Fly with Christ… a tribute to new ‘Butterflies’

Butterfly landscape

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Words are not enough.

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My heart is so full of joy and anticipation for what is to come, yet somehow I am struggling to articulate it.

After spending three days leading on what is, to date, one of the most incredible Chrysalis Flight’s I have ever served on, I am still overwhelmed by the experience.

Chrysalis is a three-day retreat for young adults, which focuses on Christianity as a way of life from a New Testament perspective. While Chrysalis runs to a very tight schedule, filled with purposeful, intentional talks, experiences and worship, it is often the people who come to serve who make the experience unique. It is their readiness to work together with other Christians from varying denominations and walks of life, and then their willingness to share aspects of their life as an encouragement, which has the potential to change lives. Participants are often reminded that what is shared on the weekend is purely out of love for them. It is but a glimmer of God’s incredible and unconditional love for us.

I attended my own Chrysalis Flight in the year 2000 when I was nineteen. For me, I had come from a stable Christian home with loving parents who had brought my brother and I up in God’s love (despite the bumps along the way). Sadly, they had stopped going to church for a lengthy period of time due to the verbal and emotional abuse they had suffered at the hands of their church leaders, which had left them vulnerable and lacking faith in the church as an institution. While we did not attend church for that time, God was ever present in our lives, weaving, guiding and leading people across our path who would do what the church should have done for our family…. love us.

I gave my life over to Jesus at the age of thirteen during a time of worship on my first high school camp. We were singing ‘The Power of Your Love’ and all I remember was Jesus surrounding me with his Holy Spirit, and it felt like I was home. Yet, despite this experience, I then did not ‘feel’ God moving in my life until I attended my Chrysalis Flight almost six years later.

Growing up in church meant I had taken communion many times before. I had known the concept of what it meant, but had I really realised what it meant for me?

No.

For the gift of God’s only Son to be broken and torn apart on a cross for me… so that I may truly know my Father in Heaven…

No. I had not really contemplated the cost.

I had taken communion time and time again with my mind, spirit and soul on autopilot. Whilst there were times I desperately wanted to feel the Holy Spirit speak to me during this experience, it did not happen until I attended that first Chrysalis weekend all those years ago.

Since then, I have realised that there will be times where I may not feel Christ actively moving and speaking into my heart. This however does not mean He is not with me.

When you leave an experience like Chrysalis, where you literally have to put away time, devices and distractions and focus purely on God in every hour of the day for three days straight, it can be a shock moving back into reality. The work, university or school deadlines are still there, the clock now ticks on and you might struggle to keep up, wishing time would slow so you can spend that little bit more time in the quietness of God’s presence. Having led on team approximately seven times since my own Chrysalis experience over the last fourteen years, including organising and running a weekend in a Lay Director role, I know all too well the fall that can come after the Flight.

Words are not enough.

As much as we may not want to admit it, Satan attacks when we are freshly vulnerable from such a beautifully emotive experience. In Matthew 3, Jesus was baptised, the Heavens broke open, the Holy Spirit fell upon Him and God spoke over his Son. It was straight after this, that the Spirit led Jesus into the desert to be tempted by Satan in Matthew 4.

If you are struggling with this right now, take heart. Jesus has walked it before you.

When we open our heart and soul wide, there may be room for more than just the light of God to get in…

Luke 11:35-36 (NLT) states,

Make sure that the light you think you have is not actually darkness. If you are filled with light, with no dark corners, then your whole life will be radiant, as though a floodlight were filling you with light.”

Sometimes the light we may think we have could just be the ‘feel-good’ experience of connecting with new friends. It could be that we are holding onto the words of encouragement and compliments we were given over a weekend such as this, and then we find ourselves missing that degree of attention when we move back into our everyday life.

Whilst we are called to love one another and share in fellowship together, the light we actually need is Christ.

Only He can fill the empty void in your heart.

If you are feeling filled purely because of the positivity of those who shared the experience with you, it may be a sign you need to go deeper… to find the real thing. Our desire should be to fill those darkest corners of our heart with Christ alone.

One of the most beautiful realisations I witnessed over the weekend was the girls acknowledging that we all wear masks. These masks may take the form of make-up, social media profiles, or a personality portrayed to others in public. These masks, whatever the form, create darkness. When you put on a mask it covers your whole face, creating a dark shadow. The thing about the masks that many of us wear these days is, they do not just cover your face, they also cover your soul.

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When we look down instead of up… there is darkness. There is a shadow. There is the water that we are attempting to walk across that suddenly becomes too frightening to bear.

When we look up (like my grandmother always used to say)… then, only then can our face be covered with His light. Then we can see the only thing we need to see in order to keep going… Jesus. He will show us the way. He promises that He will be found, if we seek Him out…

As Jeremiah 29:13 reminds us…

And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.

Let Jesus gently remove that mask and fill you with His light. Be open to His love. Be brave and let His Word rule in your life. Never stop seeking His face.

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For the new ‘Butterflies’ who have just grown through the transformation that is Chrysalis, I pray that God speaks into your hearts clearly, so that you can keep flying for Him and with Him. He promises to never leave us (Hebrews 13:5, NKJV). Even in those times where you may not feel His presence as closely as you did on your three-day experience, never give up on experiencing His love in amazing ways (that will be crafted just for you) as you continue on your life journey. God has moved in me just as much by serving on team (time and time again) as He did when I first attended my own Flight. I now assist to coordinate a church service which my parents helped to plant many years ago thanks to the prayers and actions of a dear Christian friend who was passing away from cancer at the time.

We may not know exactly how Christ is going to use us after our Chrysalis experience. The next steps can be the hardest. We just need to be ready to show up with a willing heart and let His light and love flow in. Once we are filled with Him, then even in our brokenness and vulnerability, we can love others in the way He has called us to…

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Fly with Christ.

Speak Less, Love More

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I have a lot to say. Sometimes I probably have too much to say – especially in the context of a classroom of children to whom I have to teach so much. Sometimes that fact is overwhelming and fear runs wild in my mind, as I wonder how on earth I will fit it all in. How can I meet all those outcomes or squeeze all that content into the minds of the little ones who sit at my feet, day in, day out? Yet if I let those thoughts rule, I would be even less likely to teach my students anything. Yes, I need to work to deadlines, create programs, complete assessments, evaluate lessons, not to mention deal with student behaviours (and sometimes parent behaviours) that can be difficult to work through. But, if fear rules, it wins and I lose. And so do my students.

I do have a lot to say. I think most of us do if we stop and think about it. Even the most introverted of persons can have their say through social media these days. They don’t even have to speak a word, yet can share their voice with millions at the click of a button. How do we speak out about what matters in a way that is in line with Christ’s commandments? How do we teach children to make a difference to this broken, crying world in a way that will be fruitful?

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It is interesting to note that the school playground is often similar to the world that students will walk into as adults. Yes, Christian schools will tend to be more sheltered than public schools, and Christian workplaces (in some ways) will tend to be more sheltered than secular workplaces. Yet even within these Christian environments injustices will occur. No matter how hard teachers work to eradicate teasing and bullying, it will still happen. Why? Because that is life. There will always be someone hurting, who only knows how to relate in ways that bring others down. Sometimes these people will even be put in positions of authority which can make life unbearable for those who work underneath them. We have anti-harassment workplace laws in our country, just like the school ground has school rules. We have teachers on duty to patrol the playgrounds, just as the police patrol our streets. Does this stop bad things happening? No. It does not.

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How can we make what we say, matter?

To be honest. I don’t know the answer. At times I feel like I want to approach the people who have caused my friends or family members pain and tell them to stop. It is not okay to drench someone in anger. It is not okay to make someone feel they are a lesser person because of a simple mistake. It is not okay to yell at someone in front of an audience of spectators.  It is not okay. Yet, instead of this, I often revert to next easiest thing, which is to complain about it to others, and say the things I wish I could say to them in person (but clearly am not brave enough to do).

I know we try to teach children to stand up for themselves with words, rather than fists, and we encourage them to stand up for others when they see an injustice occurring. This looks very different in the playground than in a workplace, and it looks very different in a workplace than in a war field of terrorism, or in a global refugee crisis.

Jesus said,

43 “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy.44 But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! 45 In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. 46 If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. 47 If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else?  (Matthew 5:43-47, NLT). 

LOVE your enemies. PRAY for those who persecute you.

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I am not saying by any stretch of the imagination it is easy to love those who persecute you. Some may even think it futile to pray for people who treat you unfairly. ‘That won’t work,’ many may scoff. But why did Christ instruct it? Why has He commanded it specifically? And not just to love others… but to love your enemies. 

Maybe it is because He knows that if He resides in our hearts, we will have the strength to pray for others. Because (with His help) it is in the act of praying, that we are exercising that love. You never know what can happen if you commit yourself to persistent prayer for the sake of an enemy.

Sometimes we have to be brave.

I challenge you (and myself) to this calling today… speak less, love more.

And see what Christ can do.

New Beginnings

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It’s been a while since I have posted. In fact, by the end of last year I think I had almost given up on writing altogether. The busy end of term deadlines with program registrations, data and evaluations due, on top of presentation day, classroom pack-up and general end of year festivities, left me exhausted and with very little time to myself. While I look back and can see it was a productive year with God beside me every step of the way, I know towards the end I had become weary and neglected making time with my beautiful Saviour.

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Now, after a peaceful, restful Christmas, we are well into Term 1, and the job is already starting to ramp up again. I do not want to enter this year without prioritising my time with God. A new year, a new term, a new class. A new chance to spread his love to the world through the little ones in my care.

Over this holiday break I finally had the chance to read ‘Rhinestone Jesus’ by Kristen Welch. It had been on my to-read list for quite some time. This book took my heart out, twisted it ’til it hurt and put it back in again, leaving me wanting to do something to help those who are hurting, broken and in need.

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Matthew 25:34-36 states,

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

Kristen Welch’s first experience of a slum in Kenya stirred her heart and life into eventually establishing ‘Mercy House’ a maternity home for young pregnant women and girls who otherwise would end up having life-threatening abortions. Kristen’s account is incredibly moving, inspiring and challenging. And every step along the way she encourages the reader to realise that every little ‘yes’ to Jesus leads to a much bigger ‘yes’ by the power of His Spirit. None of what we do is really in our own strength, but in His. If we realise this, and step out beyond our fears to help a fellow human in need, we cannot even imagine what Christ can do on our behalf, using us as His instrument.

The question I was left desperately pondering after tearfully reading this book, was, What can I do?

While Kristen constantly reminded me that God will use me where I am, I kept feeling that there was so much more I could do aside from my teaching. I have had dreams of starting up a nonprofit organisation to help those in need for some time now (I even have the perfect property in mind) but it all seems a bit too far out of reach. So, because it is too hard, I realise I have neglected to even attempt to work towards that dream. While I know I have served God in my work, I know there is more. There is more to life than just working to provide for our ongoing personal needs.

Recently a friend at work shared a beautiful devotion on God’s spoken word and how she felt that God wanted to say to some of those listening that although we are in a waiting place, He has not forgotten our dreams, and that the words he has spoken over our lives may be yet to come to fruition. This struck a chord in my heart. I know and feel I have more to offer to God… in my teaching, my writing, my illustrating, my relationships, my church and my community. I want to provide a place and opportunity where people can meet Jesus. Whether that be through a devotional, a school lesson, a service, a photograph, an illustration or an organisation. I want others to feel God’s presence through my actions.

While I wait, I also want to be able to teach the children in my care to do the same. Sometimes modelled teaching is the best. Children often learn by seeing first, then doing. Whether you be a parent or teacher, what will you be teaching them today?

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Glory in the dark

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Sometimes, God puts you in a place where you have no choice but to stop and rest. Sometimes, you may not understand why it is happening, but you need to trust in God’s purpose anyway. Sometimes, things won’t make sense until you are out the other side.

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Having spent the last 6 days in bed, due to an illness which decided to overtake me on the very last day of term, I have had more than enough time to think. I have not, however, been in the best state of mind, and whilst some may have taken the opportunity to seek God’s purpose in this, I have to admit I have been slightly resentful of my position. Having worked hard all term, even completing next term’s programs prior to the holidays with my team, I couldn’t understand why God would allow me to be so sick that I couldn’t even begin to enjoy my holidays.

The question is now I suppose, what has God been trying to teach me through this? While the days have wasted away from one into the next, I have realised how precious time is, and how easily it can be taken for granted. Almost half my holidays has now diminished and I have nothing to show for it. Or do I?

I have had a particular passage crop up numerous times (from various sources) over the last few weeks. I feel now, God was almost forcing me to reflect on it, in order to bring enlightenment and understanding to my situation.

Exodus 33:21-23 (New King James Version) speaks of God’s response to Moses’ request to see His glory:

21 And the Lord said, “Here is a place by Me, and you shall stand on the rock. 22 So it shall be, while My glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by. 23 Then I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen.”

God put Moses in the cleft of the rock and covered him so he would be able to survive His glory. A cleft. A dark, hard place. How many times has God put you in a dark, hard place? Is it in those times that you may have had a glimpse of God’s light and presence? Whilst I may not have had a blinding flash of God’s glory this past week, I did feel the still, small voice of a mighty Saviour reminding me to be thankful, even though I did not feel that way.

Sometimes His glory cannot be seen until He has passed by, despite the fact that he was closest when it was darkest.

My blessings in this dark place? A home, a loving husband to cook me soup, children who have tried their best to look after me, a mum who travelled to care for me (and the kids) so I could rest, a loving cat who hasn’t left my side, birds singing in the trees outside, herbal teas and natural remedies, hot water, prayerful friends, hope… hope that in time, I will grow healthy again.

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It’s funny how much light creeps in when you let it.

When I begin to focus on what is outside of the cleft (God), not what is inside of it (me), suddenly everything seems a little bit brighter.

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As a flower

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Spring has sprung beautifully and I was blessed enough to experience the flower markets early this morning with a very special friend from work. Teachers really do benefit from the support and understanding of those around them, and sometimes you are lucky enough to stumble across the path of a soul mate who understands what you go through and is always there to lift you up when you feel down. When I think about a life journey though, I believe luck has very little to do with the people who happen to cross our path. Some friendships are predestined by God for a purpose, and it is more than just a bit special to experience that in a workplace situation. My special friend knew that a trip to the flower markets would be a blessing to me and it impacted me more than I could have imagined.

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The vibrant colour and aromas were heavenly. To see so much natural beauty standing out in an ordinary warehouse was almost overwhelming. People were rushing to and fro swiftly selecting bouquets, and the market sellers were busy calling out prices and exchanging money. There was an indescribable buzz in the air, and had we not had breakfast booked, we probably would have stayed there for hours.

Considering the little amount of money I parted with, I managed to come home with a beautiful range of flowers; tulips, sunflowers, roses and daffodils, some of which were for family and some just for me. The colours and form of God’s intricate handiwork is so beautiful to behold. To think, He dressed all those flowers with colours of His choosing, to reflect the beauty of His majesty. He painted the fields with flowers for Adam and Eve in the very first garden and, despite the fall, we can still see His love embodied in nature today.

The Bible reminds us of the fragility of both flowers and human life in many passages, including Psalm 103:15-16 (NKJV),

“As for man, his days are like grass; As a flower of the field, so he flourishes. For the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
And its place remembers it no more.

Our lives are short. We have a limited time to fulfil our purpose and I can only hope and pray to exhibit the beauty of one of God’s flowers in my service to Him. Flowers bring colour and life to people. They are used to celebrate marriage, and to bring comfort to those at funerals. They create joy as a gift to those who receive them and help bring healing to those who are ill. Who would not want to give what a flower can to those around them?

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As teachers, the children in our care need to see all the colour and fragrance that a flower holds in our interactions with them. They need us also to nurture them and help them flourish into the people they will one day grow into. We need to teach them to become like flowers that bring comfort, joy and love to those around them. They need to realise that they are capable of bringing colour into the lives of those who cross their path. While Psalm 103 reminds us that our lives are short and fragile like that of a flower, it also reminds us of the significance and purpose that the flower holds. We can bring colour, we can bring hope, we can bring joy. We can flourish by reflecting God’s majesty in our dealings with others, if we allow ourselves to be watered by His Word and His presence.

As Isaiah 40:8 (NKJV) states,

“The grass withers, the flower fades,
But the word of our God stands forever.”

Let us never forget the impact we can have in the time we are given.

As a flower flourishes in its time, let us too be a blessing and let our colours shine through as we serve our Creator in love.

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Precious Time

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My husband has been reading the Narnia series by C.S. Lewis to our children for the last few weeks. I had forgotten the depth and details layered within the beautifully crafted tale, which lights up the story of Christ in all its glory and pain. My son came to me this morning and said,

“I think I know who Aslan is like. He is like God when he creates Narnia in the beginning, and then he is like Jesus when he is killed by the witch. I think he might come back to life, like Jesus did.” (We haven’t read that bit yet).

The ability C.S. Lewis had, as a writer, for my son to decode the message hidden within this classic fantasy novel, is quite remarkable. But then, I suppose we can presume he had a little heavenly help with his story.

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What do we do with the time we are given? There’s no doubt that C.S. Lewis was a willing vessel ready to be used by God in the time that he spent here on this earth. I am not sure if he even thought about the fact that children would be reading his books and watching movies based on his books 50 years after his death. He was just ready to be used. And God used him. He had a purpose, and in the precious 65 years he spent on this earth, he was ready and willing for God to work through his writing. God is still working through his writing, long after his death.

Does that idea excite you? That perhaps God has a purpose that only you can fulfil? We may not all be a C.S. Lewis – one whom can reach millions with his words, but it means just as much if we can reach the one, that perhaps no one else can reach.

“The whole castle stood empty with every door and window open and the light and the sweet spring air flooding into all the dark and evil places which needed them so badly.” – C. S. Lewis, (The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe).

We are all called to be lights here in this dark and broken world – lights that will shed light and air into the dark and evil places. How brightly we shine is up to us, in the time that we have left.

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Taking Responsible Risks

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When Noah started building his boat, because God asked him to, the people around him would have thought he was crazy. Yet he faithfully continued on. When his vessel was complete and he loaded it up with animals, because God asked him to, people would have questioned his actions. When Noah’s family boarded the ark as the rain started, because God asked him to, people most likely would have scoffed at what he was doing. But with each and every command, Noah faithfully obeyed God as Genesis 6-9 recounts.

We know the end of the story. We know that Noah was right to obey God as it all ended happily with a rainbow  (for that time at least). The question is would we, if faced with taking a similar risk, step out in faith to follow God’s guidance?

Arthur L. Costa and Bena Kallick created the theory of the 16 Habits of Mind, one of which is ‘Taking Responsible Risks.’ These Habits of Mind can be applied to the way children (and adults) learn and they are a wonderful tool for planning in the classroom. When reflecting upon the apparent ‘risks’ Noah took, from the eyes of the outsiders, I really even wonder if his family trusted in what he was doing. To spend all that time and all those resources, with no sign of rain or flooding to come, was really taking a huge risk. I believe however that to Noah, it was a ‘responsible’ one. Why? Because the responsibility lay with God. God ordained it, God gave the commands, and Noah just followed His guidance, step by step.

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When Peter, stepped out to walk on the water with Jesus in Matthew 14:22-36, the risk seemed enormous. The disciples already were in shock that they had even witnessed Jesus himself walking on the waters, let alone one of their own attempting it. Peter took that leap of faith, and for a moment, the risk was worth it. He had his eyes fixed on his Lord and he was indeed following in his footsteps. Yet all of a sudden he focussed on the risk. He became afraid and then doubted as verse 30 states. If Peter had continued to focus his eyes on Jesus, he would have been safe. He would have succeeded in taking that responsible risk and it would have paid off.

The Bible is full of accounts of those who took great risks because of God’s prompting…  Moses, Abraham, Rahab.. the list goes on. Hebrews 11 is a good summary of these accounts.

We want to equip our students to take responsible risks when the time is right. In their learning, some students face this every day, especially those who have a paralysing fear of failure. As a teacher in a Christian school, I want my students to know they can step out on the waters in faith, if they keep their eyes fixed on Jesus and His Word. I want them to realise that the opportunity to take responsible risks will be there for the rest of their lives, through school, work, study, life choices, family and more. Whilst there can be fear involved when taking a risk, we are reminded that if we are following God’s will, we need not fear. Jesus said to Peter “Take courage! It is I. Do not be afraid.” (Matthew 14:27).

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The risk can be a responsible one if it is taken with full faith of Christ. Yes, the dangers are still there. We may be in the midst of an ongoing storm, but if Jesus calls us out onto the waters, we need not fear, because He promises never to leave us.

Reason & Purpose

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“There’s a reason for the journey.

There is purpose in the learning. 

Not everything in life comes naturally.”

– Steffany Gretzinger

Some kids just need to know why they have to do something. Why are we learning Science? Why are we doing Mathematics? Why are we drawing pictures?

Steffany Gretzinger has nailed it with the lyrics to her song, ‘Getting There’. There is a reason for the journey. There is a purpose in our learning and not everything that we learn does come naturally. Some learning is difficult. Some learning is painful. Some learning is complicated. But, through the learning, we can find hope. In the learning, we can find joy. As we learn, we can grow into the purpose which has been appointed for us.

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It can be hard to fully explain to students the value in their learning if they don’t see a purpose in it. Students in our ‘First World’ society sometimes struggle to value education as they have access to so much and rarely comprehend the worth of it. To give students a reason to learn, we, as teachers, need to engage with each individual on an interest level in order to give them a reason to learn. Because, most of the time, learning is hard, it requires discipline, and who really wants to engage in hard work unless it produces a worthwhile result?

I once had a student who was not progressing. Others were moving past her in reading and writing and she remained at the same point, no matter what I did with her. It was becoming frustrating. I had been in contact with her parents who had noted similar frustrations when working with her at home. I kept working with her with little to no results, whilst the other students who had been flagged with issues at the start of the year had made notable progress. Eventually, after a more serious discussion with her family, we realised that she had decided that she wanted to be a singer and dancer when she grew up – for which, she was adamant, that you did not need an education for. No need to read, no need to write if you are going to be a famous entertainer.

There lay the key. Once I explained to her that even famous performers need to know how to read and write in order to be great performers, things changed. I explained how the best singers often write their own songs. They often need to read the lyrics to others’ famous songs. The realisation sunk in swiftly and within a few weeks, we had progress. Without a reason for her journey, my student felt their was no purpose in her learning, and the hard work was therefore not worth it.

How many times do we miss identifying the motivating factors for those tricky students? How often do we ourselves walk away from a learning opportunity because it is too hard?

The truth is, in life, sometimes we will have no choice as to whether we are exposed to a learning opportunity from our Heavenly Father, because it is thrust upon us, however, we do have a choice as to whether we engage in it fully.

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As Philippians 4: 12 states,

12 I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.

The key word is learn. It is never easy to learn to live on an empty stomach. It is never easy to learn to live with nothing. It requires patience and persistence.

And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. (Romans 5: 3-4)

Students need hope in their own purpose if they are to persevere with their learning. At times we too may need our own hope if we are to do the same. Life lessons can be harder than school lessons, but just as rewarding… if we have hope in the outcome and God’s plan through the pain.

Thirsty Souls

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2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NIV) states,

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.

In all our troubles…

While teaching comes with many joys and rewards, it also comes with many troubles… multiple deadlines, concerned or worried parents, not to mention students who you may have worked with and worked with, and they are still not understanding. In isolation, these troubles can be manageable, however, when they all fall upon you at once (as is often the case for teachers) there comes a breaking point. Teachers need the support and comfort of fellow teachers and leaders at these times, to lift up and encourage.

Comfort can be a kind word, an encouraging word, a thank you, a hug, a shared duty, an offer to help, a card, flowers, a conversation, a Bible verse, a quote, a coffee break. How you comfort is likely to be unique to you. But perhaps you have never sought to comfort another on the job. Maybe you have always left that to somebody else, thinking, “their family will look after them, their spouse will support them, their friends will bring comfort.” Sadly, not everyone has supporting families, spouses or friends. Unfortunately not everyone has a support network or a church that is active in reaching out in love. For some, work may be an escape from the cold reality of their lives. For these people, if they suddenly find themselves drowning in a place that was meant to be their stronghold, then they are more likely to lose hope in life and their purpose.

The power of a drop of comfort can be life-saving to a thirsty soul.

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If we are to truly comfort those around us, we first need to seek comfort from our Heavenly Father. As Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians 1, we can comfort others with the comfort we receive from God. For me, I receive comfort through nature first, and then music, devotionals, quotes, Bible passages. God often uses little birds to speak into my heart. On the last day of our Professional Development, a few of us walked past a little black bird that appeared to be injured, sitting on the steps to our music room. I came back to it and was able to capture it whilst we discussed whether it was in fact injured or just stunned. Eventually, it flew off in a fluster. We guessed it had flown into a window and was sitting on the step, stunned, attempting to recover.

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Sometimes we can become overwhelmed by the workload, or injured and stunned by a negative communication from a parent that seems to have come out of nowhere. We do not know what another teacher may be going through within the course of even one day, because the job can be so fast-paced. We need to look for ways to support and comfort those around us when we see the need,  and even perhaps when we don’t. Some faces hide things well. If we can offer those life-saving drops of comfort to all we come across, then those who need it most will hopefully receive it with open hands and hearts.

And don’t think someone else is handling it. Sometimes, the very person the comfort needs to come from, may be you.

 

Saving Lives

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The other day, as part of our Professional Development, all staff from my school completed First Aid training. Whilst the course itself was quite intense, it was valuable to refresh ourselves of what to do should we encounter an emergency situation, particularly if it were to involve students to which we owe a duty of care.

Essentially the purpose of First Aid is to “preserve life” until medical assistance can be sought. Whilst we hope we never end up in a situation where we have to use CPR, or have to figure out what injury to attend to first, the course is there to prepare our minds for the possibility of such a situation occurring.

As I reflected upon the training we received, I started to think about how Christ trains us to save lives for eternity. The Bible states it plainly many times, that we are called to be the light of the world and spread the good news in order that others may come to follow Jesus.

The following verses are to do with saving the lives of others and/or remind us also that we have been saved by God’s grace.

James 5:19-20 (NIV):

19 My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, 20 remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.

Romans 11:13-15 (NLT):

14 for I want somehow to make the people of Israel jealous of what you Gentiles have, so I might save some of them. 15 For since their rejection meant that God offered salvation to the rest of the world, their acceptance will be even more wonderful. It will be life for those who were dead!

Titus 3:5 (New Living Translation):

he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.

Romans 10:13 (NKJV):

13 For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

There are many more verses I could draw upon, however, these verses speak clearly about God’s desire for us to be saved and then help save others by bringing them to Him. Whilst some people may have a ‘life or death’ soul-saving experience, others may come to be saved through a smaller incident that may not seem as urgent, but left unattended would lead them to a place of Spiritual ill-health.

The idea of First Aid training, is to equip you with the skills necessary to assist those to whom you owe a duty of care (particularly in your workplace) should they injure themselves. Out in public, if you see someone in trouble and choose to assist them, you have made a choice to take up that duty of care and must remain with them until medical assistance arrives. Whilst the patient may refuse the assistance, you may still do all you can to convince them that their situation may be life or death and that you have been trained to help them.

If we consider where we are now, in our workplace and out and about in the world, who is it that we owe that spiritual duty of care to? Who is it that may be about to drown in their pool of depression? Who is it that may be ignoring their spiritual injuries and refusing to seek help? Who is it that may require immediate intervention in order to bring them to life in Christ… eternal life?

Arthur Stace demonstrated a duty of care to the people of Sydney, Australia, by spending 35 years writing the word ‘Eternity’ on the streets of the city, over half a million times. An illiterate former soldier who had been a thief and alcoholic, he came to Christ and spent the rest of his days writing the word Eternity in perfect copperplate handwriting. Having been saved himself, he followed Christ’s instruction to save others.

Arthur Stace

Last year, I included this story in my HSIE/History program for Kindergarten. We looked at the history of Arthur Stace and how the word ‘Eternity’ was somewhat of a mystery to the locals until the identity of the author was revealed in the newspaper. We watched the New Year’s fireworks from the year 2000 in Sydney Harbour and saw the word appear on Sydney Harbour Bridge as the new year was welcomed in. After reflecting on the story, I took the class outside to experiment with copying the word onto the concrete in chalk, thus leaving a special message for the rest of the school. When we came back to class, we then created our own ‘Eternity’ artworks to be displayed in the classroom. This was quite a significant lesson and despite their youth, I felt Kindergarten were touched by the story and its significance for us, not only as Australians, but as believers in Christ.

New Year’s Eve 1999/2000

eternity

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First Aid operates best when we stay up-to-date with our training and bring our minds back to all we have learned. It becomes useless if we forget the life-saving skills we have been taught throughout the course. It is the same with God’s Word. If we do not keep coming back to it, and remind ourselves of the importance of His Word as a light and guide for us, we cannot expect to save anyone’s life for eternity. Whilst some may be called to perform Spiritual CPR through evangelism, others may be called to stand back and pray for the lives of others. We each have our gifts for a particular time and place, and God has us in that place for specific people. He has appointed our duty of care and we cannot neglect those who are in need.

Deuteronomy 4:9 (NIV) says,

Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.

So the question is this: who is it that you need to save for eternity?

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