Sunday, March 31, 2013

No Greater Joy

I've always enjoyed teaching kids.  I can remember back to the days when I myself was a student.  I was always finished early, so I would help my friends.  It came as no surprise to anyone when I became a teacher and later on, involved in Children's Ministry.  I know that talent comes from the Lord and it only makes sense to use it for His glory.  I was very happily serving His children.

And then He told me to shift focus.  Instead of being Children's Ministry Director at church, I would be Children's Ministry Director at home.  I'll let that sink in for a little bit.

My focus shifted from His Kidz to MY kids (they are still His Kidz, but mine as well).  At home, you are always "on".  It's not just 2 hours/week.  They see it all.  The good, bad, and the (sometimes) ugly.  It's good though.  They have learned a lot about forgiveness by me having to ask them to forgive me.  They see when I do (and don't) pick up my Bible to study.  They see if I truly walk the walk; and when I sometimes stumble.

And yet, despite me and my sinful nature, both have become (little) Men of God.  Not one week after I shifted focus, Jack asked Jesus into his heart.  So out of the blue.  So genuine.  A year and a half later, he told me he wanted to get baptized.  And he did.

This past Friday, Good Friday to be exact, we stood at the water's edge, taking a reprieve from the hot, dusty hike. Joshua said, "I wish there was a pastor here." Strange comment out of the blue. I asked him why. He very solemnly said, "because I want to ask Jesus into my heart." And that's just how it happened. Not after pressuring him. In his own time.

Although Jack took a year and a half to be ready for baptism, Joshua was very adamant that he wanted to be baptized right away.  Just so happens that church was doing baptisms this Sunday, Easter Sunday.  Easter.  A time of rebirth.  New birth.  

He could hardly stand the excitement when he woke up.  He pulled the tape off the tomb (a.k.a., the oven) to see our Easter Story Cookies.  He quickly got dressed.  He practically dragged us out the door to church.  He squirmed in his seat through the whole service, whispering, "when do I get bap-a-tized?"

When it was finally time for him to go on stage, he looked so little.  His little arms and bare chest.  A mere babe.  I mean, his head barely showed over the baptismal.  Yet, he is already a (little) Man of God.

 Pastor Ernie asked him why he wanted to get baptized.  Josh whispered it in his ear.
 Look at that eager face.  So full of joy.
 A new creation.

Praying with Pastor Ernie after being baptized.  Joe was standing right off to the side to cover him with a towel.  Josh looked up at him, with a completely peaceful face, and said, "I feel so clean."  Ah, the faith of a child.

"I have no greater joy than to know that my children walk in the truth." 3 John 1:4

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Resurrection Fern

I love Easter.  No, not the cute bunnies and chocolate.  Well, ok, I do like chocolate.  But seriously, how did we get bunnies and eggs????!!!  Even my little boys know that rabbits don't lay eggs.  

Easter is the biggest holiday in the Christian faith.  Even larger than Christmas.  Yes, Christmas was important, for without it, we would have no Saviour.  But, without Easter, we would have no HOPE!  Easter gives us a chance to look back on our own sinful nature and thank God again for the amazing price He paid for our lives.  Eternal lives.

Because this is such a monumental celebration, I like crafts and projects that focus on that amazing love (i.e., not fighting and pushing for dyed eggs).  

I received this recipe a few years ago.  So meaningful.  In the list of ingredients, they really should have "Kleenex" listed.  You're gonna need it.  This year, instead of eating the cookies, Jack wants to pass them out to kids.  With Bible verses written on papers.  That will preach.

I found this cute craft last year.  It speaks volumes.  

This is the project we are working on this year.  The card comes with 2 Bible verses.  The boys read the verses out of their Bibles.    

John 7:38 "Whoever believes in Me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them."

John 4:13-14 "Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”  Amen.

When we took it out of the bag, I was struck with two other verses.

"we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away." Isaiah 64:6

"But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in our sins- it is by grace you have been saved." Ephesians 2:4-5.

"Here, Paul emphasizes that we do not need to live any longer under sin's power.  The penalty of sin and it's power over us were miraculously destroyed by Christ on the cross.  Through faith in Christ, we stand acquitted, or not guilty, before God (Romans 3:21-22).  God does not take us out of the world or make us robots- we will still feel like sinning, and sometimes we will sin.  The difference is that before we became Christians we were dead in sin and were slaves to our sinful nature.  But now we are alive with Christ (see also Galatians 2:20)." Life Application Study Bible

Today, we will continue to drink in the Living Water.  

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Tooting My Own Horn

I need your help.  

As many of you know, I am working through the National Board Certification process.  It is a humbling experience.  Just when you think you are an accomplished teacher, you read the standards, watch your videos, and realize you have so much more to hone your craft.  Or is that just me?

I'm actually ok with the "humbling" part.  I get that. I get the fact that teachers can work a lifetime and still have areas to improve upon.  In fact, after ten years in the classroom, I actually see more "areas of potential growth" as opposed to "perfection".  

But, here's the hard part for me: tooting my own horn.  We have been taught since childhood to not brag and to not be proud.  In college, we were taught to write in the third person.  In the workplace, we learned to give credit where credit is due and highlight the accomplishments of our colleagues.  However, in National Board, you need to document the evidence that you are an accomplished teacher, i.e. toot your own horn.  

Entry 4 requires that candidates list their accomplishments as a partner with parents and community, learner, and leader/collaborator. I had no problem listing the classes, conferences, and books I read as a "learner".  I am even having fun with the parent/community piece, listing all the local field trips and all the Academic Game Nights I have had.  However, I need "evidence" of being a leader/collaborator with other teachers in the form of letters.

That's where you come in.  Hopefully.  

I need letters from other teachers in the state (or nation) that documents that I have shared teaching tips and techniques with you and it has had an impact on your students' learning.  I know, right?  

Basically, I need an email from you, sent to and include my first name (Susan) and be signed with your first name.  Please indicate which city (if in Arizona) or state.

Here are some sentence frames I took from Bobbie Faulkner's Book "What Works" that would be simple to fill in the blanks.

National Board Candidate's Name: Susan (no last names)

Date of Presentation: your choice which one has the biggest impact on your child

Describe how the presentation impacted your teaching of the skill/concept:

In Susan's presentation, I learned that I can help my child to _______________ in a new way.
Learning ___________________ the way Susan showed in her presentation changed the way I help my child at home (or teach my students) to practice that skill.

I saw the impact of what I learned at Susan's presentation when my child ( or students) _____________.  Before I attended Susan's presentation, my child (or students) would __________, but now they ___________.


In past years my child would ___________, but after this presentation they _____________, which helps them ________.

This impacted my child's learning by ____________.

I will try to list the presentations I have given here, but seriously, I have given so many over the years and my mind feels so fried right now, I might have forgotten some.  You might remember something that I have forgotten.  Or, you might have gleaned some nugget from a previous post.  Feel free to scroll back through my blog posts to ones about my classroom.  

Parent Presentations this year:
8/17 Parent Day meeting: I taught Math Fluency Games with a deck of cards.  I provided you with a new deck.
10/24 Academic Parent Teacher Team Meeting: I taught you how to time your student reading fluency passages for one minute.
11/7 Academic Game Night meeting: I provided you with dice and Math Fluency Games and a nice Reading Response Journal and asked that you encourage your child to write in it daily to enhance their reading comprehension and their writing skills.
1/16 Academic Parent Teacher Team Meeting: I shared Vocabulary games with you and you made a game board out of stickers and construction paper.

Teacher Presentations over the years:
Academic Parent Teacher Team Meetings, when I brought that new idea to our school and shared a new way to involve parents in their child's learning.
Literature Units, when I created a PowerPoint to guide the students deeper into the novels.  
Free Walking Field Trips, when I shared free field trip ideas.  
Literacy Stations, when I shared what I learned from a conference about Literacy Stations and Menu Boards.  
Vocabulary Routine, where you have observed me doing the Vocabulary Routine and making it interactive with the kiddos.  
DonorsChoose, where I have showed you how to write a project on DC for your own classroom.
Social Studies WebQuest, where I have showed you a WebQuest to use in your classroom.
Literature Circle, where I shared my passion and organization for Lit Circles to help the students talk about the reading and share their opinions.

Technology Training over the years:
Mimio Training on how to use the Mimio software in your classroom.
Publisher Training, when I showed you how to access graphic organizers to use in your classroom.
Wiki Training, where I showed you the free resource of creating your own wiki for your classroom.
Again, thank you so much.  I know that no teacher works in isolation.  I have gleaned so much from other teachers as well over the years.  

where Glory meets my suffering