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Friday, March 27, 2009

The Gingerbread Man

Here's a quickie for the hard core addicts who freak when I'm off-line for long.

Read "The Gingerbread Man" to my students today. I had never paid attention to the stages of the poor cookie's demise. He's escaping danger, comes to a river and takes the easy way across - the fox. Could have run downstream till he found a bridge, hidden from the crowd following him, begged for mercy, climbed a tree ...but no.... he took the first solution available. He started out on the fox's tail - far away from the mouth. Just a tiny flirt with danger. Then afraid of getting wet, he moves to the fox's back. Then to the fox's head, then SNAP - right into the fox's mouth. Yummy! I also noticed that every step of the way, the fox coaxed him with false assurances of safety.

For me, this is typically how sin begins...I'm just riding on the tail....I usually know that it's a bad choice, but I fully plan to escape before I get consumed. But temptation is a tricky coaxes you into one small step at a time until you suddenly realize that you are in way over your head. This is why God warns us so often about avoiding temptation.

The easiest way to keep from getting eaten is to stay away from the fox.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

When I Grow Up

I sort of fell of into teaching unintentionally. I had many other career plans as a child and teenager which included, but were not limited to:

1. (age 3) - Wonder Woman - loved the show. Wore my wonder woman underoos all the time with my brother's wrist bands. Turned in circles like Linda Carter, but just could not figure out why I never did morph into a super hero.

2. (age 4-5) - Bob Barker Beauty - went through a phase of watching the Price's Right with my mom and desperately wanted to be a sexy, glamorous model that demonstrated prizes on a game show. I especially liked the red dresses and high heels that they wore.

3. (age 6-7) - Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader - cause all the other little girls wanted to be one. And they were really pretty.

4. (age 8-9) - Country Singer - Loved Reba, Loretta Lynn, Patsy Cline, The Judds, Dolly Parton...sang along with every song on the radio....knew them all by heart....could do the nasal twang with the best of them....just not on key!

5. Late elementary through high school - doctor (pediatrician) - cause they made tons of money, lived in nice houses, and got to help people - but also considered alternative of medical mission work in Africa or other developing country.

I considered lots of other options such as: movie star when I went through my acting phase, model when I went through my anorexic stage, accountant when I was winning accounting competitions in high school, being a secret agent cause that would be cool, and you could shoot a gun, and look sexy all at the same time. However, when the moment came to make the big decision I had to consider my options realistically. Obviously many of these choices were quite silly, that would be why those of you who know my ordinary self are laughing so hard right now.

I choose to become a teacher primarily because of convenience. Good hours, great vacations, very portable career for the ministry, and you got to work with and help people. Over the years, I have often regretted my choice and wished I had stuck with the whole superhero idea :) It couldn't be any tougher!

But days like today, I am thankful that for this moment in time I am what I am. You see, today a group of children who were barely reading in September hit the magic reading level 18. That's the exit number for first grade. That means that I have 2 reading groups who are now on second grade level and only 2 groups left to go. That's huge! It's days like today that I remember that I am permanently changing lives. I am teaching children to read. It's hard work, very stressful and frustrating. But it is also incredibly rewarding. There is no way to describe it adequately.

I still hope that I get to change careers in some way before too many more years fly by. I just can't see me teaching first grade for the 27 years I have left until I qualify for retirement. But for today, it was good.

Monday, March 23, 2009

I just wanted my donkeys, thanks

Shawn beat me to this in the world of twitterdom, but I'm still going to blog about it. So there! It was my idea first.

Last night we were reading 1 Samuel 9. This is the story of Saul becoming king. Here's the condensed LaRissa translation. Saul and his servant lose their donkeys. SERIOUSLY! How do you lose those? They are pretty big and important. Anyway, they scrape together enough change to go see a prophet and pay for a prophecy about where their donkeys could be. Cause this is important! Lost transportation and possibly supplies. Somebody's gonna be in big trouble when they get home if they don't find the donkeys and soon!

Saul and the servant come to a town where the prophet Samuel is. They meet with him. Samuel tells Saul, "The future of our nation is in your hands." What? He just wanted his donkeys back. Oh yeah, and Samuel told him where to find those, too. Saul spends the night at Samuel's house and finds out more about the future God has planned for him.

My thoughts on this....How many times do I go to God hunting my "donkeys" (whatever they may be) and walk away with something totally different than what I was looking for? It's like God takes advantage of whatever circumstances send me seeking after His wisdom and presence and communicates the message He needs me to hear. Lots of times it has nothing to do with what I approached God looking for. It's always much better.

Back to Saul....Can you imagine this....

Saul: "I lost my donkeys."
Samuel: "Hmmm....want to be king?"

Cool that we serve a God who cannot be predicted, tamed, or explained!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Monday Morning 3.23.09

Love worshipping at The Crossroads. I don't know how I managed to wind up in a church with such incredible people. It still seems so foreign to absolutely love church. To count down the days till I get to go again. This is what living a life of faith should be about. I have enjoyed much of ministry in the past, but not like this. I don't have any good explanation for the difference other than the outreach mindset and the lack of expectations placed on me. There is very little pressure to be "the first lady", and I feel free to explore who it is God wants me to be without any one else's expectations confining me.

Shawn preached another sermon about finances. This is an area where I have grown slack since going to work. For years when I was at home and we had no money, we had no debt and lived on a very tight budget. Then I went to work and two things happened. 1. I don't have time to mess with the finances like I used to and it is very easy to get screwed up if you don't stay on top of things. 2. Somewhere in my mind is the thought "you went to work so you could afford to buy things you want....go deserve it." So we ended up with way too much credit card debt. Good news....since January I've eliminated nearly half of this debt....We are less than two years away from being out from under our credit cards.

I am not a worrier. In general, I work really hard, do my best, and leave the rest up to God. But when it comes to finances, I am a worrier. Today Shawn said "Worry is living like an atheist."

So this sermon makes me uncomfortable. At least in the Pillow Talk sermons I felt like I was doing a pretty good job. Seriously, I know that God needs my family to make some spending changes and some of those begin with me. God's been talking to me several months now about living like every dime I have has a kingdom purpose and figuring out the best way to use my resources. But then I get busy and let it slide to the back of my mind and keep all my spending habits in place.

Worship set was good again today.
Opener: Father, Spirit, Jesus (Casting Crowns)
Middle set: My Savior, My God (Aaron Schust)
Audience of One (Big Daddy Weave)
Nothing Without You (Bebo Norman)
Closing: I will lift my eyes (Bebo Norman)

I enjoy playing with the band. As the months roll by, we develop better abilities to predict what the other members are going to play, and it just keeps improving. We have a big gig coming up at the Glow Fest in Anna on Memorial Day weekend. I am looking forward to the excuse to have to practice extra. It's just fun.

Seven days left till we get to worship together again.