Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Its almost Wednesday, almost our 7th day in school. I appreciate Carrie Underwood wrote a song, "I Aint in Chechotah Anymore"

I wish I had the talent/know how to write a song that states I aint in the South Bronx anymore.

The injustice in our society has really hard today... more than I recall... I think about my classroom in the Bronx that was a storage room and cleaned out for 12 students. How the college students from Lubbock, TX called the classroom a subway box car... how excited the kids were when it was our turn to use the overhead projector. I recall the smell of rats in the classroom, kicking the doors to scare rats/mice, I recall the 1,300 students grades 2-6 saying the pledge in the main autorium, the late nights of lesson planning, and saying have a nice weekend as I knew students were headed to the shelters. I recall the fourth grade hall-- seven classrooms in the hall, each classroom had 36 desks, 36 chairs, and one computer. I recall 43 students going into the classroom- rotating from desk, to chair, to floor, having students share textbooks, and not having enough chalk to last the school year.

This school year I have 23 fourth graders throughout the day.. not all at once. I walk into my classroom with a smartboard, 22 student computers, 1 teacher computer and only 11 students to fill the chairs. As I look at the empty chairs I am reminded of the Aarons who lived in shelter 51 and would love to have a seat in this classroom or the Khalil who wanted to be a doctor but could not the get grades to be accepted into a KIPP. The faces of the 8 children sitting on the floor with a broken clipboard. How teachers plan/grade for 43 students at one time in all subject area and I teach/plan/grade for one subject. How spoiled I am to have a teacher work room, abundance of parental support, excess computers, and excess workbooks.

I love my job and would not trade this position for anything... well except to go back to the Bronx and be with 43 students crammed into a classroom that seat 36.

When teachers say I have no room for students and I ask if they want a clipboard, I am being sincere and I hear your concerns, please understand I am not in the South Bronx anymore.

So how do you define, "And justice for all?" 

Saturday, September 28, 2013

When the Bell Rings

Snuggling a newborn baby at the indoor water park my eyes were open to a brighter insight. On the third story of a the water tree house was a huge barrel. When the barrel started to get full a bell would ring. With each increasing inch of water the bell would ring faster and faster. Then the barrel would fall soaking feet across the water park.

When the bell began to ring I noticed two things: people would run towards the water area to get drenched or they would flee to a dry area. Mothers and fathers wanting to get drenched held their children on their shoulders or hips trying to get their children the best spot for what seemed like a water fun fest. Other parents, like myself took steps farther away and covered their child's face and eyes to protect them from the water.

As the bell rang I thought to myself, this is just like God's calling. God is calling all people to come to him to take a leap of faith to step out and lead to build HIS kingdom. How will respond? Will we respond like those trying to stay dry, flee for a dry area when we hear the bell and then take cover to ensure no part of us or our children get wet or will we hurry to ensure we don't miss 'the water fest'?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Indonesia has great business opportunities

Growing up I recall sitting around the Thanksgiving table and taking two corn kernels. We would go around the table and mention one thing that were grateful for and one thing we were looking forward to and then we would share a bible verse or passage that meant a lot to us at the current time.
If I had corn kernels in front of me I would praise God for my husband who gives and shares in so many ways and look forward to graduating with MA in another... 12 months. The passage that really sticks out with me this summer and today is Eph. 6:10. We all know the armor of God and could at least summarize passage if not quote it word-for-word. Have you really analyzed the verse 10, before it goes into each armor, The battle is not against flesh and blood, but against rulers of darkness. The battle before us is not to fight battles within the church or a battle of poor vs. rich. Our battle is against the rulers of good and evil. 
To be honest this school year I started to make choices that would benefit mostly my family here on earth rather than God's Kingdom. I am still making choices of staying in my comfort zone and making excuses not live out God given talents in Muskogee, OK.
It was interesting watching documentaries on Jewish people coming out of concentration camps and the challenges they faced with families, poverty, spiritual poverty, and how they were in a battle between flesh and blood (money, family, stability,)- when they were able to renew meir families or regain stable a living environment then most of them began going back to the synagogue. Similar to the Jews in Europe in 1940's the blacks in the United States were fighting similar battles- battles of the flesh and blood- worldly desires- instead of battles to further God's kingdom. Many blacks were denied rights, had to network with different races to survive and placed emphasis on getting feet back on track instead of carrying out the great commission. 
Take another subculture group, Sex Slaves, Sex slaves can be found in China Town, Nevada, or in hotels in your neighborhood. How can you tell these girls who have no place to lay in their own bed alone to come to come to Christ. How can a person really expect a 21 year old female to give up making $400 an hour to work for $10 an hour. They are fighting battles of the flesh- why sweat and stress for $10 an hour, if I decide to make less what happens if/when I return home.
I have stable home, I know I have all my physical needs met and my children are thriving in education and sports. We are focusing on spiritual battles- which I personally need to fight harder-- 
Taking information on Jewish history and black history, and sex slaves how do we teach them that the battles are not against flesh and blood but against rulers of the darkness (living a new life for God or living in sin with riches/fame)  How do they develop such relationships that demonstrate and share that  it is okay to take a huge pay cut to work in a better environment. Sacrificing families, riches, fame, and life as you know it is all worth it. 

I guess to put this into lay terms it would be like me telling you that Indonesia has a great business opportunities. To buy prime real estate building is only $5,000, the people are willing to work for $1.20 an hour, your US currency goes a lot farther, you will be successful in Indonesia if you leave life as you know it. 
How would you survive in Indonesia, How would you thrive? When would you begin to loose focus of the battle of flesh and blood and begin to focus on the battles of spiritual warfare? 

This scenario of moving to Indonesia is being faced everyday as we reach and disciple individuals other ethnicity, economic status, and backgrounds. 
How can the church be more of a common peer and less of a translator or business worker in Indonesia? 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Shadrach Meshach and Abendego Exceptional Children

The memory verse for the month of September is Joshua 1:9. We are studying Shadrach,Meshach, Abdendego in Bible. It just so happens our social studies covers a unit on communication.
As many teachers have realized its hard to find interactive bible lessons that hit all 5 senses and learning styles. So here is what I am teaching on Friday. 

After our morning movement and we begin "I love to Read" theme song reading from the book of Daniel (Read with me Daily). Go over the story by first talking about King Nebekenzer and the gold statue. Children will decorate a refrigerator box. When children hear the ring tone on my phone they will say "I worship God" (reaching hands from heart outward). They will go to the furnace- a box decorated with flames and looks hot- but its  not hot. King Nebekenzer (teacher) will take them out of the box and say with the children- I worship God. 
During each scene I will take photos on my phone- 1) portfolio  2) sequence of events file folder game 3) use as review cards.  We will talk about how the golden statue was made by people and how people were made by God to worship God. 
In transition I will use a yourtube video of VBS song Joshua 1:9. Children will use bananas, pretzel sticks, and skittles to create a person praising God- then eat it. Talk about ways we can praise God and communicate to God. This will lead us right into our social unit on ways to communicate (sounds we hear, books we read, music we listen to, and the choices we make). Which then leads us into science how God's creatures communicate- chirps, rain drops, barking ect..) 
After our morning break we will go into addition. 3 men plus 1 equals 4,  4+1 through 10. 
I am hoping to get everything done by 1:30 so we have plenty of time to watch Veggitales movie. 

Teaching exceptional children in a private school has many perks and benefits. I never knew how much I would enjoy it!! 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

When the tables turn

When I was a teenager I recall not wanting to go on family vacations or have birthday parties and put that time/money towards a short-term missions. I felt misunderstood a lot of times. Now that I am parent of tween I see both sides of the table.
I have been wanting to take my kids to visit my parents in Germany and we found some great deals this week. As I was talking to my boys about Germany saving money for blue books (passport) and buying school supplies as they go on sale; not the fancy pencils, fun erasers, just the simple cheaper things they need. My oldest son says mom we are still going to Honduras to teach the Bible right! Oooh how the tables have turned and I see so much of myself  in this little boy from Ethiopia. I can't tell him that we are not going to teach the Bible and I can't tell him that we can always go to Germany another time. However, I don't see how missing three weeks of school (2 for Germany and 1 for Honduras is beneficial.
 When I was  his age I would view it is as just school eternal life is more important. As a parent eternal life is vital importance but you also need to relate to others and learn the basics in school- especially 3rd grade (division, multiplication, fractions, time elapse, matter, geography) So as I support and encourage a tween in short term missions I can now understand the headache, balance, and joys of young missionaries. 
We are praying together for direction as we make travel to Germany and Honduras. If we can attend a family mission project to Honduras another year or God provides for both trips. 
In ones mind you can easily say go to Germany on a mission trip-- yeah alternative motives and I really don't see us going into the squatter areas providing lunches and sitting down with a group of children doing a sidewalk VBS in Frankfurt. 

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Finding Something Better: More than a Communion Meditation

This is the third time in the month of May I have misplaced my wallet. God used this time and gently tapped me on the shoulder and said slow down we need to reconnect. I slowed down spent time in prayer and mediation and then went about my day. Off and I on walked the same room searching for my wallet. As I searched I would find something else- Father's Day card a while back I forgot all about, Baby J's first class picture, a letter  my husband wrote to me about a year ago. Again God put his hands on my shoulder and said if you search you may fins something greater and better than what you intended.
This evening I took for a walk as usual only this time I was thinking of people who have touched my life and no longer on earth: Tanya, Ken, David, Brooks, Papa, Grandma/Grandpa Cooper. I usually don't have these ideas in my head but for some reason this is what came to mind.
When the kids and husband were all asleep I viewed my quiet with God so much differently tonight. The devotional question was, "Have you ever experienced a moment of intense sorrow? How does this feeling effect you physically/emotionally? Spiritually?"
Wow, God you have been preparing me for this quiet time all day.   As I read Mt. 26:36-45 and Mk 14:32-42
I picture Jesus in a familiar place with his friends. This is the place where they share wow moments/tell your mama jokes, and share highlights/downsides of their day. However, this usual place is not so usual anymore. Jesus pulls aside his best buddies and cries.
If you ever lost a close loved one its not just tears and sniffles... When I lost grandparents, close friends I sobbed and had a hard time catching my breath. Eyes, wet shirt, red face you could not hide the fact that you were crying.
In this passage Jesus is overwhelmed to the point of death. I picture Jesus face down surrounded by fresh olives hanging on trees and olives fallen on the ground. I see Jesus in fetal position crying outloud unable to control himself tears pouring down his face, his face is red, eyes are puffy, his hands are covered in tears/eyelashes, his nose is all runny, his legs are too weak to stand, and he is shaking like  a leaf. In the midst of the confusion, battle between human desires and desires of HIS father he cries out to God in between his sobs, in between wiping his nose/eyes and begs and cries for strength and guidance maybe even some kind of motivation to follow through what God has stored up for Jesus in these final hours. I would imagine Jesus said the same words over and over (maybe like some of us do when we mourn a love one).
I love Luke 22:43 "An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened HIM". Jesus went before God with tears/snot/sweat (not one bit attractive on the outside) knowing God would answer his cry for help.

I learned a lot from misplacing my wallet.. again: 1) When you search for something you are sure to find something better. If it were not for loosing my wallet I would not have slowed down... to spend extra minutes this morning preparing me for something greater this afternoon. 2) I really picked up on who cares about outward appearance in time with God its your heart that matters. God does not mind spending time with you in your PJ's and morning breath its your attitude in your heart that matters. 3) Know God will hear and answer your cry for help. I can see/hear Jesus calling out in a confused overwhelmed state of mind. Phrases may have been repeated, loud AAA with no verbal meaning but God understands hearts and answers our call for help.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Desperate calls and measures

For the past seven years my son has not eaten vegetables, fruits, or red meat. His last red meat was at age two when he used to like raviolis. Not sure what happen but at 30 months he would not touch anything green, red, or brown. He was to the point of only eating cereals and oatmeal for breakfast and then starving himself the remaining of the day unless chicken nuggets or grilled cheese was served. (I'm not the kind of mom that fixes a different meal for each person- get what I make or go hungry) That is exactly what my first son did for six moths until the doctor was going to hospitalize him for his weight. The doctor said feed the child whatever he wants but don't force him to eat. At age 4 he was still living on PBJ, grilled cheese, and chicken nuggets. The doctor said it was faze and would grow out of it around his 5th birthday.
My son is now seven and a half. We have been through three pediatricians not one of them checking his iron, heart valves, or sugar level... no matter how many times I asked. Finally I found a pediatrician who checked his iron and is monitoring his diet. My son is back on only foods I cook (chili, hamburger, chicken, and tuna sandwiches) and no tea/caffeine. So far in the past 50 hours he has eaten Kix cereal for breakfast, drank water, and a sip of juice, and taken his iron medication. Again we are not to fight to make him eat but just offer high iron foods to him.

As I was packing lunches for my family to take to Tulsa workshop I opened a can of pinto beans and mixed peanut butter in with the beans and used this substance (pinto beans/peanut butter) to create a high iron peanut butter sandwich. Will he eat it... I have no idea yet but anxious to fin out. As I was making this substance and smelling (not daring to taste it) to see if the color and smells blended in I thought, is this cruel to do my child? While talking to myself I came to the conclusion if I did not do this his anemia would only get worst. (yes, it took pediatrician #4 to take his blood and diagnosis him)

Knowing my child's diet effects his heart, activity level, emotional level, and blood cells I try not to let him see my fears and concerns but loving provide him with high iron meals and then sadly putting it all in the trash. I can't force my child to eat only encourage him.

I think this is what God saying to the broken world- I can't make you drink water that gives hope, eternal life, and bread that feeds a soul longing for rest and joy. God says my child it is here for whenever you want it and how ever much you want. God is not forcing his children to eat or drink (the word of God) but only placing and holding it their in front of us longing for us to take hold of the substance our souls long for.

My son does not realize his body needs iron, minerals, and vitamin C. As a parent I know what he needs and I know how he can get it but I can't force it on him. I have to wait patiently for him to come and take the his body needs and wait and wait... it's hard and I do concerns so out of desperate measure I mix pinto beans in a sandwich hoping to get the vitamins and iron he needs.

I can only imagine how much more God's heart is broken when his children don't eat/drink of the bread of life. God may have to provide experiences and challenging times to force us to eat of His food in order for us to live and breathe. God may not mix pinto beans into a PBJ or yellow corn into a grilled cheese sandwhich but He may take away some form of security to remind us to come and eat and the food HE has provided.