Saturday, December 31, 2016

HOPE word for 2017...

                 Hope is being able to see
                    that there is light despite
                    all the darkness.
                                     -Reverend Desmond Tutu

We were so ready for a break, my beloved Bert and I.
I guess we needed time away, time to unwind. Time to reenergize. Time to contemplate and time to pray.

We needed reflection time to regroup.

Bert has always been great about reflection. My beloved husband has spent years and years being a counselor, and he can always find the benefit of slowing down, looking back and reflecting on one question:

What am I supposed to learn from this, God?

Me, not so much.

Somehow the words slow down and reflect don't really describe my style of going after life. 
Yet when just the two of us get away, really away,
I do slow down. I do reflect. I do listen to God in ways that get lost in the whirl of my life activity.

We just came back from a reflecting time. Eighteen
days in Hawaii. Eighteen days of warm weather, mostly in the low eighties. Eighteen days of eating every meal together. Eighteen days of walks on the beach holding hands. Eighteen days of prayer and restoration.

And for me, eighteen days of reading.

Not a little reading, mind you, all out reading as in... 

You will never find me without a book in my hand. Taking notes.
Laughing or crying. 

I may wake up really early, crawl out of bed, go make coffee, put a quilt around me and just read and read.

I pray about the books I will take with me. What would God have me learn? What direction would the good Lord point me toward? What life lessons does He have in store for me?

When I read and am quiet and pray... I can always,
always hear Him.

Loud and clear. Forceful and loving. 

Heart-opening, if you will.

This year was no exception. Truthfully I came into this "away time" pretty tattered and torn. Oh, you might not have recognized it unless you knew me really, really well. After all, my outer exterior can easily project that "I'm just fine, thank you."

But on the inside? A bit of a different story.

So many good things have happened and keep happening. God loves me and blesses me and  I don't take that for granted. I lean on Him and I trust Him.

Yet, while I only allude to very hard times and upheaval in this blog, and I only share the details of that with a very few people I trust completely to pray for our family, the truth is that the past few months have been as hard as I can remember in all of my 69 years of living. Hard for "my dearies" in ways that only God can really understand.

Being under siege is exhausting... physically, emotionally and spiritually. God is there holding us up, but it is hard. Really hard.

So it is not a surprise that the book that most touched my heart in this season of reflection is... 
Hope Heals, by Jay and Katherine Wolfe.

On so, so many levels this book is a life-changer for me. I'll write more later about the life-lessons. Yet
it is not an exaggeration to say that I couldn't put this book down. The message of the book was a message I desperately needed to absorb and learn.

And then, as only God could do, I just happen to turn on the tv in Maui and there is Joyce Meyer talking about...why hope, of course

I finally went out on the lanai, looked at the beautiful view, closed my eyes and said a short prayer...

"OK God, I get it! Thanks for the reminder!" 

I always pick a word of the year, a focus point for me for learning and life-changes, and I always ask God for a word that He wants me to have. This year the choice was crystal clear.

My word and focus is on ... HOPE.

While I am by no means a Bible scholar, I always want to see what God has to say about my word for the year. Guess what? The Bible is packed with lessons about HOPE.

"May the God of your HOPE so fill you with all joy and peace in believing(through the experience of your faith) that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound and be overflowing with HOPE."
                                                                  -Romans 15:13

Joyce Meyer in her sermon on hope puts it this way...
  "Hope is a favorable and confident expectation,
    an expectant attitude, that something good will
    happen and things will work out."

Does being hopeful mean that tough and awful things will not happen? Not at all, they will.

Yet holding on to HOPE, because of my faith, 
will help me to anchor myself in God, instead of me trying to "fix" awful situations. 

Being filled with HOPE means that I am trusting that God will use every hardship and every tough situation for good.

There is so much more to say about my word for
2017 and what I learned through the book HOPE Heals. I'll share some of those lessons in upcoming blog posts.

Yet for now, what I know for sure is that I know that
the God who made heaven and earth loves me.
He is my HOPE and my strength, no matter what comes my way. I can cling to Him in those situations that are beyond what I know or can understand.

I can have a confident expectation that God is in the midst of it all and He will use the hardships for good.

Praise God! Hope can be the anchor for my soul.

There is an old Gospel hymn that I dearly love.
In the chorus it says..
                          "It is well...with my soul."

That hymn was written by a man crossing the Pacific
Ocean with his family. He wrote it after four of his daughters drowned. In the midst of the worst tragedy, he turned to God knowing that God was his HOPE and light in the worst darkness of his life.

So today I sing along and anticipate, with positive expectation, that it is also well with my soul.

God Bless and Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

TED Talk: Finding The Courage To Do The Thing You Think You Cannot Do...

                                            You must do the thing
                     you think you cannot do.
                                     -Eleanor Roosevelt

Yesterday was at once glorious and excruciating.
It was full of joy and celebration and a deep sense of loss.

I knew it was coming.
I could feel it in my heart and soul.

It's like having a doctor's appointment that

you have to go through, you know it's what is 
required, yet you wish it didn't have to happen.

You love your doctor, yet you feel sad and a bit

off balance as the time nears.

That's what the end of a quarter is like for me as I say goodbye to my amazing students.

It's a celebration...after all they have worked so hard all quarter. We have become a "family" of sorts. 

Students always sit in the same places, and we have the same routines. We "clap" for each day. There are snacks to eat. We say good morning to each other. We support each other all quarter. We do the hard work together.

Then, in what feels like a heart beat, their final projects are in and tests are taken. 

I grade myself into oblivion with marathon grading sessions,  and I am awe struck by how smart my students are and how hard they work.

Finally, they get their tests and projects back, we have a delicious potluck, and then it is time to say goodbye.

I always cry all the way home.

No, that's not completely accurate.
I sob all the way home.

I can't imagine them not being in their seat.

I can't imagine not hearing what is going on in their lives.

I truly love them, care about them , and have invested in every single one of them.

Every time.

Every quarter.
All these 50 years of teaching.

I thank God every day that I get to do what I do.

It truly is the best job in the world, at least for me.

And while the leaving is hard, every day with

them has been amazing. Miracles happen. Students transform. They have a new look of confidence in their eyes. They are proud of themselves and what they have accomplished.

I am so proud of them that my heart could burst.

They are a gift to me, just as I hope I am a gift to them.

Recently I got a chance to talk about teaching and what it means to me. I did a TED talk for Spokane 2016. 

It just came on the internet on YouTube.

While I give "talks" every day in a classroom, and often do speeches on communication at conferences and meetings, this was different.

I was talking about Passion in Motion and bringing love into the classroom.

This is a topic that is so personal and so close to my heart that I wasn't sure I could get the words out.

I prayed and prayed before I said, "Yes, I'll do this."

It's a vulnerable moment when you realize that something you care about so much will be out there, totally visible.

Yet I felt a strong pull that He wanted me to do this.

That somehow I might communicate that I was able to teach the way I teach because of His strength and His love.

I could never, ever, ever have done this, this 50 years of teaching, without God's strength and guidance every day.

Many days I knew that I couldn't do it, but He could.

The day we filmed the TED talk was one of those days. 

I became ill about thirty minutes before I was to be filmed.

Not a little ill, really ill.

I prayed and asked for His guidance. I told the Lord God Almighty that if He wanted this to happen, He would need to give me the strength to do it.

He did, and I did. All for His glory, not mine.

I was able to go out and do the thing I thought I

could not do because I trusted Him to help me
do it. 

I trusted that He loved me and would be there with me...

beside me, holding me up on that stage in front of that 
huge audience.

So here it is...

And as this Christmas season rolls around, may you  find the courage to do the thing you think you cannot do, and may you know, in your deepest heart of hearts, that with God all things are possible!

God bless and much love,


Soul Work in the Deep Waters...

              Entrance into another's soul                   is always a sacred honor. It is a gorgeous day, here in Spokane, Washing...