And my God will meet all your needs… Philippians 4:19
We’re about 6 weeks into a new school year and it’s still that “getting to know about you stage”. As a teacher, you come to know their faces and expressions and sounds. You try to figure out how they will deal with disappointment, correction and success. Throughout the course of a day I get to see over 80 students and they each come individually wrapped and packaged; all with their own little secret ingredient! It’s fascinating and frustrating and delightful all at the same time. I often shake my head and marvel at how very different each and every one of my middle lovelies is. I marvel at God’s creativity as it walks, skips, slinks or thunders through my door.
It doesn’t take long to realize some need more time, more patience, more firmness or more love than others. Finding the right equation takes prayer and observation and lots of listening. I will be the very first person to admit I often get it wrong; I often mis-judge a students needs or intent. God has shown me after 100 years of teaching that the words “I was wrong, please forgive me” are powerful to a child…or a grown up…or an elderly person! As I think about my middle lovelies and many of the other lovelies in the building I can’t help but notice they create such a beautiful collection of God’s best work and each one of them is a treasure in his eyes. It’s my eyes that sometimes need an adjustment. I can get overwhelmed when I see how many people are misunderstood, misjudged and misinterpreted. I just want each child to be understood and loved and enjoy being at school!
The Young Disciples group will have the opportunity to participate in a program with some students who have disabilities and unique needs organized by Special Olympics this year. As we listened to a lovely speaker teach us about these young kids and the struggles and challenges they face everyday, it left me feeling a little guilty. Guilty that my life seems so easy, guilty that I take so many blessings for granted. I was looking at pictures of the beautiful children we will be working with and I just wanted to scoop them all up and make their life perfect. It was all churning around in my heart and all of the sudden I came across this quote from a woman I met last spring who has spent her entire life blind, mostly paralyzed and suffering from a host of other ailments. She was speaking about God’s enormous love and genius plan for us. She left us with a quote that came to my heart at the perfect moment. She said this, “I believe there is no such thing as a special needs person. We all have needs; human needs and some of us just need some accommodations in order to have our human needs met.”
I read it a few times until I found my peace. It made me think of things with a different perspective! It also made me realize how true it is for each of us. It is about those most basic needs; to feel loved, to feel accepted, to feel needed, to feel safe. Those are things I can give easily but I wonder how often I don’t recognize someone else's need for them or I’m too busy to offer to meet them. Each of those needs were perfectly designed by God and he’s waiting and willing to provide for them as only he can. When I really think about it, I often need some accommodations in order for him to meet my needs. I need him to be patient with me when I try to do it all myself. I need him to be understanding when I forget to show gratitude. I need him to make accommodations for my narrow thinking and impatient attitude. I suppose we would all do well to focus more on the accommodations than the expectations; putting things in that order might make a big difference. I realize after reading that sweet woman's words, I’m certainly glad the Father looks at me with accommodation and not expectation cause he’d sure be disappointed a lot! Father, thank you for all your accommodations, please help me offer them to others.
A Seed To Plant: Lord, please help me see those who need accommodations today and allow me to see their human needs and their great value as your child.
Blessings on your day!
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer. Psalm 18:3
The first few weeks of a new school year are always an adjustment for everyone! Sometimes I feel a little sorry for the first graders because they have so much to get used to and remember those first days. The first all school mass is always memorable. The second grade teacher whose class sits behind mine at mass always has his eyes open ready to catch a stunt or two that makes him giggle. I’ve had dancers, acrobats and sleepers over the years, but nothing tops the boys with the flyin’ elbows!
When I assign the kids to their church seating order, I always remind them to "leave room between ya for Jesus. That is of course code for…if you’re not right beside each other, it’s harder to chat and touch! On one particular Friday, Jesus had obviously achieved enormous success on Weight Watchers because the two boys in the front pew had to leave practically NO room for Him at all! As they sat there quite close, one “accidentally” had his elbow land in the other little boy’s rib cage. So, the favor was promptly returned playfully…a few elbows later, they burst into an uncontrollable case of the giggles. I slipped out of my seat and made my way toward the ruckus. As the little boy on the right heard my footsteps approaching; he slid into his proper spot and sat silently with his arms tightly crossed in an attempt to control his elbow. I took a seat between these two handsome giggling boys and it soon became very clear to me that the little boy on my left had NO idea I had taken the spot beside him. My suspicion was confirmed when he threw the next elbow and it landed in MY rib cage…his loud gasp indicated that he indeed realized his elbow had landed in squishy new territory. It took ALL I had not to burst into giggles myself! I’m sure this little guy felt like his elbow had landed smack dab into a wall (a padded wall perhaps)! The shock of it was obvious in his gasp, his posture and his tightly closed eyes and bowed head.
I know that feeling! I’ve never gotten it from banging into a teachers rib cage, but I have had the feeling.
How about you? Have you ever been crusin’ through life, thinking everything is goin’ fine and then THUD…right into a wall or a dead end? I HATE it when that happens! If you’re anything like me, it usually happens just about the time I think I have everything all figured out and I try to do some of God’s work for Him. That wall is usually a signal that I’ve strayed which is because I haven’t prayed with a sincere, still heart! Being the strong, independent CHRISTIAN WOMAN I am…I usually charge right at that wall again…same result…and usually accompanied by a LARGE dent in my humility, several scratches to my pride and of course a bruised spirit!
Why would I charge into walls when I have been reminded a dozen times a week that my ONLY strength comes from God? The sin of pride I guess…but this simple verse from Psalm 18 holds such an important truth…God is my fortress…God is my deliverer…God is my rock! I don’t have to whack into walls and try to plow through situations that are not mine to experience.
When I came upon this verse, my mind pictured God as a mighty warrior with armor and a shield as bright as the blazing sun and He was poised to crash through a mighty wall just for me. I was in the image too…I was about as big as a mouse standing behind Him no taller than the heel of His boot. He was willing to take down that wall for me no matter how meek and tiny I was… just because He could! How many times do we get a quiet invitation from God to do something but we don’t answer the call because we think the task is too big? Not for God! He is after all a fortress…He can help us plow through anything if He’s invited us to! The challenge I guess is for us to keep our elbows to ourselves and listen for God to tell us which walls He’ll be crashing through with us today!
A seed to plant: Jot down something you’ve been trying again and again to accomplish without success. Fold up that piece of paper and lay it aside. This week the “wall” on that piece of paper is what you should pray constantly for, asking God to show you how to maneuver that wall!
Blessings on your day!
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, on your own intelligence rely not.
At St. Mary’s school, the first of each month means a project. All twelve big hallway bulletin boards are prepared with a focus on one central faith based theme which changes each time we flip the calendar. You might find it funny to know that when I was a freshman at Emporia State University, I specifically remember choosing to teach High School because I didn’t want to mess with all those bulletin boards you find in an elementary classroom! Now I teach 1st grade and have 8 bulletin boards inside my room and the giant one in the hall…God is hilarious isn’t He! Last February our theme was God’s Love…not too tough right…well I had this great idea that I thought the kids would get in a snap! I was feeling pretty smart about the whole thing until I explained it to the kids and I got nothin’ but that “deer in the headlights” look from every single one of them! I’ve been teaching long enough to know when the ship is sinking and I need to bail before I drown...I was there! In a flash I said, “Ok God, I wasn’t so smart here…send me something quick that will honor You and teach all who see this project about Your love, show me what to do, send Your Holy Spirit quickly with a good idea!” Bing…just like that the idea came. I looked at the kids and said, “You know what kids, the Holy Spirit just sent me a great idea, let’s try it again.” I explained the new idea and the little boy in the back corner smiled and said,”Mrs. Wohlfert, next time why don’t you just ask God first instead of wasting time trying to think things up on your own.” Brilliant boy!
My mission with these bulletin boards is always to reveal something new and amazing about God to my students, they are truly a teaching tool and I take these projects seriously because they are a priceless opportunity.
With that in mind, we got started. I explained how I would draw a giant heart for the center of the board which would contain the words “I see God’s love…” Each child would get their picture taken holding that giant heart and then in a small heart, they would have to write the words that completed the idea. After I had carefully explained the instructions, I asked if anyone knew how they were going to finish the sentence. I was prepared to help them stretch their ideas and invite them to dig deeper. I was quite sure I’d have to assist them in their thinking. Once again God must have been just laughing at me because the first child I called on blew me out of the water with his answer! I should have seen it coming because he was an amazing little boy whose faith was so enormous that sometimes it would swallow me up! He raised his hand and said, “Mrs. Wohlfert, this is the easiest question you’ve asked us all year, I see God’s love…(pause and grin from him)…when I see Jesus on the cross. I couldn’t stop the tears that rolled down my cheeks! But wait…it gets better…the little girl next to him put her arm around his shoulder and said, “That’s the best answer ever in the world!”
As I sat and listened to my class one by one announce their thoughts I was astounded! Each answer revealed another great nugget of God’s grace and love. As I dismissed them to their seats to begin, I sat in my chair a minute and wondered….ok…so who’s the teacher here…who is the smart one? It all became clear, that two second prayer of trust, even if it was offered as a plea out of desperation, gave me the truth spoken in this verse from Proverbs. I look back on that day and realize that if God can be trusted to help with little bitty things like a first grade bulletin board, He is certainly equipped to tackle the big things like finances, relationships and whatever else we think we're smart enough to handle on our own!
A seed to plant: At some point before this long holiday weekend is over, find one situation you struggle with and stop in your tracks and say the words “Father I trust you, Father I love you, please send your Holy Spirit and take charge of this.” Put Proverbs 3:5 in action!
Blessings on your day!
Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:11
Still...yeah, right...It's clear the author of this Psalm knew nothing about baseball, car pools, laundry, dinner, staff meetings and the dozen other things we have to cram into a day! I have yet to see "Be Still" appear on my daily calendar right above hair cut, dentist appointment or ballgame...how about you? But I'm beginning to think maybe we should!
A few years ago, one of my little first grade lovelies told the class her grandma taught her that if you're really still and quiet sometimes you can hear God's voice and it's like a soft whisper in your ear! There was simply nothing more for me to say during that lesson...I felt like I owed her my paycheck for the day because her lesson was far more powerful than anything I could come up with!
This weekend we went on a family camping trip and I plopped down in a lawn chair all by myself and something completely cool happened! As I landed in my lawn chair, I tossed up a quick prayer of thanks for getting us there safely and asked Him to bless the family who was gathered for the weekend and also to bless those who couldn't make it. I was completely struck by the almost deafening silence that followed that quick prayer...and then it happened...out of nowhere...I heard one of my absolute favorite sounds...the laughter of little children...ya know the kind...where they giggle so hard they almost fall over! It was a great gift! I'm convinced it was "a quiet whispering" of sorts. I don't think God always whispers, actually when I think about it, He can be really loud and sometimes very funny. The trick to hearing His voice begins with our stillness. It's in that stillness we give Him the chance to send us the gift of an awareness of His presence. Seems pretty simple doesn't it...all we need to do to receive the gift is to be still and connect with the Father who wants more than ANYTHING to connect with us!
A seed to plant: Right now...look at your schedule for the week and purposefully plan some moments EVERY day where you will do nothing but BE STILL and ask God "to come on in to your life." Be sure to let us know what you heard!
Blessings on your day!
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