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Saturday, February 18, 2012

Can you break that down for me, Lord?

I’ve been working on a research project with my ninth-grade English students. This is the first time I’ve done it this way, and I really see God’s answered prayer in the process. Having tried several tactics before and never finding the results worth repeating, I was looking for something that would motivate and interest them as well as teach them how to write a good paper.

In my quest, I found a PBS website that fit with our unit topic: Dream and Argument. We read Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Dream” speech from their textbook and I presented the topic: How did King’s Dream speech affect America? We learned how to take Cornell Notes, and I told them to choose 3 of the 26 events featured on the website to take notes about. They would also have to interview someone who was alive at the time the speech was given. We learned about thesis statements and transition words as well as organizing paragraphs. Next week they will begin putting it all together.

Most had never done anything like this before and still aren’t sure where they’re going to end up. But I know they will get there and I won’t have lost any of them along the way. The better writers will get there with lots of juicy details and the strugglers will get there with the basic requirements. But they’ll all get there. The step-by-step process has helped them do something they had no idea how to do.

Earlier today, I was feeling a little like my ninth graders must feel: overwhelmed and inadequate. In two weeks, I’ll be teaching a graduate class I’ve never taught before and I really didn’t know how to begin to prepare. As I sat down with the materials, I asked for the Faithful Father’s help. I trusted that He knew what He was doing even though I didn’t… I know He really wants us to rely on Him this way.

This whole concept of doing God’s will is no different than the ninth-grade research project or teaching the new graduate class. It’s overwhelming. But He breaks it down into manageable steps and only gives us one at a time. In the end, we are as amazed and delighted as anyone else at what God has done.

“If you’re faithful in small-scale matters, you’ll be faithful with far bigger responsibilities…”

Luke 16:10 The Voice

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Peacefully Productive

I didn’t realize how productive the day was. There were ups: we carted the cartons of Christmas decorations back up to the attic and I spoke to a trusted friend about what I perceive as the calling on my life; receiving a lift from his encouragement to continue with Cafeteria Covenant. (He liked the title and also wrote me an excellent review of well SEASONED for Amazon.) There were also some downs: sending a carefully worded birthday greeting to a widow of a few weeks. There were outs: having an early dinner out before Gary went to work taking college basketball photos and shopping for Superbowl "snacks.” There were old familiar tasks: doing laundry for the zillionth time and revisiting the twenty-year-old lyrics of a song. There were also first time tasks: sending the updated lyrics and a new arrangement to a love song contest, contracting a professional music reviewing service and my first time ever making waffles, for a late night supper when Gary got home.

Yet, in spite of all this activity and a dozen other little things tucked in between, it was a very peaceful day. So peaceful that I sat back from the computer keys after playing some Words With Friends last night and thought, ‘I feel like I didn’t get much done today…’ As I began to accredit the day’s accomplishments, I was amazed.

I like that. I like letting God lead and succeed, I like moving from one task to another in the rest of God. I like being able to give Him praise for being who He is and doing what He promises: to lead, to guide, to work through me in the small and the big things.

I make lists, but usually they end up just being a reference in case I find myself at a standstill with “nothing” to do, or if I really only want to make one trip to the store without forgetting “something.” Mostly, I ask for God to lead, guide and succeed through me. It’s a grand adventure in living, and at the end of the day, the most satisfying way to live. If someone were to question why I didn’t do something, I can unashamedly say, I wasn’t led to. God knows what needs to be done, and if I just follow His lead, it will all get done.

This dichotomy between rest and work is delicate, and yet simple, when we learn to trust that He truly lives in us. It is something we need to work at every day…

9There still remains a place of rest, a true Sabbath, for the people of God 10because those who enter into salvation’s rest lay down their labors in the same way that God entered into a Sabbath rest from His.

11So let us move forward to enter this rest, so that none of us fall into the kind of faithless disobedience that prevented them from entering. 12The word of God, you see, is alive and moving; sharper than a double-edged sword; piercing the divide between soul and spirit, joints and marrow; able to judge the thoughts and will of the heart.

(Hebrews 4:9-11 The Voice)