoch? His whole life pleased God. So much that God allowed him to escape death.
  • Do I have the faith of Noah to endure ridicule, to do something that seems to make no sense because that’s what God wants?
  • Do I have the faith of Abraham to leave everything behind and follow God’s lead?
  • Do I have the faith of Sarah to trust God’s promise even when it seems impossible?
  • Do I have the faith of Abraham to give up my children for God?
  • Do I have the faith of Isaac, Jacob and Joseph to “reach into the future” and bless my children with God’s blessing?
  • Do I have the faith of Moses’ parents to trust God to care for my children in an evil world?
  • Do I have the faith of Moses to stand up for what is right, for the oppressed, even if it costs me my own comfort and privilege?
  • Do I have the faith of the Israelites who stepped into the Red Sea and possible death?
  • Do I have the faith of the Israelites to fight the way God says, not the way man says?
  • Do I have the faith of Rahab who risked her life and trusted God?
All of these people went through incredible situations. Yet they had faith. They kept their eyes focused on the future: God made a promise and they kept their eyes focused on that promise. They did not give in to the storms around them, to the turmoil, to the attacks, to the uncertainty: They had faith that God would do what he had promised.
But the ultimate hero in the hall of faith is in Hebrews 12.

Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he's there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls! (Heb 12: 2 – 3, The Message)
He kept his eyes focused on the prize – the future. And that gave him the ability to endure the unendurable.

God has not put me in the incredible situations of the heroes of faith; he has not asked me to go to death for his name. In fact, quite frankly, he has blessed me above all expectations: a wonderful husband, three great kids, a comfortable home, a good job. I couldn’t ask for more. Yet I still need to have faith, to live my life in total dependence on him, to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus, not on the world around me.

So what is faith? Living each day that God gives me doing what he put before me to do all the while keeping my eyes focused on eternity, on his kingdom. The choices I make, my actions, my words, my thoughts as I live my day-to-day life must always be focused on Jesus and his kingdom.

I know this all to be true. I believe God’s word. I know his kingdom matters above all. I have faith that God IS in control of all things. . . .

So why am I still depressed?