I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip— he who watches over you will not slumberPsalm 121
As I think back on the first 7 months of this pandemic including the shutdown in my city, the loss of a big chunk of my income for 3 months, Psalm 121 definitely speaks to me.
I remember when I received the stimulus check in early April. I thought, “great this will be smooth sailing”. Then in June the loss of income hit. So being a teacher, in the summer during a pandemic with no real chance of finding temporary work, what did I do? I prayed, and prayed, and prayed.
There was no second stimulus check because of politics. Right now it is one person holding it all up. But no problem. Why? I don’t look to government. I look to God.
God came through for me through his people. I received cash in the mail. I received a $100 Visa Gift card in the mail. 2 sisters in Christ sent me money. A friend called and told me he wanted to help and gave me a check for $500. People brought me food. I received a gift card to a local supermarket. Each time I was surprised in a joyful way and could not believe it.
Now I have a 3 day weekend. Today is a 1 day fall break for my class. I just felt it was a good time to write a post, the night before and scheduled, to give thanks to Jesus and his people.
I also wanted to share this post in hopes it will encourage someone to seek Jesus in a hard time. No I did not become a millionaire, but received something greater. The experience strengthened my faith and encouraged me to keep going in my ministry and teaching.
Thank you for reading. God Bless. Please enjoy this song- Lift My Eyes- by Alisa Turner.
I have been so impressed with the moms in my morning Family Literacy Class. They have been learning new skills such as using Zoom. They have had great attendance with some in class and some in Zoom. We have also had fun while learning.
We have an ice breaker each morning. This week I ask them the questions- What time did you get up? and What did you eat for breakfast?
They are busy moms and many times they do not have time for breakfast. When they tell me they did not eat breakfast, I ask if the want the friend sitting next to them to cook lunch for them. It is cute to see them ‘sneak’ eating cookies in class. When they see me notice, I just wave to them and try to smile through my eyes. We wear masks in class.
One of the moms is from Sudan. She lived in another city in my state before coming to my city. The reason she came to my city is because her husband died and she came with her children to live with her oldest son. One of the moms from Mexico likes to sit with her and help her follow along in class.
The mom from Mexico is my friend on Facebook. I sent her a message in Spanish- “yo estoy orgulloso de ti porque tu ayuda (mom from Sudan) en clase”- I am proud of you because you help her in class.
Her answer is so indicative of the attitude the moms have. She answer-“me hace feliz ayudarla y verla reír”- it makes me happy to help her and see her laugh. She laughs because maybe I do funny things while I teach.
This week we have emphasized using their Chromebooks they checked out for the year, logging into Zoom, and using Google Classroom. My city is almost back in the red on the dial meaning severe risk for COVID. I want the moms to be ready should we need to go 100% remote learning for a few weeks.
Just a peak into what it is like to teach during these times.
It finally happened. I finally went to church Sunday morning in person not online for the first time since March.
It was beautiful weather for me in the 40s with sunshine when I went and in the 50s with sunshine after. It was so wonderful to see people live in person not online. I spoke with some of the pastors and with others. What a huge boost!!!
After church, I met a friend for lunch. She is from Vietnam and came to my weekend groups before moving to Houston. She was back for a visit and wanted to have lunch with me. She bought the old guy some lunch.
As we were eating, a table some feet away, a family was having lunch. A beautiful family of all adopted children of various ethnicities. For some reason the children noticed me and we might have exchanged funny faces. Having felt so blessed the past several months by friends helping me during a down time, I walked over and asked the father if I could give him a little money to buy his kids ice cream after lunch. He accepted and I said- it’s from Jesus.
Such a Sunday was normal for me before the pandemic started, but it was so special to me this time because it was like experiencing it for the first time. It has been so long- 7 months.
Just when I thought 2020 could not get any crazier what with COVID, riots and lootings in big cities in the US, an election year, we have more drama. Sadly President Trump has been diagnosed as having COVID-19 along with his wife and a staff member Hope Hicks.
So here we are four and a half weeks from Election Day, and The President has COVID.
My post is not a political post. My post is about who do I look to when things get crazy in life. Who do I depend on? Who is my trust in?
Psalms 20 says:
“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.”
If I were to paraphrase that for the times we live in, it would be along the lines of some trust in government, some trust in jobs, some trust in money, but I trust in Jesus.
I am old enough to remember the turmoil of the 60s when as a child I saw on the news stories about Vietnam and protests. I remember the turmoil of the 70s when Nixon resigned and the terrible economy under Carter. There is always some kind of turmoil.
However, Jesus does not change. He is on his throne in heaven awaiting the time he will return. Even if it seems as if he is not, he is in control and he will return. He has all power.
So yes I will pray for President Trump and his family for healing and strength. I will pray for peace on the streets of big cities in the USA. I will pray for an end to this pandemic. While praying, I will be praying to the one who has all power- Jesus.
Jesus has carried me through this insane year and brought me through it with gained skills and new opportunities. It is in Jesus that I trust.
Teaching an ESL class for moms in an elementary school necessitates wearing a mask at this time. My city also has also made it mandatory to wear a mask in public buildings at least until the end of this month.
So yes I wear a mask to follow guidelines by the schools and the city. But that is not the main reason I wear one. I wore one before the mandate of the city.
Yes there has been differing information about the effectiveness of wearing masks and I know some view it as an attempt to control us.
I would say the phrase What Would Jesus Do, but then I thought he would go around healing people of COVID like he did for people of other diseases when he was on earth. I do not have the kind of power.
I come back to a principle in the bible in Romans 14. It is one that perhaps is not given enough due consideration:
“Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters.”
Yes, Jesus has brought me through so many difficult times in life including almost dying in the 1990s. I trust Jesus to bring me through any difficulty. But my faith has been put through the fires numerous times. I know that death, while not something I look forward to, is really graduation day from this life to heaven.
I also realize there are people who are very fearful at this time. My going around with a false bravado will not reassure anyone. It will also not help me to establish opportunities to share the love of Jesus.
By wearing a mask when I go out in public, it puts others at ease to be around me. So even though I am not 100% sure of the effectiveness of wearing one, I do know that by wearing one others will feel more at ease around me and what is a minor inconvenience for me can mean a lot to others I encounter.
It comes down to the message on the mask in my picture- Spread Kindness. Kindness is a fruit of the Spirit.
During the training for the group I went to Romania with in 1997, the phrase be flexible was emphasized repeatedly. During my first trip to Romania that became very real to me and it has stayed with me over the years.
This school year Be Flexible is a daily adventure having hybrid classes with some students in class and some joining remotely via Zoom. It has given me so much admiration for classroom teachers for the children because I know what they are experiencing.
Yesterday was a great example. We did not have childcare due to a training for the childcare paras. One of the moms came to the room with her preschool daughter. She did not feel confident enough to go home and use Zoom. I let her stay in class with her daughter. We got some crayons and paper out for her daughter to color pictures. Her daughter enjoyed waving at me as I waved back. She was so cute.
My assistant had a migraine, so she was not able to be in class. That meant changing my lesson plan last minute. Fortunately due to have over twenty years experience, there are many lesson plans filed away in my brain.
What keeps me calm in the midst of constant changes and need to be flexible is how I start my day.
Each morning I take time to listen to worship music and pray. Jesus is the reason I can stay calm during this crazy year.
During this school year, I plan to periodically share about the happenings in my class. My purpose is to hopefully remind people to be kind to teachers and empathize with what the teachers are experiencing.
I bought some new facemasks to wear when I teach in the mornings. I felt it would be important to have some that will be friendly for children to see. Three of the masks are for me and two are for my assistant.
So if you happen to see my post before I leave to teach Friday 7:45am CST, please let me know which one you think I should wear first.
In times like these, it would be easy to lose sight of the fact that God is in control and has a plan for us. If we look around us and see the chaos, the pandemic, and the turmoil, we could lose heart.
But if we keep our focus on Jesus, we can be strengthened and encouraged.
This song is a gentle song reminding to look to Jesus for his plan for us. If we give him our circumstances, our concerns, our abilities, our lives, he can do wonderful things.
On Thursday I shared about how my church is encouraging the members to embrace our schools this year and think of ways to encourage teachers and staff in our public schools in my city.
Wednesday evening I made a preliminary Amazon wish list for my Family Literacy Program and the school it meets in. I listed 14 items and sent an email to 50 people from my church. Within a day 9 of the 14 items were purchased.
Yesterday three of the items were delivered by Amazon. They were two coloring books and some no toxic crayons that will go the the child care for the moms in my class.
After my class yesterday I had a meeting with the principal of the school and shared with him that we want to do what the school feels is needed. A pressing concern on his mind is for the children to be warm in the winter.
Normally we accept gently used and washed items including coats, gloves, and hats. But due to COVID, we can only accept new ones this year. So my next project will be to do a drive for gloves/mittens and hats. My school is in a low-income neighborhood, so warm winter items are a huge need.
My church has selected four Title 1 schools to focus on with a point person for each school. I will be setting up the page for my school this weekend and inviting church members to join my page.
I will be sharing more as the school years continues in hopes it spurs others to bless the schools where they live and also so people pray for me and my school. Let’s be Jesus to our schools.
Oh and a simple but HUGE thing is to thank teachers. That is always true but especially now with all of the twists and turns thrown at them due to COVID. This is a year teachers will be challenged like never before.
I teach Family Literacy in the mornings in a Title 1 School. Title 1 basically means it is in a low income neighborhood. The teachers and staff are doing wonderful work in a stressful time with COVID restrictions, hybrid classes of some students in class and some remote learning, and uncertainty.
The pastor of my church encouraged my church to embrace our public schools in my city. We only have 1 school district in a city of 300,000 people. He encouraged us to think of ways to be a blessing. He encouraged us to show Jesus to teachers and staff through our actions and attitudes.
I emailed with the principal of my school about volunteering. Due to COVID guidelines we cannot allow people from various churches, agencies etc who normally volunteer. So I will volunteer some time on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
I made an Amazon wish list. The items on the list are either for my class, for the childcare of the kids of the moms in my class, or to bless the teachers and staff at the school.
My hope is that reading my post today might cause others to think about how they can bless schools where they live.
1 BIGGIE– Please remember teachers are not in on the decision making process. They are told the decisions and then try their best to make it work for the children. Please do not take out frustrations about COVID situations on teachers.