Never Too Old To Learn- Why I Studied Spanish in my 50s

8 years ago I went with a group from my church to Ensenada Mexico. My home church, First Free Lincoln, partners with a church in Ensenada. That trip may have been my least fruitful one while I was there due to problems with a tooth and developing bronchitis. But when we step out and follow God’s leading, nothing is wasted. In the midst of what was perhaps my most disappointing experience in missions trips, something happened while I was praying one morning.

As I was praying, I felt the Lord was showing me I should study Spanish. My first reaction was to wonder if it was for real because I was already in my early 50s. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy learning and experiencing new things, but to study Spanish in a college class seemed a bit crazy to me. So I prayed- “If you want me to study Spanish, the class has to be at the downtown campus and at 5:30 or I can’t do it because of my schedule.

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After I returned from Mexico, I went to visit my brother in Wisconsin for the 4th of July. As I was driving back to Lincoln from visiting my brother the persistent thought about studying Spanish kept coming to mind. So I went to the registration office for the college where I teach ESL to check on Spanish courses. I found out the Spanish class at the downtown campus at 5:30 in the evening had 1 more opening. I thought- “Confirmation of what God is telling me.” I signed up for the class.

That led to a year of discovery for me about myself and the beautiful Spanish language. I loved the classes and surprised myself at how well I did in the classes.

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Studying Spanish also opened doors of opportunities for me to share Christ’s love with my Hispanic friends in Lincoln. It has been a huge blessing to get to know friends from Colombia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Peru, and Puerto Rico. It has been so much fun to join my friends for various celebrations.

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Studying Spanish also helped me be a better ESL teacher because while I was studying, I observed different techniques my profesoras used and also as I studied I gained new practical insights into language learning.

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A few things I learned from the whole experience.

1- If an idea comes to you while praying that seems a bit crazy, don’t dismiss it too quickly. Explore it and get confirmation. 

2- We are never too old to learn. 🙂

3- Enjoy the adventure of learning.

4- God will lead us to do things that others might wonder about.

The last point leads me to share that some of my friends wondered if I would be able to do well because the conventional wisdom is that language learning is more difficult the older we get. Well, in the three courses I took I got an A, A, and A+. God doesn’t care about “conventional wisdom” when he calls us to do something. All we need to do is read the bible and see how many times God called people to do something that went against so called conventional wisdom. A few examples:

1- He called a shepherd boy to be king of Israel.

2- He blessed Abraham and Sarah with a son when Sarah was in her 90s.

3- Jesus took uneducated fishermen and turned them into apostles who would start the church.

What adventures has God called you to?

Thanks for reading and God Bless 🙂

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Living with Autoimmune-Pressing On With God’s Help

Living with autoimmune makes me think of Paul who prayed about whatever his chronic condition was and hearing from God, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. ” As we live with whatever the issue is, we face a daily hassle of coping, maintaining, adjusting etc. But how is God’s power made perfect in the weakness caused by autoimmune issues?

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I can only share my experience of God helping me. There are days that I wake up still tired because of the battle going on inside of my own body. On those days my prayer time is simplified to something like, “God I need your strength fo this day” or “God I am so tired I need your power to show your love today.”

Having been through two serious problems with autoimmune from onset and being sick, through the process of diagnosis, to adjusting to life after diagnosis, I can see how easy it would be to give in to depression and anxiety.

With autoimmune, the problem is ALWAYS there. It is a constant companion we wish would go away. In the days of trying to find out what the problem is, there are doctors to see, tests to be performed on us, and living with the symptoms. After getting diagnosed, each day we need to be vigilant. Depression can set in.

I will never forget the day at church when an elderly woman told me, “You need to make a gratitude list each day.” I thought it was quaint of her and dismissed it while thanking her. Well I found out there is something to expressing gratitude in that when I actually started to thank God, my attitude changed. An example I shared some weeks ago of when I went out to my car in my apartment parking lot only to find it had a flat tire, I stopped and thanked God it happened at home and not on the road. That helped me to not go into the woe is me mode.

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Prayer and time with God while listening to worship music are vital for me. A song that I listened to every day and in fact several times a day last year as I was going through the maze of seeing several doctors to find out what was wrong was It Is Well by Kristene DiMarco.

Living with autoimmune has made very real to me the words of Jesus when he said, “I am the vine and you are the branches apart from me you can do nothing.” I don’t do a good job of it every day but when I stop ask him to empower me to show his love, the day goes much better.

 

Saying Goodbye to My Moms for the Summer

Summertime is here, not officially on the calendar for the change of seasons, but for my morning class it is. This morning we will say goodbye for the summer.

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The last morning means taking down the calendar my moms made and also the other things they made to decorate the room, so when we leave the walls will be bare and the room will ready for summer cleaning. The calendar and decorations represent life and learning  happening in the room.

The last day of class brings mixed emotions for me. I have to confess that I look forward to the one week I grant myself of no alarm clock next week because I am NOT a morning person, but that is the one positive aspect of saying goodbye for the summer. It is also a melancholy moment for me because it means saying goodbye to a group of moms I am so proud of.

This year has been one that I have perhaps felt more burdened to pray for my moms than previous years. This year has been one of doing a kind of quick triage each morning checking on how my moms are doing before class begins, asking one mom about her asthma, another mom about her heart, asking the two who had babies how they were doing in the months before the had their babies in March, etc.

Over the summer I will wonder about and pray for my moms such as the mom who came as a new refugee in December and started my class 2 weeks after she came here. She has been battling thyroid issues the past month. She will definitely be on my prayer list.

I will also pray for a mom from Mexico who has been a great helper for the other moms including organizing baby showers even though she has been the glue to keep her family together after her husband had a brain injury and throughout his recovery.

There is also the mom whose husband died this year who is now a single mom of four kids. She will definitely be on my prayer list.

Saying goodbye for the summer represents the commitment to learning and education my moms have made but it represents more than that. It represents relationships formed, breakthrough moments, obstacles overcome and much more.

I am writing this the night before because every year when this moment comes, I don’t feel like doing anything the rest of the day. This morning is the moment to let go and pray for them. When I come home, I will probably binge watch some shows because the emotional let down will hit. Saturday will bring a new day of opportunities to share Christ’s love.

I hope today is a blessed day for you. Thanks for reading. God Bless 🙂

Over 100 Followers as of this week, so time to share a few thoughts

This week my blog went over 100 followers. SO FIRST OF ALL- THANKS. Thank you to all of you who follow my blog!!!

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 While other blogs have far more followers, for me the number 100 means something. I promised myself to write a post to share some things after my blog reached 100.

So I am writing this post while drinking a cup of coffee in my new coffee cup from Cuba thanks to my friend Karen from Cuba. 🙂

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Something that stats do not show you but show me that I want you to know. I see countries in my stats, not who of course, but countries that people view my posts from. I am aware of the countries where being a Christian can mean danger for you. When I see one of those countries, I pray for whoever the person is who viewed my blog from the country.

I also pray for those whose blogs I have read and know a little of their struggles from reading their posts.

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I started this blog in 2009 as a way for those who had come to my Sunday morning group at church and moved away to keep in touch. But something happened along the way. I lost my creative side due to foggy brain of Celiacs. So after the first six months, I did not post much from 2010  until this year and I had about 25 followers. Last year I found out I have Celiacs Disease and became gluten free. A few months later, the foggy brain was gone and then one day Pastor Nat at my church preached about how we want to be a creative church. It was like God opened the window mind and my creative side emerged again. As someone who has acted, written drama scripts and directed, to go through a monotone world of not being creative for 7 years was depressing, which is why I am thrilled to be back to writing. God reminded me of a piece I wrote about the Angel Gabriel visiting the Nativity of Christ. So I rewrote it with a few changes and my church used it in our Christmas Eve service.

This is a video I made with my iPad of the Gabriel piece it you want to see it.

Other writing ideas kept coming to me and in late March this year, I began to focus more intentionly on this blog. So in 7 weeks, my blog went from 25 followers to over 100. I am so grateful to you for following my blog and to those who read it via facebook and twitter.

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One thing I have not shared is why I chose the name jesusluvsall for my blog. Jesus is my everything. I am only alive because of him after he intervened for me that night in July 1995 when I was close to death. It is because of him that I am alive to help others. He guided me to become an English Second Language teacher and to share his love with people from all over the world living here in my city Lincoln Nebraska that for most of you would be in the middle of nowhere 🙂 Jesus has also led me to share him in my travels to Romania, France, Mexico and Brazil. He has blessed me to be able to join in worship with brothers and sisters in a church in Romania, a Turkish speaking church also in Romania, in a church in Lyon France, in a church in Ensenada Mexico, and in churches in Brazil through my travels, and also in Spanish speaking, Ukranian speaking, Vietnamese speaking, Karen speaking, Zomi speaking and Arabic speaking, Korean speaking, and Nuerr speaking churches in Lincoln. Jesus has blessed me to experience his love for ALL PEOPLE. So to sum it up, my blog posts are written for an audience of one- Jesus-to honor him, in hopes that it blesses those he loves- YOU.

Again THANK YOU for following my blog, reading my posts via facebook and twitter, for the likes and the comments. I love comments. I hope you have a blessed day.

Now if I could only decide whether to shave off my beard for summer or not. What do you think? 🙂

 

My Moms Make Mornings Worth It

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A Morning person I am NOT. I have never liked mornings and living with autoimmune issues makes morning alarm clocks seem like my enemy sometimes. Afternoons and evenings are my favorite times of the day. In fact I am writing this on Tuesday night after getting home from teaching my evening class and will save it in drafts and post it on Wednesday morning.

So why do I get up in the morning and deal with slowly getting ready for my day because of autoimmune problems? My moms make it worthwhile. I should probably explain that when I say my moms, I am talking about the women I teach English Second Language for at an elementary school here in Lincoln.

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My morning class is called Family Literacy. It is an early intervention strategy with the thinking help the parent help the child, so we teach parents English at the school where their children go and connect the English they learn with their child’s education.

My class is all moms. They are from four different languages and cultures. Some came as refugees and some as immigrants. With all of the negative stuff that is said about refugees and immigrants, I wish people could see my moms at work. They are invested in their child’s education to the point of trying to learn one of the craziest languages- English. Our classroom is filled with laughter as we make learning fun. There are my repeated dumb jokes that they seem to enjoy such as the teacher is very young.

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There is something they don’t see but a big reason my moms make mornings worth it for me. My class doesn’t start until 8:30. I don’t need to be at school until 8:00. But I have to get up at 6:30 to take some medicine an hour before I eat. So during that time 6:30 to 7:30, I go on youtube and listen to worship music as I wake up to coffee only. It is during that time my moms make it worth it without even knowing. What am I talking about?

Each morning I wake up and pray for my moms. I know their struggles and problems. One mom has asthma, so I pray for her asthma to not be a problem for her that day. 2 moms had babies in March, so in the months before I prayed for their babies to be born healthy. One mom’s husband died in February, so I pray for her comfort and for God to help her. Another mom’s husband had a traumatic brain injury and is doing better, but so much is still up to her. One mom just came here in December last year. The list of concerns goes on and on.

When I get to school and wait for class to start, I greet my moms in their language as they come into the classroom. They smile as I greet them. If they were sick and missed a day, it is time for the light-hearted “Dr.Matt” question of how many fingers do you see. It is also a kind of emotional triage time as I check on how they are doing.

There are other wonder women moms in the school, the moms who are the teachers. I enjoy interacting with them in our brief conversations. One of them is truly remarkable. She is a single woman who took in three foster kids and is in the process of adopting them. She is the inspiration behind a Christmas play I wrote and hope to see performed one day.

So, I am grateful for the MOMS in my life.

 

 

Music Monday- Come Alive (Dry Bones) by Lauren Daigle

Lauren Daigle has had some popular songs most notably How Can It Be that is perhaps her most famous song. I love that song, but a lesser known song of hers is one that has significant meaning for me. It is a song based on the passage in Ezekiel 37 where God shows the prophet Ezekiel a valley of bones and tells him what to say and then the dry bones come alive.

Spiritually we dry up at times. Things can drain us such as for me living with autoimmune problems, financial pressures of being a part-time teacher and in ministry part-time, concerns for people the Lord has brought into my life to minister to, the list goes on. There are mornings that I literally wake up stiff and sore and wonder how I will make it through the day. Those are the mornings I start with the only thing I know for sure will carry me through the day-PRAYER.

There have been mornings that I listen to this song and pray for God to give life to my dry bones, so I can forth with my day. I ask him to give me his strength to show my students his love by teaching them with my heart fully in it even though sometimes I am in pain. This may sound funny, but I listen to this song and place my hands on my legs and pray for life for my dry bones for that day.

Hope you have a blessed Monday and have energy for the day. 🙂

I would love to hear what songs lift you up.

Here is Come Alive by Lauren Daigle at her Centric Worship session.

God Reached Me Through Brazilian Friends and Candy This Week

This past week was just one of those weeks for me mostly because the third week of April brings back memories of one of the most difficult weeks in my life several years ago. Not that I would let it show to my students or ministry contacts. It is mostly a prayer time thing for me.

God has his way of breaking through when we are down. He knows Brazil is special to me. I have traveled there twice and have met many friends from Brazil over the years who come to Lincoln to study. I love to be with my amigos brasilieros, Brazilian friends, My best summer ever was in 2015 when I spent five weeks teaching in Brazil. So this week God broke through to me with Brazil.

Monday afternoon I had an unexpected reunion with two people who are special to me, my friends Isis and Eduardo. I had not seen them since June 2013. They lived here in my city of Lincoln for five years when they were students. Two Christmas Eves I ate dinner with them when they lived here. They came to Lincoln for a short visit and wanted to meet me for coffee. I met their daughter Julia who is almost four. It was a blessing to see them again.

So that visit lifted my spirits but I was still in a bit of a funk and then a small thing happened Wednesday morning, kind of God’s way to say- “Hi, I am here.” At the school where I teach in the mornings, one of the teachers came up to me and told me her father had some candy left from his trip to Brazil, so she took it to give to me. I spontaneously and excitedly smiled and said in Portuguese, “Muito Obrigado minha amiginha,” and then I realized she didn’t understand me, so I said, Thank you very much my friend,” and we laughed.

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So mood lifted thanks to Brazil and then I went into my classroom. My assistant shared with me about an in service she went to Tuesday evening at a place she volunteers for to help people with English. My assistant told me, “I have learned so much from you this year. I realized last night that I have learned everything they talked about from you.” So I thought to myself, “okay so maybe you have accomplished something lately.”

Then today it happened. I have been writing fictional short stories. I want to use some of them to weave together in a book but was stuck on how to do it. I went to one of my favorite places, Madonna Proactive, the gym where I do my water exercise.

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As I was walking around the aqua track, I begin to quietly sing to myself a song I shared for a Music Monday post- I Arise Today.

Fortunately no one else was there or they might have thought I was crazy. 🙂

I prayed and told God I was stuck with my writing and then the light went on and I could see how it would fit together.

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So as I write this on Friday evening to post on Saturday, I am relaxing at home and looking forward to the weekend and hopefully will get started writing. I want to say Muito Obrigado Deus, Thank you very much God, for breaking through to me with Brazil this week. I also hope God helps me go back to Brazil this year. 🙂

If you would like to see the first short story I wrote, the link is Jessica’s Encounter at the Harbor Coffee Shop 

Praying those who read this post have a God breakthrough coming their way. I would enjoy hearing about it or one from before.

Hope you have a blessed weekend.

Dad Help Me Kill The Monster

Last Saturday I enjoyed a delicious lunch and good company when I visited the home of a Yazidi family here in Lincoln. They have three small children, so when I visit, I sit at the table to eat with the husband and after we finish, we sit with the kids while the wife eats. It’s a kind of divide and conquer strategy with the kids. 🙂

While I was eating with the husband, his six year old son was playing a video game and yelled out, “Dad help me kill the monster. I can’t do it.”

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So after we finished our lunch, we went to the living room and my friend helped his son with the video game and killed the monster in the video game, so his son could keep playing.

I thought about that moment of watching a father help his son and then I thought about how that moment reminds me of what God wants to and will do for us. Jesus constantly referred to God as, “Your father in heaven.” When Jesus taught his disciples to pray, it started with, “Our Father in heaven.”

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So when we come across those monsters in life whatever they are, do we call out to our heavenly father to ask him to come help us like my friend’s six year old boy? Why do I seem to try in my own power until such time as like my friend’s son, I realize I can’t and then I ask for help?

Another thought came to my mind as I watched my friend patiently help his son. I noted that my friend is a good father, but still we all have sin. Jesus talked about how even though we have sin we give our children bread and not a stone when they tell us we are hungry and how much more God will give good things to his children when we seek him.

For those who have strained relationships with their earthly fathers or have been victims of abuse at the hands of a father, it can be difficult to envision God as a loving heavenly father, but that is exactly who he is. For some, counseling may be needed to work through those issues perhaps with a counselor or a pastor. For me the biggest help was time in prayer and reading the bible as well as other books. I was so ready to accept that God was different than my father.

For my friend’s son, asking his father for help is his right as his father’s child. It is a birthright so to speak. God will grant anyone who comes to his son Jesus the birthright of being a child of God. John 1:12- “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” 

So next time a ‘monster’ comes into our lives, let’s try to remember we have a father in heaven that will come help us.

 

 

 

 

Extrovert? Introvert? What am I? New Lesson for me.

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Extrovert or introvert? My friends would say I am an extrovert because I enjoy parties, meeting new people, teaching ESL, and I have a part-time ministry, so I must be an extrovert, right?

Why do I NEED my time at home to be by myself and need my alone time? Is there only one way to be?

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I read a blog post that got me to thinking on a blog I follow 1 Timothy 4:12 Girl about being an AMBIVERT. It’s a new term for me. Hadn’t heard that one before, but as I read the post about it written by a person much younger than me, I learned something new. That is why I enjoy following other blogs, I like to learn.

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So I guess I am both an extrovert and an introvert. Yes I feel energized among people. I can be tired but when I start teaching, I feel new energy.  When I have acted in dinner theater or in church drama I can feel the audience and be energized. But then there are times I NEED to be alone to re-energize.

Then I thought about the example of Jesus. Jesus is the ultimate example of someone who gives to others and spends time with people. I mean, he is omnipresent (present everywhere) after all. But think about a little verse in Luke 5:16 that is sandwiched between two miracle stories- “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”

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When Jesus was on earth, he often spent time alone with the Father. It does not escape me that the little verse is between two accounts of miracles. Jesus needed time with the Father to be refreshed. If Jesus needed time alone to pray, how much more do I need it.

For me, time alone refuels my creative side. My favorite time to go to the aqua track is when there is no one else there. Not because I am anti-social. It is because as I walk, ideas come to me for drama scripts, short stories, and my blogs. I absolutely need time alone to pray and listen to worship music each day. Sometimes to restart my day in the afternoon before I go teach in the evenings. Sometimes I just need to be mind numbed and binge watch something on Netflix, shows from Spain lately.

So as an AMBIVERT, yes I love to be around people at times and since that is the only time others see me, they may think I am an extrovert, but I need my alone time with God more and more each day, so I am an introvert in that regards, therefore, I proclaim myself to be an ambivert.

How about you? Do you need alone time to rejuvenate or does being around people revive you? Or are you like me and draw from both at different times?

Oh and thanks 1 Timothy 4:12 Girl for the lesson 🙂

Thanks for stopping by and hope you all have a blessed weekend.

If you are reading from a tablet or smart phone, you can click on menu to see links for my other blog.

 

 

 

In The Morning Yes, But I Need Coffee First

When I was in a college group and went to retreats, they always made a big deal out of morning devotionals together. The way they talked about it made it seem like that was the real way to be spiritual. It left me feeling that I was not being spiritual because, confession time- I AM NOT A MORNING PERSON.

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Yes a sunrise is beautiful. Yes there are many times in the bible it talks about ‘in the morning’ with God especially in the Psalms. Mornings for me are ROUGH. On the mornings I teach, I get up at 6:30am. I get up and the first thing I do is pour a cup of coffee.

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(The picture is of a coffee mug some young people I taught English gave me, They called me their American Dad.)

After I drink a cup of coffee, I can begin to try to have time with God by listening to some worship music and praying over my day. But being a night owl, when I read a book about The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence years ago, I felt the guilt over not being spiritual in the mornings begin to subside. My focus became more about finding time with God anytime of the day and multiple times a day.

My prayer times in the afternoon are more meaningful for me. Afternoons and evenings are also when I write stories and blog posts. Yes I post them in the mornings sometimes, but I write them the day before and save them as drafts and then publish them in the morning.

So I guess what I am trying to say is that when we pray is not as important as the fact that we pray. Yes I pray in the morning, coffee first please, but my afternoon times are deeper. If you like mornings, good, but there are those of us who can barely put two sentences together in the morning.

So, in the morning yes, but please let me have coffee first and WAKE UP.

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