When God is in the Classroom

Such an inspiring read to start off this upcoming school year. I will most certainly try my best to be His hands and feet.

Mrs. Ackley

I’ve heard it said in various ways, “They have taken God out of the classroom.” I’ve even been asked, “How can you work in a public school when you can’t share your faith with the kids?” I’ve watched teachers walk away from public education with great frustration because of politics, evaluation systems, state standards, pay, and lack of support.

If I am being honest, there are days in which I ask, “Why am I still here?”

Yet, every time I ask myself that question, I hear a soft whisper in my soul… “Because I am here.”

God is in your classroom.

From the depths of my soul, I believe that God has never, can never, and will never be removed from the classroom–even a public school classroom.  One, He is bigger than that. Besides the fact that He is omnipresent , He is the “indwelling spirit” that fills you…

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Savoring Lake Rabun

I know spring is here, but wanted to share this post. Early fall (and spring) can be very pleasant here in the South.  The last week of September M. and I took advantage of the beautiful weather and planned an overnight trip to nearby Lake Rabun. M. was wanting to go somewhere a little different and since we had never explored this area before we were curious to see what it had to offer.

We spent the day making impromptu detours through some of the small towns we drove past.  One stop was at this nursery.  M. loves to garden so the pretty mums and fall decor made it impossible to drive past without taking a look.

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After purchasing a cute little clay pot snowman to add to our Christmas decor, we ventured closer to our destination.

We were getting hungry and decided on a place called the Universal Joint to have lunch. It is a former gas station they converted to a restaurant.  The weather was pleasant so we chose to eat our yummy sandwich at a table outdoors.

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After a visit to an apple farm, we finally arrived at the Lake Rabun Hotel.  This charming little place is described as a “boutique” hotel. You can’t help but visually relax as you arrive.  The peace and serenity of the gardens and trees that surround you is a welcoming feeling. No televisions or telephones are in any of the cozy guest rooms.  It is a 95-year-old former mountain lodge which has been carefully restored.  Fresh baked cookies, tea, coffee, and assorted sodas are available all day. There is also a restaurant, a small bar and spa services. Local artists have paintings for sale hanging on the walls throughout the hotel. A baby grand piano graces one of the rooms and is available for anyone to tinkle the keys.

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After we checked in and were given a grand tour, we decided to go for a ride and follow the road around the lake. The hotel is snuggled in nature so lake views are limited. Driving along, we noticed trails for hiking.  We later talked with a lady who told us there was boating and swimming available as well as tent and RV camping in certain locations around the lake.

Take a look at some of the boat docks located along the shore.  I have never seen such an elaborate boat dock so I had M. pull over to the side of the road so I could snap these photos. These have lovely sun decks on top, but some we saw looked as if there was a small apartment on the top-level. (We live very close to a lake and the docks I’ve seen are nice, but nothing like these!)  The added bonus was the occasional glimpse of the magnificent homes that go with these boat docks which are nestled slightly uphill in the trees!

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When we returned to the hotel we relaxed and sipped an adult beverage on one of the rooftop decks.

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As the sun began to set, the temperature began to drop, but what an enjoyable evening! We chose to sit outside on the heated screened-in porch with other guests. Taking pictures of food and making it look appetizing is difficult for me, but this chocolate s’mores martini was such a surprise hit I had to share. (Complete with a toasted marshmallow!)  The dinner, grilled wild Alaskan salmon, was one of the best meals we had eaten anywhere, ever.  I am honestly not exaggerating!  The staff was very pleasant and made you feel welcome.

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After dinner we returned to our room. We decided to open the windows so we could enjoy the cool mountain breezes as we drifted off to sleep under warm blankets.

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The next morning we enjoyed a generous gourmet breakfast provided by the hotel. As we loaded up the car to drive home, we could not help but agree that we will be visiting this very special “boutique hotel” and the surrounding area again.

By the way, I do not receive any compensation from any of the places we visit.  I just want to share in case you are interested in a little get away too.

The Cracked Pot

A water bearer in India had two large pots, each hung on each end of a pole which he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it, and while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk from the stream to the master’s house, the cracked pot arrived only half full.

For a full two years, this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water in his master’s house. The perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.XGltYWdlc1xjb250ZW50XG5zanU0eXhsazJfY3JhY2tlZF9wb3QuanBnfDMwMHwxODB8My8xNi8yMDE3After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream. “I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you”.  The bearer asked, “Why? What are you ashamed of?”  The Pot replied, “For these past two years I am able to deliver only half of my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your master’s house. Because of my flaws, you don’t get full value for your efforts”.

The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and in his compassion, he said, “As we return to the master’s house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path.”  As they went up the hill, the old cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path, and this cheered it somewhat. 

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The bearer said to the pot, “Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of your path, but not on the other pot’s side? That’s because I have always known about your flaw. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you’ve watered them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my master’s table. Without you being just the way you are, he would not have this beauty to grace his house.”

(This story is reposted from:  Moral stories:  The Cracked Pot.  Images are free clip art.)

My takeaway from this story is all flaws are subjective and based on our own interpretations and perspectives. We are all cracked pots with our own unique flaws. As we age, the wrinkles or sagging skin, less mobility, the emptiness of a marriage gone stale, the children who grow up and move away, the feeling of no longer feeling needed or appreciated can contribute to the insecurities of looking at yourself as being “flawed”.

But the truth is we are all valuable in ways we can’t always see. Sometimes, it’s the “cracks,” or what we perceive as imperfections, that create something unexpected and beautiful. These “cracks” allow something to change and ultimately make the whole much richer and more interesting. Do not underestimate yourself by comparing yourself with others. It’s our differences that make us unique and precious.

Remember ~ enjoy the perfume of the flowers on your side of the path.

Savoring Sprinkle

The anticipation of waiting for the birth of a grandchild is a feeling that never gets old.

We are a blended family and we have 15 grandchildren between us so far ~ 14 of which are living here on this Earth and one we will meet in heaven some day.  We have twice as many boys as girls. M. and I have been in each others lives long enough to have welcomed 11 of these precious souls together.  It is still a thrill to welcome a new life.

It is interesting to see the changes in accessories and technology since I had babies.  For one, I never had an actual photo of any of my children while they were growing inside my womb.

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Side note: Ultra Sound was a fairly new option to determine the gender when I started having children. There was no need for me to have one when I was pregnant with my first baby.  I saw my second child, because it was offered, but I was clueless what I was looking at.  The nurse would say, “Here is a hand, here is a foot.”  I would look very hard, but it was nearly impossible for me to see. With my third child I miscarried his twin during my pregnancy.  When they showed me my son’s image on the screen to reassure me everything was okay, I could clearly see him and knew before they confirmed it that he was a boy.

One of my bonus daughters had a “sprinkle” recently.  In case you are new to this term, a sprinkle is just like a shower, but the gifts are not usually too large because you already have most of the big-ticket items from previous children.  In fact, there really isn’t much point unless you have a lot of children and really need new clothes or accessories for the newest member of the family.  Otherwise it is a nice opportunity to gather with family and friends to celebrate this exciting time of life.

 

Soft onesies, cuddly swaddling blankets, adorable outfits, and a lot of interesting small ticket items like a “Windi the gas passer” (check it out here if you are curious) were given as gifts.  Giggles and “aaah’s” were heard as each gift was opened.

 

The refreshments were light and these cute cookies were as delicious as they are adorable! Yes, she is having a boy in about 6 weeks!

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I am looking forward to meeting you in a few weeks baby Sam!!

All Things New

We all have someone in our lives who is in need of healing whether it be physical, emotional or spiritual. It’s hard to watch someone we love suffer with an addiction, a disease or the consequences of a poor decision.  Perhaps this loved one has blamed God for their suffering and has turned away from their faith.  They no longer trust or believe or they feel betrayed because of their pain.  Maybe they still believe, but can’t let go of the desire to control their life, even though their life, as well as those they love, is falling apart.

They are so caught in the eye of the storm, the center of the hurricane they can’t see the ripples.

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Their spouse and children find themself at the epicenter of each and every earthquake and feel the effects the worst.

The ripple extends and reaches other loved ones – parents, siblings, and friends whose world is now trembling too. Some decide to withdraw because they feel numb, frustrated or maybe disgusted, while others decide to ride out the waves although uncertain of the result.

At first, it is not always easy to see the greater good that may come from suffering.  Job—a man who underwent immense suffering—reminds us that we may never know the reason why we suffer. Job did not understand why God had allowed the things He did, but he knew God was good and therefore continued to trust in Him.

There is a poignant scene in the movie “The Passion of the Christ” that stands out to me. The bloodied, broken Jesus fell under the weight of the cross he was carrying.  There are flashbacks of the early days of her son falling as a toddler while his mother, Mary, rushes to him frantically whispering, “I’m here!”

The words “I’m here!” is put into action when our loved ones are suffering.  We push the pause button in our own lives. We give them our love and our time. (“I’m here!”) We take over duties and hope that this makes things easier. (“I’m here!”) We talk to them, encourage them, and love them even more. (“I’m here!”) We try to be brave even though we are scared to death. We assume new roles, and wish we didn’t have to. (I’m here!) We are their voice in prayer when they can longer find the desire or the words to pray themselves. (“I’m here!”) We cry in private, we pray without ceasing even though we can’t understand why God doesn’t just heal the situation – just make it go away – just let life be normal again.

Sometimes it is hard for us to trust.

Later, an eyewitness to the crucifixion (the apostle John), included this telling detail in his account: During the ordeal, Mary was standing “by the torture stake of Jesus.” Nothing could prevent that loyal, loving mother from standing by her son to the very last. We, like Mary, stand by our loved ones.

The final shot of that scene (when Mary gets to Jesus after his fall) is we see the image of her son – disfigured and swollen. He looks her in the eye and stammers, “See, Mother, I make all things new.”

These words give hope.  The bloody mangled body of Jesus who suffered unimaginable pain and suffering was made new again. Our own lives were made new again by the ultimate sacrifice of our savior.

These words give hope that our loved ones will emerge with a determination to make a fresh start and the courage to face their trials. A desire to maintain this new life, this new resurrection.  That their lives will be a reflection of the words of Jesus in that movie “I make all things new.”

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

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Timing

As soon as we arrived home I called our insurance company, researched car collision centers, and began the two and a half week wait for my car to be repaired.  I soon discovered these inconveniences were insignificant.

“What just happened?” I asked with a puzzled expression as I heard a “whump” and then the sound of metal dragging on the roadway as I fought for control of the car. “You hit a deer! exclaimed my husband.

What might have been

About a month ago around 7:30 on a dark Friday evening I was driving my husband and myself home from a relaxing dinner at one of our favorite restaurants. We were enjoying a pleasant conversation and were in no particular hurry to get home. We live near a lake and were approaching a bridge when out of nowhere a deer appeared.  The first and last thing I saw in that moment was its face in front of the headlight on the passenger side. After the impact, we were able to pull over to the side of the road and so did the car behind us. As we got out to assess the damage and comprehend what had just happened, a young man in his early twenties approached us.  He was on his way home and saw what had happened and wanted to make sure we were okay.  I could not help but notice how pleasant, reassuring, and kind spoken he was as he shined his flashlight at the damage on the car.  Once he realized we were okay he got back in his car and continued his drive home.

 

A day or two later the realization of just how lucky we were became visible in my mind. If the deer had been say eight or twelve more inches across the road the results of the impact would have been much worse.  Just eight or twelve more inches and my husband could have been injured since that is the side of the car that received the damage.  The impact of the hit might have thrown the deer up onto our windshield or into the path of other cars.

I also began to reflect on the effect it could have had on that kind young man. What if we had not been the car in front of him?  That deer would have probably been full body in front of his car in its quest to cross the road, and the results might have been devastating. That young man could have suffered grievous injury, or even death.

As I look at the big picture, we sustained minimal damage in a situation that could have ended in tragedy.  I have replayed the timing of those moments before and after the impact in my mind.  Perhaps God used us to be placed in the path of that deer, allowing us to take the hit because He still has plans for that young man.  I offer thanks to our Heavenly Father for the “what might have been” that was avoided.

When I was in my twenties, I felt somewhat invincible and I can only imagine that young man does as well.  He probably never gave the incident a second thought.  Probably never considered the “what might have been” if another car had not been in front of his that evening. I wish I could tell him I think God has big plans for him.

Be more than an “I love you”

I wrote this post last February and it is actually one of my favorites.  Since Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, I wanted to share it one more time:  

What does it mean to love someone or to be loved by someone?  Maybe it is the security of knowing that we occupy a place in someone else’s heart or the significance we hold in someone’s life.

Maybe it means that in spite of our silly oddities, our looks, and our imperfections someone can see us for who we are…..and they love us anyway.

We are someone who matters to somebody else.

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Once in a while the words “I love you” can be just that ~ words.

Over the years I have learned (sometimes the hard way) about love and relationships.  Not just in the romantic sense like the love I share with my spouse, but also the love I share with all my children and grandchildren, my BFF, my extended family, and other meaningful people in my life.

The most important thing I have learned is: It is the ACTION taken that can create the strength, emotion, and significance of those three simple words.

For example:

  • Supporting each other is essential in any relationship ~ marriage, parenting, friendships.  Have each other’s back.  Celebrate successes and comfort disappointments.
  • Respect one another because you each deserve the other’s respect.  Treat each other the way you wish to be treated as you express opinions, thoughts, dreams and desires ~ make these matter as much to you as it does to the other.
  • Be a safety net and refuge from the outside world.  A person you can always trust.  Strive to create an environment that is a welcoming place of comfort, joy and peace.
  • Commitment takes work, commitment is not easy, and commitment must become a priority. Become the “something that you want to last forever” every single day.
  • Forgive the forgotten item at the grocery store and forgive the forgotten birthday present. Forgive when the other lashes out because they are tired after working hard all day.
  • Forgive the other for not knowing what you needed when you really thought they would or should know. Forgive the other when they fall short even when you know they are trying their best. Forgive because no one is perfect.

Be More Than An “I Love You”