Friday, November 30, 2012


Have you ever prepared for Christmas through Advent? It is a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the birth of Jesus. The term comes from the Latin word adventus, meaning "coming." Typically, Advent begins on December 1 and counts down until December 25th.  Some families build up to Christmas starting on the first Sunday after Thanksgiving, but no matter when you start, I highly recommend that you involve your family in an advent tradition. In our times today, Christmas has become so secularized that the hope of the Christian celebration, Jesus, is put on the back burner.

I have two favorite ways to build up to Christmas: The 12 Days Until Christmas, A Sacred Christmas Through Song and Word and creating a Jesse Tree.  The first one is on my website. I release one Scripture and one small portion of a holy song and send an email reminder to those who care to receive it.  It begins on December 13th and ends on December 24th.  It’s such a great reminder to be in the Word and to give praise to our Savior through the Word and song. Holy and traditional Christmas songs are an inspiration and give me focus.

The Jesse Tree is an old tradition based on Jesse, the father of David, and the genealogy of our Lord Jesus Christ. There are many websites and books that help create a Jesse Tree with specific ornaments for each day in Advent and the Bible story to match. It’s an excellent way to teach children the life of Jesus. I used the tradition ornaments in paper cut-out format the last two years, but this year I am going to use the format of the Jesus Storybook Bible.  It’s amazing!  The Jesus Storybook Bible, written by Sally Lloyd-Jones and beautifully illustrated by Jago offers the perfect advent tree framework. They have put together an artful path through the Bible that shows how Jesus IS the story of the Bible. On their website, they have suggestions for using the Jesus Storybook Bible for advent and then I was hooked.  Tomorrow is December 1st and my grandbabies and I are going to hang the first “ornament” (an image from the Jesus Storybook Bible printed, cut into a circle and laminated) on a metallic wall tree in my home. For 25 days, we will continue the process beginning with Creation and ending with Jesus in the manger.  I highly recommend a day-by-day expectation process such a Advent and Jesse Trees to help us stay grounded in Who we worship.

I also heard a great interview with Phil Vischer, the creator of Veggie Tales and now Buck Denver Asks What is the Bible? He also highly recommends building up to Christmas and grounding our children in the spiritual intention.  They are saturated with the secular, material Christmas, but Phil Vischer, in his very creative style has designed a  specific episode of his Buck Denver series to discuss the sacred meaning of Christmas.  It doesn’t matter what you use to prepare yourself or your children, the key word is to prepare. Spending less time shopping and more time in the Word may be just the gift of peace we all need.

May the Lord of grace and peace grant you and your family a very special and holy Christmas season.

Prayerfully dependent,

Thursday, November 22, 2012

A Prayer of Thanksgiving

Dear Lord,

            On behalf of Christian educators everywhere, I lift my voice to give You thanks. You are our Advocate, Blessed be Your Name, Christ Alone, Deliverer, Exquisite, Father, God Alone, Holy One, Intercessor, Jesus, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Our Maker, Name Above All Names, Omniscient, Powerful, Quintessential Essence over all things, River of Life, Savior of the World, Teacher, Understanding, Visionary, the Word, eXcellence, Yashua and the Zenith over all.  Hallowed be Thy Name.  Lord, we need You in our daily lives, at school, at home and everywhere we travel. We need Your Word as our guide and light. Thank You for showing us how to “Be Jesus” at school. Help us to learn how to better serve our students, administrators, parents and colleagues.  Lord, we love to be prayerfully dependent upon You because there is no other way. Help us to set our minds and hearts on You at the start of each day and throughout the whole day. Convict us to pray continually for our students during the school day and look with expectation for the breakthroughs for them.  Some of our students have never met You yet.  Let us be a beacon of hope in their lives for a Jesus Who saves all who love Him.
            On this Thanksgiving Day 2012, Lord, we are thankful for our founding fathers establishing a day of thanks to You. We are thankful that we live in a country were we still have the freedom to worship without persecution. We are grateful for schools filled with children for without them, none of us can teach.  Lord, we appreciate Your high calling to become a teacher and stand humbly before You seeking the grace and peace to continue with excellence. We thank You for time off with our families and friends to celebrate Your abundant blessings in this land we love. Oh Lord, our Father, thank You for being Abundant and Sufficient for all our needs.
            Dearest Lord Jesus, on this day of Thanksgiving, so many of our students and members of our school community have great needs.  Please help the people still ravaged by Hurricane Sandy to find comfort and warmth.  Let there be peace between Hamas and Israel.  Help the widows and orphans among us and help us to be more aware of their needs and how we can be Jesus to them. Lord, bless those who are fighting cancers and other dangerous diseases. You are the only Healer.  Thank You for giving our doctors and nurses, emergency caregivers and rescuers the heart and skills to care for us. Lord, please help our students to return on Monday ready to learn and with a sense of gratitude for all they have received.
            We love you Lord, our Maker.  We thank You great Creator, Imminent One and Holy Spirit, Breath of Life. Thank You for good health and help us to take care of our bodies that we make act like the Temple You have prepared. Please protect us in our travels this weekend and thank You for ALL our human connections.  You are a Mighty God Who is Worthy to be praised.

We ask this all in the Mighty Name of Jesus Christ.

Prayerfully dependent,

Note: To more fully understand the 16-9 Movement, please read the first blog entry by clicking here.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Grateful Thanks

As Thanksgiving approaches, we have the opportunity to stop and give grateful thanks to God for all He has done for us. Being reflective is a normal process of teaching. We look at our lessons and know immediately what worked and what didn’t.  We know how to “tweak” the process to make it better and most times our reflection is a result of humility when things didn’t go as planned. This year as you approach Thanksgiving, be sure to etch out some time to speak to God about His incredible gifts He has bestowed upon us all.  A simple practice that I have been doing for years is to jot down a statement each time I remember a significant blessings.  Every morning when I have Bible Study and devotional times, I open the Bible randomly and scout the page for words that are “sent” to me. Once I identify a portion, I write it down in a three-ring binder that has 365 pages. This notebook will last 4 years because I use only ¼ of the page each time as I write a note back to God about the verse and what He had done for me. After writing my love note to the Lord, if anything significant happened the day before, I turn to the front of the notebook where I have added a few more pages and keep a running list of “blessings.”  It doesn’t happen everything single day even though I could count God’s blessings each day without effort. The kinds of blessings I write down are typically for healings, traveling mercies, grandbaby blessings and family milestones. What is so great about this simple system is that by Thanksgiving, I have recorded typically 50-80 blessings that I would have otherwise forgotten.  On Thanksgiving morning, I am able to pull up my list and thank God from Whom all blessings flow.
We have so much to be thankful for as teachers. Our profession is perhaps the most unique in its foundation to all other careers and potential to impact. It is also the most dynamic career since we get a refresh opportunity each year with new students, new curriculum and new opportunities. But most of all, we are blessed to be given the opportunity to be “Jesus with skin on” to thousands of children who may never know Jesus. It is a humbling call with heavenly implications. May God bless you, your family and your students with a restful and grateful Thanksgiving holiday.

Presidential Proclamations (CEAI resources)
Pilmouth Planation (resources for teachers)

Prayerfully dependent,

Note: To more fully understand the 16-9 Movement, please read the first blog entry by clicking here.