Teacher Shortage

That is my prediction for the upcoming school year. I’ve already seen 5 posts for teacher positions, just in my area of World Languages. Many who are near retirement, who I thought would have taught forever, are leaving .. happily. Many who are young in the profession, less than 5 years, are moving on to do something else.

I’m personally leaning towards that first category as I near the close of my 28th year as a teacher. Or, at least in December I was 95% I would retire and do something else, almost anything else! The first semester of this year was horrendous in so many ways. I know, poor students, poor parents, poor administrators – sure, but I don’t have that perspective, so I won’t speak for anyone else.

What I do know is that this semester, with a strong feeling that deadlines and clear expectations that we stick to are healthy for students and teachers alike, I have felt at least close to being a teacher rather than a creator of content on Google Slides and Screencastify videos that no one but myself looked at or watched. When I say, “This assignment is due by X date and I expect X quality,” my students have risen to the occasion and manage – they know what to expect and do quality work. I have stuck to my word on deadlines and students have done assignments by those deadlines – they can and they will if you clearly communicate that expectation – and back it up. We have an “Amnesty Day” box where they can turn in 2 late assignments for 50% credit, like in many years past, and they understand that. Sometimes we don’t get everything done, but we have a little bit of relief.

What is unhealthy is, “You didn’t manage to get anything done for my class for a whole week, missed class on 1 of the 3 whole days you promised to attend, and didn’t communicate with me at all during that whole time? No problem, I’ll sit down with you, ignore the students who came to school 5 days and did all their work, and I’ll hold your hand for 3 more weeks while you get this one, simple assignment done while I think for you.”

Better yet, “You chose to self-quarantine for 2 weeks for no justifiable reason (no state competition, no family member at health risk, etc), complete zero assignments during this time, do not review the slides I’ve been required to prepare for students who choose not to come to school, do not communicate with me that entire time, and today, when you return, would like to know what you can do for my class.”

Thinking: What you can do for my class is either learn Spanish or drop, child! Thankfully, one mother had the brilliance to be angry with all her child’s teachers for NOT holding him accountable – she doesn’t have a leg to stand on to discipline him if he is now allowed to do EVERYTHING he did not do during his self-imposed 2-week vacation.

That was an eye-opener because I know that we teachers felt like we HAD to give these poor traumatized children a billion opportunities to wake up, get up, get dressed, and do almost nothing. How is that healthy for anyone? I felt so supported and … normal by that parent’s perspective!

We talk about post-pandemic strategies and all. Well, normalcy is a GREAT relief, right? No masks, hanging out with friends, expectations, … homework for hours, being overwhelmed with college applications, mock exams all weekend, juggling work and school, juggling work, athletics, family, and school, juggling…well, juggling is normal, right? Welcome back to real life.

Another thing I’ll be glad to say goodbye to is allowing students to NOT come to school so that they can take on the role of their parents: babysitting siblings, cousins, neighbors, or being a major wage-earner for the household. I don’t argue that many families need some extra income to make ends meet. My 16-year-old student, however, should NOT have to choose between coming to school and going to work – their education is precisely what will keep them out of that SAME cycle of poverty they are in right now with their family. They have opportunities and a positive future and need to be supported and pushed to pursue their own dreams and possibilities! I’m not certain many businesses in my community have been supportive of education during this time. Hello, Northwest Arkansas: Your employees who are 18 and younger and in school should be expected to participate in all academic, athletic, and social activities and CERTAINLY not have to choose work over education on a weekday! School first – not work.

The news that my district will NOT offer the Blended option for next year was the best news I’ve had professionally since over a year ago! I’m now about 40/60 on returning to school next year! I assure you, that is not wishy-washy, that is a 55% swing in emotions, feeling, passion. Coming back to school after Spring Break, I feel so much freer and have felt so much joy interacting with my students and feeling like a TEACHER again! Personal, human interaction is so life-affirming! I love my students and they learn so well with expectations and deadlines.

I hope administrators and especially, ESPECIALLY legislators, [who traditionally know NOTHING about education as an institution, other than the fact that they possibly attended some schools along the way to their position to show up with the craziest ideas for bills ever – ok, maybe that’s just Arkansas? … ok, not you, Megan Godfrey], will truly consider the situation as we end this year.

What are districts, states, and the national government doing to support educators at every level? To make things easier while maintaining reasonable accountability?

How are you feeling about the 2021-2022 school year? Will we have a teacher shortage or will we all return to school?

Letter of Thanks to Dr Margaret Clark

I met you in 1990 sometime towards the end of the semester. I had graduated with a degree in Spanish, began grad school, and quickly learned that the study of literature was not for me. I also got married in October of that same semester and was pregnant with our first child. What on earth was I going to do?

As far as I can remember, my husband’s best friend, Greg McCone, sent me your way; he was a PE/Coaching major in the College of Education and was almost done with his studies. I remember meeting with you and having no doubts that I would begin my education classes in January, although I couldn’t even imagine what being a teacher would actually look like. Your classes helped me begin to formulate a vision.

You purposefully placed me with one of the best ever, Michelle Gayon at Ramay Junior High, for my Student Teaching and she remained my mentor through retirement. That experience set me up for success the rest of my career. The two of you helped me with more than teaching. You were, and continue to be, strong-willed, intelligent women who seem to understand the whole world as well as every individual you meet. High expectations, yes, but also the guidance to get there and the freedom to try something and fail on my own. What an ideal learning experience!

When the UofA began the MAT Program, they started out working with only one district to keep things less hectic – I happened to be teaching at Walton Junior High in Bentonville and was blessed to get to work with you again, mentoring Miranda Risinger as the first Spanish MAT Candidate! Because I was able to meet with you and talk about the program, as well as catch up on life, just listening to your advice at a different point in my career and personal life was a blessing. I always felt the urge not to let you down, which is a good thing because it made me strive to do my best, even when you were not present.

Through the years when people would ask me why I started teaching, I would say that I never planned to, even headed in several different directions first, but that God knew what he was doing and pushed me in that direction. God sent me to you, Dr. Clark, because He knew I would listen to your strength and wisdom.

Consejos: una rutina diaria durante COVID

Cuando se aprende en casa durante COVID, o sea como Remote Learning, es importante tener una rutina para que tu cuerpo, mente y familia sepan que hacer; aún más que lo normal, ni importa la situación de tu aprendizaje. La rutina nos da algo para esperar en vez de sorpresas inesperadas cada día.

Primero, se debe despertarse a la misma hora todos los días, ni importa si asiste a la escuela en vivo o no. El cuerpo y el cerebro funcionan mejor cuando hay una rutina. Desayunar siempre es mejor para la salud y hay muchas opciones sin tener que gastar mucho tiempo o causar estrés. El cereal, los huevos revueltos o un batido de fruta con proteína sirven para estimular el cuerpo, proveer más energía y evitar el hambre hasta la hora de almorzar.

Cada día se debe estudiar a la misma hora con la meta de finalizar ciertas tareas antes de descansar. Si se requiere mucho tiempo en la computadora, se debe parar los estudios para estirar el cuerpo cada 30 minutos. ¡Tengan cuidado, estudiantes! No se olviden volver a estudiar pronto.

Se puede disfrutar de tiempo libre planeado mucho más que tiempo libre preocupado en las muchas tareas que no se ha hecho.

Si se encuentra con un problema en una clase que requiere la ayuda de la maestra, se debe comunicar con él/ella inmediatamente y enfocarse en otra tarea por el momento.

Los fines de semana mi rutina puede variar mucho. Normalmente, me despierto a las siete para tomar café, leer y escribir. De vez en cuando juego tenis a las ocho y no hay tiempo para descansar. Tomo mi café y leo después de jugar tenis esos días. Fuera de las mañanas, no tengo rutina. Planeo las lecciones para la escuela, marco papeles, miro películas, cocino más que durante la semana y posiblemente juego tenis, ando en bicicleta con mis hijos y limpio la casa raras veces. Nunca lavo la ropa porque mis esposo lo hace, gracias a Dios. También vemos muchos deportes como familia; cuál deporte depende de la estación: fútbol americano, tenis, golf, baloncesto, fútbol, hockey, béisbol. Raramente vemos voleibol o la pista porque no se presentan estos deportes.

Para estar listo para otra semana de lecciones y aprendizaje, es necesario dormir, estar activo y tener una vida social. El balance es clave al éxito en la vida y también requiere algo espiritual. Sé intencional, mis estudiantes y, como leí recientemente: “Haga algo que su futuro ser apreciará.”

Feliz Navidad 2020 y Próspero Año 2021

Mentioning the year 2020 immediately raises most people’s blood pressure or instant grief or negative thoughts. It has inspired unique creativity in the meme world, which definitely helps relieve stress. Normally optimistic folks who take on challenges for fun have either stopped trying new things or complain more than usual. Granted, between 9 months of COVID living, racial strife, ugly political leadership, and so many changes to the perceived normal, we’re all a little on edge and a little more quick to pout or quit. Personally, 2020 will forever hold several monumental happy memories for me.

The first two events are intertwined. First, it’s the year my daughter and I spent nearly 24/7 together from February to August. Emily came home from China for Christmas break and the day she was set to fly back, February 9th, every airline cancelled all flights overseas – she was home to stay! Since I had just had my right knee replacement surgery on February 4th (positive event number 2), and she was completely my right-hand girl, this was not sad news to me. I’ve always pushed my children to go, go, go explore the world, try new things, go places! Since she couldn’t go anywhere, I felt personally blessed to have her with me. She did more than the obvious: drove me to physical therapy twice a week, drove me to school and back home, brought me things when I was too tired to get up, made me get up when I was too tired to get up. She watched funny shows to cheer me up, made me join her YouTube drawing lessons, walked with me, talked with me, drew with me, wrote with me, read with me. Replacing my horribly worn-out right knee could not have been more positive, due to Dr. Hanby and Emily Rose.

Event number three was left total knee replacement. Again, Emily was there for me and we kept learning new things, dreaming about what we wanted to do, watching more Taskmaster, and recuperating. By the end of July I was slowly playing tennis again – just standing and hitting at first – but I played my first doubles match in early August and it was a phenomenal feeling to play tennis with no pain in my knees! After not playing for 6 months, almost every other part of my body ached, but it was such a good feeling!

Next, my granddaughter Piper Joy turned a year old on August 5th. Julius and Nicole made the trip north to celebrate with GP Rains, Mama Elena, and Ganny Haynes and it was simply wonderful to see her after 8 months of separation! Julius and Nicole were wonderful about sending pictures, taking time to FaceTime on the weekends, and sharing her growth and changes with us, but seeing that beautiful, funny personality in our home in Arkansas was priceless!

After school started (crazy, blended, insane, sometimes illogical system that it has become), and I got a bit of a feel for what my year was going to look like, Fred and I decided to have our Vow-Renewal Wedding as planned. Well, not exactly as planned, but at the Christian Life Cathedral Chapel on our 30th anniversary, and live-streamed with limited, socially-distanced seating! My best friend Kristen Novotny planned and took care of about 90% of every detail, with Fred’s help on decisions. This left Fred and me free to meet with Pastor Ron Harris for counseling, growth, and planning for our Covenant Marriage ceremony. We enjoyed taking care of what details we could before we left for Florida, like shopping for outfits and buying lovely “past, present, and future” rings! With the benefit of two “Remote Learning” days which were designated “recuperation days” for teachers, students, and everyone involved in school, we headed to Florida. While there we had the time and separation from daily life to focus on our vows, the details of the ceremony, and ourselves. We chose songs to play with a slideshow we put together, decided on songs for during the ceremony (thanks to Aunt Nancy and Uncle David), and then a playlist for after the ceremony. With Pastor Ron’s direction, we discussed our Core Values, and took care of our extensive list of questions for homework. While some friends and family were able to attend the ceremony on Sunday, October 25th, most watched from the safety of their homes, sharing sweet comments on the FB Live Stream. The day was so special for both Fred and me: our best friends from college repeated as our Best Man (Gred McCone), and Maid/Matron of Honor (Irene Larson Dacus), my best friend organized everything, our daughter selected and sang “Tightrope” from “The Greatest Showman,” both my parents walked me down the aisle, and our friends Jared and Tanya Park carried a picture of Fred’s parents down the aisle. We have video, pictures, and a lovely framed picture with signatures to constantly remind us of this special day and our re-dedication to each other. Kristen collaborated with Fred, my children, Irene, Nicole, and others to ensure everything was wonderful for us. Fred made sure the day happened – for me, for him, for us, for our children. I have the most beautiful 3-stone diamond ring smiling at me every day as a reminder of our past, present, and future together!

On another professional note, we still managed to have a large number of students in Springdale apply for and earn the Arkansas Seal of Biliteracy during the Pandemic – nothing will hold some people back! Young people are resilient. Don’t let them think this is completely negative – ¡Sí, se puede! Yes, you can! Making excuses has been a problem to deal with. Perspective: if everyone on the planet is dealing with masks & COVID, you are not unique and you can’t claim “adversity,” the meaningless sports claim. Not for everyday tasks that a person can definitely perform. Make excuses and underachieve all you want, but many people are completely overcoming every obstacle thrown at them – racism, COVID, extreme poverty, language barriers, lack of resources. With excuses, you will be left in the dust. [Note: I am very aware that many people who were already struggling with anxiety, stress, and other mental illnesses, or simply needed counseling to deal with life, were hit especially hard with the isolation and differences in a COVID life. This is NOT what I mean by “making excuses;” rather, I am talking about kids and parents who have no real excuse, but use them as a crutch.]

Finally, with the support of an excellent principal in the best school district in the region, surrounded by outstanding teachers and an especially team-oriented World Language department, and of course, my best friend Kristen Novotny, the fall semester was an interesting experience. I’m not a liar – there were definite moments, days, and even a few weeks of extreme frustration and mind-blowing, life-altering situations. However, we all felt “in it together” and sometimes together against the world. We were always supported to do not just what was right for the student, but what was best for me personally so that I could survive, continue, and not give up. So much support from so many sides made it all possible and even positive overall because, after 27.5 years, I learned a great deal.

Here we are, December 31, 2020. We celebrated Christmas with all our children, our sweet, perfect granddaughter, friends, and even with family thanks to FaceTime and Zoom. We watched Christmas movies, hung the lights, sang the carols, read the Advent Calendar posts, wrapped and opened gifts, and played with Piper. [My children are amazing aunts and uncles!] Heading into 2021, we have to face the reality that our COVID situation continues and we absolutely must be diligently safe for everyone’s sake, regardless of personal safety ideas or incorrect philosophies. A vaccination has arrived on the scene, but it’s so early in the process, we have to hold strong on mask-wearing, hand-washing (still can’t believe so many needed reminding to wash hands after going to the bathroom – gross – so please continue that for the rest of your life), and socially distancing regardless of supposedly-important shopping needs or desperate need for bars (is the need for strangers so important?).

We can do it, people! Remember that “freedom” does not mean that you can do whatever you want whenever you want wherever you want…because I have rights, too. We all do – so wear your masks, treat everyone (of every race, social status, religious belief, political belief), with respect and kindness, and continue to stay at home when you can. These aren’t “limitations” but rather “measures” to keep us safe while still doing, mostly, what we want or need to do. Family game nights, family pizza nights, and family movie nights are on the rise – keep up the traditions! If you don’t have a family to stay at home with, invite 2-3 people to be part of your bubble and go out of your way to plan weekly, fun activities either in person or through technology!

I wish you all a wonderful, positive, memorable 2021 – but hopefully memorable for different reasons!

#blacklivesmatter #2bilit2quit

Leer con los hijos: 5 beneficios [2017 dic]

Leer es la actividad más importante que hacemos con nuestros hijos que los impacta ampliamente. Mientras leemos, todas las lecciones de la vida se enseñan y por eso la discusión sobre otras actividades es irrelevante. Leer puede ser el empiezo y la manera obvia o sutil para abordar todos los demás temas. Sin duda, debemos hacer otras cosas con ellos, pero leer es un elemento que no se puede minimizar ni eludir.

#1 – Compañerismo. No importa si tienes un hijo único o varios, un niño o una niña, existe intimidad en compartir experiencias tras leer. Ahora tenemos experiencias, temas y fondos para discutir. Tenemos referencias, ejemplos y perspectivas comunes. Experimentamos con la fantasía y aprendemos a soñar y a tener esperanza.

#2 – Aumentar el vocabulario y desarrollar el alfabetismo. Para tener éxito en la escuela y el resto de la vida, no hay nada mejor que podemos hacer para afectar su éxito en la escuela. Ellos saben más, han visto más (aunque sea tras ilustraciones o fotos), y han tenido más contacto con más ideas, temas, perspectivas. La lectura afectará su nivel de lectura (sin duda), los estudios sociales, las matemáticas, las ciencias, las habilidades con computación, cursos de elección, y todo tipo de éxito en todas las áreas de la vida. Puede hasta influir en la espiritualidad y sistema de creencias porque aunque los iniciamos en su camino, tendrán la habilidad de leer autónomamente y crecer personalmente en este sistema de creencia cuando estén más grandes, si son capaces.

#3 – Desarrollo de los Padres. Sí, todo el mundo puede continuar aprendiendo, madurar y desarrollarse. No se termina en el grado 5, ni en el 10, y mucho menos al graduarse del colegio o la universidad. Continuaremos aprendiendo palabras, sobre culturas, de la gente, sobre materias hasta el día de nuestra muerte . Cuando leemos con nuestros hijos, su inocencia al hacer preguntas, sus perspectivas nos causan pensar profundamente y aprender a expresar de una manera cariñosa sus peticiones sinceras por dirección y entendimiento. No es suficiente decirles, “Simplemente es así.” Nos desafían.

#4 – La Conciencia. Cuando seleccionamos ficción y no ficción apropiada pero estimulante basada en los intereses de los hijos, aprenden más sobre el mundo a su alrededor: las culturas, la historia, maneras de expresarse, perspectivas, valores, creencias, celebraciones. ¿Por qué dijo eso o se portó la niña así? ¿Por qué esta familia celebra así? ¿Por qué celebramos o no celebramos nosotros algo? ¿Cómo es posible que los aviones vuelen? ¿Cómo funciona el aparato digestivo? ¿Por qué creen alguna gente en cosas diferentes? ¿Por qué trataron / tratan alguna gente a otra gente de esta manera? ¿Por qué tengo pecas?

#5 – Curiosidad, Interés. Aunque esto es similar a todo ya mencionado, es importante. Es una gran lección aprender que se puede leer lo que quiera, deja de leer algo que te aburre, etc. Cuando los hijos son más jóvenes es tan importante seguir con sus intereses, pero que hagamos las selecciones o mínimo guiarlos con firmeza para que los libros estén apropiados para el hijo. Tú eres la persona que debe conocer mejor a tu hijo, no son los maestros, los trabajadores de la guardería, ni los abuelos (al menos que tienes el papel doble de padre-abuelo), ni hasta los amigos. Leer te deja conocer profundamente al hijo. Compartir tus intereses y preferencias, sí, sirve, pero leer con los hijos tiene que ver con cultivar SUS intereses y preferencias.

Leer, discutir, reírse, disfrutar. El tiempo con nuestros hijos es precioso y una responsabilidad grave, pero debe ser divertido en vez de un trabajo pesado. Es nuestro trabajo alegre. Quién sabe, posiblemente ellos te conocerán de ti en el proceso también. ¡Anímate!

Why should you maintain your Heritage Language with your children.

Razones para mantener su idioma natal con sus hijos.

La Tomatina, Springdale Style [2007]

**Previously posted in 2007 after our FIRST EVER event; we continued the tradition for 10 years**

Nos divertimos mucho el jueves, 13 de septiembre. La Sra. Novotny de SHS y yo planeamos y organizamos una Tomatina en Tyson Park para nuestros estudiantes AP. Ellos tenían que leer sobre La Tomatina, un festival en Buñol, Valencia, España y también tenían que leer “Oda al Tomate” por el poeta chileno muy famoso, Pablo Neruda. Después de estudiar mucho decidimos que sería muy divertido y especial tener nuestro propio festival. Nos divertimos mucho pero mucho y quisiéramos darles gracias a todos los grupos y las personas de Springdale que nos ayudó: Springdale Fire Department, Harp’s stores, Price Cutter, Neighborhood Market, Springdale Super Center, IGA in Lowell, y nuestros directores (Mr. Danny Brackett and Mr. David Kellogg) por dejarnos tener esta experiencia fenomenal.

March Madness o Copa Mundial

Para los aficionados de baloncesto, March Madness es equivalente a la Copa Mundial de los Estados Unidos. Especialmente el primer jueves y viernes del torneo cuando se juega 32 partidos: evitamos trabajar, los quehaceres y cualquier otra cosa. Nos sentamos pegados al televisor con nuestra quiniela gritando ansiosamente a un equipo, de vez en cuando algunos que jamás hemos visto en la vida. Olemos la competencia. Tantos partidos que nos frustramos de no poder verlos todos.

Alguna gente solamente con una quiniela llenada hasta el campeón, otra gente con competencias donde sea necesario incluir quiniela cada ronda y otra gente participando en los dos ¡para doble la competencia!

No es por nada que se llama March Madness el Camino Hacia los Cuatro Finalistas: nos vuelven locos con cada partido más cuando un equipo peor posicionado vence a uno en mejor posición. También nos volvemos locos cuando nuestros equipos favoritos ganan o pierden.

Las discusiones empiezan el domingo con el programa del sorteo en la televisión: ¿Por qué invitaron a este equipo y no a ese? No creo que merezca esa posición aquel equipo sino el otro. La “conferencia” SEC es más fuerte que la del Big 10.

Al fin y al cabo March Madness representa las mejores dos semanas de baloncesto en el mundo. No se puede comparar con el torneo del NBA porque el suyo dura más de un mes y cada ronda se gana con un mini-torneo entre 2 equipos para ganar 3 de 5 partidos. Al nivel universitario del NCAA, es “ganar o salir.” Cada noche hay lágrimas, de alegría o tristeza. Con cada derrota, es el último partido en la vida de alguien que nunca pasará a ser profesional, pero ha dedicado su vida al deporte, no solamente por los 4 años de la universidad, pero muchas veces desde su niñez. Otros lloran por haber ganado en el último segundito en un partido que nunca en la vida debieron de haber ganado [NC State vs. Houston en 1983; Villanova en 1985].

Me alegra simplemente pensar en el torneo más interesante en el mundo. No existe nada similar.

Aquí estamos. ¡Empieza hoy! Tengo mis “brackets” (y planes para mis clases por la tarde que me permiten prestar atención a la locura – soy maestra). ¡En sus marcas, listos, ya!

Count Your Blessings, Part 3

Part 3:

Next day is Monday, right? So during my 5:15am devotional alone time I’m reading from 15 Minutes Alone With God by Emilie Barnes again and on page 91 is an entry named, “I’m Special Because,” which completely continues and expands on the weekend’s thoughts, lessons, and writing. Psalm 139:13-17, specifically v.14 just like in Spark at Christian Life Cathedral, is the Key Verse. Ms. Barnes says that the first time she read Psalm 139 was when she first realized that she is special because she is a child of God. “We were uniquely made as He knit us together in our mother’s womb.”

Spark children will be “Discovering who you were meant to be,” and praising God for making them special and wonderful. God does not make mistakes, he created us. He has a purpose. We have to focus on him, pray to him, and persevere in leaving our worries in his hands, trusting that everything will turn out fine. We don’t have access to the master plan nor could we understand it if we did. Trust. Faith. Contentment. Love. Joy in all situations.

The last two sections of the piece by Ms. Barnes in her book end with “Thoughts for Action” and “Additional Scripture Reading” which I would like to share here since they directly support my original article and idea of “Count Your Blessings.”

Thoughts for Action

    • Tell someone why you are special today. [positive, praising, joyful, celebrating]
    • Ask someone why he or she is special. [and help them out if they find it difficult]
    • Write a note in your journal to God and thank Him for who you are, His special child.

Additional Scripture Reading

  • Proverbs 31:29
  • Ephesians 1:4 & 11

Takeaways: Count Your Blessings, Celebrate, Pray for Strength, Think on These Things, Share your Joy, Tell Your Loved Ones Why You Love Them, Persevere (endure with patience), Assume the Best in Everyone, “even the guy who cut you off in the Starbucks line,” ~Pastor Christopher.

Count Your Blessings, Part 2

Part 2:

On the same day that I wrote the original article, I was on duty at Christian Life Cathedral checking in the elementary age children. The theme for this month is, “Individuality: Discovering who you are meant to be” based on the Bible verse Psalm 139:14, NlrV, “How you made me is amazing and wonderful. I praise you for that. What you have done is wonderful. I know that very well.” It made me think specifically of two of my children who seem to struggle with finding their way as adults. You are wonderfully made, just do the next right thing as it comes up. Don’t worry about making mistakes – that is definitely life and to be expected.

Then the lesson for the sermon by Pastor Christopher was “Think On These Things: Fill Your Mind With the Best and Do That,” based on Philippians 4 (Msg), (yes, I had just read Phil 4:4 earlier that morning), with three main points:

  1. Don’t waver
  2. Stay on Track
  3. Steady in God.

Our preacher began with: “…Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi where he encourages them to enjoy their life, to have a good time, to celebrate.” St. Paul says in v.11-13: “…for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength”

These were Pastor Christopher’s main points with additional support from several recent readings of mine as well because the Lord obviously had a message for Ellen Rainey:

    • To stop worrying, train your mind to think on good things. You can. It’s real.
    • Assume people’s intentions are always for the best.
    • Celebrate for no reason at all, just because you can.
    • Celebrate God all day, every day. Thank Him for your blessings. [Just did in Part 1 of blog post]
    • Tell the people you love how happy you are, celebrate the good; show Jesus’ love.
        • Say: “I love you so much; you fill me with joy and pride.”
        • Talk about what is best in them; they will focus on this. Let them see what you see in them. [I am reminded to do this often for my grown children.]
    • Manage your mind or it will manage you.
    • You mind is a great slave, but a terrible master.
    • Focus on the solution, not the problem.
    • Lord, fill my heart with peace. Lord, stretch me bigger than my problems.
      • As opposed to, “Lord, make this go away.”
      • “I am able to do far beyond all that you ask or imagine. Come to Me with positive expectations, knowing that there is no limit to what I can accomplish.” [p.7, January 6 entry of “Jesus is Calling” by Sarah Young.]
    • Christ displaces worry.
      • “Worry is most often a prideful way of thinking that you have more control over life and its circumstances than you actually do.” ~June Hunt

It seemed like my readings, writings, lessons, and thoughts were all going towards thinking positively and focusing on God. While I’m not a negative thinker I do tend to let my mind wander with dreams which can draw my focus away from my blessings. I have a good life and am surrounded by good people. I try to focus on God every morning, but today’s lessons reminded me I need to refocus and train my brain to “Stay on Track.”

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