Monday, December 5, 2011

Any Kind of Lovely

So, I'm feeling a little discouraged recently and I honestly feel like posting something new for me to work on would be completely in vain.  I'm lucky if I'm any kind of lovely at school right now.

 I'm praying for you all as Christmas break draws nearer.  Remember so many of our kids don't receive the kind of love they deserve especially at this time of year--which is probably why some of them act the way they do.  :)  

We love because He first loved us. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Dare 12: Love Offers Grace

Galations 2:20... "I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.  The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."  
We live in a balancing act between freedom and legalism.  It is easy to live in either of these extremes and extremely difficult to find the right place on the pendulum.  We either judge ourselves against others making us seem okay or we live a life that is spent entirely on ourselves and our "rights."  Romans 6:23 says the "wages of sin is death..." and all throughout the gospels we're told of how Jesus came for us to die for us.  Without Jesus, we have no rights.  We don't have the "right" to be treated better by people... we actually deserve to be treated worse, because we have treated God worse... BUT GOD (probably my favorite two words together) still offers us GRACE... over and over and over and over and over... you get the picture.  

And Galations 2:20 says that I no longer live, but Christ lives in me ... well, then I am called to be offering the same grace God has offered to me.  So, if i really understand God, I will ALWAYS respond out of grace, NO MATTER WHAT you've done to me, I will give you grace because I've done worse to God and he still gives me grace.  

Do I do that?  Big negative.  

I just can't seem to wrap my mind around what it looks like to offer this grace to my students?? How can I offer them grace over and over and over again and still expect them to respect me and the guidelines of the classroom and school?  
I understand that there is such a thing as tough love and that God loves that way too... It is just really hard for me to know what it looks like to apply all of this in a way that is pleasing to God and works in the classroom.  Not that I don't offer grace to my students ever... but let's be realistic in saying that I definitely don't offer them grace after X amount of offenses... 

So my dare for the week is to really focus on what it means to offer your students grace.  Pray that God would provide ways for you to offer them grace and that He would open your eyes to His grace in your own life.  

Praying you have a wonderful week and that God would bless your socks off! :) 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Dare 11: Love is Unconditional

The funny thing is... sometimes I copy and paste pretty much from my last round and sometimes I write new ones... running behind (two weeks and a day behind to be exact) and thought I'd copy one real quick... First line of the one I was copying was... 

"My apologies for the late post."  

Haha... must be the time of year.  AND the fact that my mom and I are starting a photography business and whenever I get on the computer that seems to be all I'm thinking about.  Anyway... here we go :) Better late than never. 

Dare 11: Love is Unconditional  
This week's dare is about unconditional love.  Reading over the chapter in the book, it felt as though it didn't apply much to loving our students.  It dives into the different types of love (greek-- agape, phileo, eros)... and quite honestly, I would really need to dig into the meaning of those words deeper for me to feel okay with applying it to our love for our students.  
But, part of what I am coming to realize is just how hard it is for me to fully accept that God's love for me is unconditional, which means that it is even harder for me to grasp what it looks like for me to love unconditionally.  
I'm just going to quote what the last part of the chapter says here...
"When your enjoyment of each other as best friends [referring to a spouse here] based on unwavering commitment, you will experience an intimacy that cannot be achieved any other way.  But you will struggle and fail to attain this kind of marriage unless you allow God to begin growing His love within you.  Love that "bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things" (1 Corinthians 13:7) does not come from within.  It can only come from God.  The Scriptures say that "neither death, nor life, nor angles, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:38-39). This is God's kind of love.  And thankfully--by your choice--it can become your kind of love."

So, I think what I, personally, need to work on this week, is attempting to understand, beginning to comprehend just exactly what it means that God loves us unconditionally.   It is obviously the only way that I'm ever going to begin getting to love thing right.  I have to learn from the only one that does it perfectly... And I need to accept it for myself, so that I can truly give it to others.  It actually feels extremely overwhelming to even begin to think about it... 

So, i guess my dare for you this week is to go before God and ask Him to reveal His love to you in a way so clear that the only possible thing for you to do is to go share it with someone else... everyone else.  Its the only way we will ever learn to love our students the way God has called us to love them... 

And I'll be praying for you, too.  Praying that your hearts are open to receive love... praying that you would allow yourself to KNOW that you are worthy of His love... it may be really hard for some of us, but it will definitely be worth it...  

Must be a God thing, because I wrote all that a year ago... and just in the past week I've begun to struggle with the same thing again.  It is hard to accept that I will never fully understand God's love.  The perfectionist in me (however dwindling she may be) wants to get it. Right now.  And forever.  But that's just not the way it works.  I will forever be trying to comprehend the depth of God's love for me... 

Love you.


Sunday, October 30, 2011

Dare 10: Love Makes Good Impressions

Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.  Greet one another with a holy kiss. 2 Corinthians 13: 11-13

Dare 10: Love Makes Good Impressions

It is interesting to me how often scripture speaks of how we should greet one another.  We teased my husband a while back when he told our LifeGroup that we should be greeting each other with a holy kiss.  We decided that a group hug might be more acceptable.  But the reality of it is, is that Paul has taken time out of many of his books to instruct us on how to greet each other!  He even takes time at the end of Romans to ask them to individually greet 27 of his friends and loved ones for him. 

In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus speaks about loving your enemies.  He says, "And if you only greet your own people, what are you doing more than others?  Do not even Pagans do that?" (Matthew 5:47)   It is easy for us to address the people we like graciously, but Jesus says we also need to address our enemies with this kindness.  
Until I started working on this week's dare, I didn't realize how much attention was paid to how we should GREET each other! I think it's kind of neat actually.  

So, what does that mean for us as teachers?  I'd say a lot, don't you think?! In a day I have 130 possible first greetings with my students.  Not to mention my coworkers!  

"When someone communicates that they are glad to see you, your personal sense of self-worth increases.  You feel more important and valued.  That's because a good greeting sets the stage for positive and healthy interaction.  Like love, it puts wind in your sails." 

Harry Wong (the First Days of School guy) always talks about the importance of greeting your students before class with energy.  I think some of my better days with my students, especially when I've had a tough group of kids in the past, started with me standing outside the door and giving each student a high five or a big smile and "How are ya!?" as they walk into my classroom. 

"It doesn't have to be bold and dramatic every time, but adding warmth and enthusiasm gives you the chance to touch [you students'] heart in subtle, unspoken ways."  

This Week's Dare

This week is an easy dare!  Think of a few ways you would like to greet your students.  Remember, you probably greet your students several times a day, even if you have the same group of kids all day long.  Practice greeting them with a smile and enthusiasm.  Each one of them.  Remember... you might be the first person who has ever shown excitement to see any particular student.  You might be the first person who is truly working to love that student.  Do it well. 


Monday, October 24, 2011

First John

I won't be posting a new dare this week.  I was out of town for the weekend and now I seem to be coming down with something.  But I do want to encourage you all to read through 1 John.  It is only five chapters and an easy read... and its all about LOVING PEOPLE.
Let the Word encourage you to love this week. 


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Dare 9: We LOVE because He first LOVED us

Here we are, on week 9 of the Love Dare and I was beginning to get that feeling again... that why am I doing this feeling.  And again God has told me very loud and clear that even if I'm only doing this for myself, this is what He has called me to do.  I have been so challenged with the calling to LOVE this past week that I am completely overwhelmed by it.  Where do I even begin? 

We are doing a series over 1 John at church right now.  And if you are familiar with 1 John at all, you know it is ALL about loving people.  And if you've ever studied it very much, you also know it can be hard to not become overwhelmed with feeling like you just aren't getting it right.  But that's where the sweetness of it all comes in: You aren't; but Christ did.   He is our advocate and BECAUSE He first loved us, the light is already shining.  We've already won.  LOVE has already won.  Amen!  

So, we talked about this at Lifegroup and we decided that to become good at anything, for anything to become second nature, you must practice first.  Love is NOT going to come easily; people are difficult to love.  So at first, practicing loving your students may seem forced, but after you've practiced for so long, you'll start finding that it comes a lot easier, and a bit more naturally.  

And it just so happens that I have a perfect example of a teacher loving her students this week.  My cousin, Lisa Baker, is a middle school teacher in Webb City. One of her students has just been diagnosed with cancer and Lisa decided to start a fundraiser to raise money for this students' traveling expenses for his medical care.   The catch? If the school raises $5000, she will shave her head.  They raised $4000 in a week.  She loves her students.  Obviously, we won't all have the opportunity to do something quite like Lisa, but would you if you were in that situation?  I've been struggling with that question all week...

The Story (If you'd like to read more about Lisa and her student)

And God continued to challenge me to love in a bit harder ways this morning.  During the opening worship at church today it was pretty apparent to me that something was "heavy" in the air, but I hadn't heard the news yet. Josh hinted at it when he when he was opening, but continued on with his sermon... on LOVE... and shared with us at the end of the service that three Bolivar students were killed in a car crash during the night last night.  One of them was my student when I student taught 4th grade in Bolivar 5 years ago.  
Life is fragile.  And unpredictable. 
I'll preface this with saying that we should never live a life of "What ifs" but I feel like this is an important question to ask...

What if I chose selfishly not to love a student (or anyone) and something happened? 

But instead of focusing on the answer to a what-if question, I just want to focus on the solution: 
Love because He first loved us.  
Love because if we love God, then obedience will follow.  And what does obedience look like?  LOVE.  

Praying for the families who lost their daughters and the friends whose hearts are broken.  
Praying that we can all learn to love, for no other reason than He first loved us. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

Dare 8: Love is Not Jealous

"Jealousy is one of the strongest drives known to man.  It comes from the root word for zeal and means 'to burn with an intense fire.'  The Scripture pointedly says, 'Wrath is fierce and anger is a flood, but who can stand before jealousy?' (Proverbs 27:4)"

To clear up a misconception of God and jealousy first it is important to recognize that there are two forms of jealousy: a legitimate jealousy and an illegitimate jealousy.  When scripture speaks of God being a jealous God it is referring to the legitimate jealousy which means that God is longing for us, desiring that we keep Him as our first love.  

Unfortunately, the jealousy that we struggle with is typically the illegitimate kind.  It is very clearly in opposition to love.  It is rooted in selfishness.  "This is to be jealous of someone, to be 'moved with envy.'"  

This week's dare will focus a little more on our relations with our coworkers.  While I'm sure it is possible to become jealous of our students, I imagine that jealousy of our coworkers is a far bigger issue.  Jealousy happens when someone else has something, or gets something, that you want.  Instead of feeling happy for them, you get angry. It's so important to harness that anger and let love win out.  If that doesn't happen, that jealousy can take a deep root in your heart.  The book of James says that envy leads to fighting, quarreling, and every evil thing (James 3:16, 4:1-2).      

"Because love is not selfish and puts others first, it refuses to let jealousy in.... It is time to let love, humility, and gratefulness destroy any jealousy that springs up in your heart."     

This Week's Dare

Determine to become your coworkers, and your students, biggest fans.  Reject any thoughts of jealousy.  Last week I asked that you make a list of the positive and negative things about some of your students.  This is where you will throw out the negative list--a way of showing you are ready to only look at the good in people.  Encourage your coworkers and students in their successes--rejoice with them!
What are some positive experiences you can celebrate in the life of your coworkers and students?   How can you encourage them toward future successes?  

Sidenote: Sometimes I look back on a week and wonder how well I have actually done with that week's particular dare.  It is easy to get caught up in the business of the day and forget to focus on one thing in particular.  What I'm trying to say is, don't get to caught up in the particulars.  The goal of this is to love our students better.  If you are striving to love your students (and coworkers, and family, etc.) then you're striving toward the right goal.  I hope God is showing you new ways to love and is placing people in your lives that show you His love.