Precious Things

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Teaching internationally online has been a wonderful experience for me. I’ve learned so much about different cultures, and met some amazing students as well as a few of their families.

 

Alan is by far one of my favorite students! He is wise beyond his years.

Alan finished this morning’s lesson as a Level 7 student, but was only at Level 3 when we began having classes together two years ago.

I have many memories from teaching Alan. He is polite, respectful, inquisitive, studious and has an amazing sense of humor. His profound comments stick with me. One day when discussing grow/grows, we looked at pictures of how a baby grows into an elderly person. I said, “See Alan, I’m old. I have gray hair like this picture.”  To which Alan quickly responded, “Teacher Audrey, you are not old. You are young at heart.”

Another time we were learning about animals that live in the wild and Alan began to sing, “In the jungle the mighty jungle the lion sleeps tonight.” He proceeded to tell me that this was his favorite movie and song. As our next 65-70 classes began, I always played 20-40 seconds of that song. Alan would sing along and dance. What a fun young man to teach!

When we were discussing semi-aquatic animals, I asked Alan, “Which one of these animals would you like to be? Why?” He thought for a minute and said, “I would like to be a turtle because he knows how to take time in life to enjoy it as he goes. It is such a busy world, we need to slow down and enjoy the quality of life around us.”

Today, when I turned on the camera and danced to “My little darling, don’t fear my darling, …” Ignonyama

of course I saw Alan dancing and smiling. As the music faded I greeted, “Hello Alan! It’s great to see you.”  To which he replied, “Hello Teacher Audrey!”  As I always do, I asked Alan, “How are you today?”  He replied, “I am sad.” I then asked Alan why he was sad. He told me, “As you know, I am now in Junior school (7th-9th grade). My mom and I have talked about it, and today is my last class. I will no longer be taking VIPKid Classes. We both talked about the importance of his junior education. Alan then said,

“We lose many precious things in our lives.”

Having grieved the loss of several loved ones this past year, I found that statement to be quite true. How incredibly wise of young Alan to realize the profound truth of this reality. I found his statement to be encouraging, not disheartening. Once again, the words of a student, bring pensive moments with great wonder. https://www.facebook.com/1394925621/posts/10220734402735333?sfns=mo

I will always be thankful for the lessons I had the honor of teaching Alan. I am also quite thankful that his family and I are friends on WeChat so we can keep in touch.  Alan told me, “You are my favorite teacher. We have had almost 70 classes together, since Level classes count as two.”

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There are so many precious things in life that we eventually lose. However, if we are young at heart, and move slowly like the turtle in a busy world, we might just find the wisdom of always finding the silver lining.

“How blessed is the man who finds wisdom and the man who gains understanding. For her profit is better than the profit of silver and her gain better than fine gold. She is more precious than jewels; And nothing you desire compares with her.”                                                                                                                  ~Proverbs 3:13-15   

 

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Worry Wart

I was stressing because my child was struggling in school. No matter how hard we tried, we just could not solve for x!

In my frustration, I decided to clean. At least that has immediate results and burns calories.

I pulled the couch out to clean. I was annoyed because I had to bend over to pick things up before I could sweep. My mind swirling with “Who ate in the living room? What’s with all the cords? I don’t have time for this!”

As I stooped over to pick up the “trash” I read…

…she might not have been able to solve for x, but she sure could draw and do modern calligraphy art! The message…sigh! What incredible truth was lying there in the dust under my couch.

DO NOT FILL YOUR MIND WITH WORRIES!

How many times does God use our children to teach us something? A few weeks later, bored in the car, my daughter asked, “May I draw in your prayer journal? I didn’t bring any paper.” I willingly obliged, no one wants boredom to set in with teens in the car! I didn’t give it a second thought.

The following Sunday I’d had an upsetting event occur just before the worship service at church. It had proven to be difficult as I was faced with my own character flaws that needed to be fixed, not to mention the humility that comes after pride has set in.

Holding back the tears, I began turning to the next blank page in my prayer journal. I didn’t want to talk to anyone. I just wanted to deal with this emotion and be ready to take notes when the sermon began.

Just before the next blank page in my journal, was this beautiful reminder of TRUTH once again straight from my daughter’s talent to my very soul at the exact second I needed it. No doubt it was perfect timing.

God has given us each unique and distinct gifts to use for his glory, sometimes it involves letters, just not variables in equations.

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Stopped to Smell the Roses

Can’t wait to share with you about my walk through this local garden yesterday! Open Garden Day

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GO!



      Inside these stained glassed buildings are people. Normal, real people. Listening to women discuss church I have heard some mind-boggling statements. Recently, I posted a question on social media, “When you first enter a church, what do you think/feel?” I was looking for honest feedback, especially from those who are regular churchgoers. 

      WHAT I GOT WAS ASTOUNDING!

      “Often I walk in one of these buildings insecurely glancing around wondering if I belong.”

      “Will anyone talk to me today?”

      “Does my hair look okay?”

      “Look at that perfect little family and their matching kids’ outfits. Well, my kids do have on clean clothes…”

      If I’m honest, I wrestle with insecure feelings  on Sunday mornings too. Many times I find myself blinking forcefully and shaking my head before I enter the church building , reminding myself why I drove and parked there in the first place. Snapping out of it, I remember I came because I need to learn, study and worship. I need to laugh, cry and sing. I need to listen, talk and ponder. 

      Teach. Hug. Listen. Pray. Read. Sing. Hear. Understand. Speak. Thank. Hug. Kneel (or not). Lift hands (or not). Shout (or not). Exit and enter the new week with joy and energy to begin fresh anew. 

      If you live in the south and frequent a church, there are opportunities to go on mission trips year round. Stateside mission trips, overseas mission trips, trips with big groups for short weeks, and trips with small groups for long weeks. Sometimes you be trippin’ over the choices offered. 

      I’ve never gone on a mission trip. Ever. 

      I am a missionary, however. 

      Someone asked me one Saturday last month  while I was passing out popcorn where I felt called to serve. We were taking about the volunteer slots at the church league concessions. “I’m a preacher’s kid. I get it,” she told me. I said, “I’m called to be a missionary inside the baptist church… [pause for pensive, silent stare]. . . You think I’m kidding don’t you? I’m serious as all get out,” I told her. “Look. Stop. I’m for real. Inside these walls is my greatest mission field.”

      She looked in deep thought as she said thank you for her $0.75 popcorn purchase. 

      I’ve been in southern baptist churches since 9 months before I was born. Sometimes I get asked, “Why don’t you come to my church? Why don’t you just watch a service in your pajamas at home and rest? What do you mean you’re a ‘Christ follower’ not a baptist?”



      BECAUSE often times the mission is right in front of my face. If I’m not careful I can MISS the MISSION. If I’m alert, I can “mission” everywhere I go. Dollar General, church league basketball concessions, and especially First Baptist Local Church. There’s a huge need for me to listen, watch, observe and know when to speak and what to say. Often I mess up by talking when I should listen, or offending someone without knowing why. I say aloud, “Be careful! Don’t  MISS THE Mission right in front of you, Audrey.” 


      You never know when just being a cheerleader to one person right where THEY ARE, right in front of your face, might be the mission trip of a lifetime. No fundraising needed. 

      “Go {as you are going} ye therefore….make disciples.”      ~Matthew 28:18-20

      mis·sion (ˈmiSHən)– the vocation or calling of a religious organization, especially a Christian one, to go out into the world and spread its faith.

      synonyms: vocation, calling, goal, aim, quest, purpose, function, life’s work.                         

      her mission in life”


      After choosing the twelve disciples and modeling ministry before them, Jesus sent them out as apostles. He gave them a mission assignment:

      “These twelve Jesus sent out after instructing them: “Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans; but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’”                Matthew‬ ‭10:5-7‬ ‭NASB‬‬

      LOOK AT HIS FIRST INSTRUCTION! “Go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 

      This blew me away yesterday when teaching it to my fifth grade Bible classes. He sent them ON MISSION at home…to the house of Israel, the chosen. 

      While it’s important to go on mission trips- short term, long term, and full time. Not everyone is called to go. We are, however instructed to share and go, but not all of us to the same places. 

      I am encouraged that there are mission opportunities all around me. Read a few more responses that were collected to the question, “How do you feel or what do you think as you enter the church building?” 

      “Overwhelming anxiety. The need to be perfect. This is why I don’t go to church.”

      “I have always felt judged.”

      “It depends. At first I feel a bit overwhelmed and maybe a bit alone as soon as I walk in the door. Maybe feel a bit self conscious if I am having a yuck hair day or intimidated by my simple clothes but usually that goes away when I focus on loving others that I see. If it is a church that I am connected to the people I feel “familiarity and connection” overall I usually leave feeling encouraged and grounded especially if there is time to actually have real conversations and if the sermon makes sense to me.”

      “As a college student who still hasn’t found a home church, I honestly dread Sundays in a way. I keep trying to find a church , but often I feel, alone, uncomfortable, anxious, etc. I rarely have somebody come up and introduce themselves because most people only focus on finding their friends and people they know and talking to them. Even if I go up to an usher or greeter and say “hey, I’m new and have never been here before, could you show me to the college ministry? Or ask if they could show me where the sanctuary is, they often just point their finger in the “general direction” tell me where to take rights and lefts and I should be there. I hope I’ll eventually find a church I like but as of right now if it hard to find a church that doesn’t just talk to members and encourage the people they already know. I’m a Christian, but it really, truly bothers me that if non-christians walked in any of these churches, this is how they would be treated. If churches really tried to not be as clicky then I think that we would solve a major problem of people feeling like they are being judged and uncomfortableness in the church.”

      “Disappointment that church culture is not about relationships. It’s more about small talk than it is about cultivating, sustaining, and growing real relationships with other believers. I enter and I leave with a great sense of longing.”

      MAY WE ALL BE OBSERVING AND PRAY FOR GOD TO SHOW US MISSION OPPORTUNITIES RIGHT WHERE WE ARE. 

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      Little Gray Donkey

      Mary rode into Bethlehem, known as “house of BREAD.” She gave birth to the BREAD of life.
      From the same Bethlehem approximately 14 generations earlier, Naomi left the “house of bread;” empty due to famine. Later returning to the same Bethlehem with her daughter in law, Ruth. In Moab, they had been full with love and laughter, but now circumstances brought them back to Bethlehem, the house of bread, they were empty again. 
      From Boaz, soon to become the kinsman redeemer, Ruth was given everything she and Naomi needed to be full again. Ruth gave birth to Obed the father of David … 14 generations later, in the city of David, a Savior was born from the lineage of David and Boaz. HE IS the BREAD of life. 

      Empty I come to adore Him, leaving full in the presence of Shekinah glory!



      “I went out full, but the LORD has brought me back empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the LORD has witnessed against me and the Almighty has afflicted me?”  ~Ruth 1:21

      “At mealtime Boaz said to her, “Come here, that you may eat of the bread and dip your piece of bread in the vinegar.” So she sat beside the reapers; and he served her roasted grain, and she ate and was satisfied and had some left.”  ~‭Ruth‬ ‭2:14

      Read: Matthew 1:1-21

      http://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionary/bethlehem/

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      Gifted

      Jesus left the glory and perfection of Heaven for me. 

      The King of Kings was born in a borrowed barn; Rode into town on a borrowed donkey; and buried in a borrowed tomb. 

      I have him and that is gift ENOUGH. 

      Receive the Gift of Him today. 

      IMMANUEL

      “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory. The glory of the One and Only who came from Heaven full of grace and truth. ”  

       ~John 1:14

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      Broken and Spilled Out

      Hosting my Sunday School Christmas party was an incredible experience for me yesterday. I had grandiose plans of pressed tablecloths, Christmas China, and fancy recipes. 

      The party was scheduled to begin at 5:30pm. I had the entire day before me and the house was already clean- Just shop for ingredients and begin cooking by 3:30 to have the chicken spaghetti ready to serve at 5:45. No big deal. 

      As so often happens, what’s planned doesn’t always match up with unexpected surprises that BREAK OUT right before me reminding me that I have no control over yet another situation. 

      I had a paperwork morning deadline that would be completed by noon at the latest, or so I thought. Noon became 2pm and I found myself ASLEEP 😴 at 2:30 pm. 

      STILL NO: shower, shopping or cooking. HORRORS! 🎄Merry and bright? Fa la la la la? Most wonderful time of the year? No crying He makes? 🎻

      Every southern belle inch of me winced at the thought, but it was time to LET IT GO! 

      So I had no choice at this point but to just make spaghetti and buy cute paper plates. So that’s what I did. I was nervous. WHY?!? These ladies are my heart and soul. We are family. Why was I trying to impress? I love hosting and I like pretty things. I enjoy serving others and WANTED to have a pretty set up for the party, but it was just not happening.  Running late, I asked my daughters to help unload the items I’d just purchased from the store so I could cook the meat. One of my daughters came in upset, “The bag is too heavy and I dropped it. The bag ripped” Empty handed I sent her back outside to no avail. Enlisting my other daughter’s help to “just get the bags inside…Hurry!”

      She too returned empty handed. Stirring around the kitchen in my green apron, there was no time for this. What could be so hard about bringing in 4 bags of groceries?!?  Then she said, “Mom, I need you to look at me and I need you to not freak out. When she said, ‘the bag ripped,’ she meant it exploded. Broken jars, spilled and exploded.'”

      I walked outside, LEFT the mess on the sidewalk, took a deep breath and went back to the kitchen. 45 minutes from company and I’d gone from homemade chicken spaghetti casseroles to pasta. Just pasta. About that time I get a text from one of my guests,  “I’m at Publix. Do you need me to pick up anything before I leave?” 

      “Yes! Three large jars of prepared spaghetti sauce please!” She then responded, “I’m early, mind if I come and help?” Not only did she show up with sauce to save the party from plan A and plan B fails, she brought me chocolate and my favorite soda! 

      The party was a success. Paper plates, random pots on the stove, laughter and great fun swapping Dirty Santa gifts. No one cared that my tree hadn’t been fully decorated or that we just had spaghetti. In fact, several ladies responded how refreshing it was to be so relaxed. 

      I’ve decided it’s a ministry to be simple. Lowering the standard of perfection before hosting just might encourage us all to spend more time together and less time in a virtually social world. 

      “Happiness is how well you deal with plan B.”      ~James Roberts

      Thankful we have an alphabet with 26 letters! 

      “The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.”  ~Proverbs 16:9

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