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Learning Curve

Learning Curve

 

My students loved it when I graded on the curve.  As a teacher, I accepted that if no one got a perfect score on the test, then a little adjustment was required.   Consider it “educational grace.”

I spent seventeen years in a high school classroom.  As the years progressed, I became more and more lenient.  A note from Mom meant you got an extra day to finish your homework.  I started grading student work in pencil, rather than bleeding in red all over their words and hearts.

Life will either soften you to the humanity in others, or you become jaded and untractable.

I want to be a sponge, not a rock.  I want to be a safe place to land, not a stumbling block.

God has softened me to the brokenness in others by providing me some painful “field trips.”  Over the last 6 years, I’ve experienced miscarriage, sickness, and depression.  I’ve grieved the loss of loved ones, and I’ve walked with those who are grieving.

I’ve hit rock bottom and found that God is still there.

Learning is a gift… even when pain is your teacher…

 

I am honored to be sharing over at Holly Barrett’s blog today for “Testimony Tuesday.” 

To read the rest of this post, join me here.

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Hold Fast in Hard Times — Focus on Finishing (Day 29)

Focus on FinishingPhoto Credit: Eran Becker, via Free Images

 

I saw a plaque today that made me laugh so hard.  It reminded me of my days in the trenches as a high school English teacher.  It read:

Today I will be happier than a teacher on a snow day.

Teaching adolescents is a beautiful and brutal experience.  It was super fun to start the school year with new school supplies and creative strategies for engaging my minions.  But, right around March, we entered a season of schooling that I liked to call “Hell.”  After Spring Break, the kids grew weary of learning and made me wish I was elsewhere — like on the beach with a good book and a cool glass of iced tea.

The temptation to give up and not put my best foot forward during that last inning of the game was strong.  Rather than corral the restless pupils, some teachers chose to “phone it in” and spent a lot of time popping videos into the DVD player to try to hypnotize their students into silence.

I decided to go down fighting.  I blame Dr. Yarusinsky for this.  My college professor had ingrained in me the importance of making every minute of the classroom experience a valuable one.  He’d told me that if I wasted 5 minutes of classroom time each day, by the end of the year, I would have lost 2 weeks of teaching time.

Not on my watch.

I determined to finish well — even if it killed me.

Holding fast in hard times will require you to swim against the tide of indifference and apathy.  When everyone around you has “checked out,” you must push forward with passion.

I think of Jesus.   He was misunderstood, betrayed, abandoned, and beaten.

My Savior kept His eye on the finish line.

Are you battle weary and losing steam right now?  Look to your Redeemer and remember why you started the race in the first place.

 

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!

Hebrews 12:3-4, MSG


I’m joining The Nester and friends for #write31days and sharing “Focus on Finishing” with like-minded sisters at Coffee for Your Heart, Tell His Story, Spiritual Sundays, Recommendation Saturday, Faith-Filled Friday, Essential Fridays, and Thriving Thursday.
To see all of the posts in this series, head on over here.

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First Day Procedures — A Call to Persevere: “Into the Word” Week 14

    For 17 years, I worked as a high school language arts teacher.  Every Fall, I bravely stepped up to the podium for the start of the new school year full of hope and fresh promise.  The year before had been wiped away — lessons had been learned (more by me than the students, I think), and now I had an opportunity to do it right… to do it better… to be wiser…. to start over.   The first day is always the hardest — frankly, on my first day of teaching I threw up in the trash can out of sheer anxiety.  Teaching teenagers is not a job for cowards.

   Armed with my sharpened pencils and class rosters, I stepped up to the chalkboard with confidence each year — because I knew the Master Teacher went before me, because I had friends who walked this journey with me, and because I had a script to follow.  Yes, a script!  My first year of teaching during the orientation, the administration had given me a precious handout entitled “First Day Procedures”  — an outline of how my day should go with steps to follow to set up my lesson.   That tattered handout provided direction and kept me on the course for success.

  Easter provides an opportunity to start fresh — with renewed hope and confidence, we can choose to live in light of His resurrection and claim His victory as our own.  As I was digging “Into the Word” this week, I was overjoyed to discover that the writer of Hebrews has outlined for us our “First Day Procedures” — Follow these steps in Chapter 10, my friends, and you will stay on the path to spiritual success:

  • Draw near to God, daily visiting the foot of the cross in your heart and allowing Him to cleanse your sin (v. 22)
  • Hold unswervingly to the hope found in Christ, our faithful Savior (v. 23)
  • Consider how to spur one another on toward love and good deeds (v. 24)
  • Never give up meeting together.  Get plugged in to fellowship and sound Bible teaching (v. 25a)
  • Encourage one another— Because this world hits you hard, we are called to be “Jesus with skin on” to each other (v. 25b)

The writer of Hebrews calls on us to persevere.  The crucified life is not for cowards — disciples arm themselves with courage and walk forward in the power of the Holy Spirit:

…You need to stick it out,

staying with God’s plan

so you’ll be there for the promised completion.

It won’t be long now,

He’s on the way;

      He’ll show up most any minute.

   But anyone who is right with Me

thrives on loyal trust;

      if he cuts and runs,

I won’t be very happy.

But we’re not quitters who lose out.

Oh, no! We’ll stay with it and survive,

trusting all the way.

Hebrews 10:35-39 (MSG)

Well, what are you waiting for?  You have your marching orders — your first day procedures.  Go out and change the world.

Q4U:  What spiritual goals have you set for this post-Easter season of your journey?  Is there a Scripture passage that has provided some direction to your walk?  I would love to hear from you in the comment section below.

Every Monday we will be working our way through Anne Graham Lotz’s 52-week study “Into the Word.”    Hop on over to the 3dLessons4Life Blog Facebook Page to join us as we dig into God’s Word together.

Linking up with a like-minded sisters at Faith Filled Friday, A Holy Experience,Good Morning Girls,  God -Bumps and God-Incidences, Soli Deo Gloria @ Finding Heaven and “Hear it on Sunday, Use it on Monday!”
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Study Groups

Have you ever “pulled an all-nighter” studying for a big test?  When I was in high school, a big group of friends would always get together to cram at one house for our math exams.  As a teacher, part of the job description required me to hold after-school help classes on the day before a test.  Although the material was already “out there” and provided, there was a huge benefit from interacting with others to re-hash, discuss, and learn how to apply the concepts.  These study sessions really helped.  Other students saw things differently and explained the material in a way that re-framed it and cemented it in the long-term memory.

As a student of the Word of God, I have also participated in “study groups” of a different kind — in these gatherings, we opened up our text, The Holy Word of  God, and revisited the principles that our Master Teacher outlined for us to help us live life effectively.  Interacting with others while discussing God’s Word has been life-changing for me.

God’s Word encourages us to seek out other  like-minded students of the Word.  The early church modeled this idea of engaging with others.  Just check out the wording used to describe the first church at the end of Acts 2 (NLT):

                     “All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals  (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer…

And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had.

They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need.

They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity—

all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people…”

Did you catch it?  The early church didn’t do the Jesus thing one day a week and then head their separate ways.  They interacted — they opened up the doors of their homes and broke bread together.  It’s a wonderful thing to sit down at a table and share a meal — pasta for your tummy and then Scripture for your soul.   Hebrews 10:23-25 (NIV) challenges, “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,  not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

So what are you waiting for?  Pick up the phone.  Break out the dip and chips.  Sit down for a spell and share.  Study the Word of Life together.

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Homecoming

During my 17 years as a high school teacher, I participated in many Homecoming celebrations.  My students dressed up in crazy outfits (pajama day was my favorite) and waged epic field day battles in tug of war.  Frankly, I found the whole experience to be exhausting, and relief always flooded my soul when it was over.  The hours of preparation and the crazy student behavior wore me out, but my students always talk about that being their favorite part of high school.  Sometimes, what causes me grief is the best choice to honor those I love and serve.

Recently, I experienced a different kind of Homecoming, an eternal welcome home.  My husband and his siblings spent a great amount of time preparing for this event as their dear mom’s health declined ever so slowly.  It was tiring, rewarding, and emotional.  Their selflessness — it’s the legacy she left them.  Each of them wears it so effortlessly.

Our sweet Miss BJ’s 82nd birthday would have been this past week.  Three months after her passing, we gathered to celebrate her life in her absence.  This year has held many secret treasures for my family that were wrapped up in suffering.  I have learned once again that it so essential to be fully present with those that you love.  Each crazy moment of life is a gift, not to be squandered.

Moms are home keepers.  I certainly learned this from my mom in law’s life as she lived out what is recorded in Titus 2:5 (MSG): “By looking at them, the younger women will know how to love their husbands and children, be virtuous and pure, keep a good house, be good wives. We don’t want anyone looking down on God’s Message because of their behavior.”   I miss her gentle spirit and her smile.

As I move into this new year, may my home and my heart be a welcoming place for those I love.  May laughter fill its rooms and faith be its foundation.   May I be grateful for each moment.

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