My pastor asked me three questions after reading my draft of my book Jesus Understands Trauma. They are not easy ones to answer, but I realized they need to be addressed. I had a bit of writers block until Sunday. A new friend I met at the coffee shop asked me how my book was coming Sunday afternoon. When she asked, it sparked my writing.
Yesterday in my session with my therapist Dezirae I shared about the questions my pastor asked. When I read the questions to her, she said, “I like your pastor.” We had a good discussion about the questions.
So my book that I hoped to publish in September will be published hopefully later this month. You might be wondering what those questions were, so here they are:
“why doesn’t God take trauma away and heal me right away? Why linger? – why does God allow trauma, pain, abuse to happen? – how should I think, relate to, forgive my abusers?”
I know my answers to the questions but it is writing them that takes time to process. Side note- I am so glad I can do it on a computer because it is so much easier. 🙂
Jesus looks at us and he says- MINE. What a wonderful truth that if we believe in Jesus, we belong to him forever. He welcomes us into his family. Think about it. Jesus looks at us and not only knows our names, knows all about us, but also claims us as his own and he will never let go.
Wherever we go in life and whatever situation we are in, Jesus claims us as his own.
Vladimir was one of my first students when I began teaching ESL in March 2000. We had fun studying together each week. One memory that stands out for me is one morning while we were studying in a coffee shop. My back was to the window, so I did not see what was happening, but Vladimir did. His eyes got real big with a look of surprise. He pointed at the window and I looked to see what was happening. The police were arresting someone. Realizing Vladimir had come from Ukraine that used to part of the old USSR and that people used to get arrested and disappear there, I changed our lesson to rights in the USA.
Yesterday he was working outside at the church making a gazebo for them to use for barbecues. It has pillars made of stone for support. When he came in, we talked and reminisced about our study times in the past. It is always good to see him again.
My Ukrainian friends are hardworking and have made a beautiful church building. They did all of the work themselves. My Saturday class is in a nice room in the basement.
Speaking of my Saturday class, we continue to have fun studying together. Yesterday we had 18 people come. Each week I am impressed with how refugees who have only been in the USA four weeks, six weeks, etc. are being resilient. I know they have been through trauma and have a lot to adapt to here, but they have great support from the Ukrainian church.
After class, I was again blessed to have lunch. Nadia was teaching Middle School students cooking again and yesterday it was rice pilaf. It was delicious. She is wonderful with the children as she teaches them cooking.
This morning I will be with my Hispanic friends at my church. I called each of them last night. Our room will be filled with laughter, music, and Spanish as we practice English together. Then it will be time to taper down at the coffee shop.
October is here. It is the month that brings us fall colors in northern places, cooler temperatures, and oddly enough something called pumpkin spiced lattes. Pumpkin spices lattes do not seem to have a place in coffee shops, but coffee shops are businesses, so they want to make money. Have no fear your coffee purist will not allow such a concoction to pass through his lips.
It was in October 1989 that the beginnings of what God was calling me to happened. I visited a different church to see a Billy Graham Ministries movie- Caught. It was about an American drug addict in Amsterdam who came to know Jesus through a man from India who was there for the Billy Graham world convention for evangelism. At the end of the film, it showed Billy Graham saying, “and do the work of an evangelist.” When I heard that, it felt like spiritually an arrow had pierced me.
I came home after the film and when I walked in the door, the presence of Jesus felt so strong that I dropped to my knees and then laid down on the floor. I kept seeing people who were lost in life. Jesus has given me so many opportunities to share him and his love with many lost souls from many countries since then.
It happened again yesterday at the Ukrainian Church. It was my first Friday offering a class there. We had a mother and her 15 year old daughter join us. The daughter is not a Christian yet. I shared a devotional thought with them that because Jesus was a refugee during his childhood on earth that he understands what it is like to be a refugee.
So welcome October and the opportunities to share Jesus, but you can keep those strange pumpkin spiced lattes. 🙂
I knew it was coming sometime this year, but still when I received the call, it caused a lot of feelings of nostalgia for me. Wednesday evening the Director for ESL, English Second Language, called me to let me know she is retiring as of October 10th. She is the one who interviewed me and hired me.
We have been through many changes together in the department. We worked on curriculum changes, starting the Family Literacy Program and more. She once referred to me as her most flexible teacher because she could call me with short notice to sub a class.
Her anticipated retirement marks a bit of a milestone for me. Over the past twenty-two years, God has opened many doors for me to share Jesus with the nations living in my city. Twenty-two years ago, I still had a landline with an answering machine. Times have changed, but Jesus never changes and he continues to give me opportunities to share his love with the nations living in my city.
Now I am the last remaining original person involved with the Family Literacy program and the longest serving person in the ESL Department. That is a scenario that perhaps no one would have seen coming thirty years ago when I was going through my first bout with autoimmune issues.
While it is nice to reminisce about what God has done over the past twenty-two years, it is the new things he has me doing that excite me. As Isaiah wrote in Isaiah 43:19
See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.
God can do new things even in what looks like a wasteland in our lives. He did it twenty-two years ago for me and continues to do so today.
This story time is a collaborative effort between me and Gary of garyfultz.com. You know those outdoor adventure type shows? They perhaps pale in comparison to Gary’s outdoor adventures. He lives in the far north of the USA where I think they have a few weeks of summer each year and almost endless winters. Where he lives, they can pull a shack onto a frozen lake in the winter by driving a pick up truck onto the frozen lake. I think he spends most of the winter in his ice fishing shack. 🙂
Gary sent me pictures of his winter adventures with his family for me to have a little fun with my students. I have been showing them to my students this week. The picture above is not from Gary simply because I did not ask permission to put one in my post but if you go to his blog, you will see pictures of his outdoor adventures.
My Ukrainian students were not phased at all which was no surprise. But the looks of shock on the faces of my students from places like Mexico, Burma, Sudan and Vietnam were fun to observe.
When I asked if they wanted to go ice fishing, some responses were:
“No, I don’t want to die.”
“No, I don’t want to need the hospital.”
It was part of having fun with my students as they laughed with me. When my students laugh, it gives me joy because I know how hard life has been for them.
Laughter is a gift from God. Psalm 126:2 says
Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.
Some of my students know Jesus. Some do not. It is my heart’s desire that they all come to know Jesus and the joy of knowing him.
(Image by Harmony Lawrence from Pixabay) It’s time to return to my Poetic Journey through the Book of John. Won’t you join me? Unreceptive Without God we are dim Truly stumbling in the dark Seperated Blind Far from His heart. Till He opens our eyes And fills us with life Our spirit is unreceptive To […]
Yesterday evening I was at my coffee shop, aka my office, relaxing after teaching my afternoon class. I was about to leave when I heard a group of people speaking Spanish. They were all Americans who have a Spanish club on Tuesday evenings at the coffee shop. Normally I teach Tuesday evenings, so I did not know about them.
I walked over and asked, “ustedes estan hablando espanol?”- are you speaking Spanish- to which they answered yes. I asked if I could join them and they smiled and agreed. We had fun speaking in Spanish. The group was six retired people, so even though I was much younger, 🙂 , they let me join.
My evening class starts again next week, so sadly I cannot join their group again until December, but yesterday evening gave me a glimpse of life outside the classroom. I have taught in the evenings for twenty-two years, Teaching in the evenings has allowed me to connect with the diverse people living in my city. I can join any cultural event and people know me as the teacher. It has been a blessing, but the desire to have my evenings freed up was highlighted yesterday evening.
When asked when I will retire, my normal response is, “when I die.” That is in reference to my ministry. But teaching is so interconnected with my ministry, my thoughts on retirement also apply to teaching. But yesterday evening felt great. We will see what happens in the future. I draw my thoughts on retirement from Philippians 1:21
For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
The only reason I am still in this earthly life is to share Jesus with others. It will be interesting to see how Jesus leads me in the future.
In my afternoon class at one of the high schools in my city, one of my students is a Yazidi woman who never went to school as a child. English is the first language she has learned to read and write in. After coming to America nine years ago, she was a busy mom taking care of her family and also working. Last week, she shared with me her regret about not having learned more English by now.
My response was, “You were a busy mom taking care of your family and also working. You are a good student. I am happy you are in my class.” Then we talked about the difference between opportunity and ability. She did not have the opportunity to go to school as a child in Iraq and she did not have the opportunity before now to go to an English class here. We talked about how she has the ability to learn, but did not have the opportunity before, however, now she has the opportunity to learn.
She has a new life in America with new opportunities she would not have had in her home country. She is learning to read and write in English and seeing her children grow up without living under oppresion.
When I think about 2 Corinthians 5:17, I think about the new life Jesus has given me.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
My old life is behind me and only the memories of it connect me to it. Jesus has not only changed me as a person, but he has completely changed my life. I would have never imagined so thoroughly enjoying getting to know people from all over the world living in my city. I would have never imagined learning to greet people in thirty languages, visiting refugees in their homes, and the wonderful opportunities to share the love of Jesus with people from diverse cultures.
Jesus knows us better than we know ourselves and the changes he brings into our lives bring us to a greater sense of fulfillment than we could have imagined.
So many times the presence of God has sustained me in times of pain, lack of sleep, and more. Being in the presence of God is a place that many times I do not want to leave, but he calls me to share his love with people from many countries living in my city.
There are times that his presence is a taste of heaven and I admit I long to be there, but he has work for me to do in this life first. In his presence there is healing for our souls and spirits. In his presence there is wisdom given, encouragement and reassurance. In his presence is the most beautiful place to be.