The mind of the intelligent gains knowledge and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge. Proverbs 18:15
I’m not quite sure what happened to the past 9 weeks, but I find myself staring at the magic date on the calendar that signals the end of a quarter of the school year and that means it’s time for report cards. I LOVE conferences, but report cards, not so much! They are a necessary part of a teacher’s job, but as a teacher, I’ll admit that they certainly are my least favorite task! It is so difficult to take over 3oo hours of time together and mark it on a scale of 1 to 4 and record it neatly in one page of little boxes. I always worry that the marks I make might not paint a clear picture of who that child really is. I want to make sure the marks I make assure every parent that their child is loved, valuable, and an amazingly unique child of God. I hope that that the marks I make will allow each student to feel encouraged, recognized and supported. Most of all, I want to make sure that the marks I make on that paper leave each child wanting to come back for the next 11 years and keep working and improving and succeeding! That’s a lot to put on one little piece of paper. I feel worn out and I have barely begun the task!
As I sit here looking at my report card file, I stopped to wonder what God would mark if He were to give me a report card. That thought made me both laugh and break out in a cold sweat all at the same time! I think of my three kids, two in college and one in high school and how so much depends on their grade point average. That number ranging on a scale that only goes up to 4.0 dictates so much at this point in their life. I wonder what my “heavenly” GPA would be. The bigger question I guess would be…how hard am I trying to achieve a perfect 4.0? It’s kind of a strange way to think about life but it seems to fit with this time on the calendar.
Just like school, some things in life are harder for some than others. Both in school and in life, some folks just seem to be “blessed” and have things come naturally to them. Some on the other hand have to work extra hard and still sometimes come up short. I hope on my report card, God, like any good teacher, takes into consideration things like persistence, determination and effort! I think most days I’d get good marks for “works and plays well with others” but then He hears my silent complaints and judgmental thoughts. I would hope I could get at least a B- in patience and compassion, but then He sees me when I rush through my “to-do list” without stopping completely to listen to my family with the consideration they deserve. I would like to think I could score a C+ on sharing and listening, but then again, He is well aware of all the times I was selfish and ignored His prompting to reach out to one of His children in need. I wonder what the deduction would be for talking too much (about things that weren’t my business) or not following directions (His directions). I’m afraid to see what I’d get when He evaluates the way I use my time or how carefully I am paying attention in prayer time or in church. I really wonder what He’d write in the comment section or what He’d tell my mother at a teacher conference. YIKES!!
But then I remember He is God, He loves, He forgives and He encourages. He is the master teacher so He will make note of my attempts and celebrate my successes before He will downgrade me for my failings. I guess my job, is to be a good student…that means I’ll try harder, I’ll study (His Word) more, I’ll practice my lessons and I’ll give more focus to the teacher! Today begins a new quarter in my classroom…I’m gonna start a new quarter in God’s classroom too. Bring on the homework!!!
A seed to plant: Make a list of the things you think God would give you an “A for effort” in and a list of the things He would invite you to “stay in from recess and work on.” Then offer a prayer of thanks to your Teacher and ask Him for some extra help.
Blessings on your day!
Although I have much to say to you, I do not wish to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to visit you and speak to you face to face so that our joy may be complete. 2 John 1:12
If you were asked to come up with five current events happening throughout the world how long would it take you? Given the speed and availability of today’s technology I’m betting you could complete the task within seconds. At the snap of a finger we can check a score, get a recipe, listen to a song or find a prayer and none of it requires personal contact. While somewhat fascinating, it’s also a bit scary!
The little lovelies have been learning the names and good works of Jesus’ Apostles the past few days and many were amazed at what these twelve men were able to do. Some lovingly pointed out how happy they are that their parents didn’t name them Bartholomew or Thaddeus and all of them agree that these guys did some pretty amazing stuff. The little lovelies had a hard time imagining how they could teach and lead thousands and thousands with no internet, airplanes or even cars. As one asked in a puzzled voice, “So, they just had to walk and talk and walk and talk and sometimes get in a boat; that’s it; that’s how they started the whole church?” Simply put, he was exactly right. It was all personal contact, storytelling and testimony. It really gave me cause to stop and think!
I asked the kids what they thought would have happened if the Apostle’s had decided they were tired of telling the story of Jesus? “What if they had simply decided they wanted to stay at home and keep the good news to themselves?” I asked. After thinking for a minute, one little girl said, “That just wouldn’t happen because Jesus was a good teacher and He taught the Apostles how to share so they had to mind Him and share the story.” Then she said, “It’s a good thing I wasn’t one of the Apostles because sometimes I’m a little bad at sharing!” I giggled but she hit the nail right on the head! I suppose we’re all guilty of being a “little bad at sharing” when it comes to our faith story.
I did an informal survey of some high school/young adult aged folks not long ago and the most popular answer to the question, “What does this world need more of?” was FRIENDLY PEOPLE! Holy Cow Batman…talk about a giant leap backwards…personal contact and not more technology…what…how can that be? I’ve never heard anyone say they always enter a room and look for the crankiest person to sit next to! We are made for human contact and most of us prefer the friendly kind, so instead of just looking for it, why not become the giver of it? Whether you are a Catholic or not, the names John Paul II and Francis more than likely ring a bell. They are two very holy and influential men of our time and if you really boil things down to the bottom of the pot, the reason for the overwhelming popularity of these two Popes is simple; they radiate the kindness and behavior of Christ to everyone. Unless you have been living under a rock for the last year, you have likely seen more than one picture of a very humble Pope Francis embracing someone with great sincerity and genuine love. His simple, humble compassion touches us.
My friends, WE are called to be Christ in the world. We are the disciples of this time and instead of being overwhelmed by the task we need to embrace it! God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called and He’s calling you and He’s calling me to spread His good news. Thank goodness it starts with simple, basic personal conversation just like that mentioned in the passage from John’s letter. So put down your phone, iPad, iPod, laptop or tablet and sit with someone and have a conversation…and include the star of the show…Jesus! If you’re not sure how to bring Him up in conversation, simply introduce others to Him through your actions. Don’t worry about offending someone by mentioning the name of your Savior; worry more about offending your Savior by not mentioning His name!
A Seed To Plant: Bring this scripture to life. Make a list of 3 people you will sit down and have an actual visit with this week. For bonus points, pick at least one person who desperately needs a visit from a friendly face!
Blessings on your day!
…do good works… Ephesians 2:10
Every now and again life unfolds a fabulous event right before your eyes and you get a front row seat to something completely wonderful. During the past week the people of our community were a part of PW schools basketball history. For the second time in the school’s history, a boys’ team made it to the state finals. The venue for the final two games (The MSU Breslin Center) was the icing on the cake for every young man on the team who grew up wanting to be an MSU Spartan. It was a great run that ended with a State Runner-Up trophy but the events that made this an amazing week honestly have very little to do with the trophy awarded at the end of the final game.
As the Pirates advanced to the Quarterfinals and beyond, a few of the little lovelies asked during Morning Prayer if they could pray for the team to win. I repeated a line from a good friend who always says “I don’t think God really care about sports; He wants us to use all of our gifts and talents in the best way we can.” So instead of praying to win, we prayed that the players would do good works and play to honor God. That’s exactly what they did but they might not even realize all the lessons they taught this week. Many folks will say it’s just a game; life is about many more important things than shooting an orange ball through a hoop. They may be right but this group of young men and their coaches demonstrated so much more both on and off the court. Their attitude, behavior and discipleship is a story that needs to be told. For those readers close to home, it’s a review of all we were taught and for those of you far away, it’s a story to lift your spirit and inspire you to “be Christ” in all things.
Lesson 1 – Bloom where you are planted! Being a small school in a rural area, the players you have are the players you build a team with! There is nobody to recruit or nobody picking us as a school of choice, we field a team with the boys that were born here…period. The boys on this team have been playing together for 6 to 9 years. They learned to build on each other’s strengths, work hard and hold each other accountable for making the most of their talents. They learned the value of supporting each other and accepting each other for exactly who they are.
Lesson 2 – Humility is impressive, inspiring and it never goes out of fashion. No matter what the score or the outcome these young men were gracefully humble. They reminded us that humility is demonstrated because it is expected, not because it is earned or deserved.
Lesson 3 – The best way to thank God for a talent is to share it with compassion! Each year the team goes to play a game with the students at a school for the physically and mentally challenged. Most of the boys on the team will say it’s their favorite game of the season. This year several of those special students were at the semifinal game to support their Pirate buddies. At the end of the game, two of my favorite Pirates climbed up into the stands to find this group of special students who had come to cheer them on. They went to this section first, before finding their parents or their girlfriends or friends in the student section. The parents of one of these players told me nothing their son could do on the court could ever make them prouder than what he did after the game. When a reporter asked why that had been their first stop after the game he replied, "We just had to go up there and show ‘em some love and thank them for comin’ out to support us!” In the wise words of the coach, “It’s about doing something for someone who can’t do anything for you in return.” Thank you Pirates for demonstrating that reminder in living color. It was so very Christ like of you.
Lesson 4 – It has been said that a nation’s goodness can be judged by the way it treats it’s young and it’s old. This teams enthusiasm, talent, sportsmanship and Christianity gave a small town a chance to come together and grow in goodness. Not many small town teams could gather enough support to fill hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of seats in a Big 10 college coliseum. People from our communities and several neighboring towns bought tickets and rallied behind some great young men…that was a fine sight to see. Thanks for giving us a chance to practice treating our young with support and respect.
Lessons 5- Never miss a chance to do something good for kids; someday they will be in charge and they need to see how things should be done. To the anonymous donor who paid for the game ticket for every Pewamo elementary student, thank you just isn’t a big enough word! To the neighboring school to our North, thank you for lending us school busses to get all the kids to the game. True generosity is beautifully touching and it was modeled so clearly nobody could miss it!
Lesson 6 – In life we face challenges but there are also celebrations and times of great happiness; neither is intended to last forever. After the biggest week of his life, another of my favorite Pirates had to get up Sunday morning long before dawn to milk cows and his very wise father reminded him that life is like that…times of great excitement are always followed by a sudden burst of reality. God is eager to meet us in both places!
Lesson 7 – Thankfulness and praising the Giver of all gifts is the most important thing. Not many public school teams have a Catholic priest bless them before games and then sit behind the bench cheering and praying over them during the most important game of their high school career. They realized his role in helping them remember to play for God’s glory and not their own.
It may be just a game with an orange ball and a hoop; but for several hundred people from the middle of Michigan’s mitten…it was much much more! God bless the Pirates and we thank you for your humility, sportsmanship and your excellent example of Christ inspired behavior both on and off the court. Thank you for bringing us together! Many will remember this as the year of the winter that wouldn’t end…but we will also remember it as the year the students became the teachers of some great lessons!
A Seed To Plant: Take a lesson from the coach this week and share or do something with someone who can’t do anything back for you.
Blessings on your day!
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