I Know It Is Only Chocolate-But….

Chocolate is perhaps my second favorite substance after coffee. I especially love dark chocolate. Chocolate ice cream is my favorite dessert. Having a gluten free chocolate cupcake while drinking coffee at the coffee shop is one of life’s simple pleasures. So when I saw there is a recent controversy over a chocolate company’s new chocolate bar campaign, I was disheartened. I know it is only chocolate, but it is what it all represents.

Photo by Polina Tankilevitch on Pexels.com

I am old enough to remember when a child could buy ten chocolate bars for one dollar and the chocolate bars were just as big as they are today. Now chocolate bars cost a dollar or more. Sad state of affairs. When I was eleven, I would cut the grass for some elderly neighbors. They would pay me three whole dollars. I would spend one dollar on chocolate bars, one dollar on bubble gum with baseball or football card inside, and put one dollar in my piggy bank. Wise economics I know.

It was my special moment after cutting their grass to ride my bicycle to the neighborhood store for my shopping expedition to get my treasures then ride my bike home to hide my treasure before going to the swimming pool.

So I know it is only chocolate but it is what it represents. It means something encroaching on childhood yet again.

With all of this rush to promote an agenda, children are losing out on just being allowed to be children. Children need and deserve to have their innocence protected.

So I know it is only chocolate, but it is what it represents. What do you think?

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

The Logic of a Six Year Old Boy

During conversation practice with students, we take turns asking and answering questions. That might be a time my sense of humor comes forth such as telling the students I was born in 2000. Last Friday when I said that along with that I am 22 years old. my friend Azari told me I wasn’t. He told me I am 25 years old.

Azari is a six year old boy who comes to my Friday class at the Ukrainian church with his mom. He knows exactly where the snack box is and likes sharing snacks with the adults. So what was his logic behind thinking I must be 25 and not 22?

In his six year old mind, I have a beard and men cannot grow a beard until they are 25 years old. The color of the beard does not matter just that I have a beard, so I must be 25. I thanked him for his astute observation that I am 25 and gave him some chocolate.

Children are a blessing and valued greatly by Jesus. He blessed children while on earth such as we see in Matthew 19:14:

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” 

I enjoy seeing Azari each Friday afternoon, I wonder how much longer he will think I am 25?

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

A Story from Ukraine That Got to This Teacher

As a teacher, one of the stories I heard at the Ukrainian Appreciation Dinner that really got to me was when Tania Synia shared about her work as a photographer and one encounter she had. Tania had a photography studio in Ukraine before the war. She focused on weddings, families etc. After Russia invaded, she stayed in Ukraine to photograph the effects of the war on people.

She came to one town to a school that had been destroyed. Two boys were getting into the school to look for books. They were excited to share with Tania that they found books they could study biology with. Most kids try to get out of studying, but being deprived of school due to the war gave the boys a desire to have their education continue. Tania has a website where she shares her photos. It is tetianasynia.com.

More stories to come. I am still on the mend. I do nebulizer treatments at home four times a day. That is a first for me.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

A Refugee Father Blessed by His Son

Last night I was blessed to be at the birthday party for my friend Alex from Ukraine. Amazing to think of how quickly we have become friends. We met five days after he came to my city as a refugee with his family on Labor Day this year. He has only been here for two months.

After we had dinner, there was a moment that caused everyone to tear up. His oldest son had been doing odd jobs for cash and saving his money to buy a cell phone, but he had a change of heart. He asked one of the men from the Ukrainian church, who has lived here many years, to help him go buy something for his dad. He decided to buy an Apple Watch for his dad instead of a cell phone for himself.

As the man who helped him to go to the store to buy it shared the story, it was a poignant moment. When Alex’s son gave him the gift, it was obvious how much he loves his dad. It was a moment that I will never forget.

When I think about what they have been through, it gives that moment even more meaning. They fled the war in Ukraine having left in March. They lost so much when they had to flee and their home in Ukraine is destroyed. They left not knowing where they would end up and how things would work out for them. My friend Alex loves his children very much, His children look up to him. They have stayed together through it all and kept their faith in Jesus.

It was out of love and that experience as a family that his son gave him the gift.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Coffee Shop Appointment-International Youth Day

This afternoon I met with the teen boy I shared about in Another God Appointment in the Coffee Shop. This afternoon I met with him and his grandmother who has custody of him. We talked about school starting next week and our plans for me to tutor him. It seems fitting that we met today which is International Youth Day.

Photo by Helena Lopes on Pexels.com

International Youth Day is a day to raise awareness about issues troubling youth around the world. One issue that concerns me greatly is human trafficking/sex trafficking of youth. That is why I support I’ve Got A Name an organization that works against trafficking in my home state. It is also why I support Love Justice and organization that works against trafficking in various countries.

I am glad Jesus connected me with my young friend. Today I had him repeat with me, “I have hope” after showing him Jeremiah 29:11:

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 

Millions of children and youth need hope in this world, the hope that Jesus gives.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Chess and Jesus

In the days of my summer break winding down, God has blessed me by bringing a fifteen year old boy into my life, He is the one I shared about in Another God Appointment at the Coffee Shop. I saw him again yesterday,

We played chess with him using some of his Marvel figurines as pawns again. He comes from a background with a lot of brokenness. Both of his parents died by the time he was in Kindergarten, so his grandmother took him in. While we were playing chess, we talked about Jesus too.

We talked about Romans 8:28:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

I shared with him that God can take all of the things we experience in this life and work it for our good including the sad times, the bad things, our mistakes, and work them for our good. Then I gave him a homework assignment. His homework was to pray to Jesus and ask Jesus to show him Jesus is for real.

I spoke with his grandmother on the phone last night and set up a time to meet with her and my young friend Friday afternoon. My thought is to meet with him once or twice a week during the school year.

God is always at work even during a teacher’s summer break. 🙂

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Sunday Smiles

Sunday is here and I am looking forward to my group this morning. We have two birthdays to celebrate, one for a woman from Venezuela and one for the now 79 year old American woman who likes to join us. Our Hispanic friends call her abuela americana-American grandmother.

I saw my young friend at the coffee shop again yesterday. I wrote about meeting him in my post Another God Appointment at the Coffee Shop. We played a few card games. On Friday when I told him that I am a teacher, he said in reference to the coffee shop, “this place is infested with teachers.” It is true that my favorite coffee shop is popular with teachers especially in the summer. I shared about that in Teachers In The Coffee Shop

Speaking of coffee, I saw this sticker and thought I need that. Adulting can be difficult but Jesus is with us each step of the way. 🙂

On Friday the my doctor gave me the results of my blood test. I passed even though I did not study for it. He printed it out for me. That is kind of like being given a report card to take home, but fortunately for me, there is no one I have to show it too, so I won’t get in trouble.

Off to church and our birthday celebrations. What are you doing today?

Thank you for reading. God Bless..

Another God Appointment at the Coffee Shop

Yesterday I spent some time at the coffee shop. In the morning, I had prayed to be able to have a God Appointment. God came through in a marvelous way.

A 14 year boy has been hanging out a lot at the coffee shop this summer. I have talked with him a little bit. When I saw him Thursday, I told I would play chess with him the next time he sees me in the coffee shop. Yesterday he came in and the first thing he did was get the chess set. He replaced the pawns for his pieces with little Marvel action figures.

While we were playing, I had a chance to get to know him a little,. He lives with his grandmother because both his parents are dead. He mom had a seizure and hit her head. His dad died of an overdose. While we were playing, I had a chance to share with him that Jesus loves him and wants a relationship with him. He told me that he and his grandmother are looking for a church. I shared with him about mine and the YouTube channel for our worship services.

I was especially grateful for the opportunity to share with him. At times, I wish someone had taken time to share with me when I was a 14 year old boy and confused about life.

Please pray for him. Jesus knows his name.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.