My Fall Break Plans

The schools where I live have fall break starting tomorrow. The children will have no school tomorrow and next Monday and Tuesday. For us teachers, we have a planning day tomorrow and have next Monday and Tuesday off. I definitely have big plans.

The first part of my plan is sleep. I plan to take some naps. My bed is insisting that I take naps. 🙂

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The second part of my plan may come as a surprise. I plan to hang out at my favorite coffee shop. There is something about hanging out at a coffee shop that stimulates my writing. Seeing the different kinds of people sparks something in my brain for writing. The coffee helps too.

My other plan is to practice my Spanish some more by watching some shows in Spanish. Speaking of Spanish, the classroom next to mine is an ELL classroom for Level 1 students. They are beginning English Language Learners. One of the little girls got lost her first week, and I helped her find her way. Each morning I greet her in Spanish. When I greet her in Spanish, she giggles. She is so cute.

Of course as always, I plan to spend time with Jesus. In fact I have a study in the Book of Acts I want to start.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

World Mental Health Day

Sunday was World Mental Health Day. As a follower of Jesus, it is my desire to show the compassion and love of Jesus to others. In Matthew 11, Jesus said:

 â€śCome to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

When Jesus said-ALL- he meant ALL. If we struggle with depression, anxiety, eating disorders, or any other mental health issue, that is included in the ALL.

Jesus wants us to come to him with all of our troubles, problems, and struggles. His arms are open wide to us.

I will never forget watching the film Brain On Fire and how it helped me. I was hesitant about taking medication for depression. Years of living with chronic illness meant depression as a symptom. As I watched the movie based on a true story, I realized it was okay to take medication. The story line of the movie is a young woman doctors thought was beyond help until a psychiatrist did a simple test. He realized she had an autoimmune problem affecting her brain and started her on medication.

Our brains are part of our physical bodies, so they are interconnected. In my case, autoimmune problems caused my depression. There is still much to learn. We who follow Jesus can show Jesus to those who wrestle with mental health issues.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

World Arthritis Day

Today is World Arthritis Day. This is a club no one wants to be in. The club of the various forms of arthritis, rheumatoid, psoriatic, AS, etc. Being part of this club means going through a maze of doctors to get diagnosed, living with chronic pain and fatigue, and more.

It is a club I am a member of due to having psoriatic arthritis. It took six years from the first time I asked if I have psoriatic arthritis until I got diagnosed. I have been to ten different doctors, my GP and nine different specialists. I have been x-rayed to the point I think I should have some kind of mutant super power.

I am thankful Jesus has given me the strength to continue teaching and continue ministry. Some of my fellow sufferers have it worse.

So on this World Arthritis Day, I just want to give a shout out to all of my fellow Chronic Illness Warriors.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

The Cost of Following Jesus-John Chapter 15

You know those people on television who promise things like your best life now? The books written about how God wants us to have it all? They run counter to things Jesus said.

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In John 15, after telling the disciples he calls them friend and after talking about love for one another, Jesus gives a reality check.

If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.

That is quite the contrast to what Jesus was talking about right before regarding love one another. Now the word hate is being used. If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. That sounds ominous.

If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. 

If I had been there, I would have thought-wait a minute Jesus you were just talking about love one another and how we are your friends and now this?

Being identified with Jesus does involve risk. In some places in the world, it can mean death or imprisonment. In the Western World it could mean loss of friendships and opportunities.

When Jesus talked about pick up our cross in Luke 14:27-

And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

He was talking about how we may lose out on things or people in this life because of him.

In John 15 Jesus again brings up the Holy Spirit but note why

When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me. And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.

The Holy Spirit empowers us to be witnesses for Jesus, to go out and share the gospel and show the love of Jesus. We do so even though we will face rejection and at times opposition. We do so out of love for others knowing they are in eternal peril if they do not have Jesus.

This dear reader the reality check from Jesus. The good news is that he is with us no matter what happens.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Music Mondays- Holy Spirit by Francesca Battistelli

I love this song. We sang it in church yesterday morning. Welcoming the presence of God into our lives is what this song causes me to think of. God wants to be in our lives no matter what our lives look like. We can be the biggest mess and God wants to be with us. We can be in the midst of struggle with sin and God wants to be with us. We can be in despair and doubt and God wants to be with us. We do not need to be perfect for God to be with us.

Burgers with Friends

We have a burger place in my city called Honest Abes. Last Sunday after church, some friends took me there for lunch. I have noticed food tastes better when friends buy lunch for me. 🙂

I love the signs they have on the walls especially this one because I have a beard. 🙂

It was so good to talk with people who I consider co-laborers in sharing the love of Jesus with people from other countries. My friends moved here three years ago to help with an Arabic speaking church. They had lived in Lyon France for ten years reaching out to people from North Africa living there.

I enjoy lunch with any friend, but lunch with people who are in similar ministry as mine is meaningful. We can encourage each other, listen to each other, and share concerns and vision for miistry.

Honest Abes has some interesting combinations for burgers. I enjoy the one they call Hammer of Thor. It comes with chipotle cream cheese, griddled brussels sprouts, bacon mayonnaise, and pepper jack cheese. I can get it with a gluten free bun.

Here’s hoping another friend takes me for burgers soon. 🙂

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Got Through A Rough Day

I had not been body slammed with a flare up for a while, so when a nasty one hit me Wednesday and Thursday morning, it was rough. Thursday morning my prayer time was basically- Jesus you are going to have to carry me through this day. That was it.

He came through. The day went well. My students enjoyed their classes. My fellow teachers had no clue I was in the middle of a flare up.

A highlight for me was my morning class. On Thursdays we have speakers come. I arranged for a woman doctor come to talk about breast cancer and women’s health issues. The translators were all women. I left the room, so that only women were in the room. The moms asked many questions and when I returned, I noticed the session meant a lot to them. When I introduced the doctor, I told the moms that I want them empowered with information.

While they had their time with the doctor, I was in the school library getting caught up on some paperwork. By being in the library, I could sit in a comfortable chair not one of the plastic chairs in my classroom.

For me a flare up means pain everywhere and loss of appetite. It means wanting to just lay in bed because of no energy. I lessened as the day went on yesterday, but it was a rough day nevertheless. If you want to understand how it feels, imagine pain everywhere except your hair.

I am so looking forward to the day Jesus takes me home or even better returns for his church-The Rapture. Then there will be no pain. 🙂 Until then there are people to show the love of Jesus.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Returning to Where I Was Before COVID

The last time I was in the building at the community college where I had taught for twenty one years was before the shutdown in March 2020 due to COVID. I taught some classes via ZOOM, but not in the building. My morning classes is in an elementary school building, so that resumed in August 2020, but no in person classes for the college.

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Tuesday evening I returned to the building. I am teaching an evening class Tuesday and Thursday evenings. It was strange but good being back in the building.

It kind of reminded me of returning to my city from an international trip after being gone for a month. At first everything seems a bit weird. As I walked through the hallway, memories came to me of former students and of classes I had taught.

I am grateful I was able to teach online, but teaching in person is so much better. Being in the building also allows me to interact with and get to know students from all of the ESL classes. That was how I became known as the teacher and had been my introduction to the many diverse people groups in my city.

It was kind of like a time warp back to the future moment. Same building, a classroom I had used before, but different in that everyone was wearing a mask. It took a few minute to get my bearings again.

I am grateful that even when the world is turned upside down by a pandemic, Jesus is the one constant. He never changes. I am also grateful for how he brought me through it all.

Now to give the students some fun homework. 🙂

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Jesus Our Friend- John Chapter 15

Last week looked at how Jesus is our source and our need to stay connected with him. He empowers us to live for him. Jesus used the word remain-remain in him. He is the vine and we are the branches. A branch depends on the vine for everything.

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Jesus expands on that in John 15:9:

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.”

Remaining in Jesus is based on love. First there is the love between God the Father and Jesus. Out of that comes Jesus’s love for us. He calls us to remain in his love. He does not call us to remain in him out of fear of punishment if we don’t. He calls us to remain in his love.

He then equates loving him with obeying his commands. If we love Jesus, we will follow through with what he teaches us to do. But what exactly does he command us to do?

In John 15:12 we read:

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.

He then goes on to explain what kind of love he is talking about.

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 

Jesus is talking about the self sacrificing love that he himself showed for us. The kind of love that compels a person to lay down their life for a friend. That is what Jesus did for us. Self sacrificing love is expressed in many ways. Perhaps it is taking time to listen to someone having trouble. It can mean giving to someone in need instead of having a meal in a restaurant. There are many ways to show sacrificial love. When Jesus says greater love has no one than this, he is giving the ultimate example of sacrificial love.

Notice Jesus used the word friends. He goes on to say:

You are my friends if you do what I command.

If we love one another with the love of Jesus, we are his friends. No one does that perfectly. As John wrote in his letter 1st John in 1 John 4:19:

We love because he first loved us.

First we experience the love of Jesus, Then we can show his love.

Even though Jesus is the creator, our savior, and is deserving of us being his servants, Jesus said:

I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 

He calls us friend not servant. Notice what he says about friendship. He makes known to use what the Father showed him. He lets us in on his business. He includes us in his work.

He concludes this section by repeating his command- Love each other.

What a privilege that Jesus calls us friend. Anyone who believes in Jesus he calls friend. His command is to love one another with sacrificial love.

How does that make you feel to know Jesus says- FRIEND?

Thank you for reading. God Bless.