My Mornings with 20 Moms- Snowy Week

Monday morning I went to the school where I teach wondering if any brave souls would venture out and come to class. Saturday we had a blizzard and the city was still digging out from it. The streets were terrible. As I was on my way to the school, I envisioned a morning that for the first time no one would show up and I would not have blamed them.

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But lo and behold, 8 brave souls came on Monday morning. 🙂

This week has been very cold as well with daytime highs not even going over 20 degrees. But Tuesday morning we had 10 students and yesterday morning we actually had 14 come.

We did have some highlights this week. It was a huge blessing to be able to tell one of my students that she passed the reading test. In ten years of the teaching in this program I have only had three students pass it on the first try including her.

It was equally a blessing to be able to tell another mom that she did well on the test for her first try. I am proud of all three who took the test. When it comes to learning another language, people learn at different paces. I do not define what a good student is based only on the academic performance. I also look at commitment, growth, and how their ability to get along with others in the class who are quite different. All of my students do well with that.

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Today is the last day of February-YEAH!!! Spring is coming hopefully soon. Tomorrow my students will make the calendar for March.

Yesterday we also went to the Book Fair at the school. I saw a poster and bought it to put up in my classroom because I love the message:

Win Like A Girl

I love the message because it empowers girls and I want my moms to think of themselves as winners and also that their daughters can achieve here.

Another snowy weekend this weekend. Depending on how much we get, we could break the record for the most snow for a winter season ever in my city. Not exactly the kind of record I want break. 🙂

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

 

 

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My Mornings with 20 Moms- Valentine’s Day Edition

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Each month the moms in my Family Literacy Class make a new wall calendar and of course since this is February, it has a Valentine’s Day theme to it.

Each year the days before Valentine’s Day, the moms make Valentine’s cards to give to teachers in the school. First they make one for their child’s teacher where the mom goes for  PACT Time, Parent and Child Together. During PACT Time, the mom watches her child in the classroom to better understand her child’s education. The classroom teachers are so gracious and the moms take extra care making the cards.

Then the moms make cards for other teachers in the school, the two school nurses, and office personnel. It takes a few days during our large group time, but it is great way to build a sense of community and include the moms in the process.

Our awesome volunteer Kathleen came yesterday. She patiently helped our newest student to make a card and also sat in group work with her. The students made a Valentine’s card for her and at the end of class I gave it to her. The moms each gave Kathleen a hug and wished her a Happy Valentine’s Day because she is one of their favorite people. One thing refugees and immigrants appreciate is someone who genuinely cares and they know Kathleen does.

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One of the moms is a young widow. She is in her thirties. Her husband died one year ago from a stroke. She works evenings and comes to class in the morning. We had a small world moment when the President of the School Board came to visit our class. Her family owns the company where my student works in the evenings cleaning. My student recognized our visitor. Being the sometimes sneaky person I am, I will find a way to make sure the School Board President knows my student’s story.

This morning I might surprise the moms with a little candy. They were excited yesterday when I told them we would go to the Computer Lab with Kelly the Technology Coach for the school. The moms love time with Kelly. They have learned a lot from her. It will be a good Valentine’s Day class for the moms with candy, computers with Kelly, and maybe some hot chocolate.

Those are my only plans for Valentine’s Day because if it wasn’t for my students, I wouldn’t care about it. But Happy Valentine’s Day to you. Thank you for reading. God Bless.

 

What Got Me Started in My Ministry/Spotlight on a New Blogger

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In 1990 I read a book, Tortured for Christ, that was the spark in my life for interest in Romania. Tortured for Christ is the true story of Rev. Wurmbrand who was imprisoned and tortured by the communist regime in Romania. He was allowed to leave the country and eventually made his to the U.S. where he founded the ministry Voice of the Martyrs.

When I read the book, there was a prompting in my spirit and I thought, someday I must go to Romania. Fast forward to December 1996 shortly after the Lord intervened in a health crisis sparing my life, one day that month in worship service it was announced they wanted people to go to Constanta Romania in June 1997 for an Outreach English Camp. Lightning bolt in my spirit time- I signed up for it and went for the first of my seven trips to Romania.

That trip in June 1997 began my journey to discovering the ministry the Lord has called me to today. There have been numerous ups and downs over the years. The Lord has blessed me to know people from literally all over the world. I know personally how much it means to have people praying for me. There have been so many wonderful blessings over the years because of the Lord answering the prayers of people praying for me.

Billy Graham was once asked what the keys to the success of his ministry were, He replied “Three things, prayer, prayer, and prayer.” Anyone in ministry can attest to how important it is to have people praying for us.

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I recently found a new blogger from the UK. She is in Uganda having recently arrived there for missions. I am not sure how long she will be there, but it was such a blessing to read her Letters from Uganda. Her name is Laura. Her most recent post January 25 was Finding My Feet about her first days in her mission in Uganda.

Her blog is Lauras Letters from Uganda at lauraslettersfromuganda.com.

I want to ask my readers to do something. Go to her blog, pray for her, and leave her a message that you prayed for her. I know from personal experience the hardships and the blessings  in missions work. It could be a huge encouragement for this young sister in Christ if other bloggers left her a message that they prayed for her.

This is the kind of spotlight on other bloggers post I envision doing this year. A post that is meaningful and goes beyond the normal blog networking kind of spotlight on bloggers.

My hope is to bless other bloggers but also beyond that I think of what we are exhorted to do in Hebrews 10:

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds”

Thank you for reading. God Bless

 

Comforted by God to Comfort Others-The Voice of Peace

There are bloggers I enjoy following for personal enjoyment and then there are bloggers I follow because they inspire me. One blogger that inspires me is The Voice of Peace. She inspires me because she is willing to share about how God has helped her and continues to help her overcome trauma. Her vision is to help others who have been assaulted by sharing her story and encouraging others about how Jesus can help them heal.

In my blog I try to share different ways Jesus has helped me with various issues such as health problems, past abuse, personal failures etc.

I love 2 Corinthians 1:

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”

God comforts us so we can in turn comfort others with the comfort God has given us. It is a beautiful process. God brings healing and restoration to our lives and in so doing prepares us to be vehicles of comfort for others, so they may experience God’s healing and restoration.

So many blogs I follow are because of how they are willing to share how God has comforted them. I plan to continue sharing their blogs in coming weeks and months and shining a spotlight on them. I have done so and will continue to do so.

For today, I want to shine the spotlight on my little sister in Jesus and her blog The Voice of Peace. I want to share one of her videos with you. She has recently begun a youtube channel too, so I want to share her video- Just Like You. She shares about how just like other victims of trauma, she knows what it is like to be assaulted, but also knows the healing Jesus can bring. I am so proud of her. Please check out her video.

 

 

Hope? What Is It?

“I have been where you are, but you have not been where I am. I will help you.” 

I will never forget those words spoken to me in my early twenties by a man who would become my mentor for a few years. He taught me a lot about practical life things and helped guide me in the early years of rising above my life circumstances. When he spoke those words to me it was like a small glimmer of hope.

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Hope is a word that is so watered down these days. People say things like, “I hope it doesn’t rain” or “I hope the test isn’t too hard”. The way the word hope is used these days with faint expressions like, “I hope so.” almost strips the word hope of its power.

There is such a strong contrast to how God views the word hope.

Think about it. God has all power. He is omniscient-all knowing. From his viewpoint hope for us is secured already if we will trust him.

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Hope is not something we wish for in vain. Hope is something that has a solid anchor. The anchor is Jesus, his love for us, and our guaranteed eternal future with him. Think about this- If Jesus can defeat death, what problem is greater than that? NOTHING!!!

A new blogger I follow wrote a beautiful post about hope and Jesus being the light Her name is Vanessa Lynn and her blog is Brave, Blessed, and Beautiful. The post that blessed me was Hope Stand Tall. You can read it by clicking on- Hope Stands Tall.

My life is one long series of situations that seemed hopeless to others, but then God intervened. Sometimes it is at what seems to be the last minute to build our faith or so others realize it could have only been God.

But ultimately if we only look at this life whether our circumstances are good or adverse, we will be sorely disappointed at some time. Our ultimate hope is in our eternal future as we read in 1 Corinthians 15:

“If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied”

Until the time Jesus comes back or he takes us individually to heaven, the message of the old song Because He Lives rings so true for me. I want to share it with you in case you are from a generation younger than me and not familiar with it. 🙂 lol

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

 

Dedication- Shown by A Student Surprising Me

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I have been teaching long enough that one would think I can’t be surprised anymore. I have certainly had interesting experiences as a teacher such as the time I had to call 911 for a student. But each quarter brings a new group to me and it is my privilege to get to know them and teach them, Last night one of them actually surprised me.

 

One of my students began the quarter in October about six and half months pregnant. I told her not to worry we would figure it out for her to finish and be okay. So before Thanksgiving, I talked with her about what she could study to take the final test early. Her response was that she wanted to finish with the class not early. I told her it was up to her and we would do whatever she wished. I also told her if she changed her mind to let me know.

Well, last night we had our final class and she told me something I had not heard from a student before. She told me, “I will go to the hospital tomorrow morning at 8 for the doctor to induce my labor.” She told me this literally twelve hours before her appointment at the hospital.

So this morning I woke up and definitely prayed for her. There were already many reasons I am proud of her. I met her when she first came to America and was in a different program I teach in the mornings for beginning English learners. She couldn’t even say- My Name Is. She stayed with her studies all while having two babies the last five years. She has worked hard to now be at an intermediate level.

But then she drops the bombshell news- “tomorrow morning at 8 the doctor will induce labor.” SHE CAME TO CLASS THE NIGHT BEFORE BEING INDUCED!!!

That my friends is DEDICATION.

The rest of the story. She is a young Yazidi woman. The Yazidi people were victims of genocide in 2014 and were oppressed for centuries. My young student came here as a refugee.

I meet people like my young student with amazing stories all of the time. So much so it is my  normal but there is nothing normal about them. They are extraordinary stories and compel me to pray for them. I am blessed Jesus led me to reach out, help, and teach refugees.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Firm Foundation

In October 1999, I was in Romania. This photo is from outside Siniaa a mountain city. It is part of the grounds of the old summer palace from when Romania had a king. The palace grounds have been there through many changes for Romania from having a king, to having a dictator, to a revolution, to being part of the EU now.

We experience many changes in our lives. Changes are inevitable. The question is how will we handle and come out from those changes.

Jesus taught about building on the rock so wind and storms of life do not knock us down. Jesus is that rock. He is our firm foundation.

When I think back over my life, I am so grateful Jesus has been there with me through the changes of autoimmune problems, following him to discover the ministry he has called me to, in The Valley of depression and back, learning languages and meeting people from all over the world. Jesus has been that firm foundation in my life. A firmer foundation than the mountain the palace sits on in Romania.

Whatever situation we are in, sickness, depression, financial difficulty, family problems, career change, Jesus is that firm foundation we can rely on.

Thank you for reading. God Bless

I can’t, but God can

Yesterday I had lunch with a refugee friend and had the opportunity to share a little about Jesus. One message I like to share with people is how Christianity is distinct from religions and then share why. A great example is that in religions it is up to the individual to work for, to earn, going to heaven through their owns good works, but in Christianity and only in Christianity God says, “You can’t do it. It is not possible to do enough good works to deserve heaven, but I love you and will do it for you.”

Following Jesus is a series of I can’t but God can moments that start with.

I can’t merit heaven, but God did it for me when Jesus died on the cross.

There have been so many I can’t, but God can moments in my life.

I can’t get out of the pit of depression, but God can lift me out.

I can’t figure out what to do for the future, but God knows my future already.

I can’t solve a problem, but God can.

Knowing Jesus, having a relationship with him. means that many I can’ts turn into I cans because of the truth of Philippians 4:

“I can do all this through Christ who gives me strength.”

For me it has been I can’t ___________________ because of my autoimmune issues, but God can for me.

This is a shorter post meant to encourage today. Think about the situation that seems impossible, seems overwhelming, and fill in the blanks.

I can’t ____________________

and then say

But God can

or

I can ______________________ because of Jesus..

Give your I can’ts to Jesus. He has all power and loves us deeply.

Thank you for reading. God Bless

Leave the Past Behind and Look Forward

In the sports world, the best players excel for many reasons. One of the reasons is that they have the ability to not let prior bad plays stop them from trying again. In the business world, successful entrepreneurs often have failures before the have success. They don’t let past failures stop them from trying again.

Paul understood the importance of looking forward and leaving the past behind. He was a success before he knew Jesus. He was a religious leader, but in that role he had persecuted Christians before his first encounter with  Jesus. That day that Paul met Jesus transformed him to become to foremost apostle for sharing Jesus with the world.

Paul wrote about focusing on the Jesus and our future in Philippians 3:

“But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

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This can help us to move on from past failures. Jesus is always willing and more than able to help us start again. In Jesus we have solid hope for our future.

If we mess up, we can come to Jesus and start fresh.

If we have been through a crisis in our lives, we can come to Jesus for the help to recover and move on.

If we have struggled with depression, addiction, or an eating disorder, we can come to Jesus for healing and power to move on.

If we have been bullied, hurt by those around us, or abused, the arms of Jesus are open for us to run to.

The past is always there to remind us of our failures or suffering. But that voice is not from Jesus. Jesus says to us:

You are my child.

You are loved.

You can do all things with Jesus.

Jesus has all power to help you.

Jesus is standing there ready and more than able to help us move on. We simply need to ask him. Don’t give up. Ask Jesus to help.

Thank you for reading. God Bless. I have shared this song before and want to share it again. You’re Gonna Be Ok by Jenn Johnson

Best Tip Ever Playing Pizza Delivery Guy

Many years ago I delivered pizza while I was just trying to survive while I was struggling with my second autoimmune problem that took a while to diagnose. Delivering pizzas was easy work, and many nights I made good tips especially in bad weather. Many times the tips added up to more than my hourly wage.

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Yesterday I received the best tip for delivering pizza that I ever received. My church has a respite night 4 times a year for families with children with special needs. We have volunteers who are nurses, teachers, and church members. They always have pizzas to serve. Friday evening we had respite night and there were some pizzas left over in the refrigerator.

I took three pizzas to give to friends of mine from Iran. They are Mandean and a lot of fun to spend time with. The father, mother and one daughter live in one duplex and the oldest daughter, her husband and children live in another duplex close by. I dropped off two pizzas at the oldest daughter’s house and then took one to the father and mother.

We sat down and drank coffee together and had a wonderful time. We talked about many things as we practiced conversational English together. I call the mother my little sister and the youngest daughter my niece in their language. The oldest daughter is also my little sister. I love visiting them and spending time with them. It was the kind of spontaneous afternoon that makes me grateful God has led  me to be friends with refugees.

The best tip ever for me? Seeing my friends smile when I surprised them with the pizza and seeing my little sister laugh as I told stories.

Sharing God’s love does not have to be big things. Often it is time spent with people and sharing the little things in life.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.