How Many People Can I Offend Today?

Ok, here goes…

After the recent debacle of the Canadian quartet, Tenors at the MLB All Star Game, that saw a rogue, “lone wolf” member change the lyrics of our beloved National Anthem to make what he says is NOT a “political statement”, but the entire country would disagree with that….

…I am moved to post what will likely be my most controversial blog response ever.

The what-was-he-thinking-Tenor, not only offended all Canadians by changing the lyrics of our National Anthem, he also offended an entire “Black Lives Matter” movement in the U.S. that has grown in recent weeks after police officers were filmed manhandling and then shooting black men they were trying to subdue.  I am not here to comment on the actions of police officers in these shootings.  The subsequent gunning down of five upstanding, white officers in Dallas, assassinated for all intents and purposes, as retribution for the two shootings by police days before, is an act of terrorism – plain and simple.

The fact is ALL LIVES MATTER whether they are unborn, born, red, yellow, black or white, male or female.  We’re all precious in God’s sight, but desecrating our Canadian National Anthem to state the obvious is not the way to get the point across.

The heartache lies in the fact that we, as people, made in the image of God, do not see each other as God sees us: His greatest masterpiece of Creation!  We define our worth by how others see us.  We demand respect and admiration for things deserved and undeserved.  We want equality at the expense of others.  We label those with differing views as bigoted or intolerant.  We only see the colour of a man’s skin, the accent in a man’s dialect, and the difference in a man’s culture that will either draw us towards that man or away from that man.  (And I’ve already offended many here by not being “gender neutral” in that statement.)

Our “O’Canada” anthem has taken quite a beating over the past few months with the lyrics being changed from “in all thy sons command” to “in all of us command” (a grammatically disastrous change I might add).  Our anthem changed by well-meaning, but perhaps a little misguided members of parliament so that the words would no longer be offensive to women, but also to those who do not acknowledge a gender.  It shows just how ridiculous our political correctness has taken us.

Being politically correct does not necessarily make you CORRECT!  In fact, political correctness is an outright contradiction to the teachings in scripture.  Have I offended anyone yet?

Yes, all lives matter, but to me God matters more!

As Christians we are not children of this world, but Children of God.  We are to live by His rules, follow His teachings and conform to His standards, not the world’s.  “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.  Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.  Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.  There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism;  one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”  Ephesians 4:1-6

As Christians we are called to cast off our former way of life, which was focused entirely on self, and embrace a life that is centred on God.  “So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking.  They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.  That, however, is not the way of life you learned when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”  Ephesians 4:17-24

As Christians we are to speak the Truth in love, remembering that we are saved by Grace, a grace that must also be extended to all.  “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.  And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.  Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.  Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”  Ephesians 4:29-32

Lastly, as Christians we are not to “grieve the Holy Spirit”.  It is more important for us to live according to the Bible than to compromise our beliefs by being politically correct.

We are united with Christ and must acknowledge His Kingship in our lives.  We are to model our lives after Him!  “Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.  In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.   And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”  Philippians 2:1-11

Live in such a way

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

25 Encouraging Scripture Verses that Prove God IS IN CONTROL

I have been appalled by the violence that has rocked the country this past week.  Then there has been news of building tensions in the Faith is seeing...Middle East and along the Russian border.  Canadian servicemen being assembled on the frontlines.  An Amber Alert for a missing child, the drowning of another child in a swimming pool, road rage, murders and a devastating flood and typhoon overseas.  It is heart wrenching and makes me heart-weary watching the news.  Still, in the midst of all this turmoil, I KNOW God is in control.  It is sometimes hard to fathom the height and depth and width of God’s Love when surrounded by such an out-of-control world, but HE IS SOVEREIGN!  How do I know?  These scriptures assure me:

Psalm 115  “Not to us, Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness.  Why do the nations say, “Where is their God?”  Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him.  But their idols are silver and gold, made by human hands.  They have mouths, but cannot speak, eyes, but cannot see.  They have ears, but cannot hear, noses, but cannot smell.  They have hands, but cannot feel, feet, but cannot walk, nor can they utter a sound with their throats.  Those who make them will be like them, and so will all who trust in them.

All you Israelites, trust in the Lord—he is their help and shield.  House of Aaron, trust in the Lord—he is their help and shield.  You who fear him, trust in the Lord—he is their help and shield.  The Lord remembers us and will bless us: He will bless his people Israel, he will bless the house of Aaron, he will bless those who fear the Lord—small and great alike.

May the Lord cause you to flourish, both you and your children.  May you be blessed by the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.  The highest heavens belong to the Lord, but the earth he has given to mankind.  It is not the dead who praise the Lord, those who go down to the place of silence; it is we who extol the Lord, both now and forevermore.  Praise the Lord.”

Genesis 50:20  “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”

2 Chronicles 20:5,6,9  “Then Jehoshaphat stood up in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem at the temple of the Lord in the front of the new courtyard and said: “Lord, the God of our ancestors, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you…‘If calamity comes upon us, whether the sword of judgment, or plague or famine, we will stand in your presence before this temple that bears your Name and will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us and save us.’

Isaiah 41:10  “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

John 14:27  “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

Psalm 94:19  “When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.”

Joshua 1:9  “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Matthew 6:25-34  “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?  Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.  If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?  So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

1 Peter 5:6-7  “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.  Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

Isaiah 35:4  “say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.”

Psalm 99:1-3  “The Lord reigns, let the nations tremble; he sits enthroned between the cherubim, let the earth shake.  Great is the Lord in Zion; he is exalted over all the nations.  Let them praise your great and awesome name—he is holy.”

Luke 12:22-26  “Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.  Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?  Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?”

Psalm 27:1-5, 13,14  “The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?  When the wicked advance against me to devour me, it is my enemies and my foes who will stumble and fall.  Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then I will be confident.

One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord  all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.  For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock.

I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.  Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”

Psalm 55:4-8, 16-18, 22   “My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death have fallen on me. Fear and trembling have beset me; horror has overwhelmed me. I said, “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove!  I would fly away and be at rest.  I would flee far away and stay in the desert; I would hurry to my place of shelter, far from the tempest and storm.”

As for me, I call to God, and the Lord saves me.  Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice.  He rescues me unharmed from the battle waged against me, even though many oppose me.  Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.”

Deuteronomy 31:6  “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Psalm 118:6-7  “The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid.  What can mere mortals do to me?   The Lord is with me; he is my helper.  I look in triumph on my enemies.”

Romans 8:38-39  “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Psalm 91:1-16  “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence.  He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.  You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.   A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.  You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.

If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,” and you make the Most High your dwelling, no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent.  For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.  You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.  He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.  With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”

1 Chronicles 29:11  “Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours.  Yours, Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all.”

Proverbs 19:21  “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”

Isaiah 45:5-7, 22-24  “I am the Lord, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God.  I will strengthen you, though you have not acknowledged me, so that from the rising of the sun to the place of its setting people may know there is none besides me.  I am the Lord, and there is no other.  I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the Lord, do all these things.  “Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other.  By myself I have sworn, my mouth has uttered in all integrity a word that will not be revoked: Before me every knee will bow; by me every tongue will swear.  They will say of me, ‘In the Lord alone are deliverance and strength.’”

Proverbs 16:4-9  “The Lord works out everything to its proper end—even the wicked for a day of disaster.  The Lord detests all the proud of heart.  Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished.  Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for; through the fear of the Lord evil is avoided.  When the Lord takes pleasure in anyone’s way, he causes their enemies to make peace with them.  Better a little with righteousness than much gain with injustice.  In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.”

Hebrews 2:5-13  ““What is mankind that you are mindful of them, a son of man that you care for him?  You made them a little lower than the angels; you crowned them with glory and honor and put everything under their feet.” In putting everything under them, God left nothing that is not subject to them. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to them.  But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

 In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered.  Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.  He says, “I will declare your name to my brothers and sisters; in the assembly I will sing your praises.”  And again, “I will put my trust in him.” And again he says, “Here am I, and the children God has given me.”

John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

2 Timothy 1:7 -12  “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.  So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God.  He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.   And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher.  That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.”

Unless stated otherwise all scripture used on Journey Thoughts is from: THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

“God Will Never Give You More Than You Can Handle.” – Hogwash!!

When Good Food Goes BadJust today I saw one of those wonderfully spiritual memes with the caption: “God will never give you more than you can handle.”  It was posted by a well-meaning Facebook friend who meant to uplift and encourage someone who was obviously going through a terribly hard time right now.  Unfortunately, when I saw it I blurted out, “What a load of … Hogwash!” 

The fact is, we have completely twisted the meaning of 1 Corinthians 10:13 that is specifically talking about temptations, thinking that it is a promise from God that He won’t have us face troubles we can’t handle.  That’s a lie, plain and simple.  He WILL allow us to go through hard times, and face temptations that we CAN’T HANDLE on our own!  The promise found in that scripture is that in the midst of those trials HE will always be faithful and be with us.

Another terribly misinterpreted but often quoted verse is Romans 8:28: “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose”.  I believe with all my heart that this is true, but not in the way you might think.  The reality in life is that even those who “love God”, sometimes face immeasurable difficulties they must grapple with their entire lives.  It is a lie to tell people who are believers that they will never face hardship, that all things will work together for good.  It may be encouraging to think, but as long as we are residents of this sinful world, as John 16:33 tells us “…you (we) will have trouble.”  It’s a given, we cannot escape trouble, but the promise lies in the next sentence:  “I (Jesus) have overcome the world.”  As believers we must have that eternal mind-set that we are on this earth for a blip of time, so our focus should always be on spending our eternity with God.  Too bad we forget that when we just want to be saved from our worldly woes right now, this instant!

I know many of my readers have found encouragement reading the topical Bible Verses I have been posting regularly on my blog.  They are indeed the most popular of my postings that receive thousands of hits daily because people are looking for encouragement from scripture to overcome grief, or stress, or deal with life in general.

But, I warn my readers to NOT merely read the individual verses and claim each of them as promises that stand alone on their own merit.  To do so would definitely lead to misquoting and misinterpreting scripture.  Think of it as mining for gold.  The individual verses are merely the flecks splattered throughout the bedrock, the huge treasure is discovered when the whole mine is excavated.  Make sense?

I came across an insightful article recently on how to properly interpret the Bible: https://bible.org/article/misquoting-god-verses-commonly-misunderstood-mischaracterized-or-maligned-part-i

“Misconstruing a passage neutralizes the Word of God. It robs Scripture of its authority and influence. The entire reason we go to the Bible in the first place—to get God’s truth and apply it to our lives—is thwarted when we ignore the context.10

I couldn’t say that any better myself.

It has always been my hope that people who read my blog would come away encouraged, but it is equally important that my readers take each scripture verse and read it in context to properly interpret its message and meaning.  To do otherwise would diminish the Word of God.

 

An Empty Classroom

Farewell CakeFriday was my last day with my kiddos in Grade Six.  It was, to say the least, a very hectic and somewhat bitter-sweet day.  After writing their last Provincial exam in Science, my kids were just ready to PAR-TAY!  So we did…but first…

They cleaned out lockers and desks and I collected textbooks and locks and did those seemingly countless but oh-so-important myriad of tasks that need doing on the last day of school.  My kids took down all their art work from the bulletin boards, then we had a mini-farewell for those few students not returning next year.  My educational assistant, Jaqi, had baked a cake (see picture) and so my kids were already well sugared up before they headed out to have their well-planned-out farewell party with the other two Grade Six classes in the gym.

There was more food, a photo booth, games inside and outside and since I was designated to record the afternoon for posterity by taking photos, I did that with gusto.  (Luckily, I just had to take the pictures not sort through them all after!)

Then precisely at 1:15, there were the “good-bye” hugs, some gift exchanges, and then they were gone.  The hallways were empty, the sound of laughter and excited voices silenced and I returned to my empty classroom.

Walking into that empty classroom I experienced that “peace that surpasses understanding”.  Only teachers understand what it’s like to end a year, sanity mostly intact, recognizing that they have indeed survived!  Job well done…

…And for many teachers of course, they are already preparing for next year!  The peace fades…

As I sit in my empty classroom I recall some days that I wish I could do over.  Lessons taught that never hit the mark.  My patience tested and my voice worn out from trying to get attention from a classroom full of students who were not in the mood to attend.  I will admit, I would come home so weary and exhausted I would collapse into my chair and barely have enough strength to get up to eat dinner.  Then there were those days where a student would have a “light-bulb” moment of understanding a concept in class and the delight would almost overwhelm me!  Marking a term paper, or reading a story a student wrote that showed so much thought and effort and progress…made my whole day!  Then in the middle of those up-down days a “God Moment” would occur and I would be awed by how God could orchestrate a seemingly simple conversation or a lesson so that a child would not just learn a classroom lesson but learn a spiritual principle for life!

Thirty-five years ago I entered a classroom for the very first time to teach a group of Grade Five students.  I remember so very well their little faces looking up at me, waiting for me to teach the first lesson.  I was the brand-new teacher who wanted to change the world.  It did not take me long to realize I won’t change the world, but my students will!

So I give thanks that I have had the awesome opportunity to teach future doctors, lawyers, politicians, moms, dads and world-changers for over thirty-five years.  There is no better job in the world!

“Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life.”  Proverbs 4:13

 

What Now?

Retirement-Quotes-2I remember after I graduated high school saying to myself, “What now?”  Truly the title, “commencement ceremony” is so applicable when one graduates because it is not really the end of a journey of twelve years but a stepping stone to the next chapter of a young adult’s life.

I witnessed yet another wonderful commencement ceremony recently at my school and it was especially poignant for me since some of those students I have known and taught since they were in Grade Five!  So, naturally one of the first questions I asked them after the ceremony was, “What will you be doing next year?”  One boy has been accepted into two universities, another is planning on traveling, another is pursuing a Science degree, another wants to be a teacher and then there are a few who honestly do not know what they are doing and just need to take the summer to figure out what God has in store for them next.

They are young, they have their whole future ahead of them.  I remember so well the excitement and the trepidation of beginning a new journey after graduating.  I almost envy them…

However, I am facing a “What Now?” question for my future.

My contract with my school ends in the middle of June.  My husband has been home this past year due to the economic downturn here in Alberta.  We’re not “spring chickens” as they say and many have asked if we will “retire”.  What does that even mean?

My husband and I celebrated thirty-seven years of wedded bliss yesterday and much of our conversation over dinner was trying to answer the “what now?” question.

I can’t say I’m ready to retire, neither is my husband.  We know we have decisions to make in our future and we admit that we’re excited and trepidatious at the same time.

I’m not ready to face that particular rocking-chair journey in retirement yet, sitting on a front porch and wiling away the days.  (I am being facetious here…I know retirement is not all about that…I plan on being VERY active in retirement).  However, now that I am faced with that “what now?” question after I am done teaching at this school, I can’t help but feel much like some of those grade twelve graduates: I just need the summer to figure out what God has in store for me next.

So I plan to spend a lot of time praying for direction this summer.  I want to spend time immersed in the Word.  I want to lean on His strength and His wisdom and I am looking at this new stage of life as a  commencement into a new adventure with Him.

Let the journey begin!

 

When Someone Disappoints You

fruit-of-the-spirit-tree11I don’t know how many people I’ve talked to recently who are grieving over a broken relationship.  Parents grieving over a wayward child, a prodigal son or daughter, who has turned away from God and from their family.  Young couples who went into a relationship with lofty dreams only to be floored by unmet expectations and poor judgments.  Long-time friends who bicker because of jealousy and petty issues.  Employees who complain about employers and vice versa…neither understanding, nor making any effort to understand the stresses each goes through in the work place.  The list is very long but there are similarities in each scenario: we grieve when someone disappoints us and the hurt can be debilitating.

There is a physical toll on a body when a person is under significant stress.  I found that out very recently.  I experienced shortness of breath and chest pain so bad my husband had to take me to the hospital where the doctors ran a battery of tests to determine whether or not I was having a cardiac incident.  When that was ruled out, they thought I might have a pulmonary embolism (blood clot in the lungs).  Thankfully, that too was ruled out, as was TB, or cancer.  They are still monitoring me carefully, but it remains one of those “mysteries” to diagnose.  I’m pretty sure it is just my body reacting to stress in my life.

There is a mental toll on a body when a person is under significant stress.  I know this to be true.  I do not think clearly.  I am weary and at times depressed and carry it around like a dark canvass I’ve painted for myself, devoid of colour.  Sleeplessness accompanies me adding even more to my numbing tiredness.  There are days it would be just as easy to not get out of bed than to face the world.

There is a spiritual toll on a body when a person is under significant stress.  Some days it takes almost too much effort to pray and seek solace in the Word.  I wonder if He is even listening?  Does He even care?

All that, and more, is the end result of someone who is going through significant stress, and especially if that is the result of having a broken relationship with someone in their life.

The Bible is clear about what to do if you are stressed and struggling over a broken relationship:  “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!” Philippians 2:5-8.

There should be no such thing in any relationship with the attitude of being “one up” on the other.  It is important to humble oneself, even if you KNOW you’re in the right.  I have been telling my Grade Six class as we focus on the Fruit of the Spirit: Gentleness, that a relationship is more important than determining who is right or wrong in a dispute.  “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”  Proverbs 15:1

We had a little pushing incident between two young men in school the other day, a joke gone awry, and when I pulled them both aside I did not ask who started it, although one boy admitted he was the instigator, I asked how they could have prevented it from escalating to a point where they were pushing each other in anger.  Immediately the memory verse (Proverbs 15:1) came to mind and they both admitted they could have “walked away” and not allowed the incident to affect their relationship further.  They apologized to one another, and a few minutes later they were sitting side by side working on homework together as if nothing had happened.

A school-yard incident is one thing, I find children tend to remember and apply lessons learned more readily than adults.  As we get older, we hold grudges longer.  We don’t want to admit fault.  Pride gets in the way.  It’s not easy to back down when we have been wronged…we call it “righteous anger”…but is it?

 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”  Luke 6: 27-28

It is so hard to LOVE someone, do good and bless someone who has for some reason or another become your adversary.  However, I have discovered that prayer changes my perspective about someone and when I pray for them it is very difficult to remain adversarial.

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32

It is important that, no matter the circumstances, I forgive someone who I perceive has wronged me in some way.  Forgiveness is one thing, forgetting is quite another.  I can forgive but it may take a very long time for me to fully trust that person again.

“And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.”  2 Timothy 2:24-26

Some think that being a Christian means that we are to just allow people to walk all over us.  We are not the world’s punching bags!  Turning the other cheek is one thing, but it is important that we rebuke in love those people who are clearly in opposition to God’s teachings.  As the verse in 2 Timothy states clearly, we pray that those people will “come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil”.

If you are feeling the stresses of not being in a right relationship with someone, remember the verses I’ve quoted and make every attempt to LOVE, FORGIVE, BE KIND,…wait…does this sound familiar?….

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”  Galatians 5:22-23

Eating THAT kind of fruit is the HEALTHY thing to do!

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Conduct a Good Parent-Teacher Interview

Parent Teacher InterviewsI’ve sat on both sides of the desk when it comes to parent-teacher interviews.  I’ve been that anxious parent who must meet with a teacher to discuss my child’s academic progress and behaviour in the classroom.  I admit to being overly sensitive when it comes to my child…after all in MY eyes they are PERFECT, right?  Wrong.

I’ve also been that anxious teacher who must meet with a parent to discuss their child’s academic progress and behaviour in the classroom.  I admit to being overly sensitive when it comes to defending my evaluations when it comes to their child…after all in THEIR eyes their child is PERFECT, right?  Wrong.

It’s not easy for a parent to hear anything negative about their child.  Believe me, nothing puts me more on the defensive if someone is criticizing my child.  It’s even more offensive if MY parenting is questioned.  I am doing my best and I pray for God’s wisdom every single day on how to raise up my child.

It’s not easy for a teacher to hear anything negative about their teaching methods.  Believe me, nothing puts me more on the defensive if someone is criticizing me personally.  I am trying to do my very best in the classroom and I pray for God’s wisdom every single day on how to teach my students effectively.

So, I will give you some tried and true advice, from both sides of the desk, on how to conduct a good Parent-Teacher Interview.  (If you have some other good hints, please leave a comment!)

Teachers:

  1. Prior to the meeting, PRAY.  I cannot emphasize that enough.  It is vital to have the meeting undergirded with prayer prior to the appointment, during and after the meeting.
  2. Ensure that you have samples of children’s work to show to parents if needed.  Have one sample be a child’s best effort piece, and then have one that shows some struggles in understanding or lack of effort.
  3. Make sure your classroom and your desk is neat and tidy and dress professionally.  Make sure their first impression of you is a good one.  (I make sure I have some mints handy too for myself and for my parents if they would like one.)
  4. Do not sit behind your desk.  (Sitting behind your desk causes a perceived authoritative boundary or barrier between you and your parents.)  Instead, set up a couple of chairs, or sit in student desks so you and the parent are on “even” terms.   If you believe you will have an adversarial parent visit, ensure that an administrator is present at the meeting.  A school administrator will act as a “buffer” and should be on hand to mediate and listen objectively to both the parent and the teacher.
  5. Put your parents at ease the moment they come to the interview.  Meet your parent(s) at the door to your classroom.  Smile and extend your hand in greeting.
  6. First comments about the child should ALWAYS be positive.  Talk about the ways their student contributes in a positive manner to the class.
  7. I tend to start my interviews with: “Do you have any particular concerns about your child here at school?”  It allows the parent to voice specifics and allows you to get a better perspective what they focus on and value as important to their child’s success at school.  (Some parents are all about academics, some are all about their child’s social interactions, some are all about behaviour issues, and, this is important, some parents just want to talk and be validated that they are doing the best they can at home under trying circumstances.)
  8. When you speak about your concerns about the child’s behaviour or academics, remember that the parent and you are partners in helping the child achieve maximum success in school.  Treat them accordingly.  Using phrases like:
    1. I appreciate how you have helped (name of child) at home….
    2. I want to partner with you to help (name of child) become successful at… here are some ways you can work with your child on at home…
  9. Have some specific websites or resources available to share with your parents that will assist them understanding curriculum or assist with homework.  (Here in Alberta, we have most of our elementary textbooks online, so if a child forgets to bring home books, their textbooks can be accessed online.  We also have ExamBank, a great resource to take practice tests.  There are also numerous resources for the novel studies, and free worksheet websites to help with grammar, punctuation, and parts of speech.)
  10. Conclude the interview with sharing another positive observation about their child, and if possible  follow-up a week or two after the interview.  (I usually like to send an email, thanking the parent for their time in coming in and commenting on improvements seen in class a couple of weeks after the interview.)

Parents:

  1. Prior to the meeting, PRAY.  I cannot emphasize that enough.  It is vital to have the meeting undergirded with prayer prior to the appointment, during and after the meeting.
  2. Do not bring your child to the interview (or younger/older siblings) to a meeting unless you have been directed to do so by the teacher.  An interview that includes the child will be directed by the teacher in a far different manner than a frank discussion between a parent and a teacher.  It will be more inclusive of the child and he/she will be an active participant.  Also turn OFF your smart phone.
  3. Try to come to the interview with the attitude that the teacher has the best interests of their students in mind and so the teacher is not “out to get” your child.  Starting a meeting as an adversary will not be productive.
  4. To put a teacher at ease, start with a positive comment on how your child is responding positively in the classroom.  Teachers need those encouraging words!
  5. Be prepared to listen as well as talk.  Express your concerns with the idea that you and the teacher are partners and it is a team effort to ensure your child will succeed in the classroom.  Say things like: “How can I partner with you to help (child) become successful in class?”  “Do you have suggestions on how I can work at home with (child) on homework or behaviour?”
  6. Ensure you actually do take the teacher’s suggestions if he/she gives you some.  Nothing is more frustrating for a teacher than when there has been a good exchange of ideas at the interview but no follow-up at home.
  7. DO NOT speak unkindly or disrespectfully about the teacher at home after the interview in front of your child or with other parents.  It causes considerable problems in the classroom if a child loses respect for their teacher and this can impede learning for your child as well as other children in the class.  A good rule of thumb is: “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”  (The same is true for teachers speaking about children and parents in the staff room…recognize that there are appropriate and inappropriate times to talk about specifics but gossip is NEVER okay!)
  8. Speak about your concerns in a gentle manner.  Teachers will go on the defensive if they feel they are being “attacked”.  If you have a serious concern about a teacher (their character, their teaching style, etc.), ask before the interview to have a school administrator present at the meeting.  DO NOT bring your child to that kind of a meeting (see point 6).
  9. Stick to the topic at hand.  The parent-teacher interview is to discuss the learning environment and the progress your child is making in the classroom.  There is a limited time allotted for interviews and you don’t want to get side-tracked and talk about topics that have nothing to do with your child’s learning.  If a teacher gets side-tracked, you have the right to say: “Shall we just limit our conversation to helping my child achieve success in the classroom?”
  10. Tell the teacher at the end of the interview that you will pray for them as they teach in the classroom.  Knowing I have praying parents empowers me in the classroom!  It is the kindest thing a parent can do for a teacher!