My classroom called life…Kingdom lessons

My desire is to abide

Lessons learned in the classroom. April 28, 2009

Filed under: Adventures in Teaching — charredsmore @ 6:14 am

book 

 

In only a few short months, I could fill a book with the wonderful lessons I have learned through my teaching experience at Cairo Junior/High School. It’s ‘s a God given assignment…therefore I know I am in the right place at the right time.  True, some days I want to run out of that building, never to return, but I am learning how to deal.  Those days are slipping away.  The students are interesting…the things they face on a daily basis most of us wouldn’t understand.  They cope, they deal, they struggle, they complain, they wine, they fuss…for most of them this is all they know.  It’s all they’ve seen modeled to them in their homes and community.

 

If your environment growing up was this town….if this is all you saw…how would you know any different?  Their norm has shifted.  Cairo has somehow become their normal.  Cairo Jr/High School has somehow become their “normal”.  From generation to generation these ideas of “normal” have been passed down.  Sad.

 

For those who have not yet visited Cairo, you are probably wondering what I am referring to as “their norm.”  Come on over and see for yourself.  I began to type some examples, then thought better of it.  I need to take some of my own advice.  On the top of my chalk board, I have written “SPEAK LIFE.”  The students are so accustomed to speaking negative things to each other and over themselves, that I wanted to encourage and remind them to speak words that bring light, life, love, and encouragement.  SO, I must do the same.  There is a balance of speaking things that are true and things that ought to be, I shall SPEAK LIFE. 

 

Praise the Lord that each day in my classroom is a day of refinement.  Hopefully for my students…but definitley for me.  I am more aware than ever of my actions and words.  Each day my words and actions are on display for over 50 students to observe and I must be on my toes.  At times when I want to be funny I get sarcastic…this is getting refined as I see it is not always beneficial.  There is a balance.  At times when I get frustrated at the students, it is easy to get angry in my spirit…I must choose unconditional love.  Of course there is discipline.  I mean, without discipline, we would be quite rebellious doing our own thing.  There is discipline in LOVE from the Father, I am learning from Him how all that blends together. 

 

I am learning to love.  That 1 Corinthians type of love.  Love that does not hold a records of wrongs.  Each day the students come back into my class, I try to have a fresh perspective, new mercies.  Of course, this is difficult, but by God’s grace I try.  Love that is not boastful or proud or rude.  Love that leads to repentance.  I want to overflow the Father’s love in my classroom to my students.  They sometimes have a hard time understanding or accepting that love.  I guess we all do.  I mean, when we do wrong and someone loves us still…that leaves us questioning.  It leaves us squirming.  It leaves us speechless.  No words can describe how we comprehend God’s love for us.  Even when we were God haters, sinners, corrupt from our flesh…

He poured out His wonderful love,

                            He spilled his blood for us to live a life with Him FOREVER. 

                                                     Incomprehensible. 

                                                                         That’s the kind of love I want to flow in everyday. 

 

Let me be a vessel for you to pour your love out Lord.  Let me yield to you.  Let me speak LIFE.  Let me be your bright shining light for others to be drawn nearer to you Lord.

 

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Spring Break…change of plans April 13, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — charredsmore @ 11:30 pm

knoxville-tn

 

Yes, it is my spring break this week!  Hallelujah!  I have just started working at the school and already I get a break.  How sweet is that?!?
At first, I was going to Cali. to run my half marathon…but things have shifted.  I didn’t feel a peace about heading out to Cali, although I REALLY wanted to go.  Plus, I had no denero.  So, I am about to head to visit some friends in Knoxville, TN.  Like I am heading out the door NOW! 

 

Praying I will be a blessing to my friends there and that I will be refreshed and renewed for the last hurrah as I come back to finish the school year.

 

I will update more as the week unfolds.

 

Hope you had a wonderful RESURRECTION DAY friends!

 

What things in your life are you asking the Father to resurrect?

 

It all started with a freezy pop… April 11, 2009

Filed under: Ministry Stuff — charredsmore @ 5:06 am

 freeze-pops

 

I miss Elmwood! 

 

Seriously, the first time I went to the Elmwood Housing Projects, I knew there was a unique connection.  There was something pulling me there to love the children and teenagers in that place.  I was overwhelmed with the Father’s heart of love, five years ago when first passing through the Housing Project.  As Stacy, Heather, Joel and I did an attempted outreach, passing out freezy pops on a hot summer day, my heart sang.  I was overwhelmed with hope for these people. 

 

 

Sure, I was naive, and had no idea what their daily struggle looked like. 

Sure, I was white, they weren’t. 

Sure, I came from the north and a totally different culture altogether growing up in the “burbs.”

Sure I had lived in the same house all my years of growing up and had “stability”, which these kids did not. 

Sure, I thought I had something to offer. 

Sure, I was filled with misconceptions and pride. 

I asked the Lord if I ever came back to Cairo to live (which was TOTALLY NOT ON MY RADAR at that time as I was about to live in S. Minneapolis for a year), could I have a ministry at Elmwood.  He heard and answered that heart cry.

 

A year after the freezy pop outreach…

map-of-il

I find myself living in Cairo.  The very place I was thanking my God for NOT sending me the year before during my internship with GreaterWorks.  Stacy, Heather, Joel and I lived in South Minneapolis and worked in the main office for YouthWorks.  Great experience, that’s a story for another day.

The Two Rivers Team decides to split up into teams of two and divide up the town and hit the streets for a prayer walk – EVERY WEDNESDAY!  Yea, this was certainly a lesson in perseverance as many days we (or some on the team) didn’t want to go out.  Evangelism and outreach is my thing.  God just built it in me.  I usually don’t get too nervous or afraid, I just love to go out and talk to people about Jesus and pray for them.  I’m no expert and I have a lot to learn, but I am pretty much addicted to this stuff.  When I see God touching people and ministering to them, this little girl in me gets all excited and giddy.  I can’t help it.  Guess where me and my partner are assigned? 

 

That’s right, Elmwood! 

 

We would knock on doors asking people if they needed prayer for anything.  You would have been shocked and pleasantly surprised by the response of these community members.  I mean, here we are, two white girls from up north with a funny accent, asking people who we have NEVER met if we can pray with them.  The response, many received prayer right there in their doorway, many welcomed us in their homes!  This was quite the opposite response to some other community members who shared the same skin color, were “well to do”, and had their “own church”.  I’m not upset about it, just reflecting on how interesting things work out sometimes.  We did the prayer walk thing for about a year or more (in that structure).

 

Four years after the freezy pop outreach…

I am getting my homeroom class started for the day (Jr. High Math), and one of my boys blurts out…”I remember you coming to Elmwood Ms.C!  I remember you walking around with a cooler filled with freezy pops.  You were with some other people, walking around and talking to the kids at Elmwood.”  I had to hold back the tears as we recounted that day, five years ago.  Here, this student remembered us coming through the projects, with a feeble attempt at loving our “neighbor”.  And here I am teaching this student.  Seriously, I never thought I would even be in Cairo over a year, and I certainly never thought I would teach in this town (or any town for that matter). 

WOW!  God is so GOOD! 

 

Just yesterday some of us ventured back into Elmwood.  It had been a while, since our summer outreach program, summer meal program, children’s ministry, and even worship ministry at Elmwood.  It’s really been a while since we have done some ministry up in that place.  You see, Elmwood is probably on my top five places in Cairo.  It’s not just a place for ministry.  It’s a place where I receive too!  I have friends that are prayer warriors there that will lift one up for me.

 

Jesse has been doing some outreach on his own lately.   Seriously, this brother is steadfast.  He was going out to different places in town on his own, just trying to win some by the power of the Holy Spirit.  It’s probably hard to go out as a brother.  You approach ladies, and they wonder why you are talking to them…it could get funny.  You approach the men…they wonder why you are talking to them…it could get funny.  See what I’m saying.  I believe it is MUCH better to go out in twos, and male/female groups are the best for reaching both men and women.  Just my opinion. 

 

We hit up Elmwood again.  This time it was Jesse, Stacy and myself.  IT was good stuff.  I was able to reconnect with a couple parents (of my Jr. High students) and some old friends.  I spent most of my time with Phylis.  She’s one of the warriors I was telling you about.  A Grandma who isn’t afraid to tell it like it is.  I’ll have to write a whole blog about this amazing woman of God.  Stacy and Jesse played with some children and were also able to encourage an older gentleman at Elmwood. 

 

God, continue to bless the families in Elmwood and raise up a Spirit of Praise in that place.  I believe that PRAISE will be their weapon in fighting the enemy.  Protect them, provide for them, love them.  Open their eyes to who YOU are JESUS!

 

SMG: Day 70

Filed under: Surprise Me God - Round II — charredsmore @ 4:37 am

Happy Birthday to me!  This was a little bit ago, but I wanted to give a quick b-day story.

SO, by now if you know me, you know I like surprises.  It’s probably one of my love languages.  It doesn’t have to be extravagant or “out there elaborate”, but just a surprise, something out of the ordinary.  I like doing that sort of thing for other people and I like it when they do it for me too.  Sometimes, you have to switch things up, in how you show other people your love…in how they best recieve.  Anyway, mini sermon is finished, on to the b-day.

 

Stacy and Jesse (my roommate and her bf) planned this surprise for me, but the whole team was a part of it.  When you live in a small town and have little money, your fun evenings tend to get a little on the creative side.  So, my friends kidnapped me and put a blindfold around my eyes as they drove me around to different community member’s homes.  It was really a fun blessing to go around visiting with community friends on my b-day.  We have been able to invest in people’s lives, but also build friendships where the giving and receiving is mutual.  I was major blessed by our evening journey as we went from house to house and closed the evening at Kristy’s house. 

Thanks ladies and gentleman for a wonderful night of b-day blessings!

 

 

Update on School Stuff:

No, I am not 30 yet…people seem to freak out a little when they get there. I hope I am not one of them. I had a sweet day filled with surprises and blessings. My students were mostly on good behavior at school, until I got to the afternoon. That’s usually how the story goes. They get a little excited and anxious to get out of the building…I think I need to start incorporating some exercises or something to get them a little more active. They need something. Anyway, so the afternoon came around and we had PBIS…still not sure what that stands for, I am sure Ms. G can help a sister out (if she is reading this :). Basically PBIS is a way to reinforce positive behavior. The students who are not on the “naughty list”, meaning they have not recieved a detention, referal, or suspension in the last month are able to participate.  Now, you would think that the majority of the students would be involved…more like half.  It’s a sad story…ever Tuesday and Thursday the detention list is announced from the loud speaker, the list is very long.  It doesn’t seem to phase the students (some of them anyway).  At the school we are really cracking down on tardys and other behaviors.  I hope it starts to work.  I pretty much lay it down in my classroom.  They think they can get away with stuff with the nice new teacher…no way.  There are so many parallels to the Father’s unconditional love and discipline when I am in that school…everyday I learn from my students.  It’s really a blessing, although difficult and challenging.  Three years ago, I would not have been able to do do this job, okay last year I would not have been able to do this job.  If I can now, it is ONLY by the grace of God. 

 

Note on Discipline:  I want to share a VERY important lesson I have learned while disciplining the students (espescially the boys).  When I am asking them why they did X, Y, Z behavior or telling them why X, Y, Z behavior was inappropriate they get a little funny.  They won’t look me in the eye and they try to get out of it.  I mean, some of them just flat out walk away while I am disciplining them.  What?!?  I would have NEVER even thought of disrespecting a teacher like that when I was in Junior High.  They don’t know what to do.  I think it’s a combination of things…feeling like the tough guy who doesn’t want to be geting repremanded by a teacher or it is a feeling of shame.  It is totally like that with God too.  We feel bad and we are in shame, we tend to want to run away in guilt and shame.  Man!  He loves us!  I love those teenagers!  I tell them too…”You know I care about you, right?!?”  “I wouldn’t be here unless I wanted to be.”  “I am choosing to spend my day with you all, because I want to be your teacher.”  You are each unique and talented in your own way and can accomplish anything.”  “When I discipline you, it doens’t mean I love you any less.”  “You’re all my favorites.”  It’s constant affirmation, but still, when it happens, they think I don’t like them, or they aren’t my favorite, or I am just picking on them.

 

Must give you updates April 9, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — charredsmore @ 10:02 am

sunrise

 

I have been major busy and a little stressed since starting my new job at the school. Nothing I can’t handle with the Holy Spirit.  It is tough being there…but it’s my assignment and I like it.

So, here’s the deal, I need to update you all on a few things.  These will come later…as I have to get to bed now.  Tomorrow is like our Friday before Spring Break and I want to make sure I am rested for the craziness of tomorrow.

Updates to come:

1.  SMG: 70 My Birthday Surprises!

2.  Teaching at the Junior High…man, I feel like I could write a book about the hilarious, inappropriate, disrespectful, hopeful, and refining moments within that classroom.

3.  Fresh Fire – Eddie James Conference in Birmingham, AL.

4.  Outreach in Cairo – that’s ’bout to happen tomorrow night.

5.  The TR fam.

6.  Spring Break…yes I am looking ahead.

7.  The Father’s heart in discipline.

There’s probably more, but I am going to bed now. G’night.

Love you.