My Mornings with 20 Moms :)

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I shared this photo on my Facebook and Instagram yesterday and got a lot of likes etc. I had a spontaneous idea yesterday morning to have someone take a picture of me holding up the cartoon book in Spanish and wrote about how I did some serious reading.

For me it represents what my morning class is about. I go to an Elementary School in the mornings to teach a group of 20 moms English at the same school their children got to. They have had lifelong obstacles to learning they had no control over before beginning my class. I know they have stress trying to learn English to help their children, so I use humor to help them feel more relaxed.

Laughter often fills the room as I tell them the same jokes about how I am only 20 years old, my birth date is June 8 1998, or that shopping is scary. They always enjoy when I talk about cooking in the microwave.

One mom who was extremely shy when she started my class has really excelled. I ask her each morning at the beginning of class if she ate a cookie because she loves cookies. She smiles and tells me yes or no.

Two moms are having babies this month. One of them is my friend on Facebook, She always jokes with me in class. I love it when the moms joke with me. She is on maternity leave from class until March.

One mom is so cute. She is shorter than some of the 5th graders in school. She has perhaps the lowest level of English. The other day she got lost in the school as she returned from PACT time- Parent and Child Together, which is when they visit their child’s classroom. All of the students love having her in class.

Yesterday was Parenting Class morning. We have speakers come in and talk with them. During the 2nd hour, the School Psychologist came and did a sewing project with them. I let them know, jokingly, if they need help to let me know. They laughed. At the end I told them I was proud of them that they could sew without my help. They smiled and laughed.

Each Wednesday morning we call Kathleen Day in class because a woman who is a grandmother has volunteered for us on Wednesday mornings for many years. The students love Kathleen Day in class. Kathleen share pictures with them, stories about her family and grandchildren with them, and hugs them.

Each morning I spend some time with Jesus and pray the same thing. I ask him to help me show his love to my students. I also pray for them and their life circumstances. I firmly believe that spending time in prayer each morning sets the tone for the morning with my students.

My students come from Burma, Guatemala, Iraq, Mexico, and Syria. They are all moms who want the same thing, a future for their children. Life is hard for them. They all all low income at best. They do the best they can to make a new life here in America. None of them would harm a fly so to speak. I would challenge anyone who buys into the rhetoric about refugees and immigrants to come spend a few weeks with me and these wonderful women. It would be eye opening. They are a wonderful group of moms.

I just wanted to share about my mornings with the moms because it is a huge part of my life.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

 

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Christmas Eve Candlelight Prayers

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As I prepare to go to Christmas Eve service, I look forward to singing  Silent Night by candle light.

This Christmas Eve, I will do so while praying for some bloggers I follow who have struggles they have shared about.

I will also pray to the Prince of Peace about crises in the world such as the tsunami that struck Indonesia, the violence in the Middle East, and the dangers in Central America.

I will pray for my refugee and immigrant friends who I teach and serve.

The reason I will pray is simple. Christmas Eve is a celebration of the birth of the Savior of the world. Jesus said in John 3:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”

God loves all people, so the least I can do is pray for others while I worship Jesus of whom the prophet Isaiah wrote in Isaiah 9:

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

I realize the ultimately the world will only be at peace when Jesus returns, but until then I will pray for the troubles in our world and for those who strive to share God’s love in the midst of the turmoil.

I hope your Christmas Eve is blessed. Merry Christmas.

An Invaluable Gift We Can Give Costing Us No Money

As we enter the finals days of shopping for Christmas, it is so easy to lose sight of the fact that the best gifts often are the ones that cost us no money, but require our time. Taking someone out for coffee that is going through a rough time. Visiting someone who is feeling lonely. Inviting someone to come along to a Christmas Eve service or a Christmas party. Such gifts can be very meaningful.

There is a gift we can give people without them ever knowing in this life anyway. The gift is invaluable  and though it is free, its worth cannot be measured. It is the gift that can truly impact someone’s life. That gift is praying for others.

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When we pray for others, we are seeking the person who has all power on the person’s behalf. There are problems people can face that seem beyond anyone’s capability to solve,  except for God.

Visiting someone such as an elderly neighbor or a friend in crisis is wonderful. Even better would to be offer to pray with them. Sending someone a note to let them know we are praying for them can be uplifting for that person.

A few  bloggers I follow are going through some trying times. It would be wonderful to surround them with prayer.

Jennifer from beautyfromashes613.com shared in her post I’m Not There Yet about her new baby girl’s battle with a form of meningitis at only ten days old. Please read her post and pray for her little baby girl.

Ktjenks shared about a difficult grieving time for her in her post Close to the brokenhearted.

Steven shared about his housing situation in his post My Housing Review Today.

It can be encouraging for them to know people are praying for them.

So let’s not forget that a very valuable thing we can do for someone is to pray for them. We can also give them the gift of our time. Combining the two can have a powerful impact.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

 

 

Whatever the Problem, It Is Not Permanent.

It is coming. Two weeks from tomorrow it is coming. What is it? My next doctor’s appointment. What’s the big deal?

I have what doctors refer to as white coat syndrome meaning when I see a doctor, I feel anxious. Something about hearing doctors say things in the past like, ‘your liver test is not good’ or ‘your cholesterol is 413’ or ‘we don’t know what us causing your pain, we need to run more tests’. Something about going to seven different specialists in one year, or having lost memory because of being sick etc etc.

This life is full of ups and downs. For some there are not as many downs and for some, like me, it can seem like one prolonged down. I understand being sick, regrouping in life, having depression, wondering what the future will hold and how to get there.

I can’t imagine going through what I have in my life without Jesus being with me. He is the reason I get up and get moving on a day that isn’t a good one. He is the one I seek in prayer for strength to show his love to refugees and immigrants.

I am learning not to focus on the down times or the problems such as waking up with a neck so stiff I need a heating pad for an hour before I go teach. I wish I could say I always manage to not focus on it, but then I would be lying. But there is another focus that is stronger. JESUS.

In any situation, Jesus is greater. Sometimes he moves the mountain and sometimes he helps us over it. Ever situation in this life is temporary. The only permanent reality is our eternal destiny with Jesus. That mindset is what has been the most helpful for me to remember that whatever happens, it is temporary. I have an eternal home to look forward to. I am just passing through this life hoping to bring others with me to the eternal home. I love how Hebrews 11 describes the people in the Old Testament.

All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them”

They had their eyes on their eternal home and that kept them going through all kinds of difficulties.

Whatever we face in this life, it is temporary. I like the way Kristina Kuzmic put it in one of her videos regarding the struggles she went through in life. She told herself this isn’t permanent, it is only right now. It was her way of reminding herself the pits in this life are not permanent.

So dear readers, if something starts to feel overwhelming, maybe take a breath and tell ourselves this isn’t permanent. Maybe I will try that at my appointment. 🙂

Thank you for reading. God Bless

 

God’s Christmas Lights

I don’t give a lot of importance to dreams but every once in a while I have one that stays in my spirit and causes me to pray. I know that God communicated through dreams with Joseph in the old testament and to Joseph the earthly step-father of Jesus, but I hesitate to put too much emphasis on dreams. However, Sunday night one came to me that was so vivid that Monday morning I had to pray.

In the dream there was light coming out of my hands to touch people in darkness to heal, set free, strengthen, and encourage. A dark figure was held at bay but kept lurking around the people. Then the light beamed through my chest and the dark figure was gone. There was more to it. It was so intense.

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Dreams can represent something that is on our minds.

What has been pressing on me in recent weeks is the darkness that exists in our culture these days and what our response should be. Perhaps I am more sensitized to it than most people it because I spend so much time with people who have been oppressed.

There are so many people around us who have broken lives. People suffer with depression, anxiety, eating disorders, past trauma, family problems, chronic illness just for some examples.

The question for all of us who follow Jesus is if we want to be his light in the darkness of this world. We are entering the time of year that is supposed to be filled with joy yet so many experience the opposite. They are around us all of the time if we will just open our eyes and our spirits to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

We can choose to be vessels of healing. It can be through healing moments of acts of friendship. It can be through meeting someone for coffee who is struggling and listening. It can be through inviting them into our homes or visiting them in their homes. It can be through helping with the holidays for them.

It is definitely through praying for them because Jesus has all power, but we don’t. We can go to the one who has all power in prayer on behalf of the suffering.

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So at the time of year that many people put up Christmas lights outside and put Christmas lights on Christmas trees, let’s remember the most important lights for people to see at Christmas- US. As Jesus said in Matthew 25:

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Jesus told us we are the lights of the world. He is the light of the world and wants to shine through us. We can be the true lights at Christmas and all of the time in this dark time we live in.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

 

Immanuel- God with Us

It isn’t December yet, so I feel a bit resistant about writing a Christmas type blog post, but we are having snow again today. It is our third snow this fall which is unusual where I live. I enjoy the old song I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas as in snow for Christmas, but snow a few days after Thanksgiving is not something to sing about. 🙂

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The snow does have me thinking about Christmas and this morning as I was praying a theme came to mind- Immanuel God with us. When the angel told Joseph that the baby Mary was pregnant with was from God in Matthew 1 we read:

“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel (which means “God with us)”

Think about that. God is not some far off distant being out there somewhere unreachable and untouchable, God came to us in Jesus to be with us, beside us, never to leave us. In that spirit this morning I would like to highlight a couple of fellow bloggers and ask you to pray for them. Please join me in praying that  they would experience God with them as they go through struggles they have been open about and shared about in their blogs.

Rashellbud moved to be closer to her mother who has Lewy Body Disease which is an incurable dementia. Rashell shares about her mother and spending time with her mother. You can check out her blog at rashellbud.wordpress.com.

Parkinsonscare is a blog by a woman sharing about her life caring for her husband who has Parkinsons Disease. You can check out her blog at parkinsoncaregivernet.wordpress.com.

In the coming weeks my hope is for God to work through me to help people experience Immanuel God with Us. We can be vessels of his love in so many ways whether big or small. Please join me in praying for ways to be vessels of God’s love so we can help people realize that Jesus is indeed God with Us.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

God Sent An “Elderly Woman” to Give Me a Message

This past Saturday when I finished reaching my morning English class at church, I went outside and noticed it had begun to snow lightly. We had  light snow all day. It is a bit early for where I live. Most Novembers we do not snow and our first snow comes in December.

As I was driving home in the snow, memories of snow in Minnesota came to mind specifically the ones in the fall of 1991. In October of 1991, we had a 28 inch snow that shut down the city for a few days around Halloween. A few weeks later, we had a 14 inch snow. That second snow something significant happened that I will never forget.

I was feeling discouraged and in a fit of frustration I told God I wasn’t going to pray because it only made things worse. I told God, “There is no hope and prayer won’t work it only makes it worse.”

God knew how to get my attention. It had been drilled into me as a child. Help elderly women. Even in my worst days as a teen, my instinct was to watch out for the elderly, and anyone else who was disadvantaged,

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I started walking to a local supermarket five blocks away. Most of the sidewalks had not been shoveled due to being in a low-income neighborhood. I had walked three blocks when I noticed a old woman trying to walk in the snow. I stopped and asked her if she was okay. She told me she needed to get to the Walgreens to get her blood pressure medicine. Red flags went up in my mind about this older woman walking in the snow to get her blood pressure medicine. So I offered to help her. I walked backwards in the snow stomping footprints for her to step in while I held her hands.

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To put her mind at ease, I shared a few things about myself because I didn’t want her to worry. I shared with her that I was a student at the bible college studying for ministry and that I worked part-time at Billy Graham’s ministry.

She looked at me and said, “Billy Graham? I pray for Billy Graham. I believe in prayer especially when there is no hope.” That rattled in my spirit because she had basically just repeated my words back to me that I had said to God.

We got to the Walgreens that had only one door for both entry and exit. I offered to stay and help her home, but she said she would be fine and could have a cab called. I started to walk away but felt I need to make sure. I went into the store and looked around. I couldn’t find her.

I asked the cashier what happened to the old woman who came in for her medicine. The cashier looked at me with that look of wondering who the kooky guy was. She told me, “No one has been in today because of the snow.”

I left wondering what had just happened. I realized that God had sent me a message to not give up on prayer. Hebrews 13:2 came to mind:

“Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers for by doing so some have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.”

 

 

God’s Goal for Each of Us

In my evening classes I am known as the teacher who gives homework and is strict but nice. The reason the students think I am strict is because I remind them to not talk when I am talking, I expect them to come on time, and I don’t let them talk after they finish their quizzes because others are still finishing theirs. I told my students last night what I tell all of my classes,  “I don’t care about  if they like me or not. I care about their success in the future when they go to a class that is not an ESL class.” Having been a student, I know what they will experience when they go to a business class, biology class etc. My job is to prepare them to be successful in future classes.

Walking by faith in this life is not easy at times. Part of that is when God does not answer our prayers the way we hoped.  When God’s answer is wait, it is also difficult at times. God will bring experiences in our lives to help us grow. God knows what is in our future and sees the big picture of the puzzle of our lives

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God’s goal for us is to grow to become more like Jesus. That is the big picture plan that God has for our lives. The popular verse in Romans 8 about God causing all things to work together for the good has a follow up one that tells us why:

 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.  For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son”

God knows what is best for us is to become more like his son Jesus. That is God’s big picture plan for each of us.

So if we struggle with addiction, depression, anxiety, family problems, financial problems, health problems or any other problem in this life, God’s ultimate concern is for us to grow to become more like Jesus because that is what is best for us.

God wants us to be free of addiction, lifted out of the valley of depression, follow his guidance for financial problems, and seek him in prayer for all of our problems. He wants us to be free to grow to be more like Jesus.

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

What God Sees When He Calls Us

When God calls us to do something, the first thing he considers is not our own ability. God sees what he can do in us and then through us.

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10

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Others only saw a shepherd boy in David. God saw the future King of Israel.

Others saw a persecutor of the church in Paul. God saw the apostle who would take the gospel to the world.

My life is a great example of God seeing what he can do in and through a person.

In October 1989 I had an encounter with God after I came home from watching a film from Worldwide Ministries part of Billy Graham ministries. The story line of the film is about an American addicted to drugs living in Amsterdam. An evangelist from India was in Amsterdam for the Billy Graham conference on world evangelism. The evangelist from India introduces the American drug addict to Jesus. At the end of the film, it shows Billy Graham speaking at the conference. He pointed his finger out and said, “And do the work of an evangelist.” It felt like I was been stung in my spirit.

When I came home, I felt the presence of God so strongly that I fell to the floor crying. I laid on the floor for a long time feeling his presence. I kept seeing people who were lost and hurting. I cried as I felt God’s love for them. Then I felt it in my spirit.

“Wherever you go, I will bring hurting people with no hope into your life. When I do, it will be for you to share Jesus.”

It wasn’t audible. It was a strong impression in my spirit and mind.

The next day I went to get a haircut. The women cutting my hair opened up and poured out her problems to me.

Why is that significant?

I was the last person others would think of having a ministry based on having empathy for those who suffer. Before I came back to Jesus in 1989, I was a sales person selling office furniture. I had adopted the attitude of all I wanted was to make money. I didn’t care much about other people. But God didn’t look at that to call me. He knew what he was going to do in my life.

God transformed me and my life. He changed me heart and my thinking. It started with me knowing how much I needed his forgiveness and then a strong desire to see others experience it. As the bible says in 1st John:

“We love because he first loved us.”

In the days, months and years that followed that October day, God had continued to bring lost and hurting people into my life. Now I share his love with refugees and immigrants from all over the world.