True North

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A star peers through my window as I drive.  It is luminous, and for the past few nights it has been capturing my notice…almost calling me to pay attention.  Whispering a message through its repeated appearances throughout the countryside, I pull over to listen. I gaze at the seemingly stationary star, and as I do, I think about the old world ships which navigated uncharted oceans by starlight.  While there were no maps for the sea, the sky was charted in great detail.  With the North Star as a guide to true north, all the other directions were easily discernable.  Find Polaris, and you could find your way.  When the captains needed direction, they looked up.

Sitting under the tutelage of my star instructor, I get the message as clearly as the night sky. When my world is off balance or when things are unclear, I need to find my true north.  If I fix my eyes on the stresses and uncertainties of my life, I will get lost in the darkness.  There is a vast sea all around me that is not marked and the only way to navigate it is to look up, and keep my eyes on the one who knows me better than I know myself…the one who created the star he uses to instruct.  Suddenly, I find courage that hadn’t been there moments before.  It rises up, like the heavenly hosts above me as I gaze into the night sky.  I realize I cannot lose my way when I depend on him and therefore, I commit to fix my eyes on the Lord, who is my true north.

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It occurs to me then that I am not the only one who needs this reminder.  Our world is divided.  Our friends and families are tearing one another apart.  There is chaos. Negativity oozes off of screens and into the streets. Disrespect has a stronghold.  It seems a storm is brewing and the future is uncertain.  The swells are growing bigger on the ocean and we have lost our way.  We have forgotten that the sea is uncharted, but the map we need has been provided. We have only to look up to the heavens to find our bearings and remember where we are. One star of hope directs us. He is the unchanging one…the one who is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  As long as we can see him, the waves can churn and crash all around us, but we will not lose our way.  We can fix our eyes on him and find the courage we need to get us through the storms and darkness. The Ancient of Days is not movable by the whims of men.  The rest of creation revolves around his stability and faithfulness.  Sometimes the winds blow hard, and other times the sea is like glass.  He is not surprised by either, nor is he moved from his throne in the heavens. He has not forgotten or abandoned us.  We need only look up at our star instructor to remember how to find our true north.  From there, courage leads us home.

Teaching Respect

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Pointers for Parents are regular SHORT inspirations to bring hope and encouragement to parents. I hope to build a bridge between parents and teachers as it pertains to the education of children and how we can work together for the betterment of our kids.

Respect seems to have gone the way of the dinosaur in recent years. In all areas of our society, there is less and less of it as people clamor to have their own voices heard. These voices are getting louder and louder at the expense of common courtesy. Ears seem to be stopped up and consideration for what others think and feel is at an all-time low. This concerns me as both a parent and a teacher because our children are watching.  My question is what are they learning?

The word respect is defined in this way: courteous or considerate treatment of others due to personal worth.  If you break the word down into its parts, the re- means to do again, and –spect means to look at.  In Latin, it means to look at again. In regards to other people, it means to contemplate, or consider other views in a way that is courteous and considerate. It is not what we are witnessing at this time in history.

So how can parents teach their children to be respectful in a day when it is not the “in” thing to do? Here are a few ideas.

  • Show respect. This may seem pretty basic, but children learn by watching you.  Of all the people in their lives YOU as the parent have the most influence on their behavior.  If you are respectful, they will be too.
  • Do not yell at the TV. I know, I know…this may seem like an impossible thing, but you can do it.  Really you can.  Instead of venting your frustrations loudly, try having a conversation with your child that is respectful of those you oppose.
  • Have discussions. It is hard to be respectful if you have no idea what the word means.  So have discussions and talk about respect, what it is, and what it is not.  Do not depend on other people in your child’s life to teach them this important life skill. Show them how to identify it.  Show them how to practice it.
  • Ask questions. Each day, check in with your child.  How were you respectful today?  Did you witness or participate in any disrespectful behavior?  How could you have done it differently to still express yourself but in a way that does not put down others who are different than you? What do you do when you see disrespect at school or in the community?  How can you turn things around?
  • Pay attention.  When you are on the phone, pay attention to the conversation your children are hearing.  They are always listening.  This does not mean you have to pretend to agree with everything all the time, but it does mean you need to demonstrate what healthy debate and disagreement looks like. Your interactions with the people throughout your day are their examples.  Your talk around the dinner table sets the standard.  You are their role model, make yourself a good one. Otherwise, they will find one you may not like.

Respect should not be a difficult subject to teach our children, yet it seems to be in short supply. We need to be intentional in our efforts.  It does not start at the White House, or at school, or on the television.  It starts at home.  It is time to look again… at respect.

An Interlude

IMG_3519.jpgFrom my first footfall, the tension I had been carrying in my shoulders started to evaporate.  As my steps continued across the bridge, the water rushing underneath transported my cares away from me like white water over the rocks.  I paused to breathe it in.  Fresh air caressed my lungs, and the slight breeze tousled my hair as if to welcome me home.  The sun shone down, filtered through the bare branches of winter trees, who seemed a bit confused by this 70 degree February weather. A few buds were evident on otherwise stark skeletons.

Muscle memory took my legs over rocks and roots, and once it kicked in, my mind began to clear of the incessant worry that has taken up residence in the past month.  The crows overhead laughed together as my countenance began to change.  It was as if they could read my mind and were overjoyed to see the smile appear at the corners of my mouth.  A red cardinal crossed the path in front of me in pursuit of his wife.  She stayed just enough ahead of him to keep him interested, and the two chattered like an old married couple might do. On the lake there were diamonds flung across the surface, dazzling in the late afternoon sun, and a family of mallards was calmly making their way across the water.  The v rippling behind them cut through the glassy shimmer, giving away that their legs under the surface were working furiously, even as they appeared to glide smoothly on the top.

Soon I was in my usual rhythm making note of all the changes since last I walked the lake.  Like a reunion with a dear friend whom I haven’t seen in a while, I noticed newly downed trees, fresh gravel, and underbrush that has been cut back over the winter.  I thought, “Wow.  You look different! How long has it been since we have seen one another?”  In response the wind whispered, “Too long.”  And the wind was right.  It has probably been months since I last had a good trip around the lake, and it shows in the load I have been carrying, but with each step it got lighter. Half way around and I was practically skipping.  My heartrate increased with the exertion.  My heart was applauding and thanking me for this long overdue interlude from daily stresses. It continued its ovation until I stopped at the end, for a rest on a picnic table.

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By the time I made it there, my body was weary but stress free, my mind was empty of the “what ifs” that plague it in hard times, and I was at peace.  This allowed me to lie back and listen to the forest like hearing a great song on the radio or a classical symphony…only better.  The concrete table was cool on my overheated back.  The pine trees above me looked like pinwheels with branches that stuck out in a circular pattern. The sun was starting its descent which made the breeze a bit chilly, and that made my cool down go quickly. If I had started earlier in the day this would have been a nap, instead I soaked in the beauty until I got too chilled to stay any longer.

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Why is it that when things get difficult the first thing I cut out of my life is the thing that helps me most?  I will never understand how rapidly I forget the benefits of hiking when I am stressed.  I know that time is the real reason.  In seasons of stress, the urgent takes precedence and there is nothing that can change that really. You do what you have to do. However, now that things are a small bit settled, there is nothing stopping me.  Closing my eyes, I could hear the babbling brook calling me to come and stick my feet in, before my departure back to real life.  “It’s February.  When will you ever get to creek-walk in February?” it called.  I smiled and said, “Another time. Maybe, when I come back… tomorrow.”

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True Love

love.jpgLove does not always look like roses, chocolates, and candlelight.  It is deeper than that.  In fact, until the storms of life come along, I would say that love isn’t tested.  New love is more infatuation than sacrifice.  Do not get me wrong, there is a glorious awakening of the heart when new love blooms.  It is why we celebrate Valentine’s Day, why we write songs, poems, and stories about it. It is the feeling which movies portray as “the real thing.” All of us who are romantics, rush to watch lighthearted love play out on the screen. We go to weddings and smile as big as the groom does when the bride walks down the aisle.  We see young lovers who glow while gazing into one another’s eyes, and we remember our own whirlwinds of the heart. It warms and fills us with good feelings.  Yet, this type of affection is a beginning…a glorious one…a fun one…but still only a beginning.

Anyone who has been married for any length of time can tell you that the romance fades if you don’t stoke the fire.  Even with intentional effort it is sometimes difficult, simply because life gets busy. Careers, kids, and all kinds of activities fill up the spaces that used to be reserved for only the two of you.  Still, love grows.  The pace slows down, but the roots begin to spread out and encompass more ground.  This expansion enlarges the heart.  If caution is observed not to spread too thin, the busy seasons create a love that appreciates the little things.  Things like quiet.  And sleep.  And Saturday morning pancakes.

Then hardships come along.  If love is to survive, the roots have to go deep. This is where you learn that true love = sacrifice.  Hardship in a marriage is the crucible of fire that burns away the dross and purifies the love.  It is not easy, nor is it pretty.  It doesn’t usually come with warm fuzzy feelings, but it is real just the same.  Not every love survives the fire, because it takes two people willing to surrender.   It is beyond personalities and common interests.  It is spirit to spirit contact where hanging on to one another is the only way to make it through.  This results in a bond that is too deep for words to explain.  This kind of love hurts.  It is an ongoing choice, which is worth all the effort and heartache.  It may not sound too desirable, and you won’t find to many people lining up to be included in the hardship line, but the result is a love story of epic proportions…the kind of love that endures. It is not blown around by the winds.  It does not crumble with changes.  It is steadfast.  It is true.  It is more romantic than a card or a fancy dinner.  It is a deep love, with roots that hold it steady in the storms.  It is a gift, for which I am grateful every day.

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Don’t Forget Who You Are

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Tidbits for Teachers are regular SHORT inspirations to bring hope and encouragement to teachers in all settings.  I hope to give you a shot in the arm and remind you why you chose this career in the first place.

Are you bogged down yet?  Are the looming test scores causing you to lose sleep?  I thought so.  As teachers, it is difficult not to allow those scores to haunt you in the back of your mind. Even when you are unaware of it, they are in the shadows of the corners.  This is because you are conscientious. You have the desire for every one of your students to succeed, not just on a test, but in life.  It also doesn’t help much that your job depends on their scores, and that their scores depend on so much more than just what you teach during the school day.  But rather than focus on all the pressure of upcoming testing, and all that you have yet to teach, I want to focus on what is true about most teachers I know.

  • You are both passionate and compassionate.
  • You work extremely hard.
  • You love teaching.
  • You are good at what you do.
  • You teach and reteach not because you have to, but because your students succeed when you do.
  • You truly want them to get it.
  • You know more about your subject area than most people.
  • You know that content is only a small part of educating children.
  • You recognize that teaching life skills, and social skills will take them further than content ever will.
  • You find a way to love even the difficult-to-love students.
  • You spend more of your own money on your classroom than you should.
  • You endure the difficult parts of your job for the privilege of working with kids.
  • You sit through meetings that question your worth, and you take it all personally.
  • You get up and try to jump through whatever the new hoop is, in order to keep doing what you love.
  • You tune out all the voices everywhere that point fingers at you as the problem with education.
  • You rise every morning before the sun to prove that you are NOT the problem.
  • You pray for someone somewhere to listen to you.
  • You keep going even when they don’t.
  • You are resilient.
  • You are tough.
  • You are strong.
  • You are the most determined group of people on the planet.
  • You are amazing.

You are a teacher.  It is who you are to the core. Go and teach your heart out, and know that you have given it your all.  Hold your head high.  Stand firm in your knowledge that you are doing all that you can.  Rest in the fact that there is nothing more you could give.  You have left every ounce of effort on the battle field. On testing days be confident of that.  Then pray that your students will also give every ounce of their own effort.  In the weeks between now and testing, pray that your example of giving it all would inspire them to do the same. Be assured that confidence is caught more than it is taught.  Know that you are good enough, and they will know it too.

What I Know

michelle-in-front-of-yonahI sit here, not knowing what to write.  My newsfeeds are full of political statements.  My friends are on both sides of the aisle.  Many are yelling at one another and I am taken by the polar opposite opinions, each saying the exact same thing about the opposing side.  The names I hear, are liar, bigot, hater, idiot…and some not as nice as those.  Each is convinced that the names they are using are correct, that they are the ones who see things clearly, and that the fog of deception is resting over the eyes of those simple minded fools on the other side.

The thing is, I don’t feel that anyone is simple minded, on either side.  I think every person has valid reasons for their opinions. The miles and miles they have walked in their own shoes have colored their world a certain way. They have not walked in the shoes of another, so they cannot possibly understand things from a different viewpoint.  Disrespecting others viewpoints is not very becoming.  I also do not believe that solving our country’s problems is a simple matter, otherwise they would have been solved by now. It is not as simple as voting in one party or another.  It is not as simple as slashing laws, banning things, or creating new policies.  Both sides have tried this technique, and neither has succeeded in unifying our severely divided country.  We are more polarized than ever, and most folks I know on both sides are deeply concerned about that fact.  Yet, most of us are also passionate about our varying positions, and refuse to consider another point of view other than our own.  It is a conundrum.

I am afraid of where all this self-righteousness will lead us. Our righteousness is as filthy rags…so the Bible says.  Superiority is never a flattering character trait.  In my experience, it requires a bringing low…a humbling.  Humiliation is never fun, in my own life, God has found it necessary at times to show me that his ways are not my ways. Usually, this requires circumstances beyond my control, which bring me to a place of desperate prayer on my knees.  Shocker of shockers, he doesn’t actually need me or my opinions to run the universe!  Nor does he need the United States of America to fulfill his purposes on the Earth. I know that statement is heresy to many, but it is the truth.  We are tiny dots on a small planet hanging in space, and our ideas which say we are more important than that are incorrect. We just need to settle down and think on that for a minute.  Deep breaths. Our lifetimes are but a second…a mist that is gone before the blink of the eye of eternity.  Governments rise and fall…only love lasts beyond human structures…because it is NOT human. It is beyond our capacity to stop it.  Thank God for that!

You may have noticed I do usually not do political statements, or blogs.  There is a reason for that.  I know the passion with which beliefs are held. I respect that passion because it shows care.  If you are a passionate person you are a caring person and you feel your convictions deeply. I am aware that I cannot change a person’s mind on any issue. I do not find the need to vent my own opinions to the world and receive hate mail in return.  I do however, feel pretty passionately on certain issues myself.  In my own household, we run from one extreme to the other. We have to set a limit on how much political talk can happen at family gatherings.  We are all learning to hold our tongues to some degree, but also how to listen to one another.  We have not yet mastered the art of listening with an open heart, to actually consider where we might be mistaken in our own views. We are working on that and will be, as far as I can tell, well into the future.

Education has always been one of my passions and therefore, I cannot always keep silent.  I am trying to wrap my head around the appointment of Betsy Devos.  I cannot understand how this will be a good thing, and I feel pretty strongly about this for a number of reasons, which I will not elaborate on here. Instead, I will try to think positive, and hope that such a huge change might be the impetus to bring the changes our schools so desperately need. Yet, even in typing those words I feel a knot in my gut that says otherwise. Time will tell. However, rather than argue and rant and rave over an issue I cannot change, I want to emphasize what I know.

I know that:

  • Teachers love their students.
  • Teachers will always teach, no matter who is in charge or what is changed.
  • Teachers are passionate people, who use their passion as fuel to do the best job they can.
  • Teachers care for ALL students, and that will be true no matter what happens.
  • Teachers desire the best for schools.
  • Teachers have strong opinions about what that looks like, and will vote accordingly.
  • Teachers are bold.
  • Teachers are some of the hardest working people you will meet.
  • Teachers feel called to their profession.
  • Public schools reach every child, because in the U.S. we believe education is vital to alleviating poverty and creating caring citizens.
  • Public schools bring hope to those children who don’t have much hope at home.
  • Public schools help families to help their children.
  • Public schools are compassionate places.
  • Public schools bring learning to life.
  • Public schools are inclusive.
  • Public schools teach life skills.
  • Students in poverty need public schools and caring teachers.
  • Students mature and grow in classrooms.
  • Students learn how to be a part of a community in school.
  • Students master content.
  • Students make friendships and learn to relate to others.
  • Students see what compassion looks like.
  • Students grasp hard concepts.
  • Students believe in themselves, when they accomplish learning.

Are our schools perfect?  Absolutely not.  Any teacher, parent, or student can tell you that. However, learning takes place in classrooms and it always will.  So while things in Washington change and the wind blows in new directions, know that teachers will not stop teaching.  Schools will go on, and students will continue to learn. No matter what happens.

Heart Friends

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Sometimes you just need time with your heart friends.  I have been blessed beyond measure in the heart friend department.  Every season of my life has its own set of people who live in my soul.  They know me.  They get me. I have found that when things seem upside down in life, heart friends can set things right again.  Yesterday, we had a 2-hour-lunch-turned-6-hour-visit with some of our tribe from college.  There was laughter.  There were stories.  Memories were in abundance.  Updates were shared all around.  It was like a shot in the arm.  It boosted our spirits, and bolstered our courage.  It reminded us all of who we are, and where we came from.

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These are the kind of relationships that pick up as if no time has passed, though to see us, you can definitely tell that it has.  Our hair has grayed, or disappeared altogether.  We’ve added wrinkles and pounds, but the spark that bonded us all those years ago still resides within our eyes and smiles when we are together.  The joy of sitting and spending time together is nourishment for our spirits.  Berry College has always been its own little world; we even call it the Berry Bubble.  But its uniqueness wasn’t just the beautiful campus, it was the people who shaped our lives while we were there, from professors, to work supervisors, to the other students all around us.  It was a formative time in our lives filled with the adventure of spreading our wings for the first time.

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Now, we exchange aging parent stories, plan the upcoming weddings of our children, and discuss possible career changes in our 50’s.  We go back to our core beliefs and question what following God looks like at this stage of life, and in this cultural climate so different from the years that have passed.  We laugh at not understanding Netflix or participating in social media, because we realize we sound like our own parents.  We find that we care less about so much of what we thought was important back then. We swap life changing moments, be they health related or otherwise, that have allowed us eyes to see in new ways.  A theme arises that freedom comes when you learn to let things go.  We are wiser now, but still in need of people in our lives who remember us from the beginning, before careers, before children, before marriage even.  Back to when we were hashing out our belief systems, discovering our values, and pursuing education in our prospective fields of study. Back to days of ultimate Frisbee, air bands, saunas, antique grandfather clocks, catacombs, broken jaws, kidnappings, and reflection pools.  Back to when we prayed together, studied the Bible, and worshiped fully, under the arch, until the presence of God was so strong it was tangible in our midst. Full hearts. Even now, when the time comes to say goodbye and return to our lives, we linger for hours, desiring to bask in the acceptance and soak in the heart connection that comes from souls knitted together by shared experience. When we do finally break the spell, we leave with smiles and a lighter step because we have been with those we love.  Bonds like these cannot be broken.  They stand the test of time… just like heart friends.

Web vs. Cocoon

michelle-in-front-of-yonahI have always been intrigued by spider webs.  They are so delicate, yet so strong.  The intricacy is breathtaking…a work of art really.  To think that an eight-legged creature created a web that lasts through storms and catches its food boggles my mind.  I have walked through enough spider webs when hiking to know that they are sticky.  They wrap around my face, and anyone watching me would think I was a crazed karate champion from the way I move to try to get them off of me.  Something about the idea that I might have a spider in my hair makes me more than a bit uncomfortable.  Yet, when I chance to see a web before I walk through it, I observe the detail in awe.  I have been known to allow a web to stay outside a window so my kids could safely watch the process and life of a spider.  We would watch the making of the web, and how the spider can walk on the tiny little threads even though any other bug would get stuck.  We saw the spider sit to the side feeling for vibrations and waiting for its meal to arrive. We watched it spin its prey into a cocoon-like formation with great skill and dexterity.  Sadly, we even watched the prey slowly cease to struggle and eventually give in to its fate, while the spider cherished its conquest.  It was a learning experience to see how diligently a spider takes care of its web, because in truth, the web is its life.  From building it, to patching it, to all the waiting and then a burst of diligent activity a spider is an amazing, though deadly, creature.

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Then there is the caterpillar, which is another amazing creature. How many of those have I captured in jars to attempt to watch the life cycle? Eating until they have had enough, then spinning their own web of sorts.  They hang out in there, but instead of a death trap, as with the spider, their cocoon is a place of transformation.  Truly a place of rest where they allow nature to do its thing.  When the time is right, there is a great struggle to get out of that small capsule of change. In my childhood all my caterpillars died from being in captivity, so my own children were required to release them after a few hours of observation.  Instead we went to the butterfly house at Calloway Gardens to see them up close. It takes longer than a child’s attention span will allow for a butterfly to be “born.” But if you had the time, you could watch them push and move against the outer shell of the cocoon until it breaks open and they climb out.  They hang there, waiting for the blood to fill their wings and eventually they spread them out to dry, and then finally take flight.   It is another beautiful process which nature uses to instruct me.

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So what is the difference between the cocoon of death, and the cocoon of life? Both are used for survival.  Both are spun by bugs.  Both are strong enough to prevent movement and escape.  Yet, one produces a butterfly and the other produces a corpse.  One is a death trap and the other is a place of new life.  The difference is that the caterpillar selects a hidden place, and then waits. It does not strive, or toil within its shelter.  Transformation happens at the appointed time.  Release comes through struggle and freedom follows.  The spider, on the other hand, lives in survival mode, always.  Checking the web, and continuously struggling to keep it intact.  It produces a web that entices its prey and traps it.  It is constantly working and even at rest, it is waiting to pounce upon whatever creature happens into its web next.

I prefer to be a caterpillar in a world full of spiders.  I want to hide myself away within the cocoon of God’s love for me, knowing that at the right time transformation will happen and I will fly.  I do not have a desire to be on constant look out, nor do I want to build a web in which to trap things.  It is too much work to keep such intricacy intact.  I cannot bring myself to create corpses so that I might live.  I refuse to suck the life out of others, but choose instead to allow God to nourish my soul. I choose life over death, freedom over lies. Many would argue that the spider has all the power, and to some degree that may be true, but the caterpillar has all the freedom, and to me, it is worth the wait.

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Winter Blahs

piles of books.jpgPointers for Parents are regular SHORT inspirations to bring hope and encouragement to parents. I hope to build a bridge between parents and teachers as it pertains to the education of children and how we can work together for the betterment of our kids.

A new year is a new start.  It is true for us as adults, and it is true for students as well.  Actually the time between Christmas and Spring Break is some of the most intense instruction, interrupted only by a snow day or two here and there. Ask any teacher and they will tell you that the main thing they hope for during these winter months is uninterrupted instructional time.  It is fast and furious, and to get every standard in before testing, is a challenge even if every minute is used properly.  For parents it is a season to double down and help your child to set some new goals regarding schoolwork.  Otherwise, spring fever starts early.  Yikes!  Here are some pointers for getting the most out of the winter months and avoid the winter blahs.

  • Have your child in school all day, every day. That may sound like common sense, but you would be surprised and how tempting it is to sleep in on a cold morning, or to check out early for an appointment that could have been scheduled after hours.  In winter there are sniffles in the air, or they plain just don’t feel like doing schoolwork. Even homeschool kids who have more flexibility as to when they do schooling seem to lose motivation in the dreary winter days.  Sit down and make a commitment with your child to attend (mentally as well as physically) EVERY SINGLE DAY.
  • Reiterate time management. When the projects, tests, and assignments ramp up in intensity it is time to have a plan of action.  Whether you use an agenda or some other system of scheduling, remember you can schedule academics as well as extracurricular activities.  When there is a paper due, you can back it up and put rough draft on the calendar a few days before the paper is due.  Then put complete research on the calendar a week before that. This is essential for projects as well. By backing things up and getting them written down your child will learn time management which is a critical life skill.
  • Create organization. By this time of year, the folders, binders, and notebooks are a mess.  What started as a fresh system of order has likely degenerated to a backpack full of loose papers with no rhyme or reason. Take all that stuff out and start over.  Throw out papers that are no longer needed.  Get your subjects back in the correct notebooks.  Organize your work space at home as well.  Replenish office supplies like paper, pencils, glue, and make sure you know where the scissors are.  Disorganization disrupts time management by creating a crisis of not knowing where things are and having to stop everything to find the necessary supplies before the work can even start.
  • Be supportive. That means encouraging your student by helping them stay on top of assignments.  It means helping the teacher to help your child by making sure homework is completed and makes its way back to the book bag.  That means paying attention to work that comes home and going over it with your child.  Celebrate the good scores and review the reasons for the bad ones.  It may look different between private, public and homeschool environments, but all kids are the same and need the care and support of their families.

Being engaged in your child’s education doesn’t mean you take the responsibility from them, it means you find ways to gradually transfer the ownership of their learning to them.  After all, you don’t want to be going to college with them to make sure they get their work accomplished.  Teaching these skills at the beginning of a new season will reinforce them.  Then one day, they will be mature enough to do them on their own and you will sit back and smile at a job well done.

Weep With Those Who Weep

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No parent wants to lose a child.  It is a nightmare we all hope we never have to live through.  When tragedy strikes, our hearts break, and we weep with those who weep.  There are no words that can turn back time to the minutes before.  There is no comfort that can ease the ‘what ifs.’  There are no answers to the ‘whys.’  It is all so very incomprehensible and unexplainable.  These are the time defining moments in life which forever mark our days, as before and after.

Our community is reeling from the loss of Easton Cain.  A freak accident in a parking lot…how does this even happen?  A mom going about her normal day of grocery shopping ends up with her 3-year-old son dead, because of a drunk driver? It is the stuff of nightmares. Nothing that can be said or done can ever change the outcome of this tragic event.  For them there will always be a before-Easton-died life, and an after.  The hole in the family, and in the community is gaping…an open wound which is deep and painful.  Grief rises up and takes hold of our hearts and squeezes them breathless.  Tears overflow our eyes and slide down our cheeks.  Even our attempted prayers seem hollow in light of the overwhelming pain we feel for this family.  We want to help, but we know we cannot do anything but stand by to hold space and allow them their grief.

In these days, we grapple with our faith.  Questions of God’s goodness are on parade in our minds.  We dare not speak them, but we wonder and wrestle.  We wail and we wish that terrible things like this never happened. Some shake fists at God, and others point fingers at men.  Some cry out to authorities, and others bow their knees to pray.  Every person reacts differently, but hopefully, no matter what our personal response, we will all surround those affected with love and care…and prayer.

Lord,

We do not know what to say.  We do not know how to deal with the horror that this event brings.  We only know to ask for your grace and mercy.  Please be with the families affected, for this is tragic on all sides.  Holy Spirit bring your comfort to those who grieve.  Hold them up.  Give them supernatural strength.  You are near to the brokenhearted, so we know that you are close in this situation because hearts are shattered.  Pick up the pieces Lord.  Gather them in your hand and pour your healing power into them.

We look for good in bad situations, but sometimes it seems there is none.  This is one of those times.  We do not understand Lord.  Help us not to resort to clichés, and empty words in an effort to explain this away.  There are no words.  Help us to hold tight to your hand and to know that you will always be beside us in times of pain, even in unexplainable circumstances.

Guide the authorities in their investigation.  Be with the healthcare workers who were at the scene.  Surround the witnesses with your presence.  Bring peace that passes understanding.  Give us your heart.  Help us to feel compassion and to be sensitive to those involved.  Pour out your healing on our community.  Fill us with your grace that is kind, caring, and nurturing in hard places.  We ask for your light to shine in the darkness.  For you to somehow be made known in hearts and minds, in ways that show your deep love for this family in their loss.

Grace. Peace. Hope. Compassion. Comfort. We ask for all these in the name of Jesus.  Amen.