Just as i am….

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Enough already!

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Window to the Soul

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20/20 is Perfect Vision

Class of 2020
May 2013

Seven years ago was by far, one of the most difficult ones in my classroom teaching career. It just was. No particular reason, just a combination of many things that made it more difficult than some years.

Beginning the year with the annual fall field trip to the Birmingham Museum of Art for the Pre-Columbian Exhibit, I distinctly remember having a difficult time getting the attention of the parents and the students for the “We are about to leave- behave on the trip pep talk.” I called them out, adults and all. It turned into a mini sermon speech.

I. Will. Never. Forget. It.

I remember thinking, “It is far too early in the year to upset parents, Mrs. M. Choose your words wisely.”

I’m pretty sure I quoted our local youth pastor by saying, “I’ll wait until you finish talking because I don’t want to be rude.” Risky approach on a September field trip with many parents who didn’t know me well.

And that’s just what it was for me. A lasting impression that I’ve enjoyed watching the past seven years. The class of 2020 was a group of bold, vivacious, independent fifth graders. They had a tenacity at age ten.

First impressions are lasting impressions.

Class of 2020
Fall 2012

Those first impressions have lasted. I’ve enjoyed watching these students grow up. Several of them have kept in touch over the years. It is exciting to know that they will be registering to vote and graduating from high school in the next few months. They are the class of 2020.

As we have learned what social distancing is, the class of 2020 has been asked to stay home, finish classes online and they are now facing unprecedented times for the spring of their senior year.

This is nothing new for the class of 2020.

May 2013
911 Pentagon Memorial

Most of these students were in utero on September 11, 2001. They were born during unprecedented times. They have always been ready for new challenges that have come their way. This week I contacted some of the seniors and asked, “What do you think of the current events right now, spiritually and/or politically?”

Kate said, “It’s crazy and sad and completely out of our hands, but praise the LORD that it’s in His hands instead! I’m sad that we’re missing the end of our senior year, but it’s all part of God’s plan! It’s okay to trust an uncertain future in the hands of an all knowing God!”

Emma hasn’t let this get her down. She is a leader on her soccer team, and is preparing to go to nursing school. I’ve enjoyed watching Emma and Anne Madison continue their friendship even though Anne Madison moved away when they were in sixth grade.

Anne Madison is a leader in her public high school in north Alabama. She was also crowned as homecoming queen this fall. Anne Madison has faced another unprecedented challenge this past 12-18 months as she’s fought for her health. I asked Anne Madison for her thoughts about this March madness. She replied, “Adults always come up to me and tell me that our grade, the class of 2020, is a really special class. I have heard that so many times growing up, but I believe God has given our class unique opportunities to share the gospel and point others to Him, and this is just another one of them!” She spoke of revival and her hopes for the future.

Watch Anne Madison’s video on my Facebook page.

20/20 is perfect vision.

While the class of 2020 isn’t perfect, I do think they have unique insight and vision to forge ahead no matter what is set before them. It has been inspiring to me to watch how they are handling these unprecedented times with a fresh vision that still leaves lasting impressions.

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Marching Orders

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At the Foot of the Tree

by Sarah Kathryn Murdaugh

(my daughter)

Today, I was scrolling through Facebook and I saw a picture of a friend’s Christmas tree. The tree was adorned with beautiful lights and sentimental ornaments. At the foot of the tree were some presents. Then it hit me. I don’t know why in the world we have the tradition of putting presents under a tree at Christmas time. We don’t do the same for birthdays or Easter or Valentine’s Day… why Christmas?

The gifts are found at the foot of the tree…. the gifts…. are found….. at the foot of the tree….

In the season of Advent, we await the coming of the Christ child, the child who was prophesied to save the world, redeem the lost, bring those who had abandoned truth back close to the Father’s heart. We give gifts to one another to commemorate The Gift the Savior brought to us.

There are Christmas trees, and there are several reasons why we have Christmas trees, but when I look at the Christmas tree, I remember Calvary and its tree. You see, the tree that was hoisted up on Calvary over 2000 years ago held upon it the man that saved my life. Jesus Christ, that baby that was born to a humble servant of the Lord, wrapped in clothes meant for a burial, laid in the lowliest of cribs, and hailed by many as King of Kings, He endured the harshest of punishments: the punishment of death for sin — the ultimate sacrifice.

When I kneel at the foot of Calvary’s tree, I find Salvation. I find Peace. I find a relationship with the Creator. I find pure Joy, not circumstantial happiness. I find Adoration to the One who gave His life. I find Jesus, the greatest gift of all.

So, over the next few hours, as I kneel at the foot of a different tree to shift earthly presents around, I pray that I remember the beauty of the greatest gift that could ever be found at the foot of a tree.

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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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