In Case You’re Interested…

Get Out of the Way– This quote from Timothy Keller on his goal in writing about Jesus. “…when you’re actually reading, and you’re getting directly a sense of the greatness and the attractiveness of Jesus—and by the way, to say he’s attractive doesn’t mean he’s warm and toasty all the time. I mean, sometimes he’s scary, but he’s still attractive. I just want to say, I want other people to have the same experience I’ve had as I’ve read.”  So he tries to get out of the way.

Eighth Grade in 1895– This test is for 8th graders in 1895.  Yes, some of it is now irrelevant, but it’s interesting nonetheless.

“Bless” Boundless Podcast– If you’ve never heard of, let me introduce you to a webzine and podcast for young adults.  This episode starts with a challenge to bless the people around you and continues with a challenge to young adults to honor the spiritual leaders in our lives.  I’ll leave the Q&A section up to you.


Thinking like an author

Do you ever narrate your life?

I do…not out loud,  but mentally.  The more I read, the more I think narrations.  Somehow, it sounds so much more interesting than real life actually is!  Maybe it’s a work-related hazard.  As a teacher of writing (albeit for young authors), part of my job is teaching my students to think like an author.  The stories I tell are simple, silly ones.  (Eating pickles for breakfast, for example.)  They are designed to communicate one message to my students: your life is full of stories worth writing.

The longer I live– not that long for me right now, but long enough to learn a little–the more grateful I am for a sovereign God Who is telling and working out beautiful stories all around me.  Some of them aren’t exciting per se, but they are beautiful.  Some of them are traumatic or dramatic, and we would all rather skip some parts.

The individual stories aren’t the only stories being told.  There’s a much bigger story being told that starts with perfection, includes a lot of misery and more redemption, and will end again with perfection for eternity.  THAT’S the story I want to participate in, with or without pickles for breakfast.  I want to know the ways of that Author, to let Him narrate my life.

What I Learned About the Holy Spirit in Speech Therapy

Let me begin by expressing my gratitude for a generally helpful and very kind speech therapist, the opportunity to do speech therapy instead of getting my vocal cords injected with collagen, and insurance to cover most of the cost of said experience.

I see speech therapy as a chance to enter my students’ world of learning.  Most days, I teach.  Oh yes, I learn a whole lot in the process, but rarely via direct instruction.

Speech therapy is as direct instruction as it gets: pages of instructions on how to breathe, how much water to drink (more!), how to swallow, how to warm up my vocal cords, how to make my voice resonate better, and more.  So for the past week and a half, I’ve been practicing.  Wrong.

Yep.  I watched the therapist do most of the exercises initially and left the office, not sure of myself but figuring that I should be able to follow written directions.  When I returned, I found out that I was doing one exercise entirely wrong and several others too softly.  Louder, she said, louder.  (Which left me thinking…I’ve got 2 weeks to do these exercises before I need to stop so I don’t overdo and cause different problems, and I DID THEM WRONG.  Perfectionism lives on.)

You might be wondering about Jesus in all this.  I’m getting there. 🙂

This whole experience caused me to reflect on my own teaching and the gradual release of responsibility model for teaching: model, guided practice, independent practice, a.k.a. “I do, we do, you do.”  I missed out on the “we do” and the “you do” as a learner, and I didn’t get any immediate feedback.  I did my best, but my best wasn’t what my vocal cords needed.

As a teacher, I try to offer immediate feedback as often as possible.  Sometimes, I miss the mark.  After my last speech appointment, I try harder.

Jesus followed this teaching model on earth: He did, He did with his disciples, then He sent His disciples out.  It worked for Him pretty well!  Though Jesus isn’t physically on earth, His “I do” recorded in the Bible is pretty strong modeling!  The body of Christ offers the chance to practice with someone else, and the Holy Spirit offers immediate feedback as often as we take a moment to listen.  There is no biblical independent “I do” apart from relationship with God (see John 15), but in relationship we are empowered to follow Jesus’ example.

So as I live learning and following Jesus, I’m more grateful than ever for the correction and fellowship of the Holy Spirit, right when I need it.  I have a lot to learn, but I have a patient Teacher!

Presently Considering:

“The condition of the church may be very accurately gauged by its prayer meetings. So is the prayer meeting a grace-ometer, and from it we may judge the amount of divine working among a people. If God be near a church, it must pray. And if he be not there, one of the first tokens of his absence will be slothfulness in prayer.” -Charles Spurgeon

Small talk: it is either a way for me to say, “I don’t want to know you and I don’t want you to know you and so I am going to keep it light and make it as quick as possible and see you later.” Or small talk is a way to say, “I care about you. I would like to get to know you.” We can talk about a football team or the weather and it is actually an expression of two human beings making that connection, but it is because we love each other or want to know each other.  –David Powlison via CJ Mahaney’s blog

Fellowship with believers outside of your local church family can have one of two results, depending on your attitude: You can be blessed, grateful for the body of Christ and encouraged by God’s faithfulness to His people.  You can also be depressed, wishing for a better/cooler/(any number of adjectives) local church body, and jealous of God’s faithfulness to His people.

Jesus didn’t direct us to pray that there would be a harvest; He directed us to pray for workers for the existing harvest, ready to be brought into the kingdom.

Now I Know…

(recent observations in no particular order)

…intercessory prayer is MUCH easier when I pray scripture for the person/situation.

…celebration is more powerful than scolding in many cases.

…the little things God does build a lot of faith.

…I have been pretty obnoxious in the face of God’s gracious direction.

…sometimes hope is harder than surrender.

a bit…

… sad to notice the date of the last post. Needless to say, it’s been busy lately around here!  Between school starting, church activities building up, and the million little things that beg to be done, time flies. My goal for this school year is two-fold:say “no” when necessary, and worry less about what people think.  We’ll see how it goes.

…glad to be finishing up an activity for youth group tomorrow night.  We’re beginning a series on world religions, so our first (and the one to which we will compare the rest) is Christianity.  It’s easy to forget the basics, which makes me think that this study will be especially good for me.

Tonight, I find myself grateful that the point of Christianity is bigger than my own fulfillment but doesn’t ignore our personal need for fulfillment.  How incredibly God-like is this relationship that provides exactly what we need, makes the world a better place (both short term and long term), and shows His glory all at the same time?!

Faith Like a Skip-bo Card

I like Skip-bo.  To me, it is a grandparent-grandchild game.  Last weekend saw a few games at family reunion, and I grew up playing it with grandparents and adopted grandparents alike.

If you’ve never played Skip-bo, I offer my sympathies.  For the purpose of this post, you need to know a few things:

  1. The point of Skip-bo is to use up your stack of numbered cards by placing them in one of 4 communal stacks, in order.
  2. Most cards have a number; a few are wild cards imprinted with “Skip-bo” instead.
  3. Skip-bo cards allow action.  If you are stuck without a skip-bo card, you’re done.  Discard and let the game move on.  However, as long as you have a skip-bo card, you can play.

Somehow last week, I was struck by the idea that skip-bo cards and faith have a lot in common.  Skip-bo cards take the place of any number, but only the most novice players use them just to play something.  Skip-bo cards are best used as catalysts for another play.  Similarly, James says that faith doesn’t come without action.  Faith allows action.

That action, though, must be within the patterns and principles of the game.  If you play a skip-bo card in place of a 5, a 6 must follow.  Faith (or anything called faith) does not  excuse or allow disobedience.  Faith allows, if anything, a more-intentional obedience.

The good news is that faith is not limited to eighteen cards in a box.  I plan to follow my grandparents’ example and play for life.

Accidental Date

Definition: time with a person of the opposite gender that the host/hostess sees as a date but which is not seen by the guest as a date due to the lack of definition

Pros: apparently some guys like to avoid the risk of asking a girl on a date.  I don’t blame them.  I’m just saying that from a girl’s point of view, clarity is a wonderful thing*.  Other than that, I can’t see a benefit.  I haven’t heard of a girl who likes this.  But on to cons…

Cons: girl is likely caught off-guard (and may be under-dressed or ill-equipped) and loses respect for the guy who accidentally asked her out.

*Favorite line of my dad’s (the clarity part, not the girl’s point of view part)

**Disclaimer: this post reflects the views of a small number of women and may or may not hold true across the board.

As my sister says, “Be a man.  Make your intentions clear from the start.”  You’ll earn respect for it.

I thought…

…that I’d make it to June 16 without losing my voice.

…that my plan of sleep, Neti-pot, and “taking care of myself” would work.

…that I could muscle through.

Once again, my utter dependence becomes clear, and I plan for a random day at home in the middle of assessment season.  (Yes, that is an official season; the main difference between assessment season and hunting season is the governing body that declares each one.)

So tomorrow will become a day of reflection, in between a doctor’s appointment and a meeting for work- does that still count?- because it’s been two years since the biggest change in my adult life to this point.  Thankfully, I feel like I have more perspective, more appreciation, and more acceptance for the whats and wheres and whos and hows of living life following Jesus than I have in awhile.

I’d like to spend some time saying, “Thanks!” and making sure my eyes are fixed on Him,

even if it does take a sick day to do it.