But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it. 2 Timothy 3:14
My heart is so full right now I can hardly type! Today I got to be the book ends to the school journey of some truly amazing young men and women. Today I got to see a group of students who were my very first class of 1st graders graduate from high school. The best part was that they invited me to be the speaker at their graduation and it was so much fun talking with my first group of little lovelies on this landmark day. I was asked to give a speech but instead I climbed down from the stage to stand on the field house floor and teach one last lesson to my graduate lovelies!
I spoke today on behalf of an entire community of teachers, bus drivers, school cooks, custodians, parents and grandparents who have invested in these kids for the last 12 years. I got to wish them well, offer some lessons on how to be an amazing human and invite them to be the catalyst for change in this world. In our small community these kids are known by name and they are prayed for and encouraged all along their way. I watched them walk across the stage right in front of me to get their diploma and I saw little backpacks and wide eyed first graders in my mind. It all zoomed by so fast that I felt a catch in my breath wondering if we had taught them all they need to know. I wondered if I did all I could to prepare them to make this world a better place. I prayed I had used well each opportunity I’d been given to help them grow in discipleship.
As I climbed down the steps to be closer to the kids for our last lesson, I remembered the first day they walked into my classroom and I’m pretty sure I was as scared then as I was today. I hoped I could cover my nervous voice and hold back the tears that stung behind my eyes. I hoped that the Holy Spirit would speak through me with the words he wanted them to hear. I felt the weight of responsibility that every teacher feels when they are given a classroom of young people. After the first couple of minutes I began to see their smiles and hear their laughter and every emotion bounding through my mind and my heart was replaced with hope and gratitude. They will do great thing, they will go great places and they will be amazing people! I have great hope that they will use their God given gifts and talents to make the world better. I’m grateful that I had a chance to be a part of their life, a part of their day, a part of their journey to this milestone. I’m grateful to be a teacher, it’s a vocation that reaps rewards that are too many to measure. Mostly I’m grateful that I landed here…in this place…in this community…to do this work. God is so good!
If the PW class of 2018 takes only one thing from todays lesson with them into the world I hope it’s the reminder that changing the world requires three simple things. Be kind, be honest and be grateful. When I give it some thought, that’s probably a great lesson for all of us!
A Seed To Plant: Which of the three things will you focus on today…kind, honest or grateful?
Blessings on your day!
Do not be afraid…1 Kings 17:13
The other night I was making dinner and I reached in the cupboard to grab the olive oil. I pulled out the dark green bottle and began to pour, only to discover that instead of a stream of oil coming from the bottle all I was seeing was a few drips! I immediately got frustrated at the inconvenience. Instead of quickly finishing up, I had to go dig through the pantry and hopefully retrieve a full bottle. After just a few seconds of looking and re-shuffling the pantry I found a full bottle and returned to my task. As I stood there in my kitchen stirring I was wondering who it was who emptied the old one without replacing it and why couldn’t they have just taken a few more seconds to replace the bottle instead of leaving the work to me. Then like a smack to the head, I remembered the story of the widow and Elijah from the Old Testament.
If you remember the story, Elijah shows up at this widow’s house during a time of famine and asks her for some water to drink and something to eat. She looks at him and lets him know she’d love to help but can’t. She honestly reports that she has only a bit of oil and a tiny bit of flour and she was getting ready to prepare the last of it for a meal for herself and her son…get this…and then they were going to die because there was no more food. Pause there for a minute…replay…I’m going to use the last drops of oil and spoons of flour to make a cake (yum ?) for us and then we will prepare to die. Not, then I will go to the pantry and get more oil. Not, then I will run to the store and buy more oil or go to the neighbor’s house and borrow more. I will use what I have and that is the end of it all. I can’t even imagine!
As I stood in my kitchen embarrassed about my little empty oil bottle tiff and the widows story I began to see things differently. I glanced over at a full pantry. Behind me was a full refrigerator and on the counter was a bowl of fruit all of which could probably feed a village in some places of the world and suddenly the word plenty was the only one I could think of. I have plenty; plenty of food, plenty of money, plenty of clothes, plenty of EVERYTHING but yet I often focus on what I don’t have instead of what I have plenty of. All of the sudden I felt pretty small, pretty foolish and pretty ungrateful.
The widow’s story continues when Elijah tells her to go ahead and make him some food and the Lord will take care of her and her son. In an unbelievable act of faith she uses the rest of her resources to feed Elijah and as promised, her oil jug and her flour jar never ran dry. The story is about so much more than kitchen staples! God offers the same promise to us each and every day. Just trust me, I will take care of you because I love you and I will reward your faithfulness. The widow loved God more than she loved her stuff. The widow was generous and trusting to an extreme; and her generosity and faithfulness were rewarded to an extreme. It’s a story that offered me perspective and reflection. It made me think about my own gratefulness and trust and generosity. I can’t change all the crazy stuff going on in the world right now but I can’t help but think how much different things would be if we focused on a few of the widow’s lessons and figured out how to use them in our own life.
A Seed To Plant: Read the story from 1Kings 17:7-16 and ask God to help you reflect on the story and show you how he wants you to draw closer to him.
Blessings on your day!
This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24
I have watched the pictures trickle through my newsfeed all week and they make me sigh a little. It’s spring break week for folks around here and the family trip pictures from beaches, cruises, mountains and lovely places have been fun to see. Today however, the joy shrunk a little as I looked out my window to a windy April snow storm. As I grabbed a heavier sweatshirt I suddenly wished a few of those lovely beach people would be pinched by a sand crab or something! I know that was not very christian of me but looking at the April blizzard in my front yard made me a little jealous!
When the snow stopped I realized I’d been completely childish and I apologized for my ugly thoughts and jealous wishes. As I stopped to think on it for a bit I realized it was a great lesson on a subject I obviously haven’t learned yet. Contentment is the name of the lesson and rejoicing in another mans blessings is the assignment. I flunked both today!
As I was busy humbugging other peoples fun I forgot how thankful I am that I got to take three of those trips when each of our kids were seniors. I forgot that I’ve been able to slow down and catch up this week…I’ll really appreciate that on Monday! I forgot that I was able to go to Jim and Tonya’s funeral this week and be amazed and inspired at the strength of their three children as they delivered their parents ecology with the strength and grace of faithful warriors. If I’d have been on a beach I would have missed Easter with a few dozen family members that I love and I’d miss a trip to Franciscan University this weekend to see my daughters Nursing Dedication Ceremony. My hamper wouldn’t be empty, my furniture wouldn’t be dust free and my refrigerator wouldn’t be absent of anything green and fuzzy. All of that makes me feel a little accomplished I suppose!
I have to remember that THIS really is the day the Lord has made and he made me right where I am for a good reason. Before I hit the pillow tonight I’ll be sure and thank him for that. And, I’ll be sure to say a prayer for all those beautiful people enjoying a lovely trip with the family they love.
A Seed To Plant: Make a list of 5 things you are grateful for right now!
Blessings on your day!
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